Eat This List: 2014 food trend predictions
December 19th, 2013
05:00 PM ET
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This is the sixteenth installment of "Eat This List" - a semi-regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about.

As Eatocracy's editors, we're (that's Kat Kinsman and Sarah LeTrent) lucky enough to get to travel and eat all over the country, both for work and because it's what we love to do. We've seen some trends popping up in restaurants from coast to coast, and in 2014, here are a few we think stand a chance of catching on in more home and restaurant kitchens across the country.

Kat's picks:

1. Fish collars, heads and trash fish
You can keep your tuna steaks (which actually stand a good chance of being escolar or "Ex-Lax fish" due to rampant seafood fraud) tilapia filets and salmon cutlets. Smart chefs and diners with an eye on sustainability will bring more bony cuts and B-list bycatch into the mainstream.

Heads and collars, which are the section of flesh and pectoral fins behind the gills (pictured at Peche restaurant above), are bubbling up on menus from New Orleans to Nashville to Atlanta and beyond. Once mainly the provenance of sushi chefs, this easily-crisped section of fish is catching on with diners weary of belly and sides. Heads - especially the sumptuous cheek meat and the full-bodied stock they produce - are a must in many Hunan dishes, Malaysian curries and traditional Gullah recipes that are in the midst of a much-deserved renaissance.

And you can't catch the big seafood stars (like cod, shrimp and salmon) without snagging some tagalongs with them. Eco- and budget-conscious eaters are discovering the virtues of varieties like triggerfish, porgy, drum, wolf eel and sand dabs, which would previously have been tossed back, discarded, ground into organic soil amendment or turned into fish sauce. Not only does this give overfished breeds a breather, getting diners comfortable with a more diverse range of options helps ensure a tastier tomorrow for everyone.

Gullah fish head and catfish stew at Husk Nashville

2. Heirloom beans, peanuts and field peas
Go ahead, get the elementary school jokes outta your system because more chefs are singing the praises of hearty, healthy, protein-rich legumes. Cranberry, lima and butterbeans, as well as blackeye and crowder peas and un-roasted peanuts are taking a star turn in main dishes and standalone sides, often without a speck of meat in sight. These heirloom varieties are packed with nutty flavor, and adapt well to stews, soups, salads, succotash and spreads, and take well to marinating, baking, mashing and even deep-frying.

And bonus: chefs and home cooks are rapidly discovering that heirloom legumes grow like gangbusters in many different climates and soil types, are GMO-free (a selling point for an increasingly conscientious dining public), dry gorgeously for use throughout the year and are an excellent alternative to pricey and potentially dubiously-raised meat.

Fried blackeye peas at Beasley's Chicken + Honey

3. Haute Jewish deli
Three schmears for the new wave of deli devotees! Many of North America's classic delicatessens have changed ownership or shuttered altogether over the past few years as aging owners bowed out of the business. Luckily for us, the torch has been passed to chefs like Todd Ginsberg of Atlanta's The General Muir and husband and wife team Noah and Rae Bermanoff of New York City's Mile End Deli, so that future generations may know the pleasures of a proper reuben sandwich.

Gone are the kitschy, signed, celebrity photos and overstuffed novelty sandwiches of the old days. Simply-presented, artfully smoked fish, lavishly peppered pastrami, crafty poutine, amped-up chicken liver and deeply deckled corned beef are the focus of this new deli vanguard - and also popping up on non-deli menus across the country. Perhaps it's the inevitable evolution of the house-made charcuterie frenzy. Maybe it's a collective need for a nostalgic nosh. Whatever the impetus, it sure is appetizing.

Poutine at The General Muir

4. Indie printing
The self-published restaurant review journal is a format with a formidable history, dating back at least as far back as the days of Duncan Hines, carried on by the illustrious likes of Craig Claiborne and Seymour Britchky, and now digitally diffused into a bazillion blogs. Chefs and cookbook authors, however, have traditionally been reliant on the resources of major publishing houses in order to put their thoughts to paper, due to constraints of costs and time. But that page may be turning.

In 2011, former Saveur magazine staffers Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton skirted the system by self-publishing the first volume of their studio's recipes, "Canal House Cooking," to tremendous fanfare (they're now on Volume Eight). In 2013, a small group of food industry veterans began a Kickstarter campaign to raise $50,000 to produce the "Short Stack Editions" series of single-subject, hand-bound cookbooks with a guaranteed payment for each author. The campaign finished out at $92,672, and a second batch of six is underway.

