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Small gets trendy in US restaurants

Small servings of food, have become the hottest new trend in US restaurants after years of big being best.

by: Reuters | 03 Dec 2007

A poll by the National Restaurant Association found that small is now big on restaurant menus, according to 1,282 professional chefs questioned for its second annual "What's Hot...What's Not" food and drink survey.

Other hot trends cited by the chefs, all of whom were members of the American Culinary Federation, included alternative-source ingredients, ethnic flavours, and speciality alcohol.

"The trend of small plates is definitely hot, including offering tasting menus of small portions of food, wine or other alcohol beverages," chef John Kinsella, president of the American Culinary Federation and senior chef instructor at Midwest Culinary Institute in Cincinnati, said in a statement.

Adding ethnic cuisines, flavours and ingredients into restaurant menus was also shown to be a trend, with fusion ethnic cuisine, flatbreads, Asian entree salads, Asian appetizers, Latin American cuisine, ciabatta bread, and Mediterranean cuisine rated high on the list of hot items.

Various types of alcohol were also hot on menus, according to the survey, both as an ingredient in cooking and on the drink menu. Craft beers, energy-drink cocktails, martinis, mojitos, artisan liquors, organic wine and specialty beer such as those that are seasonal or spiced, were all among the top 20 hot items.

"As American diners are growing increasingly sophisticated, adult beverages can be an important part of both recipes and meals," said Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the Association, in the statement.

In this second annual survey, some items rated high last year dropped significantly when it came to being considered a hot trend.

Bottled water, fresh herbs, exotic mushrooms and whole grain items, while still popular, have dropped out of the top 20 hot items. Rated highest on the list of items that were once considered trendy but no more were fruit or flavored wine, star fruit, low-carb dough and tofu.

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