Canadian chefs: local food is still the new black

Canadian chefs: local food is still the new black

Bite-sized desserts were one of the few fun trends in this year’s survey (Image: Eliyas J)

The results from the 2011 Canadian Chef Survey were announced Monday at the fourth annual Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association show. More than 500 chefs confirmed what locavores and the 400-plus attendees at last week’s Terroir Symposium knew all along: locally produced food and locally inspired dishes are hot. Less surprising still was the focus on sustainable practices and nutritionally driven plates. While the list hardly qualifies as revolutionary, it is interesting to compare this year’s results to the up-and-coming trends predicted one year ago. So how close was it?

The focus on health and nutrition remains alive and well. Despite last year’s prediction that ancient grains and vegan entrees would show greater presence on menus, both barely find a place on this year’s list. Given all the meat-centric establishments popping up on the Toronto landscape, it was surprising to find little love for non-traditional cuts of meat, indicating that most people still consider offal awful. Just as predicted, more and more restaurants are accommodating folks suffering from food allergies. Thankfully, artisanal cheeses are still popular—no doubt good news to the folks at Pangaea (with their house-made cheese program), Enoteca Sociale (with their cheese cave) and the celebrated Monforte Dairy. Still, it’s hard not to discern a bit of a conservative vibe this year.

Top 10 Canadian menu trends for 2011

  1. Locally produced food and locally inspired dishes
  2. Sustainability
  3. Nutrition and health
  4. Organics
  5. Simplicity/back-to-basics
  6. Gluten-free/food allergy consciousness
  7. Craft beer/microbrews
  8. Artisanal cheeses
  9. Bite-size/mini desserts
  10. Quinoa/ancient grains

Top 10 up-and-coming Canadian menu trends

  1. Gluten-free beer
  2. African cuisine
  3. Red rice
  4. Organic  wine/beer/liquor/cocktails
  5. Peruvian cuisine
  6. New/fabricated cuts of meat
  7. Cooking with tea
  8. Beer sommeliers/Cicerones
  9. Culinary cocktails
  10. Traditional ethnic desserts

Stay tuned for our own observations from what we saw on the floor at the CRFA show this year.

The chefs have spoken: Local is the hottest menu trend in 2011 [CFRA]