At the same time, "Brother" launched as a self-printed zine, helmed by Atlanta chef Ryan Smith and cohorts, and born out of a desire to share an unflinching view of where our food comes from - chicken guts and all. Across town, chef Linton Hopkins and Holeman and Finch bartender/partner, Greg Best, printed two Thomas Payne-meets-punk-rock "Feed Publishing Serial" on the topics "Seven Drinks by a Barkeep" and "Mayonnaise by a Chef."

Best has since left H&F, but the free pamphlets have made it into the hands of an awful lot of chefs, food writers and fans who may just see the writing on the wall. In 2014, the food revolution will not be (totally) digitized.

5. Reconsidered rice
For many of us, growing up, rice was just a bland, grainy bed for the featured dish, or an inexpensive filler for budget-conscious meals. Nowadays a bowl of well-steamed Carolina gold can get a shout-out in the New York Times and Top Chefs are touting the utility and cultural import of rice grits in major magazines. Look for more regionally-specific rice options on menus and in cookbooks as the domestic rice industry re-emerges and revamps its growing practices to adapt to a changing climate.

Pizza oven-roasted cauliflower served with sea salt and whipped goat feta at Domenica

Honorable mentions: Grapes in savory entrees and more muscadine desserts and drinks, exciting cauliflower sides, non-cabbage kimchi, cake slices in restaurants, beer brewed in-house at restaurants, chicken-fried rabbit and whole small birds like quail and squab. And goodness, will I be happy if I never taste stevia again in my lifetime.

Sarah's picks:

1. Raw beef
More and more people are drinking the green juice of the raw food movement. And, chefs around the country are adding a little carnivorous flair to the trend by bringing back the three-martini lunch staple, beef tartare.

The classic version of the bistro mainstay includes finely chopped beef, capers, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce with a raw egg yolk garnish to stir in for creaminess. Spins on the classic sub in rose veal, homemade pickled vegetables and confit duck or quail egg yolks.

Expect restaurants to also beef up their carpaccio fanfare, a dish named after Italian Renaissance painter Vittore Carpaccio's signature red and white hues reminiscent of marbled meat. Paper-thin beef will become an edible canvas for peppery greens,  nutty cheese shavings and more in 2014.
Beef carpaccio with confit egg yolk, chanterelles and Parmesan at Boulud Sud

2. Eating with your hands
Utensils are so last year. It might seem unnatural to throw your childhood table etiquette to the wind, but more and more restaurants (high-end ones at that) are offering a hands-on experience when it comes to savory courses.

The trend is twofold with the emergence of haute finger foods like fried chicken, small fish and burgers. The best part? Servers are often trained to instruct diners to use their hands so they aren't left anxiously waiting to see what their date does first.
Milk-fed lamb at Manresa

3. Housemade hot sauces
Sriracha chili sauce squeezed its way into the November headlines after a Los Angeles County judge ordered the maker, Huy Fong Foods, to halt production because of neighbors' complaints about watery eyes and burning nostrils. Lucky for the "rooster" sauce devotees, in-house condiments are so hot right now. Heat seekers won't be disappointed as chefs ditch the bottles of Chalupa and Tabasco to play with fire - from one end of the Scoville scale to the other.

4. Parfaits
Everybody loves parfait. As food lovers delighted in hybrid foods like the Cronut and ramen burger in 2013, next year will be less about cross-breeding and more about layering.

Chefs and pastry chefs alike will embrace the tiered presentation as a way to ensure the perfect spoonful. It’s essentially a way to deconstruct a dish without the molecular fuss, and zero in on complimentary flavors, temperatures, colors and textures.

Parfait: To me, you are perfect.
Whiskey-butterscotch parfait at The Belted Cow Bistro

5. Breakfast for dinner
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day - and it's so nice, we're gonna eat it twice. This isn't your average two eggs made-to-order with a choice of breakfast meat. It's eggs in every form from nearly every bird - poached duck eggs, baked quail eggs and oh-so-slow-scrambled chicken eggs - served with the likes of pork belly, beef tongue hash or seafood sausage. Not to mention, the Goldilocks-approved renaissance of both sweet and savory porridges.
Slow scrambled eggs with pork belly at Seersucker

Honorable mentions: In-house bread and butter programs, rotisserie chickens, self-service kegs while you wait for a table, candied vegetables, country ham. A girl can also dream about the demise of the communal table.

Mario Batali predicts 2013 food and drink trends
6 must-have foods and drinks for 2013
Tater tots, invasive entrees and other food trends we'd like to see in 2013

soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Cz and Synthetic Stones

    Awesome post, thanks for sharing this post..

