With the turn of the new year, restaurant consultants have been busy predicting what will be hot on plates and in cups in 2014. They're also busily proclaiming trends, such as cupcakes, kaput. Who knew cupcakes could go out of style?
Here's a look at what some of the experts are saying is fresh for 2014.
1) Tea Time
Baum+Whiteman, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based international restaurant consultant company, says tea is catching on in a big way — and it's no longer about crumpets and china.
“Green tea, especially matcha — which is green tea powder — is becoming a trendy item,” explains Michael Whiteman, president of Baum+Whiteman. “Mostly in this country, you'd find it in ice cream, but now Starbucks is selling green tea lattes and others are selling green tea smoothies.”
Whiteman expects to see chefs using tea in poaching liquid and other cooking techniques. “Pretty soon, you'll find it mixed with other herbs as an interesting — but unidentifiable — seasoning,” he adds.
Whiteman+Baum's food trend report for 2014 notes that restaurants are likely to capitalize on the trend because they're “discovering that people are more likely to buy food with tea than with coffee.”
How to get in on this trend: Studies suggest that antioxidant levels in tea make this one trend that does a body good. Honest Tea has antioxidant levels as high as any freshly brewed tea leaves.
2) Get Juiced
According to Baum+Whiteman, people are getting all juiced up this year.
They're “demanding fresh fruit and vegetables in profuse combinations,”
the company's report suggests.
The rise in juicing is a byproduct of busy livestyles, coupled with an increased focus on getting the recommended five to 13 (yes really) servings of fruits and veggies per day.
“Millions of people (are) too busy to eat an apple or carrot, but are willing to pay someone to juice it for them,” the report states.
How to get in on this trend: Odwalla All Natural Juices
offers 100 percent pure-pressed carrot juice and a wide assortment of other varieties.
3) Funky Protein Power
Andrew Freeman & Co. is a team of San Francisco, Calif. “trendologists” working to predict the next big food trends. According to the group, the next bacon might just be pork belly, or any other number of adventurous proteins that look beyond the chicken coop for center-of-the-plate status.
“Gone are the days when there was always a chicken dish on the menu for picky eaters,” says AF&C. “Restaurants are playing to more adventurous eaters, and diners’ palates have risen to the challenge.”
By way of example, AF&C names Atlanta, Ga.-based Empire State South, a restaurant owned by Top Chef judge Hugh Acheson. “At Empire State South you’ll find catfish, pork belly and even goat on the menu but not a chicken dish in sight,” says the report.
That's not exactly accurate; a recent menu featured locally sourced hot wings for lunch and chicken legs for dinner. But, in tune with the AF&C reports, that leg comes served with sweetbreads (a nicer name for the prepared thymus gland of a calf). For beef, the menu trades in the typical steaks for something called the spinalis, a lesser-known cut also known as the cap steak.
How to get in on this trend: Ask your local butcher about "butcher's" cuts and cooking tips. You might save some money and find a new family favorite.
4) How Sweet It Is
Last year saw the meteoric rise of the Cronut, a pastry created by New York pastry chef Dominique Ansel. The flaky dessert, a cross between a doughnut and a croissant, became so oddly popular that people lined up for hours to eat them.
No one can predict when the next Cronut will surface, but one thing's for sure: The experts all say cupcakes are so over (and Cronuts might not be far behind). So what's going to be big on the sweets front?
Nation's Restaurant News says “haute homey” desserts, sweets that riff off nostalgic favorites, will dominate dessert plates this year. Andrew Freeman says fancy ice cream sandwiches should take the cake. And U.S. Foods, a restaurant supply company, says to look for ethnic sweets, such as dulce de leche, to replace the cupcake obsession.
How to get in on this trend: Check the dessert menu of your favorite local restaurant.
5) Hot (Literally) For 2014
Experts say that hot and spicy foods will continue to be, well, hot in the new year. McCormick & Company, in its 125th year of making spices, had chilies and Mexican fare topping its 2014 Flavor Forecast.
“Food lovers everywhere are seeking out their next big chile thrill,” said the report, which predicts you'll find Aji Amarillo, a hot and fruity Peruvian yellow chile, in many dishes this year.
But spicy predictions aren't solely the territory of the spice companies — or Latin cuisine, for that matter. Korean Gochujang is one spicy condiment to watch, according to many of the experts. The fermented chili sauce is spicy and slightly sweet, and lends a kick to soups and stir-fries.
How to get in on this trend: Check the ethnic food aisles of your local grocery store, or look for Asian markets in your area.