Jump to content

Food Trends For The New Year


Recommended Posts


20 hot food trends of 05

Smaller portions, "good" carbs and new ethnic tastes make the list. And you'll really love the top pick.

By Marilynn Marter

Inquirer Staff Writer (as seen on www.philly.com)

The tricky thing about tracking food trends is that many evolve over time, spanning years, even decades. Others come and go as quickly as the year itself. Just when you think you're on top of things - Kale is hot! - something else comes along - No, it's brussels sprouts! - to replace it.

With that in mind, we offer our predictions for 20 top food trends for 2005. While many began with chefs and other culinary elite, a few claim grassroots origins.

1. Chocolate, the gourmet health food. It's about time something that tastes so good is actually good for you. Dark chocolate, which is at least 70 percent cocoa, is a source of polyphenols, the antioxidants in red wine and green tea that help keep plaque from forming in arteries. It also contains flavonoids, which make blood platelets less sticky and are thought to lower blood pressure and LDL, or bad cholesterol.

Look for artisanal and varietal chocolates touted for their subtle taste distinctions (as are single-estate wines and coffees) and for candies laced with offbeat flavors such as green tea, black pepper and beer. And yes, there is also chocolate-flavored beer.

2. Fast food with style. Fast-food chains are lightening their menus, proving that fast needn't mean overprocessed, oversalted, and full of fat and empty calories. Decor is being upgraded, too. A McDonald's opening in Chicago this year will offer wireless Internet access and a hangout atmosphere.

The resurgence of neighborhood restaurants with character, regional foods, and casual fare that is fresh, well-executed, and familiar enough not to be threatening also continues.

3. Affordable luxuries. Starbucks is often credited with starting the "small indulgence" trend. Other small food splurges are vintage wines, premium vinegar, a catered meal, or the Kobe beef and foie gras found these days on more restaurant menus.

4. Ethnic regions. Upscale Spanish and Mexican dishes lead the current ethnic taste trek. But foods of distinct regions are getting more attention, too. We've feasted on the foods of Provence, Hunan and Sicily. Next up? Recipes unique to Galicia, Barcelona and Oaxaca.

5. Small plates. From Spanish tapas to Chinese dim sum and Greek meze, small portions are becoming a big deal. With their presence on menus increasing, small plates also feed into the quick-dining trend. The lounge at Tangerine in Old City has introduced an all-meze menu and, at Brasserie Perrier, executive chef-partner Chris Scarduzio says he is concentrating more on flavor and less on portion size because customers are eating less.

"Small plates are great for young professionals on the move who don't have time to sit at a table for two hours," Scarduzio says.

Along with mini meals come cupcakes and other mini cakes, the hot option for wedding receptions as well as for everyday snacking.

6. Carb comeback. "Good" carbs, including fruits and vegetables, are back in the good graces of dieters. Carbs are the body's most efficient fuel. The good ones break down slowly for steady energy. Sugar carbs quickly turn to glucose, with the excess stored as fat.

7. Whole grains. These nutrient-rich carbs were surely missed by many low-carb dieters deprived of their morning Cheerios. Now they're back and will take center stage when the U.S. Department of Agriculture lists them as a key element in a healthful diet in its revised Food Guide Pyramid, to be released this month.

Look for more whole grains in processed foods, from cereals to prepared meals. Average adult consumption is just one serving a day, well under the government's recommendation of three a day.

8. Convenience. When Gourmet magazine touts dishes to make ahead on Sunday for a week's worth of heat-and-eat meals, you know times have changed. Everyone wants more convenience in the kitchen. The NPD Group, a market research firm, reports that half of American cooks are putting dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less, often by eliminating side dishes and even desserts, which are now served after only 14 percent of at-home suppers.

9. Organics. Sales have risen more than 20 percent annually for a dozen years, reaching an estimated $15 billion in 2004, with more than $32 billion projected by 2009. The fastest-growing segments are meats and poultry (sales jumped 78 percent in 2003) and snack foods (up 30 percent). There's even organically farmed fish.

If you blinked, you may have missed organics also slipping into the mainstream of packaged goods, canned foods, meal kits, and baking mixes.

