Top 10 Food Trends for 2012

Top 10 Food Trends for 2012
By Andrew Bender

October 24 2012 |

Once again, on National Food Day, we present the year’s leading trends in American food and restaurants. The pickings are as diverse as they are meaningful and (well, mostly) good for you and the environment. Just a taste: bison, bitters, infused pastas, the Peruvian boom and – just possibly – the beginning of the end of bacon dominance. Wash them all down with water purified and bottled in house, and served for free.

All new for 2012, this list was based on extensive comments from several dozen chefs, restaurateurs, food educators and writers all across America. The hard part was narrowing it down to just 10 trends.

Some of the trends from last year’s list appear here to stay. Cake pops made it from virtually nowhere to virtually everywhere. House-made charcuterie is de rigueur for any serious restaurant, and vegetable chips (especially kale) are ever more common.

Among the goals of Food Day, a project of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, are to promote safer, healthier diets, decrease hunger and increase sustainable farming.


Say a bad word about bacon these days, and you might as well be insulting someone’s momma. So forgive us when we say that bacon’s pervasiveness has gotten a bit much. Fortunately, chefs are crisping up cracklings from a menagerie of other animals: chicken (the fried skins are called gribenes in traditional Yiddish cooking), duck, salmon, lamb, Mexican-style chicharrón (crisped pork fat), even scallops. Since they should be eaten sparingly (they are fat, after all), “using these items on salads as a texture garnish is the way to go,” says Edward Leonard, vice president for culinary education at Cordon Bleu cooking schools. Executive chef Nicholas Bour of Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego dissents on this trend: “Yes, it tastes great, but the trend should be dwindling as consumers and diners continue to educate themselves on healthy eating.” Pictured: chicharrón with citrus baby arugula salad at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar in Miami.