The National Restaurant Association (NRA) each year gets in the kitchen with chefs to reveal the top menu trends for the coming year. For its annual What’s Hot Culinary Forecast, the NRA surveyed nearly 1,300 professional chefs—members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF)—to find which foods, cuisines, beverages, and culinary themes will be hot trends on restaurant menus in 2015.

The top 10 food trends for 2015 are:

1.       Locally sourced meats and seafood

2.       Locally grown produce

3.       Environmental sustainability

4.       Healthful kids' meals

5.       Natural ingredients/minimally processed food

6.       New cuts of meat

7.       Hyper-local sourcing

8.       Sustainable seafood

9.       Food waste reduction/management

10.    Farm/estate branded items

“As consumers today increasingly incorporate restaurants into their daily lives, they want to be able to follow their personal preferences and philosophies no matter where or how they choose to dine,” says Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research for the National Restaurant Association. “So, it’s only natural that culinary themes like local sourcing, sustainability, and nutrition top our list of menu trends for 2015. Those concepts are wider lifestyle choices for many Americans in other aspects of their lives that also translate into the food space.”   

“Chefs are committed to supporting their communities and helping make responsible food choices,” says Thomas Macrina, CEC, CCA, AAC, national president of the American Culinary Federation. “I am pleased that members of the American Culinary Federation continue to support local sourcing and sustainable food practices as an annual trend and are paving the way for these values to become part of everyday American cooking.”

On the drink menu, the What’s Hot in 2015 survey predicts the top five alcohol and cocktail trends will be:

1.     Micro-distilled/artisan spirits

2.     Locally produced beer/wine/spirits

3.     Onsite barrel-aged drinks

4.     Regional signature cocktails 

5.     Culinary cocktails (e.g. savory, fresh ingredients) 

For the first time, the What’s Hot survey highlights overarching trends to watch in 2015:

·      Environmental sustainability remains among the hottest trends, with restaurateurs focusing on food waste reduction as a way to both go green and manage rising food costs. 

·      Hyper-local sourcing continues to gain momentum with restaurants including house-made, farm-branded, and artisan items.

·      Children’s meals are becoming increasingly gourmet and healthful, as well as more adventurous in flavor profiles. 

·      Ethnic cuisines are continuing to become more mainstream and ethnic ingredients such as cheeses, flour, and condiments are increasingly being used in non-ethnic dishes.

·      Common preparation methods are returning with a new twist, such as pickling with specialty vinegars and fermented flavor profiles.

When asked which current food trend will be the hottest menu trends 10 years from now, environmental sustainability topped the list, followed by local sourcing, nutrition, and ethnic cuisines and flavors.

The NRA surveyed 1,276 American Culinary Federation members October-November 2014, asking them to rate 231 items as a “hot trend,” “yesterday’s news,” or “perennial favorite” on menus in 2015.

Consumer Trends, Menu Innovations, News