2008 Flavor Trends Includes Best of the Past: Handcrafted, Soul Satisfying Foods from All Global Corners Predicted for Restaurant Menus

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Everything old is new again. That certainly holds true when examining culinary flavor trends found on the front burners of American restaurants. From farmer market cuisine, to cured and pickled foods, to global street fare, American's chefs are turning to the past's simplicity for today's flavor inspiration. That's what a team of menu development experts found when researching flavor trends that will shape Americans' experiences at restaurant tables in the years to come.

We expect these ten trends to have considerable impact on flavor- and menu-development patterns in the years to come.

    Flavor & The Menu magazine, the only foodservice publication devoted exclusively to flavor, keeps its finger on the pulse of flavor trends through a panel of menu development experts known for innovation, menu revitalization and all around flavor-forward thinking. Their expertise is backed up with statistical data from research industry leaders - Mintel Menu Insights and Technomic Information Services.

"Our selection of this year's trends encompasses the varied ways leading chefs are finding inspiration, from classic flavors of the past to subtle but surprising flavor contrasts, and from pure, premium ingredients to street foods around the globe," says Cathy Holley, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief. "We expect these ten trends to have considerable impact on flavor- and menu-development patterns in the years to come."

With nearly 50 cents of every food dollar being spent on food prepared away from home, it is only a matter of time before the flavors found on restaurant menus turn up on grocery store shelves.

Flavor & The Menu's pick of trends for 2008:

Top Culinary Style - The New Simplicity/Farmer's Market Cuisine: Chefs who love fresh, local, seasonal and artisanal foods find themselves cooking more simply than ever before. It's all about buying the best ingredients, and letting their natural flavors shine through.

Top Sauce Trend - Barely-there Broths: Lightweight sauces like broths, vinaigrettes, infused waters, teas, reductions and gastriques lend a flavorful accent without overwhelming signature flavors.

Top High-Impact Ingredient - Cured & Pickled Foods: Made-in-house or purchased, items like salami, cedar-cured salmon, craft bacons, sauerkraut and specialty pickles are adding flavor and interest to menus.

Top Ethno-Cuisine Trend - The New Global Street Food: From Mexican antojitos to Indian chaat, the next wave of global snacks and handheld foods are moving indoors, offering new flavor experiences from around the world.

Top Menu-Making Trend - The Educated Menu: Operators are taking a more proactive stance in educating consumers about sourcing, raising & aging techniques, regionality, produce variety, etc.

Top Technique Trend - Slow Cooking: On-trend techniques like sous vide, confit, slow poaching and braising deepen the flavor experience.

Top Comeback Food - The Egg Bounces Back: Eggs aren't just for breakfast anymore; just see how they're being adapted to add a distinctive element to all menu courses, from frisee lardon salads to custardy desserts.

Top Equipment Trend - Tools for Texture: From Vita-Mix to Paco-Jet, slicers to immersion blenders, specialty smallwares are being used to introduce surprising textures to signature menu items.

Top Dessert Trend - Unexpected Enhancements (i.e., sweet meets salty, savory, floral, herbal): Chefs are differentiating dessert offerings by complementing sweetness with surprising flavors.

Top Beverage Trends -- A Return to Elegance: Today's beverage menus are bringing back the classics with an updated twist: house-made bitters and infusions, herbal martinis, classic drinks with new garnishes.

Flavor & The Menu consults with an impressive roster of chefs and industry experts to provide insight and analysis of its trends. Advisors include Mintel Menu Insight's Maria Caranfa, Citizen Cake's Elizabeth Falkner, Tavistock Restaurant's Bryan Lockwood, Center for Culinary Development's Kara Nielsen, Cameron Mitchell Restaurant Group's Chuck Kline, Stanford University's Rafi Taherian, Technomic's Darren Tristano, Avado Brands' Paul Seidman and the Culinary Institute of America's Greg Drescher.

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Cathy Holley
Flavor & The Menu
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