#7 Food Trend for 2012: The New Agri-Chef

The New Agri-Chef

#7 Food Trend for 2012: The New Agri-Chef

Food & Drink

#7 Food Trend for 2012: The New Agri-Chef


This is one of The Food Channel’s Top 10 Food Trends for 2012, based on research conducted in conjunction with CultureWaves®, the International Food Futurists® and Mintel International. For the full list, click here.

Restaurant chefs grow their own. Along with health concerns, food safety concerns, and old fashioned flavor, you have a new breed of chefs that simply like to cook with what they’ve grown. Expect to see this move beyond simple herb gardens or rooftop displays and into some full-fledged branded farms.

Chefs such as Rick Bayless and John Besh already have them and proudly display their products and call them out in signage and on the menu. There’s something to be said for sticking with your food from start to finish, seed to plate. (see Restaurant Business – September issue). It’s time-consuming, but there seems to be a feeling among these chefs that they can control the outcome better (not to mention make a little more profit. . . not that we’re jaded or anything).

It’s not really a new concept; it’s just on the fast track now to widespread popularity. In fact, Alice Waters is usually credited with starting the farm-to-table concept years ago, and there is definitely a story around it all. The first time we saw a working herb garden (at L’Orange in Los Angeles) it was stunning in both beauty and concept, and it’s only grown from there.

It’s about where we get our food, knowing the background, traceability, food safety—a lot of things we’ve called out as trends in the past, coming together into one big action step for chefs.

It’s not just produce, either. Chefs are teaching others how to use the whole hog, and some are beginning to raise their own meat.

Maybe this is the final proof point that a restaurant has to demonstrate its claims of “fresh.”  After all, we want to see it before we believe it. Today’s younger generation, especially, prides itself on proving advertising claims as wrong. But, it’s hard to argue with actually seeing it firsthand.

Along with this comes the whole theory of eating mostly plant-based foods, which we see on the rise. In fact, we’ll be starting a new column from Susan Benigas around this subject, given the level of interest we’re seeing from Food Channel followers. People are turning to plant-based eating as a way of reducing cholesterol, improving their health, and ensuring that they are eating “fresh.”  

CultureWaves® connections: Guarding, Shielding

For further evidence read:

Kitchen Gardens: A Growing Restaurant Trend

Interview with Rick Bayless (video)

Interview with Rick Bayless/Top Chef (video)

New Orleans Restaurants Going No Further than Their Own Backyard for Ingredients

Kitchen Gardens Grown on Urban Roofs



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