'Local' to top Canadian menu trends in 2011

by Bryan Salvage
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TORONTO – Not too long ago, international cuisine peaked the interest of many North American diners. But according to a survey predicting menu trends in Canadian restaurants for 2011, local, sustainable and healthy options head the list.

These predictions are the results of what more than 500 professional chefs identified as what's hot in the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association's (CRFA's) second annual Canadian Chef Survey.

The top 10 Canadian menu trends for 2011 were identified (in descending order) as locally produced food and locally inspired dishes; sustainability; nutrition and health; organics; simplicity/back-to-basics; gluten-free/food allergy conscious; craft beer/microbrews; artisanal cheeses; bite-size/mini desserts; and Quinoa/ancient grains.

"Once again, the top menu trends are showing an increasing focus on nutrition, as well as a solid appreciation for local flavors," says Garth Whyte, CRFA President and CEO.

Compared to last year's survey, nutrition and health jumped three spots from No. 6 in 2010, and artisanal cheeses fell from No. 4 to eighth place. Gluten-free/food allergy conscious and quinoa/ancient grains moved from last year's "Up and Comer" list to become "Hot Trends" in 2011, eliminating free-range poultry/pork, small plates and superfruits from last year's list.

The CRFA Canadian Chef Survey was conducted in co-operation with the Canadian Culinary Federation and it took place in February 2011 by BrandSpark International, a Canadian market research and brand strategy firm with expertise in the restaurant industry.
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