Butter is Back!

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“Butter is back,” declared The New York Time’s Mark Bittman in March. In 2013, Americans ate an average of 5.6 pounds of butter each — more than in any previous year since the 1970s. Consumption has grown 25 percent in the last decade alone and continues to climb. Industry experts attribute butter’s tremendous growth to two factors: the country’s gastronomic obsession with the quality, purity and preparation of real food, and the growing backlash against trans fats. After decades of dominance, margarine sales have been in a tailspin as research continues to show that the artificial spread may be significantly worse for eaters than natural butter.

America’s eating habits are also becoming more epicurean each year. Fully 93 percent of adults say they enjoy going to restaurants — pushing projected restaurant sales to $660.5 billion in 2013. Gastronomy is taking hold at home, too, as “the line between specialty and mainstream foods continues to blur due to the escalating foodie movement,” Food Technology magazine writes. More than half of US adults regularly watch cooking shows; two-thirds purchase specialty foods for everyday home meals; and total sales of specialty foods reached $76.1 billion in 2011.

Although the country is amidst a butter rediscovery, one group remained keenly aware: The world’s most famous chefs have always insisted that butter is key to gourmet dining. These chefs have elevated butter to new levels, crafting unctuous dishes to wow patrons.