Local, organic and sustainable foods are heating things up in Canadian restaurant kitchens. These trends were identified in the first-ever CRFA Canadian Chef Survey, conducted for the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association by independent market research firm BrandSpark International.

"Canadian chefs have identified the top trends," says Luis Clavel, executive chef of the Holiday Inn Harbourview and president of Nova Scotia Association of Chefs and Cooks. "With customers paying more attention to food and ingredients than ever before, it's a very exciting time for chefs and restaurateurs."

Surveyed chefs rated myriad menu items and cooking methods as either a "hot trend," "yesterday's news" or "perennial favorite." Here are the chef picks for 2010:

Top 10 Canadian Menu Trends
1.  Locally sourced food
2.  Sustainability
3.  Organic produce
4.  Artisanal cheeses
5.  Simplicity/Back to basics
6.  Nutritional/healthy cuisine
7.  Free-range poultry/pork
8.  Small plates/tapas/mezze/dim sum
9.  Bite size/mini desserts
10. Superfruits (e.g. acai, goji berry, mangosteen)

The CRFA survey also reveals the 'up and comers' poised to be the next hot trend:
Top 10 Up and Coming Canadian Menu Trends
1.  Ancient grains (e.g. kamut, spelt, amaranth)
2.  Gluten-free beer
3.  Vegan entrées
4.  Organic alcohol
5.  African cuisine
6.  New / fabricated cuts of meat
7.  Gluten-free cuisine
8.  Middle Eastern cuisine
9.  Quinoa
10. Non-traditional fish (e.g. branzino, Arctic char, barramundi)  

"These topline trends indicate an increasing restaurant focus on health, nutrition and the environment," says Luc Erjavec, CRFA's vice president for Atlantic Canada.

From the April 26, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition