Trends without end, round two: Beer, beer cocktails and the whole beast
What will be the big culinary trends in 2013? As we prepare for a new year in gastronomy, we posed that question to dozens of people in the local food business, everyone from chefs and pastry magicians to restaurant brokers and PR consultants, from brewers and grape gurus to realtors and pig farmers.
Lori Midson Jon Emanuel of Project Angel Heart.
And while their insights and opinions are all over the map, one thing is clear: Denver's culinary scene is definitely going to be a conversation piece next year, both at home and across the country. Trend lists are like Twitter accounts: Just about everyone has one. But no one has a list as comprehensive as this...
Keeping reading for our second batch of predictions from local tastemakers.
Jon Emanuel, chef, Project Angel Heart
On beer: As a beer geek, I think we'll see more demand/need for cicerones, although I must say that it's so great to currently have so many brew-educated servers who are really up to speed with beer styles and suggestions, as well as chefs who are so adventurous with their beer lists.
On noodles: Ramen may seem like last year's trend, but I am not really seeing it slow down. I think even non-Japanese/noodle restaurants might be dishing out twists on ramen. It's so much fun to play with, and experimenting with the layering of the flavors in the broth is right up most chefs' alleys, plus you can use a lot of pork, which is still so popular here.
On the nose-to-tail movement: In-house butchery and whole beast cookery isn't slowing, either. The imminent openings of Old Major and Beast + Bottle are testament to that. As a guy who does his fair share of beast breakdowns, that suits me just freaking fine.
Robert Thompson, president of Seasoned Development (including Punch Bowl Social Food & Drink)
On beer culture: Beer cocktails are going to continue to grow in popularity, especially in beer-savvy markets like Denver and Portland, and on the business side, I'm hearing rumblings from the food- and beverage-investing communities about funding more microbreweries, which is very cool. We've been seeing -- and will continue to see -- the growth of our local brewing community. With the pent-up talent we have here in Denver, once investors help unlock these energies, Denver will continue to lead the country in beer innovation -- both from a progressive-recipe front and a practical manufacturing perspective.
On the downswing of fine dining: Fine dining isn't dead, but it's certainly breathing through a straw from the bottom of a river. Coming out of the worst recession we'll ever see, even with economic conditions improving, people don't feel right overspending on dining experiences on a daily basis. That pervasive position makes "daily bread" for fine dining and their related price points a challenge. Moreover, I see the overarching trend being the continued elevation of comfort foods. We now have two gastro-diner efforts here in Denver [Punch Bowl - Social Food & Drink and Tom's Urban 24], with many more examples around the country, including Stephanie Izard's new gastro-diner concept in Chicago and Little Goat Diner, which opens soon. Rather than seeing acclaimed chefs take the next step up to fine-dining concepts, they're making an equally forward-moving step sideways to perfect dining traditions and concepts we've had for generations. Denver will continue to move with this tide, too.
On restaurant designs: It's all about recycled materials, which is as it should be -- and hopefully will be for years to come. We were able to repurpose an entire barn and 200 high-quality but recycled chairs and stools at Punch Bowl Social; nothing bad can come from that. We'll see places with optional moods, sometimes introverted (video games/closed seating), sometimes extroverted -- karaoke and community tables, for example, sometimes solo, sometimes with a crowd. There's alive -- or alive - and always-changing story within these new concepts with adaptive reuse: It's not decor, but a fundamental element of concept. We'll see places that one can call "mine," which only comes from warmth, so no stark color themes or hard edges exist for shock, not rock. Also, blue is the color for 2013.