Seven food trends at 2013’s Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association show

Seven food trends at 2013’s Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association show

Each year, we head over to the annual Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association show to get a look at the big new food trends coming down the pipe. Of our twelve predictions from last year, some were dead on (Toronto couldn’t get enough of rustic Italian cuisine, street food and Mexican flavours), while others were perhaps premature (like our forecast of wide-spread home sous vide cooking and the death of cupcakes). Below, seven trends we observed at this year’s CRFA show:

1. Food trucks are going mainstream

Time was, starting a food truck required finding a vehicle and tricking it out yourself. Now there are companies that can do some of the legwork for you.

2. “Natural” products

We’re talking: no preservatives, no added sugars, organic, raw and processed using “natural” methods—whatever that might mean. Many vendors told us their customers are interested in returning to simplicity, using “real” ingredients and uncomplicated processes that aren’t tainted by questionable origins.

3. Eco-packaging and utensils

Accompanying trend number two, we saw all sorts of environmentally conscious (yet still functional) service ware, from recycled take-out packaging to gluten-free edible serving spoons.

4. Mexican food

Mexican flavours aren’t going anywhere: they’re still top of the ethnic food heap. We saw a growing interest this year in Indian food too.

5. Interactive dining

We saw a rise in vendors offering sexier gadgets than your usual point of sales systems, like bound and padded touchpad menus, as well as a growing number of companies selling online ordering services and immediate feedback collection units.

6. More Mobile

Restaurants will keep adopting mobile technologies, including improved mobile websites, online reservation systems, apps and mobile payment systems. Last October, Square, which turns any iOS or Android device into a credit card reader, finally made its way to Canada. It’s already being used at farmers’ markets.

7. Fancy cooking tech

Modernist techniques and equipment aren’t going anywhere—if anything, formerly industrial systems like the vacuum chamber are making their way to the mainstream market. A need breed of cheaper winer preservations systems like the Pod Bar are competing with the pricier and less flexible Enomatic, expanding the number of wines sold by the glass (they’re used at places like Cava, Patria, Westlodge and Archive).