If you’re a regular at Carrabba’s Italian Grill you may have noticed that the menu for 2014 is different from the previous year, and there’s nothing surprising about that as restaurants have to keep with the trends. However, what 2014 is showing us is that chefs are always looking for the next big thing, and the following are bound to be some of the biggest ones for the rest of the year.
Charcuterie (Cured Meats)
Charcuterie is at the top of most chefs’ agenda for the rest of 2014, and for the second straight year it is considered one of the top appetizers in restaurants today. The emphasis here is on seafood, local produce and other cured meats that remind diners of home.
The growing health trend in the US and the rest of the world has chefs coming up with more vegetarian appetizers in the menu. These days people aren’t content with great tasting food as they also want healthier food options that will help them control weight, cholesterol and blood pressure. For this reason, don’t be surprised if the next time you are at Cracker Barrel healthier options are now available.
Chefs today are also becoming more creative when it comes to preparing street food inspired meals. For the past couple of years, street food has been the top choice for appetizers and food fingers, so chefs today are coming up with new ways to whip up old favorites like kebabs and tempura. The popularity of street food has been helped by food trucks, so chefs have responded by providing restaurants with more food truck-like items on their menu.
Exotic Sides and Dips
Traditional American food still dominates menus, but a growing number are now incorporating more ethnic sides and dips to add variety. For sure, artichoke and spinach dips will still be widely available for the rest of the year, but look for chefs and cooks to come up with more flavors from the Middle East and the Mediterranean like the muhammara and roasted eggplant. In addition, you can expect more unique sides that incorporate spices, pomegranate molasses, walnuts and peppers.
Amuse Bouche is French for appetizer, but in this case it refers to bite size appetizers with plenty of flavor. While this treat is usually a fixture in classy restaurants and fine dining, it’s getting more popular by the day.
Local Fruits and Vegetables
The growing demand for locally sourced food is showing no signs of slowing down. Given this trend, more and more restaurants are partnering with farms to create menus with locally produced food items. This trend has been going strong for more than a few years and it’s only expected to become even more popular for the rest of 2014.
Year in and year out, comfort foods have always ranked near the top of diners’ preferred meals, which is why chefs are always looking for new ways to serve them up. Chefs are aware that comfort foods may not always be the top choice of diners, but it has a niche and will always bring in people who long for classic food. In addition, restaurants are adding a twist to classic food by including house made or local ingredients in the mix.
Asian and Foreign Cuisine
As mentioned earlier, chefs and restaurants are more likely than ever to use alternative ingredients to differentiate themselves, and this will lead to more Asian type foods showing up in the menu. Aside from the usual stuff you can expect spice blends and exotic spices such as shichimi togarashi and zataar instead of just salt and pepper, plus there are now plenty of other alternatives to classics like maple syrup.
Chefs first began using ethnic grains widely in 2013 and they became very popular. There’s been no letup in their popularity so expect this to continue all throughout 2014. Rather than use the same old white flour, there are now several kinds of grains being used that provide unique flavors, textures and more importantly are more nutritious. One type of grain that chefs are now using more is teff, a cereal grain from Ethiopia and rich in iron and calcium. Another one is cassava flour which is also nutritious.
Other Favorites for 2014
Aside from those already mentioned, other favorites that you will still find at restaurants are barbecue, fried chicken, grilled treats, French toast and short ribs. Aside from these chefs also have zucchini, Mexican cuisine and Italian dishes on the menu.
So what this means is that for the rest of 2014, you can expect a mixture of classic food items along with new treats from different parts of the world. The focus of chefs today however, is mainly on variety along with providing healthier food options.