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2010 Restaurant Trends: I'll have the kids-meal, gluten-free and a mini-dessert on the side

By Carrie Becker in Food on Dec 22, 2009 8:20PM

Image c/o Laurie Proffitt Photography
Well, its definitely that time of year again where all the whiz-kid foodie-insight folks predict what will be the biggest restaurant food trends of 2010. The National Restaurant Association polled over 1,800 chefs nationwide to create their list, among them are important but also predictable ones (locally grown produce and meats, sustainability, farm-branded ingredients, etc). But, there are also a few quiet, slow growing trends that have not become as rampant as the 'bacon-in-everything' trend. Mini-desserts, nutritious kids' meals and gluten-free/food allergy meals seem like viable trends, but will they make it to your plate?

We asked a few Chicago chefs how they plan to work these less apparent trends in 2010....

Balsan at the Elysian Hotel - Bridget Quinlan
"Balsan is offering a kids menu that does not include any fried foods. Similar to Balsan's "adult" menu, the menu features many food items from local farmers. The entrees include vegetable soup, farm lettuces, roast chicken with seasonal vegetables and ocean trout."

Province - Randy Zweiban
"Mini-desserts are something we have been doing a little of and we want to move more in that direction. I think it works great at lunch when guests want just something that is small, fast, easy and value oriented."

NAHA - Carrie Nahabedian
"We do a whole range of gluten-free products (including) crackers,
bread. (And,) we are expanding our Vegeterian and Vegan selections to accommodate this growing phenomenon. This isn't too hard for us to do since we use so many vegetables and grains."

Chef Koren Grieveson adheres to a gluten-free diet due to an allergy. Her people tell us "As she is sympathetic to those who suffer from gluten allergies, she is striving to create more dishes to accommodate those

Mana Food Bar - Jill Barron
"As far as desserts go, we do have a gluten-free avocado sorbet that is vegan also. I have always hated the "slab on a plate" mentality for desserts, for years i have been making smaller "mini" dessert as individual small plate desserts."