American street food is big news. It’s appearing everywhere: on fine dining and fast casual menus, as the theme of food festivals and culinary conferences and, of course, served curbside in myriad forms. We’re not talking about the same old hot dogs or pretzels. In the last two years, street food has been reinvented and reinterpreted to reflect the changing ways Americans eat. It’s a veritable paradigm shift!
Street food is exploding due to the confluence of larger social trends. Because of the economic recession, out-of work culinary professionals and inspired home cooks have started micro-businesses selling food on the street, whether it be seasonal handheld fruit pies or savory Korean tacos.
Using fast-growing social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, budding entrepreneurs announce the menu and locale of the day to a growing crowd of tuned in consumers who are eager diners if not loyal “followers” or outright “fans.” Independent weekly newspapers and bloggers trumpet information about new vendors, many of whom network and set up in the same places, creating a sort of pop-up food court.
Influencing these events is the reality that we have become a nation of snackers, lovers of small plates and (now more than ever) a good bargain. We still want good food from good sources, food that’s in sync with our evolving attitudes about nutrition and the environment, but we want it fast, fun and handy.
This report profiles the significant street foods making headlines today, providing seven strategic trend translations to point readers to new opportunities:
Gourmet-on-the-go: Fine-dining chefs are serving upgraded street food in restaurants or from refurbished carts and taco trucks, while foodie entrepreneurs are making specialized, high-quality cuisine available on the go.
Porchetta: A classic from the streets of Rome, this stuffed and pork belly-wrapped pork roast has become the hottest choice for sandwiches and entrées at small cafés, independent restaurants and farmers markets.
Indian Wraps and Chaat: Indian flatbread sandwiches (“Naaninis” or “Naanwiches”) and other street-food inspired cuisine (chaat) are showing up in independent fast casual eateries nationwide, fusing Indian flavors and familiar appetizer and handheld forms to put a new spin on traditional Indian fare.
Virtuous Street Eats: Whether sold from eco-minded carts and trucks, at local farmers markets, or as a fast, fresh campus dining option, these organic, sustainable, and locally sourced street foods appeal to health conscious consumers who want good taste with a good conscience.
The New Antojitos: Masa-based Latin street foods—the Venezuelan arepa, the Salvadoran pupusa and the Mexican huarache—combine convenience with flavor exploration and novel forms.
Street Food Fusion: Street food vendors are mixing global flavors to create alternative fillings for tacos and crepes and to popularize different forms of satay.
Haute Hot Dogs: America’s favorite street food is getting a makeover with better quality meat and a more diverse assortment of toppings.
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The Culinary Trend Mapping Report is an indispensable tool for those whose job it is to stay abreast of what's hot - and what will be - in the food world.
The reports leverage the Center for Culinary Development’s (CCD) signature Trend Mapping technique, a validated method for identifying which culinary trends are gaining traction and which are simply flashes in the pan.
Each 65+ page journal is packed with trends, data, strategies and insights on the food industry that simply aren't available anywhere else.
Each Issue of the Culinary Trends Mapping Report
Identifies the maturity level of foods and ingredients according to CCD’s unique, proprietary 5-stage trend mapping process.
Concentrates on a theme that is affecting the food industry, and then looks at the emerging and established trends along the Trend Map that are shaping this theme.
Delves into these trends and what they mean for you and the manufacturing, retailing, and foodservice industries.
Gives strategic insight into how consumers are thinking of and reacting to new foods and ingredients.
Provides business know-how regarding opportunities, challenges, and ways to implement current trends into foodservice, retail, and packaged goods operations.
Presents a feature interview with a member chef from CCD’s exclusive 80+ member Chefs’ Council who offers expert analysis and unique perspective on a specific trend.
Trend Mapping is guided by the premise that major food trends pass through five distinct stages on their way to the mainstream:
Stage 1: The ingredient, dish and/or cooking technique appears at upscale dining establishments, ethnic and popular independent restaurants.
Stage 2: The item is featured in specialty consumer-oriented food magazines such as Bon Appetit plus retail stores such as Sur La Table that target culinary professionals and serious home cooks.
Stage 3: The item begins to appear in mainstream chain restaurants—Applebee's or Chili's—as well as retail stores such as Williams-Sonoma that target recreational cooks.
Stage 4: Publications such as Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens pick up the buzz.
Stage 5: Finally, the trend makes its way to quick service restaurant menus and either starts to appear or gains increased mainstream presence on grocery store shelves.
Published bimonthly, the Culinary Trend Mapping Report is available for purchase as a single issue or a six-issue subscription.