Ten Food Fads or Trends?


It’s that time of year again, when everyone and Bob’s uncle crank out a trends list.

We maintain a running list of food and beverage finds throughout the year. The ones with multiple entries are considered for our year-end Food Fads or Trends? list.

In 2009 and 2010, we easily identified Sweet 16 Trends (or Fads). This year it wasn’t so easy — we settled on 10.

Are they trends or fads, or just really good at bubbling to the top via marketing and mentions?

You decide…


1. Rabbit

We joked in April about rabbit belly becoming the next hot trend. (Could “Beyond Pork Belly” be a trend? A good writer friend says lamb belly is the latest rage).

Back to the bunny, it turns out we weren’t too far off, but it wasn’t just the belly… it was the hindquarters and loin, too. Home cooks got in on the act, too, with more access to fresh rabbit through high-end butcher shops, grocery stores and sites such as Gilt Taste.

2. Harissa

We’re talking about the hot red chile condiment originating in Tunisia, not the Arab soupy lamb and wheat dish that goes by the same name. Restaurants, such as FnB in Scottsdale paired the spicy relish with vegetables for a kick, and others were marinating meats with harissa, such as Barley Swine in Austin.

3. Kimchi

This fermented cabbage dish is the first thing we think of when thinking about Korean food. We spotted kimchi (also spelled kimchee) at farmers’ markets and on restaurant menus and in cookbooks. And of course, the Kimchi Chronicles launched on PBS this year, featuring Marja Vongerichten.

4. Black foods

Rice? Check…Forbidden rice. Lentils? Check…black beluga. Pasta? Check..squid ink. Garlic? Check…fermented black garlic. Crackers? Check… blackened with charcoal powder. We did a round-up of black foods earlier this year.


5. Bitters

A common theme from planet cocktail was the rise of bitters, from the classic standards Angostura and Peychaud’s, to small batch bitters made by individual bartenders. The book Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All pushed the fever for bitters even higher. Home “pharmacists” are experimenting, too, including a Phoenix-based engineer-turned-weekend bitters warrior, who documents his experiments on Facebook at AZ Bitters Lab.


6. Online food magazines

Print Gourmet magazine may have kicked the bucket but it lives on (sort of) online as Gourmet Live. Other print magazines moved from paper to internet, including Culinary Thymes, while others began media life online, such as Organic Connections. We expect to see more food magazines with online only issues.

7. Culinary apps

Sure, there were culinary apps before 2011, but this year the floodgates opened as everyone got in on the “there’s an app” for that. Want to know where (and what) chefs eat? There’s an app for that. It’s called Chefs Feed. Martha Stewart’s Whole Living smoothies, Baking with Dorie Greenspan, and The Professional Chef from the Culinary Institute of America are just a few that launched this year.

8. Cookbooks

Printed cookbooks had a banner year, and two themes that seemed prolific were chefs cooking at home (Jean-George Vongerichten, Ferran Adriá, and John Besh) and bloggers-turned cookbook authors (Lisa Fain of the Homesick Texan, Matt Armendariz of Matt Bites and Jessie Oleson of CakeSpy.)


Photo courtesy of Our Feeding Frenzy Blog

9. Popsicles & Paletas

The Zoku pop machine hit home kitchens and entrepreneurs like Fru Fru Pops hit the farmers’ market, cooling us down in the process. Mexican popsicles (paletas) were big, too, as Chandler, AZ based Paletas Betty opened a second location in Tempe, AZ. Our Feeding Frenzy blog spent a good bit of the summer tempting us with very grown-up cocktail ice pops, ensuring everyone got sweet relief from the summer heat wave.


10. German Pub Grub

We don’t have solid data on this one, but we feel it. Maybe it’s because of the fabulous alpine cuisine at Grüner in Portland. Or maybe it’s the continuing rise in “gastropub” popularity (Meddlesome Moth in Dallas, Citizen Public House in Scottsdale). For whatever reason, we think there’s room for gastropubs who focus on updated German classics (charcuterie, terrines, potatoes, sausages, pickled vegetables, etc.)

Bonus round: Things we can’t seem to get enough of



Oh, America, will you ever tire of burgers? Apparently not, especially if said burger is piled high with fried things and there’s a big honking knife stuck in it.

Southern food

Bon Appetit magazine anointed Husk, a Southern restaurant in Charleston, the best in the land. Countless cookbooks on Southern food emerged, including Basic to Brilliant by Virginia Willis. Grits, cornbread, and fried okra spread from sea to shining sea.

Small plates

Few restaurants can survive serving only small plates, but it’s rare for a modern American restaurant to not have a least a smattering of small plates. A few of those doing it well include FnB in Scottsdale, Ned Ludd in Portland, and Barley Swine in Austin.


2010 Sweet 16 Food Fads or Trends?

2009 Sweet 16 Food Fads or Trends?

3 replies
  1. Sharon Miro
    Sharon Miro says:

    Made myself some bitters earlier in the year–used patent medicines as inspiration…They are so good….makes drinking water easier! Got the book for Christmas.

    I am hoping that the biggest trend for 2012 will be back to basic ccoking, and the end to precious food. Remember the escent in Amadeus when the king says “too many notes”? That’s how I feel reading recipes sometimes.

    • Gwen Ashley Walters
      Gwen Ashley Walters says:

      Sharon, thanks for commenting and I know what you mean… I do think there will be plenty of back to basic cooking… and probably more of the other, precious food, too, though. So many people are more interested in cooking than ever, so overall it’s a good thing.


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  1. […] been a while since I wrote up a trend list. In fact, the last trend report I did was in 2011. I’m back with 10 food and dining trends I spotted in 2015. It’s not everything I […]

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