When it comes to rounding up the latest and craziest food trends for the year ahead, we're standing by with cutlery and a bib.
The hospitality consultants at San Francisco-based Andrew Freeman & Co. recently released their 7th annual trends report on all things restaurants, beverage and food. Compiled through hospitality and restaurant consultants, the report is aimed at getting food joints across North America (and of course foodies like us) familiar with of-the-moment ideas on what we'll be eating in 2014.
"This year’s trends are about the experiential,” said agency president Andrew Freeman in a statement.
And a new experience is exactly what we're seeing predicted. So far, 2014 looks like it's going to be about culinary creations like mixing age-old favourites chocolate with not-so-popular veggies like eggplant, and changing up traditional dishes like Cobb salad to give them a flavourful kick.
Other trend forecasters, like Huffington Post blogger and chef Rozanne Gold, predicts buzzy menu options like creative cauliflower, Jewish-Japanese fusion cooking and even Middle Eastern dishes called "shakshuka" being a big hit next year. She also sees us saying goodbye to 2013 superfood favourites like kale and quinoa and introducing other pantry must-haves like freekeh (green wheat).
Which upcoming food trends are you excited about? Let us know in the comments below.
LOOK — 15 new (and quite appetizing) food trends to look forward to in 2014:
So Long Chicken?
Picky eaters beware, you may not see as many chicken options on menus anymore. Restaurants are honouring more adventurous eaters and diners' palates with a variety of meat options instead of relying on chicken dishes, which are often dubbed "safe."
Move Over Boring Cobb Salad
Cobb salads will still be popular next year, but forget typical toppings like bacon and chicken breast, and think crispy avocados, jerk chicken and Scotch bonnet peppers.
Haute Comfort Foods
You may start seeing highbrow peanut butter and jelly sandwiches taking over some joints. In 2014, chefs will be going back to childhood favourites and making high-end versions of classic comfort foods. Think truffle perogies or bacon-leek marmalade poached eggs.
Chefs are suddenly turning into mad scientists and whipping up some not-so-scary kitchen hybrids. We've already seen the popularity of the cronut in 2013, but trends forecast more ramen burgers, souffle and brioche hybrids and even dessert pizzas with Nutella.
We All Scream For Ice Cream (Sandwiches)!
Cupcakes and doughnuts won't be as popular going into 2014. Trend seekers are expecting ice cream sandwiches to get all the attention, and hey, we're not complaining.
Play Your Chips Right
We won't be seeing that many chips and dip dishes, but we can expect alternatives like fried potatoes, beef tender crisps or crostinis with dip.
Chefs are stepping away from basics like olive oil and getting their hands dirty with oil flavours like avocado, hazelnut and sesame seed. Even mixologists are getting into the groove with oil-enhanced cocktails.
Old Is New Again
Everything "old" is coming back in style. We're talking about the return of pickling, fermenting and homemade bread, so your grandparents should feel right at home.
Ice Ice Baby
Ice isn't just for chilling anymore. Bars will be more likely to infuse their ice cubes with herbs and other ingredients for cocktails.
Expect more vegetarian options and veggies sneaking into your favourite traditional meals and desserts. For example, some restaurants in New York are experimenting with chocolate and eggplant. We're interested.
Not Your Parents' BBQ
The next time you want some slow roasted barbecue ribs, you won't have to wait around until the summer. Chefs are taking back classic barbecuing techniques and adding them to restaurant menus.
Yes. You read this right. In 2014, chefs will be experimenting with solid cocktails, or as we like to call them, heatwave healers.
So almond milk comes from ... almonds? Yes. Pasty chefs are going vegan and sticking to nuttier flavours of milk like almond and pecan to make their delectable dishes.
Under The Sea
Salmon and shrimp are so 2013 (as well as the decade previous). It looks like we're heading towards restaurant menus featuring everything under the sea, including sea beans and fish cheeks.
If you're looking for ways to cut back on your booze intake next year, this is the perfect concoction for you. Tea, both hot and cold, will be just as popular as alcoholic beverages.