    March 11, 2014 at 1:45 am |
  2. Kat_G

    Why is poutine listed in the jewish section? A bit of confusion here, it's a Quebecer dish, invented by French-Canadians. Even the Jewish delis in Québec generally don't have it on their menu...

    January 17, 2014 at 6:55 pm |
  3. Penel9

    I'm not a sophisticated or adventurous foodie by any mean. I just like what I like and enjoy the hell out of it when digging in. Does that count for anything...? I enjoyed what I read here as I usually do when I visit eatocracy. Will I be eating much of the foods mentioned (other than the ones I've already been eating with my fingers)? Probably not but I am drooling to try that cauliflower pizza thing. Thanks!

    December 26, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
  4. JW

    For the first time looking at an article involving food trends I have completely and genuinely lost interest. None of those types of beans are 'heirloom' varieties, they're very commonly found in most of the country – people have loved them for generations. Jewish-style delis have never gone out of favor, especially in the NY metro area. Breakfast for dinner? – gosh what a groundbreaking concept! At least Kinsman and LeTrent got a jab in at the bunk raw food fad, and pointed out the serious lack of diversity in rice being served at restaurants. There are so many beautiful varieties of rice that are great for many different cuisines, and you rarely ever see them. As for muscadines, let's face it, most people outside of the Southeast simply don't have the patience for their thick skin and huge seeds, despite having more flavor and succulent flesh than pretty much all conventional table grapes. I would be amazed to see them become a national trend.

    December 26, 2013 at 3:22 am |
    • Kat Kinsman

      A few things:

      1. There are PLENTY of heirloom cranberry, lima, etc. beans. I know because I grow them, and got the seeds from farmers who are trying hard to keep those strains alive. Yes, those are broader classes, but within them, there are many, many varieties that are heirloom - and those are the ones that are showing up on menus with increasing frequency.

      2. Delis are indeed in peril. Take a look at a site maintained by a man whose mission in life it is to preserve them: Many may still technically be there, but they're now corporate-run, rather than maintained by someone with an eye on the heritage, and there is a palpable difference.

      3. There are a few businesses that are now trying to promote muscadine juice and preserves beyond the South. No need to deal with seeds and skin.

      Thank you for reading.


      December 26, 2013 at 4:08 am |
  5. TracyL.

    The picture on the top looks like fried bat from Anchorman 2.

    December 26, 2013 at 3:16 am |
  6. dikelmm1

    Fads for the 1%. Not trends.

    December 24, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • SixDegrees


      December 25, 2013 at 7:32 am |
  7. Todd

    I am all for eating the whole Animal concept, most of the stuff we toss, is just because we tend to try to separate ourselves from the fact that meat came from a living animal, when we eat parts that remind us of this, makes us fill bad. However I grew up on a farm, and I am well aware where my meat comes from, and that each animal had it own personality, and we have killed it, so we can eat it. If we are to eat a living animal that we killed, we should eat the whole thing, maximize the worth of the animals life.
    However Raw meat just for the sake of being raw, doesn't sound like a good idea to me. Sushi is preserved with the rice, however animals that get closer to our DNA doesn't seem like a good idea, as they have more viruses and bacterium that are harmful to us. If the animal is warm blooded... Cook it before eating it.

    December 24, 2013 at 9:01 am |
  8. bytemesis

    By following the references, escolar is substituted for tuna, not Tilapia, as stated at the beginning of the article. Tilapia are in fact a highly renewable resource (as well as very plentiful).

    December 24, 2013 at 5:25 am |
  9. Rachel Morris

    Reblogged this on Around the world in 365 cheeses... and commented:
    A look into the not to distant future of food in 2014

    December 24, 2013 at 1:42 am |
  10. Katherine

    Wow. We are talking about food here, the preparation and eating of which is a singular joy in life. What's better than thinking about food, shopping for food, preparing food, serving food to friends? Why all the hate??

    December 23, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • mnbska

      Eh, sometimes it gets a little annoying. Sometimes people just wanna eat without all the frou frou.

      The better question is, for those people, why are they taking the time to comment? I suppose to try and balance it out.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Penel9


      December 26, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
  11. bryanska

    Best piece of fish I ever ate was a gigantic grilled yellowfin jaw with two delicious cheeks attached. It was seasoned only with sea salt.

    Never ate fish cheeks before, and I was blown away. I'm no foodie but I'll never forget that simple meal.

    December 23, 2013 at 10:08 am |
  12. Mbele Simba Oulou

    I never pay attention to these wannabes. Who are they to tell me what is trendy or not?

