Ten Food Trend Predictions for 2012

Some of our predictions for 2012.
Some of our predictions for 2012.
See credit for individual pictures below.

Just about everybody is offering up their predictions for the food trends of 2012. Trends come and go in a flash sometimes, especially in this era of social media. While no one will know for sure what will take off, Chow Bella toss out our two cents to this food trend list trend.


Here's what we predict will be hopping in 2012:

Ten Food Trend Predictions for 2012

Doughnuts go global. We're used to the round, the loaded and the plain glazed doughnuts, but they'll be going on a tour around the world this year. We predict (as did James Beard Blog) that we'll start seeing more regional fried delights like "Texan kolache, Turkish lokma, or Portuguese malasada (which Stephanie Izard will serve at the Beard House in February)."

2. Small or shared plates. It's not likely that all restaurants will be shrinking their portion sizes and prices to fit the needs of consumers waistlines and wallets, they'd have to bring more bodies into the restaurants to account for the profit loss. We probably won't see every restaurant offering amuse bouches or tapas (though many will), if that's not an option, consumers will get smart and share more main dishes to find ways to be frugal and still get a chance to go out to eat without chowing down on a plate that sometimes has enough food to serve a family of four.

Roasted lamb over a wood fire.
Roasted lamb over a wood fire.
Natalie Morris

Locally-sourced proteins. With story after story of freaky diseases in the mass-produced meat supply, raising and slaughtering your own rabbit, goats, and elk is sounding like a better solution all the time. It helps that big time chefs like Stephanie Izard are supporting these unique meats.

4. Collected vintage serviceware. You may have noticed that some of your favorite haunts, your meal is served on unique cozy plates, bowls, glassware and flatware. See ya later uniform bright white plates, more restaurant owners are choosing to serve your salad on what looks like Grandma's china.

5. Sous vide at home. Some high end chefs are releasing cookbooks requiring the use of these pricy machines. At $400 a pop for a mid-priced model, it's not really an affordable option for most. However, we think there are many foodniks wanting to try their hand at the hip immersion technique and will be giving it a go this year.

Pickled everything. It's not just for cukes anymore. Essentially a food preservation method, (a pretty delicious one) pickled foods will be a trend you'll start seeing more and more on menus.

7. Scandanavian flavors, and/or hyper local niche cooking. Copenhagen's Noma restaurant cookbook was a James Beard Foundation award winner and many are predicting chefs will start incorporating ingredients like "sea buckthorn (a tart orange berry), wood sorrel (a plant with heart-shaped leaves), bark flour (made from real trees), and evergreens (such as Douglas fir)." Douglas fir was even spotted at Chicago's GT Fish & Oyster. Since these ingredients are difficult to source, we think that the trend will inspire more regional recipes using local ingredients, instead.

8. Smarter kids' menu choices. Restaurants are wising up that serving chicken nuggets and plain buttered pasta isn't going to cut it with parents (or kids) anymore. More restaurants will be offering creative kid-sizes portions of more healthful meals.

Ten Food Trend Predictions for 2012

Hand pulled noodles. They're cheap to make and thrilling to watch. Hand Pulled Noodles are already a feature at Chef Martin Yan's M.Y. China, which is opening Spring 2012 in San Francisco. We predict there will be a lot more chefs choosing this engaging offering.

Ten Food Trend Predictions for 2012

10. Caneles are the new sweet treat. Move over cupcakes, macarons, and pies, caneles are on the prowl. These molded custardy filled beauties require molds at $25 each, so there might not be a proliferation of these from home cooks like at Chez Pim but they're so alluring, we're thinking a shared set among friends would be a good idea.

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