The Top Food Trends of 2013

by Sara Bonisteel, Epicurious; Illustration by Myldwin Pierre

It's time again to look into the crystal ball for predictions of upcoming food trends for 2013. As in years past (2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008), our editorial team sifted through ingredients, food news, and pop culture to compile our culinary forecasts for the coming year, which we've divided into Front Burner (trends you'll likely see dominate) and Back Burner (things whose popularity has peaked) categories. Agree with our findings? Are we off base? Share your opinions on the predictions, and weigh in on what you think we'll see in the world of food next year!

Front Burner: Collaborations
Playing nice in the kitchen is the order of the day. The food world can take a lesson from Grant Achatz and Daniel Humm, chefs who switched restaurant spaces for 21st Century Limited. Achatz's Alinea cooked its signature fare in Humm's 11 Madison Park space for a week in September and Humm followed suit in October in Chicago. And in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, restaurants like Hill Country and Rob's Bistro in Madison, New Jersey, offered temporary work to servers, bussers, prep cooks, and other kitchen workers displaced by the storm. More collaboration, please!
Back Burner: Food Feuds
Just when everyone thought Pete Wells' takedown of Guy's American Kitchen & Bar couldn't make feuds any worse, Gordon Ramsay came along and applied for a U.K. trademark on the Spotted Pig in an apparent bid to stop chef April Bloomfield from opening an outpost of her popular New York gastropub of the same name. It's time to put to rest the food fights of 2012.

Front Burner: Technology
Comodo's Instagram menu (full disclosure: Carolina moonlights there) and the rise of the iPad in the dining room mean it's only a matter of time before more restaurants opt for pixilation over paper.
Back Burner: Tasting Menus
Multi-hour, dozen-course-or-more tasting menus are about as popular as the 1 percent. Instead, expect restaurants to focus on small plates proportioned to suit a diner's appetite.

Front Burner: Cauliflower
This cruciferous friend is finally taking center plate with restaurants like Chicago's Girl and the Goat (where it's roasted), Sunday Suppers (where it's fried) in Brooklyn, and the National in Athens, Georgia (where it's soupified), showcasing the vegetable as a starring player. Cauliflower wins in the home kitchen as well, in "steak" form.
Back Burner: Kale
We'll always love kale, but it's time for a breather from all those chips, salads, and sautés.

See more: Essential Tools for Portion Control

Front Burner: Vegetable Plate
Cauliflower is having a moment, but so too is the Vegetable Plate. It's not just for vegetarians anymore. Seasonal vegetable mains at New York's the Fat Radish and Philadelphia's Supper are good places to start increasing your veggie intake.
Back Burner: Meatballs
Always delicious, but no longer the hot new kid on the block.

Front Burner: Toronto
David Chang's addition of four (yes, four) Momofuku spinoffs and Daniel Boulud's new outpost at the Four Seasons adds further depth to an already exciting international dining scene. Head to Ossington Street, Roncesvalles Village, or the St. Lawrence Market, which rivals San Francisco's Ferry Building. Want to taste it all? Victor Restaurant in the Le Germaine Hotel has a menu of neighborhood classics. It's clear; the Big T-O is poised for something scrumptious in the coming year.
Back Burner: Portland
Chefs like Pok Pok's Andy Ricker aren't necessarily fleeing PDX, but their expansions into realms further afield mean that Portland's culinary moment may have peaked.

Front Burner: Mezcal
Handcrafted from wild agave plants, mezcal has always been an artisanal product historically seen as tequila's poorer cousin. But with a massive PR push by the Mexican government and more producers making more of this smoky spirit available Stateside, it's only a matter of time before mezcal finds its way into a cocktail near you.
Back Burner: "Moonshine"
We called white corn liquor the hot spirit of 2012. Indeed it was, highlighted at the center of a reality TV show sponsored in large part by Ole Smoky Moonshine. Even large bourbon distillers like Maker's Mark started selling their unaged whiskey, a.k.a. white dog, to factory visitors. But corn liquor burns, and at the moment, we're hungover from the trend.

Front Burner: Exercising to Eat
When all you want to do is eat up all the delicious fare young chefs are whipping up these days, exercising adventures are the only way to justify these weekly (or daily) splurges. We've heard of people walking 100 blocks to erase that Sunday afternoon at the barbecue joint, and at least one of our staff members has embarked on miles-long bike food tours of taco stands and pizza parlors.
Back Burner: Dieting
Diet haters rejoice! The way to a healthy bod is through a balanced diet and regular exercise, not vile cleanses, chewing slabs of meat, or starving oneself. We think this focus on healthy living will be the way to go in the coming year.

Front Burner: Brazilian
With the World Cup in Brazil only about 18 months away, Brazilian fare is about to take the world by storm. Churrascaria, check! Pão de queijo, check! Want to learn more? Read more at Gourmet Live. Back Burner: Southern
We have to take a break from this, the comfort food of comfort foods.

See more: 25 Sandwich Makeovers

Front Burner: Sumac
With a whole slew of new books on Middle Eastern cooking (Jerusalem, The Lebanese Kitchen, to name two) we expect sumac to make an appearance in a pantry near you. Look for this tart but fruity powdered spice at specialty purveyors like Penzeys and use it to spice up eggs or make za'atar.
Back Burner: Offal
Now that we know how to cook marrow, trotters, tripe, and tongue, it's time to get back to the cuts that cause us to crave meat in the first place.

Front Burner: Pinning Pictures of What We Might Make
More and more of us are pinning creations on Pinterest of the dream meals we'd like to make ...
Back Burner: Taking Pictures of What We're Eating
... Leaving us less time to Instagram the dishes we're eating out.

Front Burner: Homemade Snacks
Get ready to say goodbye to the snack aisle, as more and more cookbooks (Salty Snacks, Real Snacks) offer homemade options to our favorite guilty pleasures. Still in Twinkie shock? Here's a recipe for a homemade snack substitute: Vanilla Snack Cakes.
Back Burner: Homebrewing
While dedicated enthusiasts will continue to conjure up their yeasty brews, the trend won't froth as much as it did this past year.

Front Burner: Vegetables
2013 will be the year of vegetables. They're even in dessert. Battersby in Brooklyn offers a Fennel Panna Cotta, Michel Richard makes a Maple Parsnip Cake, and Avocado Mousse at Tilth in Seattle. Talk about sneaking in the veggies!
Back Burner: Nostalgic Kids' Treat
Cereal Milk and Cake Pops are among the desserts designed to hit your sweet tooth and tap your nostalgia vein. We've had fun remembering our childhoods, but now it's time to look to the future.


Front Burner: Artisan Food Producer
The rise of the artisan market includes the emergence of the dedicated purveyor, the expert in one laser-focused food specialty. Enter the Sriracha maker, the mayonnaise master, the mustard queen. This is their time.
Back Burner: Forager
Wildman Steve Brill can have Central Park. The forager isn't this year's hot food profession.

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