Another year, another batch of restaurant trend predictions. Somehow, this annual crystal-ball gazing exercise never grows old.
From 2006 to 2010, I tracked food trends and wrote about them for a restaurant trade magazine. At the end of each year, my fellow editors and I would gather some of our own predictions for the year ahead. Sometimes we’d nail it: Burgers showed their staying power. Other times, we were less successful. One year we said lamb would be the new pork. (So did Food & Wine.) I’ve come to learn that pork is—always—the new pork.
For old time’s sake, I rounded up predictions for what we’ll be eating in 2013. There’s nearly no overlap among trend spotters’ lists, which I take to mean that how 2013 will turn out is anyone’s guess. With a few exceptions: While I remain skeptical about barrel-aged hot sauce stoking national fervor, both the New York Times and CNN’s Eatocracy blog include it on their trend lists.
There’s also a call for less Dude Food, which arrived at its worst incarnation with Guy Fieri’s Times Square restaurant. Reporting from London, Tim Hayward, a food critic for the Financial Times, puts it this way: “I’m burritoed up, BBQed down and steaked out.”
Maybe not quite all of us. Scott Hume of the blog BurgerBusiness.com shows that there’s always room for burger and fries, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.
More Restaurant Predictions for 2013:
According to the Julia Moskin in the New York Times, we should best get ready for long-aged meat (of the 8-month-old prime rib variety), artisanal soft serve, chicharrones, cheffy fermentation projects, and smoked everything. I worked on two chef cookbooks last year–one contained a chapter on fermenting and the other had a recipe that required smoking flour–so I’m in agreement here. She also throws sunflowers, pig tails, and the aforementioned hot sauce into the ring, although I’m less certain that those nominees can capture the popular vote.
This year, “There are tastes for all persuasions, and enough strong runners-up to fill the menu of a Brooklyn pop-up,” writes Moskin. Among them: horseradish and pine needles.
About those pop-ups. Jessica Sidman in the Washington City Paper wishes we’d stop using that term to describe every special event that takes place in an existing restaurant space.
Over at Eatocracy, Kat Kinsman composes a wish list of what she’d like eat more of in 2013. She’s requesting more Tater Tots. I know from first-hand experience that Nightwood in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood has achieved mastery in this fried potato category, though they call ‘em tots. Kinsman also requests more creative grain- and veg-based entrées and that more chefs cook up invasive species. If only Asian carp tasted as good as tuna…
Andrew Freeman & Co., a hospitality consultancy based in San Francisco, also hauled out its behemoth trend forecast. According to AF&Co., we’ll see an increase in sophisticated Mexican menus, toast served beyond breakfast, drunken bar snacks, crispy chicken skin (the kosher chicharrones?) and freekah, an ancient grain.
Also mentioned on the AF&Co. list is a trend in which chefs team up with local brewers to make cider and beer. It’s old news in Chicago (Goose Island has brewed several chef collaborations over the past few years), but it’s new news in the San Francisco Bay Area. AF&Co. reports that Oakland’s Linden Street Brewery is working with Tartine Bakery’s sourdough starter for a signature brew.
Meanwhile, now that every neighborhood in San Francisco has its cute Italian restaurant, the city is moving beyond Italian. “No longer is Cal-Ital king,” declares San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer. Instead, more restaurants in San Francisco and elsewhere are flaunting personal narratives sprung from Asian, French, or Scandinavian heritage. Bauer also reports that protein sizes continue to shrink as vegetables “move closer to the center of the plate.”
And back in Chicago, Bill Daley and Judy Hevrdejs report in the Chicago Tribune that we’re in for a year of more health: more kale (Mary Chapman of Technomic says it already has made it onto the menu at The Cheesecake Factory), more yogurt, and more fresh juices. On the out? Molecular gastronomy. Chefs, hide your meat glue.