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Every year in the US, the National Restaurant Association prepares its What’s Hot culinary forecast of menu trends for the coming yearm surveying nearly 1,300 professional chefs to find which food and beverage items will be hot trends on restaurant menus in 2014. With Gulfood upon us, this seems like a good time to take the temperature of the market.

The top ten projected food trends resonate quite well with us here in the Middle East, except perhaps for the last one:
* Locally sourced meats and seafood
* Locally grown produce
* Environmental sustainability
* Healthy kids’ meals
* Gluten-free cuisine
* Hyper-local sourcing such restaurant gardens
* Children’s nutrition
* Non-wheat noodles and pasta – quinoa, rice, buckwheat
* Sustainable seafood
* Farm or estate branded items

What is interesting is the lack of temporary fads in the list. These are real, seismic trends across the food sector and the ony question about their viability is how slow the wider adoption will be, as Big Food and – this year, especially – Big Sugar can be halted and then forced onto the defensive.

In other words, provenance is king. And provenance, in turn, underlies the adoption of healthier diets and lifestyles. This may, as some commentators have discussed, be an elitist view of food with only those with spare income that can be directed to more expensive food choices. but change is coming on a wider canvas.

On the way out, as evidenced in the survey are foam/froth/air, bacon-flavoured chocolate, fish offal, gazpacho and fun-shaped children’s items. Perennial favourites remain as fried chicken, Italian cuisine, frying, barbeque and Eggs Benedict.

Equally, on the drinks side, micro distilleries, artisan spirits and locally produced beverages are the top trends.

Looking a decade out, chefs see environmental sustainability, local sourcing, health nutrition, children’s nutrition and gluten-free cuisine as the key areas. And joining nose-to-tail will be root-to-stalk cooking.

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