10. Functional foods. Food has become the new wonder drug as researchers unlock the secrets of phytochemicals, omega-3 fats, and other substances that promise to help forestall ailments ranging from aggression and attention-deficit disorder to macular degeneration, Alzheimer's disease and stroke.

Penny Kris-Etherton, a nutrition professor at Pennsylvania State University, cites nuts and salmon as nutritional powerhouses, along with fruits and vegetables.

Also, look for cultured beverages - yogurtlike drinks infused with "friendly bacteria" - marketed for digestive health.

11. Of the moment. Wild blueberries (available as juice or whole berries, canned and frozen), fresh figs, beets (in salads), yams, Honeycrisp apples (a new cross between a Macoun and a Honeygold), and microgreens are hot. Among meats, duck and bison have new cachet. And sweep up the sawdust: Steak houses are suddenly chic with the 20-something set.

12. Cooking with kids. Children's cooking classes are burgeoning, as are cookbooks for the younger set from cooks as prominent as Rick Bayless, who wrote Rick & Lanie's Excellent Kitchen Adventures (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $29.95) with his teenage daughter, and Rachael Ray (Cooking Rocks! 30 Minute Meals for Kids, published by Lake Isle Press, $16.95).

13. Dining etiquette 101. There was little early training at the table for many young professionals who now find themselves dining out nervously with clients (and bosses). Hence, the raft of "practice banquets" and classes offering much-needed instruction in polite public dining rituals. Classes are held at fine restaurants, on college campuses (including Philadelphia University), at career seminars, in cooking schools, and online.

One elementary-dining class for children at Eleven Madison Park, Danny Meyer's deco-detailed restaurant in New York's Flatiron District, sold out within hours and filled the waiting list for a second session.

14. Bottled water. Sales rose 20 percent in 2004, making this the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. beverage market. In addition to funky flavors, new-age waters are "enhanced" with vitamins, minerals and/or electrolytes and are being pitched to a market beyond health club addicts and joggers.

15. Trans-American wines. Think past France and California. Wine consumption is on the upswing, and local wineries are blossoming in all 50 states. (Yes, there is wine produced in Alaska.)

Look to microwineries - sometimes clustered, like Chaddsford and others in Chester County - as a source of varietal wines, filling a niche market much like that of microbrewed beers.

16. No-cal sugar. Little yellow packets of Splenda have joined, and increasingly are replacing, the pink Sweet'N Low and blue Equal packets on restaurant tables. The natural-tasting sucralose also is being used in almost every food category - cereals to sodas, pickles to beef jerky.

17. Specialty salts are going mainstream, thanks to celebrity chefs talking up the taste profiles of sea salts from around the world.

More food companies are adding less sodium to processed foods and many consumers are cooking from scratch (or semi-scratch), giving at-home diners more chances to sample the unique flavors of gourmet salts.

18. Technique. Look for more variety in the way foods are prepared. Grilling's popularity is booming, thanks to the growing obsession for must-have outdoor "trophy" kitchens among the upper-income set.

Brined meats and poultry are timesavers coming to supermarkets. And other cooking methods are surfacing, not just in restaurants and home kitchens but also for prepared foods.

" 'Fire-roasted' and 'charcoal-grilled' are already on the labels of canned goods and frozen vegetables," Philadelphia cookbook author Andrew Schloss says. "Look for frozen dinners identified as 'braised' and canned fruits labeled 'poached.' "

19. Flavors in favor. Lemongrass has gone mainstream. Now sumac (a fruity-astringent spice) and yuzu (a sour citrus fruit) are showing up.

Expect more exotic and highly flavored foods, from olive oils (Meyer lemon and blood orange are popular) to adult-friendly snacks (wasabi-ginger pecans). Pique timid taste buds with a dash of chile powder in your hot cocoa.

20. Food entitlement. Don't be afraid to ask for what you want. More and more, consumers expect their dietary needs and special requests to be met, whether motivated by allergies, a special diet, or personal preference. Most restaurants and grocery stores try to meet any reasonable demand.

At the South Street BYOB Next, chef Terry Owens gets a couple of special orders a week, most often allergy-related. And a diner's recent request to substitute chicken for the scallops in one dish was not unusual, nor was it a problem.

But since neither planned sauce worked with the new pairing, chef and diner negotiated an alternative: lemon butter.

"You never say 'no' to a customer," Owens said.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...