Hot Food Trends for 2012

The burning question for everyone in the New Year is “What’s going to be HOT 2012?” – See my predictions at the bottom.

When it comes to food, especially party food, I have a good gut instinct and a great resource – the The National Restaurant Association’s yearly survey of professional chefs.  The items on this list come from the best minds on the subject, restaurant chefs.  These chefs are on the front lines day after day and must come up with new ideas to satisfy the hungry public sitting at tables outside their kitchen doors.  The success or failure of a restaurant depends on their decisions.  Make’s my job seem easy!  So without further ado, I bring you the results…

Top 20 What’s Hot

  1. Locally sourced meats and seafood
  2. Locally grown produce
  3. Healthful kids’ meals
  4. Hyper-local sourcing (e.g. restaurant gardens)
  5. Sustainability
  6. Children’s nutrition
  7. Gluten-free/food allergy conscious
  8. Locally-produced wine and beer
  9. Sustainable seafood
  10. Whole grain items in kids’ meals
  11. Newly fabricated cuts of meat (e.g. Denver steak, pork flat iron, Petite Tender)
  12. Farm/estate-branded ingredients
  13. Food trucks/street food
  14. Micro-distilled/artisan spirits
  15. Artisan/house-made ice cream
  16. Health/nutrition
  17. Non-traditional fish (e.g. branzino, Arctic char, barramundi)
  18. Fruit/vegetable children’s side items
  19. “Mini meals” (e.g. smaller versions of adult menu items)
  20. Culinary cocktails (e.g. savory, fresh ingredients, herb-infused)
  • Simplicity/back to basics  – had to add number 21


The National Restaurant Association each year surveys professional chefs, members of the American Culinary Federation, on which foods, beverages, cuisines and culinary themes will be hot trends on restaurant menus. The What’s Hot in 2012 survey was conducted in the fall of 2011 among nearly 1,800 chefs.

Now there is no doubt this list needs some translation for home hosts and chefs.  I have read the entire report, which contains a variety of categories and hundreds of results (you can download it here if you like> ) and from it, gleaned some trends I see happening now and predict will grow in popularity this year with home entertainers.  They are listed in no particular order.  Each I believe will make a mark this year.  Start incorporating these hot items in your parties now.  For some, I have included a link to a blog post here at The Partybluprints Blog or elsewhere, others we will cover soon.  Hope you enjoy!

My Top Picks for What’s Hot in 2012

From the Survey

  • Heirloom apples replacing heirloom tomatoes
  • Deconstructed classic desserts (Deconstructed Baked Alaska>)
  • French toast/stuffed French toast
  • Cuban cuisine ( Cubano Quesadillas)
  • Gluten-free/food allergy conscious (Gluten-Free Spring Rolls)
  • Gourmet/house-made lemonade
  • Food-beer pairings/ beer dinners
  • Simplicity/back to basics food trend ( The Brownie is #1 for Simple Entertaining)
  • Flatbreads (Margarita Flatbread Pizza)
  • Peruvian cuisine
  • Honey Everywhere ( Cocktail: Bees Knees>)
  • Ceviche/seviche
  • Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches ( party ideas for serving) – the New mac and cheese!
  • Cotton candy/marshmallows/ s’mores ( try marshmallow recipe from Sophisti Mom)
  • Lowcountry cuisine  (e.g. South Carolina/Georgia coast)
  • Flavored popcorn
  • Regional signature cocktails

My additions

Got some of your own predictions?  Add them in the comments below, it’s so much fun to see which ones hit it big at the end of the year!


5 Responses to Hot Food Trends for 2012

  1. I like what you guys are doing. Such clever work and reporting! Keep up the excellent works guys. I have incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it will improve the value of my site. 🙂

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  2. We’re already seeing the locally grown trend in many restaurants in my area. I love using locally grown food whenever I can. 🙂 I’m excited to see more boozy baking ideas.

  3. So much to love here! Especially liking the “mini meals.” Whenever I dine out, there is always way too much on my plate, not all of us want a feast, just a meal. I think you’re onto something with the grilled cheese. So many possibilities and loved by all!

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