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by Allen J. Sheinman | September 13, 2013
Every year, the Texas-based hospitality management company Benchmark Hospitality International culls data gleaned from the executive chefs and other culinary experts at its 39 luxury hotels, resorts and restaurants in the Western Hemisphere, all to compile a list of the hottest trends this side of a spatula. Here's what this year's report reveals.
 
1. Chef-crafted. Perhaps the biggest trend in food today is chefs taking hands-on responsibility for every component and ingredient in their kitchen to have total control over quality and flavor. From putting up jams and relishes to overseeing their own farms, chefs truly are in charge.
 
2. Celebrity protein. Say hello to quinoa, a gluten-free protein grain that's a top ingredient with chefs this year. It can be eaten for breakfast as a muesli, or for lunch and dinner as a side dish. The United Nations General Assembly, evidently without much pressing business on the agenda, even declared 2013 as the "International Year of Quinoa."
 
3. Parental controls. Moms and dads are demanding more healthful preparations for traditional children's menu selections, increasingly requesting grilled or baked over fried and opting for hummus and fresh fruit dips over fat-laden sauces. 
 
4. Everything's getting smoked. As a preservative, that is, and it's catching on via smoked olive oils, smoked heavy cream for sauces, even smoked cocktails.
 
5. Pedigree, please. Guests are becoming increasingly more insistent on knowing about the specific origin of the food they enjoy, including the waters where their salmon was fished, the boat involved and even the captain who caught it. As the Benchmark report notes, "Dining today is interactive, with guests peppering the waitstaff and chef with questions about sustainability, responsible husbandry and local chef-prepared ingredients."
 
Source: Benchmark Hospitality International