Every December the blogs, magazines, and newsletters are filled with prognostications of what to expect in the coming year. Predictions this year are that we will see more certified and sustainable fish, more small plate “tapas”, breakfast when you want, gluten-free, allergy awareness, and Peru as the new inspired foodie destination. While each trend author strives to divulge the most original trend, consistent in every trend report I have read is one overriding theme, Simplicity.
Say goodbye to Molecular Gastronomy and the unfortunate foams. Competing flavors with a litany of unrecognizable ingredients are finally making way for honest cooking, sensible restraint, and balanced innovation.
What will we see in 2009? Here are a few thoughts:
The chicken is organic, anti-biotic free and most importantly, perfectly roasted, and not just the breast. Look for menus to showcase the chef’s great cooking and ingredient selection skills, wooing guests with their approach to familiar preparations. Tired of 18 ingredients on a plate that don’t work? The new cool is to make (5) or less ingredients work flawlessly.
The new “winemaker dinner” is the 100-mile dinners where everything served is farmed, fished or raised within 100 miles or a short drive.
Eggs all day
If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, why not have it at dinner? Savory egg dishes (cage-free, of course) will be proudly placed on menus right next to the filet mignon.
Celebrity Farmers/Kitchen Gardens
Ingredients are king, and the chefs who find the best farmers will give them equal menu billing and more credit for their great food. Look for heirloom and artisan names adorning simple vegetables! Don’t expect to see more organic labels though, these farmers farm organically, but don’t have the resources to comply with the paperwork needed to be certified. If there is a spare patch of land or room for a grow light, expect many chefs to start growing their own.
It’s-It ice cream sandwiches in San Francisco, Central Grocery’s Muffalata in New Orleans and Guss’ pickles in NYC will be celebrated with home town pride and sought by hungry travelers wanting a real taste of the destination. Look for travel guides complete with reviews of the best local dives and diners, the ones only the locals know!
From concerns of the environment to concerns of the waistline, food enthusiasts want to know more about what they are eating. Restaurants who weave positive stories about the food they serve will be supported by a hungry public wishing to do worldwide good through the mere act of eating.
Custom pickles and vinegars
Chef’s will use the nearly lost art of preserving, pickling, and conserving to build flavor, save cost, and bring excitement into menus. Look for house made vinegars and specialty salt brines to be celebrated as proprietary chef secrets, and also available for sale.
Hold the Gluten
Allergies and food intolerances will be easier to avoid through better clarity on ingredients and preparation. Expect to see restaurant menus and servers identifying items that are free of peanuts, eggs, tree nuts, wheat, soy, or shellfish in an ever expanding manner of increased transparency.
More entrees will showcase non proteins as the main components, using meats sparingly or as flavor enhancement. Chefs are recognizing that even meat eaters will go veggie if they thoughtfully create menus that just happen to be vegetarian. Not a strict vegetarian, a Flexitarian will order a steak once or twice a year, but prefers to stick with non-red meat, fish, or chicken...in that order.
In 2009, you’ll hear more of:
tastes like home; grass-fed; pre-ordered brown bagging a restaurant lunch; no more de-constructed plates; good for you chocolate; single grove olive oil; cool frugality; grab and go wellness; buzz about bees; sustainable sushi; authentic condiments; destination diners; layer cakes with great icing; quality, choice and value; hot dogs are the new burger
What’s on YOUR plate today?
Great insight into 2009! I totally agree with you regarding the flexitarian movement. There is a really great book that was just written by Registered Dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner called The Flexitarian Diet. It has more than 100 flexitarian recipes and packed with excellent science based nutrition advice. Not that the Marriott chefs need any help with recipes but maybe you could look into teaming up with this dietitian on a project where she give her stamp of approval to your recipes? She is a well known dietitian in the field of wellness and nutrition based on all of the work she has done and displays on her website http://www.dawnjacksonblatner.com Anyway the book is great and everyone should check it out!
The only caution on cooking "simple"; is that it takes a lifetime to master, and you are completely at the mercy of ingredients (and suppliers). That isn't to say it shouldn't be attempted.
As a Platinum, I've liked the menu changes I've seen in several Concierge Lounges. Vancouver has a crazy spread- Vietnamese Fresh Rolls, Fajitas- fun finger food perfect for grazing (and the best Concierge Lounge staff I've experienced).
Marriott should also look to revamp their wine program. Like food, there are sustainable, high quality, organic / biodynamic, producers that make quality juice.
Washing down a plate of exquisite, simple food with a bottle of mass produced, lab enhanced wine doesn't cut it.
I look forward to the changes in 2009!
- Dirty/ Dirty South Wine
I stayed at a Marriott hotel, and I was really surprised by the food. Many business travellers apparently stay in hotels for weeks on end, but the menus really didn't seem to reflect this. On the room-service menu, for example, there were only a couple of healthy options, which you'd soon tire of. If you didn't have these, the other options looked very rich - things like burgers, pizzas, etc. I'm just genuinely surprised. If I was staying in a hotel like this for a sustained period, I'd have to buy in fruit and vegetables, and would be craving healthy options. Don't customers want more of these sorts of things - simpler, healthier, less-processed food? Something closer to food you'd eat at home, as opposed to food you have when you're eating out?
- Guy Dennis