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Popular Culinary Themes for 2013

What’s Hot 2013 Chef’s Survey


If you are looking for new ideas for your existing restaurant menu or getting ready to create a new menu from scratch, the 2013 What’s Hot chefs survey outlines the hottest trends for the coming year.

Environmental Sustainability

What it is – Focusing on food that has minimal environmental impact.

Why it’s a hot trend – The trend toward sustainability has been in the works for over 30 years. Coupled with a renewed focus on buying local and supporting agriculture and today’s consumers are more aware than ever of where their food comes from.

How to do it – This includes buying local (and therefore saving on fuel for transportation), buying from purveyors who practice sustainable farming practices, and choosing organic products. This includes beef, poultry, seafood, fruits and vegetables. Read on for more about the benefits of buying local.

Children’s Nutrition

Jyn Meyer
What it is – Offering meals for children that meet nutritional guidelines and offer more healthy choices and less items that are fried, heavy with fat or empty calories.

Why it’s a hot trend – The childhood obesity epidemic has been a hot topic between public health advocates and the restaurant industry for years. As more and more families eat more meals away from home, restaurants have been under fire for kids menus laden with fat and low on fresh fruits and vegetables.

How to do it – Cleaning up your children’s menus to offer more nutritional options isn’t hard. And it isn’t expensive.Read more about how to create a healthy kids menu.

Gluten Free Cuisine

What it is – Food prepared without wheat products. Gluten free ingredients must be approved gluten free by the FDA.

Why it’s a hot trend – More and more people are seeking alternatives to traditional gluten flour products, either because they have allergies or for other nutritional choices.

How to do it Read more about Gluten Free Basics from About.com Guide, Teri Gruss, MS.


What it is – Kids nutrition isn’t the only hot trend for 2013. Consumers are becoming more health savvy every year. The excessive restaurant promotions like all-you-can-eat-buffets and five-pound steaks have given way to a new generation of diners who want more healthy options that taste good.

Why it’s a hot trend – People are more aware of the link between health and their diets. But that doesn’t mean they want to eat every meal at home. Instead, they are looking for tasty but healthy options from their favorite restaurants.

How to do it – Offering smaller portions, alternative grains, more fresh fruits and vegetables are just a few ways to spruce up your regular menu with healthier options.

Food Trucks

What it is – A restaurant on wheels.

Why it’s a hot trend – It has several distinct advantages over a traditional eat-in restaurant. A food truck can go to where the customers are. It has pretty low overhead, compared to a restaurant, and requires far less staff. And food trucks can offer any kind of cuisine a brick and mortar restaurant can – everything from soups and salads to cupcakes and coffee.

How to do itCheck out this step-by-step guide to starting your own food truck business.

Simplicity/Back to Basics

What it is – Just what it says it is: simple foods and back to basic cooking.

Why it’s a hot trend – Comfort food got it’s name because, well, it’s comforting. And in times of stress (like a recession) people like familiar and comforting things. Plus, most American comfort food – macaroni and cheese, chicken pie, meatloaf and gravy...offer very low food cost.

How to do it – Dig out Grandma’s cookbook and find some old family favorites to offer your restaurant patrons.

Nose to Tail Cooking

What it is – A culinary trend in which an entire animal (usually raised naturally on nearby farms) is butchered (sometimes in house) and most, if not all of the animal is incorporated into meals, leaving little waste.

Why it’s a hot trend – This trend follows along with sustainability. It also makes the most of animal, keeping food cost low.

How to do it Check out this bit from Italian Food at About.com that outlines the origins of Nose to Tail and how to do it at your restaurant.

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