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10 Top Culinary Trends for 2013

10 Top Culinary Trends for 2013

Our culinary nutrition experts discuss what they expect to see happening in the world of food in 2013.

2012 saw some fascinating dining trends that largely focused on a “cater to all” philosophy. Gluten-free dining options began appearing in greater number, vegetarian dishes graduated from plain salads to legitimate entrées and low-calorie “healthy” options cropped up on chain restaurant menus across the nation.

As we look forward to a plethora of new dining trends this year, I spoke to a few of our in-house experts to get their perspectives on what’s in store for 2013.

Participants: Anthony Moraes (AH), Executive Chef; Natalia Hancock (NH), Senior Culinary Nutritionist; Andrea Canada (AC), Senior Culinary Nutritionist.

1. Even more healthy options 

NH: Restaurants from fast food chains to fine dining need to meet the demand of the ever-growing number of Americans that seek healthier options. More and more people are eating out, with an average of 50% of meals now eaten outside of the home.

2. Increased focus on sustainability, traceability, local, seasonal food

AC: I think we’ll see a trend going beyond just farm-to table. I’d like to see the notion that local, plant-based dining options are in themselves part of a sustainable diet.

NH: Diners increasingly want to know where and how far their food is coming from, how it’s grown/raised, its carbon footprint, which ocean, how it’s caught, if it’s in season and whether it’s organic/biodynamic. Not just food, but also beverages and even wine. The disclosure of that kind of information is becoming more and more influential in the customer’s decision-making process.

3. Kids’ menus grow up

AM: Thankfully, gone are the days of killing our kids with fried, processed, fat and sugar-laden foods. As parents are concerning themselves more and more with what their children are eating, chefs and staff will coddle your kids with mini versions of grown-up offerings.   

NH: Research suggests that “kids menus” prevent children’s palates from “growing up”. Kids’ menus will begin offering a wider – and healthier - variety of options (more than the typical mac n cheese, burger, hot dog, chicken fingers, pizza and fries).

4. Smaller portions, especially desserts

NH: Call them small plates, share plates, starters, pre-starters, amuse-bouches, bites or mini-desserts, many restaurants are foregoing the typical appetizer/entrée/dessert-style menu and replacing it with a menu with multiple sections with smaller portions.  Diners end up ordering more dishes and get to experience more of the chef’s offerings.

5. More vegetarian options

NH: Restaurants need to provide more than just Pasta Primavera or a grilled vegetable plate. Vegetarian options are going to have to keep up with the demands of an ever-growing number of vegetarians.

6. Increase in artisanal items (cheeses, cured fish-poultry-meat)

AC: I think house-made charcuterie will become more common as it’s a great way for restaurants to distinguish themselves.

NH: Smoked and cured meat, fish, terrines, cheeses are very hot right now and continue to gain speed on menus.

7. Increase in lesser-known ethnic flavors

NH: Thai, Indian and Spanish cuisine make way for new less explored traditions and flavors such as Korean, Peruvian, Moroccan, and Portuguese.

8. Pop-up eateries emerge

AM: Chefs increasingly will take their cooking talents to unexpected locations in 2013 from kiosks and other unusual storefronts to vacant lots, roof tops and basements. Food trucks are so 2012!

9. Greek yogurt

NH: Whether it’s an ingredient used in cooking or a yogurt bar, Americans have a love affair with thick and creamy Greek yogurt.  Hard to believe it was barely available 10 years ago!

10. Return to the farm skills

AM: Chefs will explore and incorporate old world techniques such as canning, pickling, storing and other methods of preserving. I think there’s a lot to be said for a great pickle or home-made jam. Look for these added touches at “hip” and “edgy” dining spots.


What do you think will be big in the food world this year? Let us know in the comments below.

dining trends, culinary trends, discussion

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