At The Food Channel, we’ve been watching food trends for decades. We thought we’d take a look at the 2014 trends published more than a year ago, and see how we did. Here are our top five, with commentary.
1. The Midwestern Food Movement
This is all about farm fresh and local taken to the next level, using the types of food readily available in the Midwest. We said we expected to see more Midwestern style cooking in this true food movement, as more chefs discover and put their own twists on some traditional foods that Midwesterners have kept secret for all these years. We were right—we saw root vegetables really take off and be accepted in vegetable mixes and as side dishes at restaurants across the US. New recipes came out from major food organizations, guides to root vegetables were published in 2014. Fried chicken became the poster food to symbolize moving beyond comfort food into food that was made with love – food not eaten for comfort as much as for the memories.
2. Low Tea
Low tea is a light meal or snack, usually served around 4 pm, and often shared with guests. We did, indeed, see a return to this “extra” meal in restaurants and even in some in-home use. Those who have found more frequent small meals suit them better than three heavy meals a day have added afternoon tea for a quick pick up meal. Tea companies such as Numi Organic gained visibility, and tea gained more respect in pairings and as a snacking beverage for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
3. Distracted Dining
Restaurants are beginning to put their menu items into forms that accommodate the cell phone obsessed—so you can eat with one hand, while the other holds the phone. Sandwiches, wraps, small bites are all sticking to the menu and growing because they don’t require two-fisted dining. The evolution of this is this year’s trend that says chefs are taking back control and putting rules in the dining room as well as rules around how much customization they are willing to provide.
4. Bread Rises to the Top
Breads continue to be big, even in a gluten-free world. As we look at the overarching trend, it’s about the flavor experience of bread and how it’s moving more to the center of the plate. Some of this is led by a return to home baked bread, but it goes beyond that to bread with benefits,salted bread, flavored breads and bread as the main course. Instead of being a carrier, bread is now surrounding itself with a variety of proteins and flavors. Flavor & the Menu has called out comfort breads for 2105 and we saw it first – that in spite of gluten-free sentiments, people are still eating bread. Wollensky’s Grill has introduced a Bread and Butter and Pickles bread service that includes pretzel bread with a side of pickles in a mason jar. Bread may continue to rise, in other words.
5. Virtual Food
There are now 3D food printers that take paste and extrude it into any shape, meaning complicated food “structures” like decorator icings can be “printed.” We predicted the food world will see more on this horizon and that it will have an impact on food in a big way. We said you’d hear it here first, and you did—we didn’t see another top trend forecast call it out as early We see intricacy, customization, and the expectation of professionalism all being elevated thanks to competition from 3D printing.
That’s 2014 . . . time for 2015! Find them here.