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The Multi-Culti Trend and More Forecasts for 2012

Here goes another 2012 food and beverage prediction.

Trend forecasts and prophecies usually come out at this time of the year, and most restaurateurs just take it all in, observing and making the most of the knowledge they get from these foresights. Last month, we have already featured Andrew Freeman’s Food and Drink Trends for 2012 and Technomic’s Consumer-Focused Forecasts ( ). Now, here’s another one that comes from international restaurant consultant Michael Whiteman from the Baum+Whiteman team.

Baum+Whiteman’s 16 Hottest Food and Dining Trends For Restaurants and Hotels in 2012 talks about chefs becoming more adventurous than ever in using new ingredients and customers discarding comfort food for mixed-and-matched international flavors, now dubbed as multi-culti. Here’s a rundown of some interesting ones:

1 A global plate dining experience, that’s what they say. An adventurous blend of different cultural flavors—multi-sensory, multi-ethnic. Sugar-glazed chipotle pork chop, zucchini pizza with light dashes of hummus, Italian porchetta with zests of Korean bulgogi will pop out in restaurant menus and menu folders. Next year’s way of cooking allows all contrasting flavors to smash together.

2 Chains and independent operators will have a wide “flavor gap.” Trend Number 1 means taking some degree of risk, and chains cannot take that, so they’ll stick to what they have; while indies are left to completely differentiate themselves using the mix-match trend.

3 Bread alternatives. Chefs get inspiration from KFC’s Double Down and will find other alternatives for the conventional sandwich, like Colombia’s arepas and Latin American tostones.

4 Tongues, innards, gizzards and other odd parts will still be hot! And this year they will invade upscale restaurants, too. Chicken liver, pig’s ears, lamb tongue, beef gizzards, beef heart.

5 Homemade pickled fruits and veggies, still multi-culti style. These are said to liven up the multi-culti global plate trend and to foil the powerful flavors of the organ meats. And far from being the conventional ones, too—chefs will still be as daring in their menus and menu folders: the Asian yuzu and fish sauce, Mexican peppers, star anise.

6 Korean cuisine continues to penetrate the American palate. A result of the food truck revolution, Korean food will hit restaurant menus, including chains. We’re talking about bulgogi, kalbi, kimchee, bibimbap and the like.

7 American diners are back in circulation. As they grow tired of their spending restrictions, they’ll be back to the restaurant scene next year; although not as extravagantly as before. They’d seek some tweaks to their comfort food like what happened to better burgers: pasta carbonara with meatballs and chorizos, mac and cheese with pork rillettes and mix-matched sushi. They’ll drink cocktails early afternoons, around 4pm, and have dinners during 10pm. And they’ll enjoy easy-to-eat sharable food with their cocktails: bacalao croquettes, risotto balls and meatballs of all kinds.

8 Beer gardens, outdoor or indoor, will pop up across the country.

There are eight more interesting ones, all of which are featured in their website . Checking it out is definitely worth your while, as trend-spotting allows us a glimpse of what our market wants.