List of 5 Culinary Trends for 2008 - Less is Definitely More

by Jane Greer
CulinaryEd Columnist
May 19, 2011

Frivolous culinary trends don't last long, but five top current trends make good sense and may be around for a while. These trends share a 'less is more' theme as restaurant owners and culinary schools creatively respond to Americans' quest for health, simplicity, and moderation along with good food and drink.

  1. Slimming Down Portion Size
    "A survey of more than 1,000 professional chefs, members of the American Culinary Federation, found that small is big on menus, as bite-size desserts and small plates/tapas/mezze top the list of hot trends," reports the National Restaurant Association. Some restaurants no longer even offer large entre items. This portion-slimming trend pleases both calorie-conscious and price-conscious customers.
  2. Each Niche Meets a Need
    Specialized restaurants are all the rage as 'less is more' takes hold in cities of all sizes. People hungry for a particular food--ceviche, tapas, steak, kebabs, cheese, dessert, or anything chocolate--can find a niche restaurant that serves exactly that and little else.
  3. Developing a Culinary Conscience
    "The trend I see as the fastest growing going into 2008 is the alternative-source ingredients: local produce, organics, sustainable seafood, grass-fed and free-range items," says John Kinsella, president of the American Culinary Federation, in a National Restaurant Association report. The dining public is also demanding more organic food of known origin.
  4. Sommeliers Guide Your Taste
    Culinary school graduates with specialized wine and beverage knowledge are uniquely positioned to help restaurants satisfy customers' growing desires to develop discerning palates. Trends include small samplings or tastes of alcoholic beverages (wine, beer, and tequila are the most popular), wine and beer sommeliers, and menu pairings of wine and beer with food items.
  5. For the Kids: Fewer Chicken Fingers, More Sushi?
    Kids' cookbooks and cooking classes, as well as exciting chef competitions on TV, have created a generation of adventuresome young eaters. Modern children order what they want from the regular menu and the more conventional food items on the 'kids' menu' are going the way of the three-martini lunch.

National Public Radio
National Restaurant Association
The Toledo Times

About the Author

Jane Greer is a freelance writer and editor and is also brave enough to teach English grammar at a community college.
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