In December, the American Culinary Federation asked more than 1,500 professional chefs a simple question:
What foods will be hot in 2011?
The chefs’ overwhelming response:
Anything and everything local.
Locally sourced meats, locally grown produce and restaurants so hyperlocal that they have their own gardens or do their own butchering are all fire-poker-hot this year, according to the chefs surveyed.
Which is cool, because tons of restaurants are doing the hyperlocal thing.
Here are 10 more trends that made the American Culinary Federation’s list of “What’s Hot in 2011.”
n Deconstructed classic desserts
Dessert looks more like abstract art than a cake, and think unusual dessert ingredients like bacon and sea salt.
n Smoke-infused ingredients
Even in the drinks! House-smoked rye whiskey or bloody mary mix makes the trend sipable.
n Flatbreads such as naan
Aside from being fun to say, naan is a traditional Indian flatbread baked in a clay oven. It can be stuffed with potatoes and spices.
For those who can’t tolerate gluten, a protein found in wheat, navigating restaurant menus can be tricky. Some restaurants are making it easy by listing gluten-free menu items.
n Aguas Fresca
The flavored coolers called aguas frescas can be made by blending fresh fruit with honey or sugar. The sweet elixir is typically made with whatever fruit is in season, like strawberry, cantaloupe, watermelon ...
n Street food-inspired appetizers
Whether they are tacos or Thai satays, these are wallet-friendly snacks.
The health benefits of acai fruit and goji berries haven’t yet been scientifically proven. But that’s not stopping some from claiming the “superfruits” can aid weight loss, improve longevity or ramp up sexual function.
Decide for yourself by the fruits in custom-blended smoothies.
n Sustainable seafood
Sustainable fish are caught at a rate that won’t damage the ecosystem or cause extinction. Look for which fish is fresh and in season.
n Organic coffee
Pair certified organic coffee or organic tea with local milk.
n Regional ethnic cuisine
If you want to try a really specific cuisine without buying a plane ticket, look for a good Caribbean jerk joint.