“Illegal Dining” Joins The Food Channel’s 2013 Trends Forecast

Filed under: Bites & Bits , Author: Caron Golden , January 17, 2013

The Food Channel has released its 2013 Trends Forecast, compiled in conjunction with CultureWaves® and the International Food Futurists®. Here’s a look at what The Food Channel sees happening in the world of food for 2013. Visit http://www.foodchannel.com/articles/article/top-ten-food-trends-2013 for the full report.

1. Kickstarting New Food Concepts. Kickstarter, GoFundMe and other crowdfunding sites have been around a while, but we see them really kicking it up to a new level in the food and hospitality arena in the coming year. Got a new food product idea, or want to build a new restaurant? Go for it, and make it a crowdpleaser.

2. Smokin’ Hot. Smoking—as in smoked foods and beverages—is big and getting bigger. At the dinner table, it’s going way beyond barbecue, and the trend is spreading. We’re starting to see things like smoked cocktails, smoked olive oil and even smoked water. Nordic/Scandinavian cuisine is one to watch in the coming year, too, and you’ll find a variety of smoked food choices driving that trend.

Tea-Smoked Salmon with Honey & Lavender Glaze exemplifies two 2013 trends according to The Food Channel: smoking foods and incorporating tea as an ingredient—in this case, as a rub using Tazo® Chai Tea and Tazo® Wild Sweet Orange Tea. Courtesy of Starbucks Foodservice

3. Home Bakers Hone Skills. High-end specialty bakery products are becoming widely accessible for home use. Thanks to new parchments, new pans, new recipes and tutorials, baking up fancy pastries at home is becoming a more realistic goal.

4. The Fix Is in. Prix-fixe, That Is. “No choice” is becoming the new choice when it comes to dining out. The European-style prix-fixe (fixed menu) restaurant policy is making its way to American shores. Fine dining establishments offer a limited range of set choices, and are holding firm on no substitutions. It’s trickling down to the casual dining segment, too.

5. The Rise of the Supermarket Concierge. Grocery stores have executive chefs, offer cooking classes and have specialists who can direct you to the best cheese, best meats and best baked goods. We began to see it a few years ago when we predicted the rise in butchers, and it’s gone beyond. Cooking classes are everywhere—sponsored by grocery stores, private caterers and restaurants of all sorts. The supermarket concierge is the next logical step in the progression.

6. Brunch Becomes the New Fourth Meal. The late-morning meal that usurps breakfast and dinner is becoming the hot new meal occasion. You can find eateries that feature karaoke during brunch, or offer a free-flowing Bloody Mary bar. We found a bowling alley that hosts a brunch, serving such choices as fried chicken, buttermilk pancakes and cinnamon toast pizza. So stay up late, then sleep in and enjoy the new fourth meal.

7. Seasonals for All Seasons. Traditional seasons are getting stretched out, with people making things like pumpkin muffins in the summer. (Restaurant chefs have increased their use of pumpkin on menus by nearly 40% in the last two years.) Tomatoes have been an all-year staple for years, but new breakthroughs in agri-science are making the off-season varieties actually worth eating. Then there’s the continuation of the canning trend, that lets folks enjoy the bounty of summer all winter long.

8. Cooking to a Tea. The consumption of tea in general is still growing, and now it’s moving beyond beverage onto the ingredient list for some menu items. For one thing, teas have great names and can help spice up a menu in many ways. Look for tea rubs, the way there are coffee and cocoa rubs.

9. Comfort Food with an Ethnic Accent. Younger generations have expanded what fits into this nostalgic category, with an emphasis on ethnic cuisines. Comfort food for the twenty- and thirty-something crowd includes choices like Japanese ramen, Korean kimchi, Chinese pot stickers, sun cakes and Vietnamese pho. Look for new twists in the coming year like jumbo-sized “man sushi.”

10. Here’s the Skinny. We’re finally starting to see the obesity trend level off a bit with a growing number of Americans striving to eat healthier. But a developing subset of the movement to eat smarter is a new desire to be—not just at a healthy weight—but actually skinny. The “skinny-fit” trend is moving from a blue-jeans category to a way of eating, and some restaurants are responding with tiny portions that cater to this vanity-driven crowd. Will it go too far? This is one to watch in 2013.

Bonus: Illegal Dining. Years ago we called out clandestine dining, where people were setting up pop-up restaurants that you had to be invited to in order to even know they existed. Then came food trucks, and people started to realize that restaurant food could show up in unexpected places. Now, it’s “hush dining,” fueled by Twitter and the spirit of entrepreneurship—but not legally licensed as a business. There are a lot of people out there with great ideas on how to change a meal, make it their own and make it the way nobody else has—but they don’t have the capital or the time to start a restaurant. So they’re printing business cards and setting up a Twitter account, going to farmers markets and utilizing word of mouth to create an on-order kitchen out of their home. It’s half thrill of the hunt and half genuinely homemade (with a little black-market appeal thrown in the mix) that eggs on diners looking for the next food truck and the next dive—beyond social media. It’s an evolution of both pop-up dining and food trucks, and we think, while business licenses are there for a reason, it will be interesting to see the evolution of new ideas and new approaches to the difficult business of running a restaurant.

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Caron Golden


Founder of premier organization of personal chefs inspires students to follow their dreams of culinary entrepreneurship.

Candy Wallace, executive director of the American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA), today was recognized by Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies as its 33rd Distinguished Guest Chef.

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