3 food trends every chef should know for 2014

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Trends can appear out of nowhere, and this is especially true in the food industry. Seemingly random food items seem to explode in popularity overnight.

There are a ton of trends to keep an eye on. The problem is the size of your menu. So how do you decide which trends to embrace and which ones to leave on the back burner?

Change up your current menu
Diners have been focusing more on healthy eating in the past few years. They've also developed a strong interest in sustainability. These are two of the most prevalent trends in the food industry, and their applications can easily be incorporated into dishes.

With this overarching theme, creating exciting new meals will be a breeze. Make simple and fast changes to your current offerings by reassessing recipes of popular dishes and figure out how you can cut down on unhealthy fats, salt and sugar. Look into local suppliers for seasonal fruits and vegetables. These quick adjustments can make your restaurant stand out among others in the area.

There will be so much going on that the kitchen may be more fast-paced than usual. In such cases, ensuring that everyone adheres to best practices will decrease the chances of injury. Good communication, being aware of one's surroundings at all times and knowing when to ask for assistance will help keep everyone safe.

Introduce new dishes
Work with everyone in the kitchen to create healthy alternative recipes of diner favorites. You can still keep the original recipe on the menu, but giving diners the option to eat better while enjoying the same great tastes will show your commitment to their well-being.

Once you've established these new recipes, carry the principles over to the new dishes that you'll be creating. Here are three emerging food trends that you should focus on. 

1. Tart and sour foods: Katherine Alford, a vice president at the Food Network, stated that the popularity of sour flavors is growing. This is further bolstered by the fact that frozen yogurt venues have sprung up at almost every street corner. Storing and serving these icy cold treats might be difficult at a restaurant, but it doesn't mean that you can't take advantage of other tart foods. Pickles are easy to make and store well. Experiment with different flavors. Diners can have one with their lunchtime sandwiches or as a side.

2. Grilled cheese: This classic comfort food is emerging as a favorite among diners. Cheeseboy, a quick-service grilled cheese restaurant, released its first-ever "American Grilled Cheese Survey," which found that 86 percent of the 2,033 adults surveyed have consumed at least one grilled cheese in the past year. The great aspect of this relatively simple food is that the possibilities are endless. There's a variety of ingredients that can be featured in these sandwiches. Furthermore, you can expand the bread and cheese selection.

3. International foods: Diner intrigue with ethnic foods will never dwindle – and it's no wonder! There are numerous flavors to explore, some of which are unique to certain cultures. So how do you feature different ethnic flavors throughout the seasons? There are so many to choose from that you might not know where to begin. Consider this: international events. World-renowned and widely watched international gatherings such as the FIFA World Cup are highly anticipated affairs that everyone knows about. Use these grand occasions as inspiration for the next ethnic flavors that you want to feature.

Working in a commercial kitchen is definitely busy, but never boring!

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