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Canadian Top Menu Trends for 2010 (first-ever Canadian chef survey!)

March 4, 2010
Local, sustainable and organic food choices top the list of what’s hot in Canada’s restaurant kitchens.  The trends are revealed in a new survey of professional chefs conducted for the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) by independent market research firm BrandSpark International. 

The chefs were asked to rate a variety of menu items and cooking methods as either a ‘hot trend,’ ‘yesterday’s news,’ or ‘perennial favourite.’  Here are the top picks for 2010:

Top 10 Canadian Menu Trends

  1. Locally sourced food
  2. Sustainability
  3. Organic produce
  4. Artisanal cheeses
  5. Simplicity / Back to basics
  6. Nutritional / healthy cuisine
  7. Free-range poultry / pork
  8. Small plates / tapas / mezze / dim sum
  9. Bite size / mini desserts
  10.  Superfruits (e.g. acai, goji berry, mangosteen)


The CRFA survey also asked chefs to identify ‘up and comers’ that are poised to be the next hot trend:

Top 10 Up and Coming Canadian Menu Trends  

  1. Ancient grains (e.g. kamut, spelt, amaranth)
  2. Gluten-free beer
  3. Vegan entrées
  4. Organic alcohol
  5. African cuisine
  6.  New / fabricated cuts of meat
  7.  Gluten-free cuisine
  8.  Middle Eastern cuisine
  9.  Quinoa
  10.  Non-traditional fish (e.g.branzino, Arctic char, barramundi)

“These topline trends underscore a growing restaurant focus on health, nutrition and the environment,” says Garth Whyte, CRFA President and CEO.  “Restaurant chefs are not only listening to their customers, they are helping to drive the trend toward health, nutrition and sustainability through innovative menu offerings.”

Detailed results from the CRFA Canadian Chef Survey will be released at the annual CRFA Show, March 7 to 9 in Toronto. 

This annual gathering of more than 10,000 foodservice industry professionals will feature cooking demonstrations by acclaimed chefs such as Susur Lee (Madeline’s and Lee, Toronto and Shang, New York City), Lynn Crawford (Ruby Watchco, Toronto and Pitchin’ In on the Food Network) and Anthony Walsh (Canoe, Jump and Biff’s, Toronto).

More than 1,000 exhibit booths will showcase everything from appetizers to desserts, and several seminars and pavilions will put the spotlight on the menu trends identified in the survey. For example, an Eat Local pavilion and a Centre for Sustainability are on tap at the show this year.

The CRFA Canadian Chef Survey was conducted in cooperation with the Canadian Culinary Federation.  Close to 400 professional chefs participated in the survey, which was conducted in January and February, 2010 by BrandSpark International, a Canadian market research and brand strategy firm with expertise in the foodservice industry.