Food Trend Predictions for 2011

'Tis true that making predictions can be a fool's errand, but still we press on with our ears to the ground and our lips to the plate and glass (yes, it's a funny-looking position), boldly predicting the food, drink, restaurant, and cooking trends for 2011. Judging from last year's trends post , we're more Farmer's Almanac than Nostradamuswhich is to say, most of our prophecies have indeed come to pass. So, what's next in the world of good eating? Here are the top trends whose time has almost come.

Food Halls

America may be a century or two behind on this trend, but we are finally embracing the food hall, in all of its gluttonous, groaning-shelves glory. Following in the footsteps of giants worldwide (Paris' La Grande Épicerie and the food halls at Harrods of London and Takashimaya in Tokyo), New York has gotten into the act in a big way. Mario Batali and the Bastianich family recently opened Eataly, a boisterous celebration of Italian cuisine, in Manhattan, plus a smaller version called Tarry Market in suburban Port Chester; Todd English made his mark with the Plaza Hotel's Food Hall; Jeffrey Chodorow introduced the first installment of his FoodParc; and the former Limelight nightclub was converted into the Limelight Marketplace. Of course, the trend isn't limited to New York: Thierry Perez just debuted L'Épicerie Market in Los Angeles; Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve is opening Society Fair in Alexandria, Virginia, next spring; and there are rumors that San Francisco's Todd Humphries is planning a small food hall in the Napa Valley. We hope this trend becomes as ubiquitous here as it is in Europe.

Korean Cuisine

Could kimbap be the next sushi? Evidence is mounting that smoky, piquant Korean is America's next big cuisine. Witness the burgeoning obsession with double-fried, spicy chicken, as championed by New York's Momofuku Ko and Los Angeles' Kyochon, and the meteoric rise of the Kogi BBQ truck in L.A., selling kimchi quesadillas and short rib sliders. Finally, look out for Stop and Bap , a 13-part series on PBS devoted to Korean cuisine and culture, debuting next spring and starring Jean-Georges Vongerichten and his wife, Marja. If JG says Korean is where it's at, we are true believers.


Cupcakes and pies are looking downright crusty these days. Macaroons or macarons, usually made with ground almonds or almond paste, sugar, and egg whites, will be 2011's sweet sensation. These gluten-free, delicate confections are the subject of many new books, such as I Love Macarons , Macarons: Authentic French Cookie Recipes From the Macaron Café , and the upcoming Macaroons . Renowned pastry chef François Payard is a fan because, as he told Epicurious, "it's more than a cookie; it's a delicate pastry. People are intrigued by the flavor and the color. It becomes so exciting, because you can change the flavors every season. So incredible!" At his François Payard Bakery in New York City and on , the most popular varieties are passion fruit, mint chocolate, chocolate, and coffee.

Meatless Mondays & Tofu Thursdays

While it's hip to go whole hog, with butchers gaining star power and roasts as the focus of many a dinner party, there is a concurrent trend of eating less meat. As we recently pointed out in Back to the Future: 10 Food Trends to Watch Over the Next Decade, the proportion of people eating no meat or less meat is growing, and the nonprofit Meatless Monday initiative no doubt has been one motivator. Meatless Monday's goal is to encourage U.S. consumers to cut their meat consumption by 15 percent for the betterment of our health and the planet. School districts from Baltimore to New Haven, Santa Barbara to Syracuse, have embraced the cause, as have more than 20 public health organizations, not to mention prominent chefs such as Marcus Samuelsson. We're forecasting that eating meat-free will be on the calendar more than once a week.


While foraging may be just a fancy term for the way humans have sourced food since time immemorial, top chefs are going beyond the farmer's market and heading to quiet pastures or untrammeled forests in search of wild greens, nuts, berries, and even bark. As The New York Times recently reported, this longtime trend exploded when it was revealed that 2010's It chef, René Redzepi of Noma in Copenhagen, is a big forager. New York's David Chang likes to make salad from lily pad shoots, while Tim Wiechmann of T.W. Food in Cambridge, Massachusetts, uses wild violets in his Frozen Violet Flower Meringue with Candied Orange and Almonds. The foraging trend will go from restaurant to kitchen table in the coming year, as foodies take trowel in hand for some "wild crafting," as it's called. Already there's the crowd-sourced Philadelphia Food Harvest Map , dotted with the locations of wineberry bushes, plum and fig trees, and other worthwhile wild things.

The remaining five trends are after the jump....

