One segment of the food industry that we rarely hear about is catering.
At the end of each year, I receive a lot of news releases proclaiming the new food trends for the coming year.
I’ve learned that breakfast foods will become more popular in 2013, hard cider will pop up on more bar menus, sweet wines are on the rise and bacon – for at least another year – will continue to be the darling of the food world. These predictions are usually based on information from chefs and industry researchers.
One segment of the food industry that I rarely hear about is catering. So when I received a missive from Chicago-based Catersource Magazine, which caters to caterers, I wondered what was in store this year for those specialists.
Food catering in the U.S. – a large, fractured industry with many players -- generates $6 billion annually. Because most caterers are located within a 60-minute drive from their event destination, the industry has tens of thousands of members, each with a small share of the market. Some do catering exclusively, while others – restaurants, hotels and even grocery stores – cater on the side.
Catersource surveyed more than 300 independent caterers around the country and came up with these trends for 2013:
-- Popcorn bars. Elaborately spiced and flavored popcorn – festive and inexpensive -- was showing up at events last year and is expected to continue.
-- Tacos, dumplings and fillings. Caterers are melding global flavors with street-food innovation. Call them gyoza, pierogi, empanadas, knodel or momo, fillings wrapped in dough signify the best of the world in a doughy package.
-- Gray décor. In addition to emerald, the Pantone color of the year, gray is making a comeback for events, with sleek modern materials like metal and acrylic slowly moving in on burlap and vintage decor.
-- Wedding desserts. Cupcakes at weddings were hot in 2012. Now look for soft-serve stations, ice-your-own-cupcake bars and more options for creative flavor combinations and personalization.
-- Bizarre and extreme. Goat may not be the protein of choice at a wedding, but events devoted to menu items you might see on the Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods” can make a big splash with guests and are fun for chefs.
On “Bizarre Foods,” host Andrew Zimmern has sampled turtle-blood sake, cricket larvae, sheep’s eye, grilled kidneys, coconut-flavored grubs, bull testicles, blood stew, rooster combs, cheese ice cream, liver meatballs, jellied eels, ant eggs, teriyaki cockroaches, beating cobra heart, civet feces coffee, hen’s uterus, rotten clams, duck tongue on a stick, donkey-tail stew, sauerkraut pie, grilled rat, cow udder, brain curry and scorpions on toast.
Novel tastes can be interesting, but I think I’ll stick with cupcakes.
Kathryn Rem can be reached at 788-1520 or firstname.lastname@example.org.