Annual survey by the National Restaurant Association shows gluten-free dishes, non-wheat noodles and healthy kids’ meals will remain “hot” in restaurants in 2013.
Gluten-free dining is holding steady in restaurants, according to the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) annual chef survey. Each year, NRA surveys professional chefs from the American Culinary Federation (ACF) to get their take on what’s “Yesterday’s News,” “What’s Hot” and what will be a “Perennial Favorite” among diners.
According to the survey, 74% of chefs believe “gluten-free cuisine” will continue to be a top trend in 2013, ranking it as #8 on the “What’s Hot” chart. Only 14% categorized gluten-free as “Yesterday’s News” while 11% say it is here to stay, marking it as a “Perennial Favorite.” Gluten-free was ranked #4 in the top “Culinary Themes” for 2013.
Non-wheat noodles, pastas and whole grains are also forecasted to be top trends in 2013. When looking at the predicted trends for the upcoming year, chefs ranked non-wheat flour at #4 in the “Other Food Items/Ingredients” category and non-wheat noodles and pasta came in as the #1 hot trend for the “Sides/Starches” category. Quinoa is gaining interest and was ranked #3 in the same category.
Also noteworthy is the rise of the “Healthful Kids’ Meals” trend and “Hyper-Local Sourcing” coming in at the #3 and #7 slots respectively in the overall “Hot Trends.” This can be seen as good news for the gluten-free community as locally sourced ingredients allow consumers to have easier access to the producers to better understand what ingredients are in a product. Adding to healthy kids’ meals movement, the chefs predict “Fruit/Vegetable Children’s Side Items” will be a 2013 trend, meaning more naturally gluten-free foods may be available in restaurants.
While it is encouraging to see gluten-free as an overall trend and alternative grains trending in the restaurant scene, cross-contamination is still a risk for gluten-free diners. With proper training, however, this risk can be minimized so gluten-free diners can feel more comfortable eating out. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) urges restaurants to establish safe gluten-free food preparation protocols with the help of NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens training program.