Tiki Bar Cocktails

What's old is new again, not just in fashion but also in cocktails. Polynesian-style drinks, those multi-ingredient fruit juice and rum concoctions adorned with flowers and umbrellas, will be the quaffs of choice in 2011. Though you may be tempted to think this trend is yet another stylish symptom of the current craze for anything '60s-retro or Mad Men-inspired, the "new" tiki cocktails' roots go back even farther. Dale DeGroff, author of The Essential Cocktail and The Craft of the Cocktail and founding president of the Museum of the American Cocktail, told Epicurious, "the revival of the tiki trend, ironically, is closer to the classic tropical periodright after Prohibitionpioneered by Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt (a.k.a. Don the Beachcomber). The tiki movement today is coming from the craft bartending community, using fresh ingredients and attempting to find the original recipes. Julie Reiner's sophisticated take on tropical cocktails at Lani Kai in New York City is a perfect example." Try out a Planter's Punch , Mai Tai , Hurricane , or Zombie , and then join the discussion with the rest of the neo-Polynesian crowd on Critiki . Or get ahead of the curve by visiting one of the tiki bars listed on Tiki Central .

Pop-Up Cafés

Food trucks are as ubiquitous as, well, trucks, but the freewheeling, catch-as-catch-can insta-restaurants are now picking up steam. Why? Little capital, resources, or planning is needed, and chefs have greater freedom to try out menu items, restaurant themes, and locations. Chefs can create their own venues, in art galleries, public areas, or their own homes, as did Ben Greeno of London's Tudor Road. In Los Angeles, chef Ludo Lefebvre opened what he calls a "guerilla style pop-up restaurant," LudoBites . And Top Chef's Stephanie Izard (of Girl and the Goat in Chicago) started out with an "underground" place called Wandering Goat, which enabled her to preview her menu and generate publicity. Meanwhile, San Francisco is leading the trend, with a multitude of pop-ups, no doubt a reflection, at least in part, of the city's high rents and overcrowded restaurant scene. Eat Restaurant holds a monthly dinner in different locales so chef Tommy Halvorson can run the stoves without running his credit line. (We've even had our own pop-up restaurant, Epicurious Entertains NYC.) Look for more of these in 2011.

Sweet Potatoes

This sweet root vegetable, bursting with beta-carotene and fiber, is finally getting the love it so deserves. With this fall's bumper crop estimated at two billion pounds, more prominence on restaurant menus (not just in fry form), and an impressive nutritional profile, the sweet potato will be crowned the Vegetable of 2011. According to The New York Times , ConAgra just opened a plant devoted to processing frozen sweet potato products, and Google searches for the root vegetable (OK, albeit in fry form) have jumped 40 percent from last year. Chefs love them for their flavor, texture, and color: Sarah Stegner of Chicago's Prairie Grass Café and Prairie Fire serves up Stuffed Sweet Potato Bread French Toast with Cream Cheese Filling. At DC Coast in Washington, D.C., chef Brendan Cox makes Sweet Potato Panzotti with Sage, Guanciale, and Toasted Hazelnut.

Urban Wineries

Move over, canning. The DIY trend is moving Sideways, enabling you to become the Mondavi of your block. At the Brooklyn Winery , oenophiles learn the process of taking grapes from vine to vintage, doing the de-stemming, crushing, and pressing and then bottling their own wine. At Cork This! Winery , in Montgomery, Texas, wine lovers can bottle the stuff and personalize the label. And at San Diego's Carruth Cellars Winery , Adam Carruth blends, ages, and bottles right in the middle of a city block. Could urban-wine tasting tours be next?

Pimentón de La Vera

You may never have heard of this ingredient, but chances are you've used its less smoky cousin many times. A specialty of Spain's La Vera region, this smoked paprika is a building block of Spanish cuisine. It lends a sweet heat to roast and grilled meats, paellas, sauces, and soups. Because of the widespread popularity of Spanish cuisine, Pimentón de La Vera is gaining traction stateside, on restaurant menus and with specialty stores and online retailers . While all paprika is ground from a mix of Capsicum annuum peppers, the flavor is determined by the type of red chiles used, whether or not seeds are added, and the processing method. In La Vera, the chiles are smoked over an oak fire for two weeks before being carefully ground. Try the spice of tomorrow in this Turkey Cutlet Sandwich with Smoked Paprika and Mayo from Bon Appétit.

Happy new food year from Epicurious! And keep us posted on what's in your culinary crystal ball!

-Tanya Steel, Editor-in-Chief


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