Based on analysis of its annual What’s Hot culinary forecast over time, the National Restaurant Association has identified the following as trends to watch on menus in 2015:
Waste Not, Want Not: Environmental sustainability remains among the hottest menu trends. As with most maturing trends, sub-trends emerge over time; in 2015, food waste reduction and management is at the forefront of restaurant operations. Composting, recycling and donating are all tactics of food waste strategies tying into both sustainability and social responsibility. In addition, food costs are once again on the rise and back on operators’ list of top challenges, spurring restaurants to take a closer look at minimizing waste and surplus as a cost-management tool.
Our House: As the local sourcing trend continues at full speed in 2015, so does the hyper-local sub-trend. Beyond restaurant gardens, hyper-local is extending more fully into house-made, farm-branded and artisan items. From ice cream to cheese, pickles to bacon, lemonade to beer, restaurants are producing their own signature menu items from scratch.
In a Pickle: Borrowing terminology from social media, pickles are the Throwback Thursday of food trends. Common preparation methods for millennia, pickling and fermenting are making a comeback big time – but with a modern twist. Restaurants are exploring house-made pickles, ethnic flavors and specialty vinegars, small-batch producers with less traditional vegetable varieties, and fermented flavor profiles in a variety of dishes.
Article from the National Restaurant Association, December 3, 2014.