(Dec. 14, PACKER WEB EXCLUSIVE) Locally grown produce and organic produce remain two of the top three hottest restaurant menu items, according to a survey of U.S. chefs.

The National Restaurant Association surveyed 1,284 members of the American Culinary Federation and asked the chefs to rank 194 food items as hot, passé or traditional favorites.

Locally grown produce was listed as hot by 81% of the voters, down slightly from 84% in last year’s survey, and second only to bite-sized desserts. Organic produce was third at 75%, down 1 percentage point from a year ago.

In individual categories, pomegranates (62%) once again topped the fruit rankings with a score nearly identical to last year. Dragon fruit (52%) was the only other fruit that scored higher than 50% on the hot list, but several items scored high as perennial favorites, including grapes (46%), citrus (53%) and berries (62%).

Star fruit had one of the worst scores in the fruit category with 62% of chefs calling it passé. Chefs were somewhat split over edamame in the vegetable category with 47% calling it hot, 43% calling it passé and 11% ranking it as a perennial favorite.

Asian salad (62%) topped the entrée salad category. Caesar salad had the weakest reception on the hot list (19%) in that group, but that was largely because 51% called it a perennial favorite.

For more info, go to http://www.restaurant.org/pdfs/research/200711chefsurvey.pdf.