If food is like fashion, then we are sure to see as many new trends in food '12 as this season's newest colors of the new fashion black. Not really a fashion forward guy, you'll have to check out another blog for whichever shade of purple is in now. As to food and drink though, there certainly are a lot of prognosticators with already published lists. Who knows, maybe some of them will be right. I thought I would take a shot at what I see as the trends to watch out for over the next year, and who knows, maybe I will be right on one or two.
- Popups Pop-Out - could there ever be a sillier idea than to pop up a restaurant? Rather than spending months planning a restaurant for a 3-month life span, look to free-standers to design concept spaces that can live for two years and then flip to a fresh concept that requires no infrastructure redesign, and can use existing staff. A restaurant with an exit plan.
- Peruvian - I have heard for years this is the year for Peruvian. Love ceviche, but I am still waiting (see below).
- Fennel Pollen
- $100 Burger
- Salt Menus
- Amuse Bouche
- Micro Anything
In and on the way in '12
- Designer Label Maple Syrup- Vintage and single grove, brix rated, long or short fired syrups from a handful of North country groves will make their way to power breakfast tables, and even show up on forward thinking hunter-gatherer pastry chefs' menus.
Healthy Comfort Breakfast To-Go- a Whole Grain and Flax Organic Blueberry Muffin sure sounds like a healthy alternative. Expect the oatmeal with creative toppings to expand. Thankfully though, the drinkable oatbased breakfast shakes will not be with us much longer...
Dim Sum, the New Taco - Any trip to China is not complete with a proper stop at a Dim Sum house. Cute packages of steamed dough, awesome dipping sauces, perfect for the multi, small meals preferred by busy travelers. Look for these in lobby gathering spots.
- Peruvian - Is this finally the year of the (truly, it is) great cuisine of Peru? (see above).
- QR Code Menus - Don't believe that sea bass is sustainable? Scan the funny looking block on the menu and learn the day it was caught, where, and by whom. View the recipe...link on to a virtual feed from the kitchen...or pick the best wine match.
- Moonshine Spirits- With a show all about distilling spirits now on reality TV, look for the Kentucky entrepreneurs to do for kettle whiskey what Phil and the Hansen brothers did for king crab.
- Coconut Water Long drinks - Brazil exported bikinis, so why not the national thirst quencher in a newly improved pina colada?
- Trucks Stop - Tired of being chased away by irritated restaurant owners within 200 feet of their doors, look for food truckers to band together for communal prep spaces and rented parking lots to ply their wares. Also, look for fast food to start using mobile trucks to micro-test new ideas before hitting the real test markets.
- Speakeasy Reservations - Like the Premier line at the airport, social media reverse tweets give a badge to flash at the door for an immediate seat and recognition. Like a virtual secret knock, and you don't even have to be Mayor of FourSquare.
- Free Foods - Gluten, Cage and Nut - Allergy concerned or socially aware, diners have more at stake than just flavor when they demand restaurants provide more detail about what is offered. Cage Free Eggs and the difficult topic of gestation crated commercial pork are next in the headlines.
- Local Treasures - Years ago the best street vendors in Singapore were hired to open Straits Kitchen, now let's see if the maker of It's -It San Francisco or the Saturday Chorizo sandwich guy at Borough's London Market moves to partner on a partial menu instead of the whole restaurant. Think Bromberg Bro's Blue Ribbon Chicken in gateway Renaissance cities?
- Sodium the new Carb - Healthy now takes its aim at salt, so chefs will be reducing sodium with more flavored and acidic pickles, even replacing bread baskets with pickled local vegetables, maybe from their gardens. Could be at the bar soon instead of salty carbs.
- Customized Healthy - Ok, I am sure the broccoli spread is a fine alternative to butter, but really, is that my only choice? Diners want to eat better, but the food better make sense and be balanced with the experience they are paying for. Reminds me of the time I ordered 12-course vegetarian tasting menu at a to-be-unnamed Chicago restaurant..then stopped for a burger on the way home because I was still hungry.
Not going anywhere:
- Deluxe Fried Chicken
- Food Trucks
- Nose-to-Tail Eating
- TV Food
- Arabic Mezze
- Organic Everything
- Offal Saturdays
- GreenWashing & Calling out Greenwashers
- Brussels Sprouts
- Fast casual Chinese
- Foods with a Story
- Cupcake Mania
What's on YOUR plate today?