Have you had enough of cupcakes already? Last year we saw gourmet cupcake shops and mail-order sites pop up all over the place, and consumers gobbled this trend up. But it’s over, and in 2011, pies are the new cupcakes.  (One popular restaurant in New York City is sponsoring a “Pie Happy Hour” featuring specialty pies like whiskey-buttermilk, apple-cheddar and more!)

Do a search of Food and Restaurant industry trends for 2011, and you’ll see hundreds of hot trends from forecasters around the globe.  I’ve put together a list of what I think are the most interesting predictions:

An increase in Mom and Pop shops. A growing number of people are following their dreams and financing their own unique family restaurants.

One-item restaurants. Like gourmet burgers, many restaurants are opening with one menu item and building on that. Look for hot dog restaurants, grilled cheese restaurants — you get the idea.

Mini everything. Mini is the 2011 buzzword it seems. Look for mini plates, mini portions, mini desserts and more, thanks to our shrinking budgets.

Hearth-healthy. The emphasis is on whole foods and healthy preparation techniques, like using wood-fired ovens.

Smoking. Cigarettes are still banned, but you’ll see more smoke flavoring in your food, such as smoked olive oil, cumin and butter.

Kumquats. Most people didn’t know what a pomegranate was until a few years ago. Look for Kumquats to be the new “it” fruit in salads, relishes and desserts.

Honey. Many chefs are developing partnerships with local beekeepers and using honey in their unique dressings and dishes.

Neck. You’ll find more parts of the animal being used to create dishes. Look for lamb, beef, goat and pork neck on the menu.

Bellies. Like necks, goat and lamb bellies are appearing on more menus in 2011.

Coconut. This flavor is increasing its popularity, and more consumers will ask for it in their coffee and desserts as well as in main dishes.

High-end junk food. Look for creative chefs to add their unique spin to our favorite comfort junk like cheese puffs, chips and beef sticks.

Gourmet popsicles. Forget cherry and grape. Look for carrot, beef and sugar-snap pea treats on a stick.

And my favorite quirky trend: Dirt! Some chefs are ditching sauces and instead using dried or powdered ingredients to add texture and flavor. One chef is planning on opening a Noma restaurant in San Francisco this month using dishes like his sister restaurant in Denmark:  Toasted malt dirt-covered radishes, anyone?

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