The trendiest food likely to grace your plate in 2012? Bacon, according to the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot in 2012” survey of 1,800 professional American chefs.

The trendiest food likely to grace your plate in 2012?


Bacon, according to the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot in 2012” survey of 1,800 professional American chefs.


No surprise. Bacon has been flavoring all types of foods for some time –– everything from cookies and cupcakes to meatloaf and macaroni and cheese.


Bacon has a smoky flavor that just can’t be duplicated, and it has a coolness factor that has become almost kitschy. Cookbooks and websites devoted to the strips-o-pork are flourishing. Bacon isn’t just for wakin’ up anymore.


According to the surveyed chefs, here are some other ingredients rising in popularity (in order): artisan cheeses, ancient grains (kamut, spelt, amaranth), Greek yogurt, ethnic cuisine cheeses (queso, fresco, paneer), flatbreads (naan, lavash, pita), specialty salt (flavored, smoked, regional), black garlic, ethnic condiments (raita, chimichurri, Sriracha) and flavored vinegars.


That’s not all. The chefs also noted: agave, vegetable ceviche, flower syrup/essence, whole-grain bread, matcha/green tea powder, savory pies, vegetable chips, nontraditional eggs (duck, quail, emu), specialty oils (truffle, sesame, grapeseed) and aged meats (prosciutto, Iberian ham).


At the bottom of the chefs’ list are those ingredients diving in popularity. Wasabi peas are dead last, followed by shortbreads, slaw, flavored popcorn and compound butter.


Culinary trends usually start on the two coasts. It’s the restaurant chefs who first incorporate the items into their cooking, and if we’re lucky, the foods eventually become available to home cooks through our local supermarkets and ethnic groceries.


I’ve seen many of these items on retailer’s shelves. So 2012 should be a delicious year, not only for the restaurant diner, but for those who cook and eat at home, as well.


Food editor Kathryn Rem can be reached at kathryn.rem@sj-r.com.