Trends without end, the final round: nanobreweries, restaurant economics and the demise of mixology
Samir Mohammad, executive chef, Lala's Pizzeria + Wine Bar
On artisans, cheese, pickling and mixology: I predict that chefs will go back to their artisan roots -- making cheese, curing meats, making their own pastas and baking their own breads, butchering whole animals, focusing on artisan farmers and staying as local as possible. I think we'll also see more rooftop gardens, restaurants growing their own herbs, and a lot more pickling and preserving. I think cheese, in particular, is going to become a real focal point in a lot of restaurants; it's so very underrated and deserves more attention, especially with all of the amazing artisan cheesemakers in our own back yard. When it comes to herbs, I think we'll see a lot more uncommon varieties -- things like lemon verbena, lemon balm, chervil, sorrel, chamomile, lovage, hyssop and angelica. I also see more chefs teaming up with mixologists to create amazing restaurants that really personify ultimate dining. For me, personally, I know I'll be focusing on keeping my food simple and looking back to the classics and putting a modern twist on them
On gluten-free diets: I think the gluten-free fad is going to fade -- yes, I know there are people with real celiac problems and I take it seriously, but it's still a fad, and not everyone who claims to have this disease is being honest.
Jorel Pierce, executive chef, Euclid Hall
On bigger cities and big-city chefs: I feel like we're going to see some repeat mistakes -- some critical mistakes -- namely, chefs from other cities moving to Denver and trying to initiate a new concept and then having to refocus their concepts over and over again to try to fit the necessity and find their niche. I feel like we have more and more of these big-shot chefs rolling into town in an attempt to prove themselves, while not really understanding what Denver wants -- which is good, honest food. To the new chefs who are coming to Denver: Bring the money and the better-than-we-are reputation -- the more the merrier - but understand that just because you're from a bigger city or have a big name doesn't mean that you understand what Denver wants or needs. Those of us who have been cooking here for a long time get it. We'll serve up the horse you rode in on -- get some.
Stefanie Jones, founder, Stefanie Jones | Public Relations, Inc.
On the surge of sandwiches: Masterpiece Deli has proven that Denver diners love a good sandwich and that the upscale sandwich concept can be successful. I think we're going to see a number of quality sandwich shops opening in 2013 serving high-end, house-cured and rotisserie meats, local cheeses, house-made jams, relishes and aiolis, and fresh baked breads. It's a concept that works well at any time of day.
On the whole beast: The nose-to-tail movement is going to be a much more significant trend in Denver in 2013 with restaurants like Kachina Southwestern Grill, Second Home Kitchen + Bar and soon, Beast & Bottle, all touting whole animal and in-house butchery programs. We'll see more unfamiliar cuts and preparations on Denver menus and an increase in farmer/shepherd dinners.
On going international: There's a lack of legit, non-trendy ethnic food in Denver, so I'm hoping that we see a resurgence of solid, authentic Indian, Thai and Korean restaurants that open and thrive in 2013.