Local, sustainable seafood top hot US restaurant trends

It is not surprising that locally-sourced seafood and meats is the number one culinary trend, according to the National Restaurant Association’s annual “What’s Hot 2016 Culinary Forecast.” The survey of nearly 1,600 chefs also ranked “hyper-local sourcing” as the number four trend out of 20 top food trends for 2016, and sustainable seafood was ranked ninth.

“The trend for local and sustainable seafood has been in the top 10 trend in the NRA’s annual survey, ‘What’s Hot’, for at least the last five years, and we see this trend continue to gain strong momentum,” Linda Cornish, executive director of Seafood Nutrition Partnership (SNP), told SeafoodSource. “There is a desire by consumers to know where their food comes from; they want to know the story of the farmers and fishermen that bring food from the land and ocean to their dinner table.”

Restaurants all over the United States are utilizing more local and sustainable seafood in their menus. For example, Orlando, Fla.-based Spencer’s for Steaks & Chops in the Hilton Orlando features primarily local seafood – and all of its dishes are also sustainable. It sources caviar from a sturgeon farm in Tampa, as well as much of its fish and shellfish from all around the state.

“It’s not only the right thing to do, but it brings it back to where food came from – where you only cook from what is around you,” said Spencer’s Executive Chef Kevin Spencer. In fact, the restaurant recently launched a separate seafood menu that includes snapper, pumpkin swordfish and wreckfish from Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.

And Boulder, Colo.-based The Kitchen, which operates eight restaurants, sources only sustainable seafood – including many underutilized species or “trash” fish. “The whole premise is that the ocean is a big place and fishermen can fish for whatever they want. They also get a lot of things that have no value to them, and they don’t have restaurants where they can go that know how to serve [trash fish],” said Kyle Mendenhall, executive chef of The Kitchen.

As a result, The Kitchen has held two “trash fish dinners” so far this year and regularly sources trash fish from Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Sea to Table and direct through fishermen.

Innovative dishes from The Kitchen and other restaurants are the reason more consumers are seeking out local and sustainable seafood at restaurants. “Chefs today are the unsung heroes in connecting the dots for customers who want more flavorful, adventurous, healthy meal options; and many chefs are stepping up to the plate with heart-healthy seafood,” Cornish said.


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