Redefining In-Flight Catering

Top Food Trends of 2013 in the United States

Being in the in-flight catering industry means always knowing what is currently popular and striving to stay ahead of the latest culinary trends. 2013 was a year of unique food trends that did not disappoint foodies. While 2014 is already off to a great start, let’s take a look back at the top 10 hottest food trends of 2013 in the United States.

1. Artisanal Dough and Bread

Making dough has been a tradition for thousands of years. In reviewing the culinary trends of 2013, it is evident that there has been an explosion of artisanal dough products, such as cronuts. A cronut is a new type of donut that is flaky like a croissant. In just months, the cronut has become wildly popular and variants can be found in chain breakfast restaurants. Another type of unique dough is a new artisan bread prepared with herbs, dried fruits and a special blend of oils. These breads are handmade and are usually all-natural with no preservatives. Because of the lack of preservatives, artisan bread should be eaten within two days in order to maintain the taste and freshness of the product.

2. Homemade Dairy Products

Culinary buffs in kitchens and homes across the world are now making their own cheese, yogurt, crème friache, and buttermilk. These products are easy to make and continue to exponentially increase in popularity. Homemade dairy products offer an explosion of fresh taste, compared to store-bought items. You will find that homemade dairy products are richer and creamier than commercialized products. Another incentive for trying your hand at making dairy product is that doing so can save you up to 80% compared to store-bought items. There are tons of recipes online, so there are plenty of options to discover your favorite dairy recipe.

3. Gochujang

Remember how popular sriracha was ten years ago? That’s how red hot gochujang is right now. Gochujang has a very prominent fermented taste accompanied by a savory note. It started off as a Korean condiment, but is now finding its home all around the world in local kitchens. The recipe being used today is still very similar to the traditional Korean recipe. Historically, gochujang was made by adding powdered red chili peppers and glutinous rice powder to soybean paste, and aging this paste under the sun. The paste is great for making barbecue sauce and basting almost every type of protein.

4. 100% Sustainable

The earth isn’t growing, but the population is, and an increasing amount of consumables are being over-fished, over-raised or over-harvested. Sustainability is being used a lot as a marketing term, but the bottom line is that it is important to use products that are environmentally friendly and can be used in a controlled manner so the supply is easily replenished. Farm-raised fish and eco-friendly produce are ways that kitchens, such as your in-flight caterer, are contributing to reducing their environmental footprint.

5. Tea-infused foods

Tea is not just for sipping and relaxing anymore. A variety of foods are being infused with teas from around the world. Smoking meats with tea leaves or substituting tea instead of water when marinating adds a burst of flavor and is a hot trend. In addition to meats, teas are being used to give flavors to dishes that you would never imagine. The most important part is to pair the right tea with the right food in order to achieve the best results. If you are smoking and brining meats, oolong tea is your best bet. Chai is a versatile enough taste to pair with dry rubs or sprinkled on ice cream. Matcha adds a perfect touch to chocolate and biscuits. Earl Grey teas compliment a variety of cocktails and cookies. Jasmine tea is great to infuse in milk and crème.

6. Charcuterie

Yes, charcuterie really has been around the block, but new charcuterie restaurants are popping up everywhere. These restaurants are amazing because they commonly use tail-to-nose of the animal, which means there is no waste and the end product is mouth-watering. From pates and sausage to cured meats, charcuterie will leave your taste buds wanting more. Who knew Beef Heart Pastrami and Duck Prosciutto could taste so good? (Sorry vegetarians!)

7. Non-Alcoholic Beverages

What, no alcohol? Yes and these drinks are amazing! There is a trend throughout society towards eating healthier; thus drinking non-alcoholic beverages, especially fruit and vegetable juices are booming. These artfully garnished drinks are made of exotic fruit blends that can satisfy any level of thirst. On your next flight, give Carrot-Apple-Ginger or Beet-Orange-Coconut a try before settling on ordering a plain old Vodka Soda. It’s pretty easy to make healthy decisions when they taste this good!

8. Smoked Ingredients

While smoking has been around for a long time, it is not just for seafood and meats anymore. Throughout 2013 chefs have been experimenting with smoking a wide variety of ingredients to bring out the flavor, adding a touch of smokiness to the dish. Salts and spices are great smoked and give the dish a more robust flavor. Smoked vanilla beans give desserts a great essence. Next time you are preparing a home-cooked dinner, try smoking your salts and spices before seasoning your steak.

9. Grass-Fed Bison

Bison was gaining popularly for a little while about ten years ago and then it went away just as quickly. However, bison came back in a big way during 2013 due to chefs giving their own personal twist to this healthy meat. Bison is lean, flavorful and can be prepared in many different ways. Bison Carpaccio is a terrific, lean appetizer that showcases the full-flavor of the commonly grass-fed bison.

10. Vegetables as Main Course

Alright meat lovers, don’t knock it until you try it! The food trends of 2013 saw a sharp rise in the number of restaurants offering meals that are full of flavors and textures, which contain no meat. Chefs know that there has been a surge of people turning to health conscious dining options and they are getting bored with the regular seared and sautéed items that are on most menus. Chefs are now experimenting with vegetables as the main dish, like corn spaghetti in black truffle sauce or lasagna with tapioca cheese and roasted eggplant. Meat lovers: before ordering a steak next time, try the vegetarian entrée; you will likely be surprised and walk away completely full!


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