Trends without end, the final round: nanobreweries, restaurant economics and the demise of mixology
Daniel Landes, owner, WaterCourse Foods and City, O' City
City, O' City
On food for all: Making informed food choices based on source, ethics, allergies, blood type and politics ad nauseam is a luxury enjoyed by a minority of humans. I'm hopeful that a food trend will emerge in 2013 that we who are fortunate enough to eat three meals a day and have easy access to food acknowledge that is a great privilege, and we bow our heads in gratitude every time a plate of food is in front of us.
Brian Melton, PR consultant, Leigh Sullivan Enterprises
On the rise of technology: Restaurants have been using Facebook, Twitter and OpenTable for years, but there are companies out there right now that are making iPad POS systems better and better. Application-based companies are looking at creating software that measures user feedback so that owners and chefs can make decisions on menu items, app-based inventory-management systems and a whole lot more. We help design websites for different restaurants, and we're seeing owners taking a more active approach to how their site functions on the Internet -- things like responsive design, scrolling development, online gift cards, OpenTable, Twitter and Facebook all working together on a restaurant's site to make buying and selling to potential guests that much easier while looking more professional.
On fewer ingredients: Maybe it's because I'm biased due to my fiancé's dietary restrictions, or maybe I've been spending a lot of time with Matt Selby and the chefs at Corner House, but limited ingredients, cooked simply and beautifully, is something we've seen on the rise. Oak at Fourteenth is doing this brilliantly, and there are a few other amazing spots in the city embracing this, but I think the days of seventeen different sauces, chile oils and such thrown on a plate for no reason are over. Perhaps it's the rising cost of ingredients, or guests with increasing dietary restrictions, but cooking a plate of food simply is something that I see more and more chefs embracing.
On mixology's demise: I think the final nail in the coffin was when Hotmixology Lounge opened, but it's been headed this way for some time. It's like using "local, seasonal ingredients" -- most restaurant owners want a good bar program. But as a consultant, I'm teaching every bartender I can the proper way to make a Manhattan, or the reasons we all should use jiggers. I teach everyone why we shake a cocktail versus why we stir one. It's the fundamentals that matter -- not "mixology." I don't care if you started tending bar last week or if you're a lifer, the foundation of a good cocktail is in the technique -- and it has to be taught. You don't have to be Bar Rescue's Jon Taffer to know that without a good bar program, you don't stand a chance against your competition.