Trends without end, round four: Bread, breed and Twitter fatigue
Etai Baron, co-CEO/founder, Udi's Foods Local
On food sex: Healthier eating is becoming sexier as vegetables move to the center of the plate, and I couldn't be happier about this trend. Everybody is cooking more vegetables and doing a better job with them, but True Food Kitchen has elevated healthy to an entirely new level. The rumor that P.F. Chang's has bought an option in True Food Kitchen is further evidence that healthy is going big-league.
On bread: With the renaissance of Northern European cuisine, led by Noma, we're seeing bakers turn their attention to the fine breads of Northern Europe -- and it's a blessing for us all, because the bread culture of Northern Europe is even more rich and developed than that of France and Italy, the breads of which currently dominate the tables and grocery stores of this country. Chad Robertson of Tartine, Dan Leader of Bread Alone and Craig Ponsford, who owns Ponsford's Place in San Rafael, California, are helping lead this revolution in bread. Another bright spot is that Northern European breads tend to use more whole grains and alternative grains to wheat -- and that translates to better flavor, more variety and more healthfulness.
We'll also see the continued ascension of overall bread quality. A big part of this story is that we're finally digging the grave for Wonder Bread; the other part of this trend is that Starbucks bought Pascal Rigo's La Boulange and the Bay Bread Company. Starbucks has been trying to figure out how to corner the market on quality pastries forever; they did plenty of experimentation all across the country with different delivery methods and suppliers. They finally decided to buy the bakery itself - and Rigo's Bay Bread is one of the country's best bakeries. You can bet that Starbucks has a grand scheme for figuring out how to use Rigo's magic in their stores -- and let's not forget that the La Boulange restaurant brand will soon expand outside of San Francisco.
On delis: I think we'll start seeing some Montreal-style delis. Jewish food from Montreal is different from what's considered Jewish food in this country, but it's similar and delicious. Mile End, Rye Deli and Wise Son are some of the leaders out there, and here in Denver, we have Justin Brunson, who will probably prove to be one of the leaders of this cuisine's renaissance.
On meals on wheels: Street food continues its comeuppance with better tacos, better burgers, better salads, better pizzas and especially better sandwiches, and it's a trend that dovetails with "fast-casual" restaurants serving food that's every bit as delicious as it is in fine-dining restaurants. I believe that this segment of the dining market is going to continue to outpace and outperform all other segments because of the ability to cook delicious food, offer exceptional value and be incredibly convenient and easy.
On international cuisines: Ethnic food is starting to get some pretty great treatment from geeked-out chefs who can apply superior cooking methods and better ingredients to ethnic cuisines -- just look at Phat Thai and Ace. As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the brightest and most exciting trends that we can look forward to, because there are so many great flavors and ingredients that can cross cultural boundaries and help the continued evolution of our cuisines.