Trends without end, round five: Pickling, pop-ups and moving beyond buzzwords
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 Lon Symensma, exec chef of ChoLon.
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 fifth batch of predictions from local tastemakers.
- Trends without end, round one: Simplicity, local greens and pot (maybe)
- Trends without end, round two: Beer, beer cocktails and the whole beast
- Trends without end, round three: Vegetables, spice and Scandinavia
- Trends without end, round four: Bread, breed and Twitter fatique
Joe Troupe, executive chef, Lucky Pie Pizza and Taphouse
Lucky Pie serves pie and beers... but will craft brews take a downturn?
On craft projects: I see restaurants moving more toward highlighting handmade, artisanal products, in the way of both food and beverage programs. Plates served in restaurants will feature less frills and more substance as consumers become smarter and more aware of what quality really means. Handmade cheeses and charcuterie will continue to be prevalent on menus, and restaurants will continue to focus on lower price points as people realize that superb quality doesn't mean that a huge price tag has to come with it. The stiff restaurant competition will force all of us to continue to push our quality of standards up, while simultaneously pushing the price point down and finding other, more effective ways to turn a profit for ourselves.
On the crash of craft suds: Craft beer in Colorado is going to take a downturn. There are just too many breweries that opened up in too short of a time frame, and it's really going to make the cream rise to the top, and not everyone will be able to stand up to the competition and make the cut. On the upside, I believe that craft distillers are going to rise up and start taking their place. People are realizing the beauty and simplicity of distillers like Leopold's, and consumers aren't going to be looking for the "consistency" that Jim Beam provides, but a more interesting and higher-quality product with some nuance that people like Todd Leopold believe in. It may not be the exact same bottle every time, but to borrow his words, it keeps its soul. Bombers and cicerones will make an upswing, beer will be viewed as part of a restaurant experience and not something to be enjoyed on its own, and sours and barrel-aged beers are going to be the new IPA. Breweries are frequently judged based on their highest-quality IPA, but while everyone has had a hard-on for the hop bombs, that will shift to yeast strains and cool - and different -- ways of aging.
Eric Chiappetta, owner-executive chef, Chia's Breakfast & Lunch Counter
On fine dining: Fine dining will make a comeback as soon as Duy Pham makes it cool again.
On farming practices: Farming practices are going to be more widely advertised -- the better the farm, the more value is added to their product, so get ready to pay. The same thing goes for spices and herbs: name-brand fresh herbs are coming.
Jenna Johansen, chef and food blogger, thelastthingweate.com
On ethnic cuisine: There will continue to be the incorporation of ethnic flavors sneaking into American food and onto American menus, both with regard to fusion -- burgers with Asian toppings, for example -- and whole dishes, like Korean-style fried chicken replacing fried chicken thighs or sweet-and-sour chicken.
Ian Kleinman, chef-founder, The Inventing Room
On whimsy: I see chefs continuing to push the envelope with new ingredients and techniques, and I think presentations will become a lot more playful. For example, I'm doing an event next year where we're going to make snow flavors. Just put your head up, open your mouth and catch some crème brûlée snow.
Keep reading for more predictions.
Brandon Foster, executive chef, Vesta Dipping Grill
Lori Midson Brandon Foster at Vesta Dipping Grill.
On moving beyond buzzwords: "Local sourcing," "farm-to-table," "building green," "reclaimed materials" and every other buzzword of the past will hopefully move beyond a marketing ploy and just become the norm rather than a trend.
On downtown dining: LoDo will become an even better dining destination as the redevelopment of Union Station and the Central Platte Valley continues. After fifteen years of being in LoDo, it's great to see the dining reputation of our neighborhood at an all-time high.
On niche dining: Recreational eating and drinking, like at Ace, will continue to carve a niche as guests look for alternatives to the traditional dining choices.
Robin Baron, executive chef, Udi's
On airport eats: Denver International Airport will have a lot of local restaurants opening in 2013; there's a desire to put Denver on the map nationally, and this city is beginning to take its airport dining much more seriously.
Pete List, executive chef, Beatrice & Woodsley
On the basics: I see a definite trend that will bring us back to the basics, to more simple, straightforward food. This brings a smile to my mug, as I've always been a little on the fence regarding the recent trends of chemical cookery, food-truck saturation and convenience before quality.
On health: We view dietary restrictions as a blossoming challenge with some great possibilities, and we go out of our way to accommodate as many dietary issues as possible, just as many honorable restaurants do. The relevant question, however, is this: Where do restaurants draw the line between being accommodating and allowing the guest to create their own bespoken menu? When you consider the tradeoffs, who really benefits when this happens? The discussion we regularly have is about the relationship between allergens and personal dislikes. It's a very sensitive and personal issue as we become more and more intimate with each guest's individual health needs. This focus will offer very new challenges to commercial kitchens that have many moving parts. For our part, this will be the biggest challenge in the near future, balancing our patron's excitement and surprise with occasional "spinach stubbornness," all while creatively guiding the menu down an ever-narrowing path avoiding honest allergens.
Keep reading for more predictions.
1610 16th St., Denver, CO