    December 23, 2013 at 8:50 am |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Wannabes? I'm pretty sure we actually ARE.

      December 23, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • Professor Trollworth@Mbele Simple oLoser

      Perhaps you should just wait for your table in the STFU café, and remain quiet until then...

      December 23, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
  13. rftallent

    I didn't see one thing on the list that I would eat.

    December 22, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • Dick Longwood

      Stick with your mcNuggets then...

      December 23, 2013 at 10:42 am |
      • mnbska

        I dunno, some of this is really pushing it.

        December 24, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
  14. angel blues

    Reblogged this on crebistual.

    December 21, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
  15. chef mimi

    You guys are fascinating!!!

    December 21, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
  16. Jen

    Noooooo, don't make salmon heads popular, I love that nobody else wants them and they're so cheap.

    December 21, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  17. Barnes & Barnes

    Fish heads, fish heads, roly poly fish heads...
    Eat them up, Yum!

    December 20, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • VladT

      One of the worse things about working night shift and reading these posts is the risk of getting obscure songs stuck in your head for the whole shift. :)

      December 21, 2013 at 2:57 am |
  18. Rob Shultz

    Pretentious and yet quite low brow. The parfait looks like something on a desert rack at "Golden Corral" and the raw beef looks like something cooked up by someone who thinks the stove is a giant square clock. Bravo Eatocracy! You just ruined my breakfast! Maybe your blog should be called "Eat-o-CRAZY"!

    December 20, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • Blog Maitr'd@Rob Doltz

      Rob, bitter and angry party of one?
      Your table is ready in the STFU café...

      December 20, 2013 at 11:36 am |
      • Rob Shultz

        Not bitter, just an educated opinion from a sophisticated pallet!

        December 20, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
        • Pierr

          If you an American, you obviously have the palate of a goat, and have no business criticizing anything you see on this blog. Stick with your big macs and ribs you slob.

          December 20, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
        • Rob Shultz

          Well Pierre, perhaps you could save up some money and we could dine together? I'll have to see what I'm doing in 5 years because that's probably how long it will take you to be able to afford anything beyond a baguette. Good night froggie. You've been laid to rest!

          December 20, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
        • Richard Simmons

          Since your so educated and sophisticated-do you prefer eating off the plastic or wooden pallets? DumbAzz.

          December 20, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
        • Rob Shultz

          Sorry all, the auto correct on my iPhone incorrectly inserted "pallet" instead of "palate" in my prior post. Also, if you plan on correcting one's spelling, please take the time to go back to second grade and learn the proper use of "your" and "you're". Imbecile.

          December 21, 2013 at 1:10 am |
        • VladT

          If someone truly believes the American palate is limited to Big Macs, "Pierr," that just shows ignorant of the world you truly are.

          That is also the weirdest spelling of that name, unless you are planning to go jump off one...if that is the case, I encourage it

          December 21, 2013 at 2:56 am |
        • AleeD® @ Shultz

          All I want to know is when indulging in fine wine, how do you feel about sniffing the cork?

          December 21, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
        • Kat Kinsman

          Misspellings aside, even, I can't say I put a lot of stock in the opinions of a person who feels the need to call out their own sophistication. My favorite people with whom to eat, from non-adventurous friends to food world professionals, are the ones who are open to enjoyment, no matter from where it originates.

          Once you get off your high horse, you have access to and appreciation of so many more delicious things.

          December 21, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
        • RC@Rob Schlitz

          Talk about pretentious. Since we're on the subject, it's "dessert", not "desert".

          December 21, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
  19. SandiStorm

    All fresh, no canned or processed foods. Skip the restaurant and cook your food yourself. Best trend ever and it will never go out of style.

    December 20, 2013 at 7:59 am |
  20. GiGi Eats Celebrities

    Fish collars aren't just a 2014 thing, I have been obsessed with them FOREVER! Hamachi Kama is my JAM! :) I almost hope it doesn't become more popular because I want them all to myself, lol!

    December 19, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • @gigi

      How long have you been posting on here? The few times I've came on here, i've seen a few comments from you. Just wondering.

      December 20, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
      • GiGi Eats Celebrities

        I cannot recall, I visit every so often and always have something to say, ha!

        December 20, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
        • Al Soh @ gi squared

          You forgot to mention the part about only talking about yourself. You are your best friend, aren't you?

          December 21, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
        • GiGi Eats Celebrities

          You better believe it! What's the point of living if you don't love yourself?

          December 21, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
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