Trends without end, round five: Pickling, pop-ups and moving beyond buzzwords
Brad Arguello, co-owner and chef, Über Sausage
Williams & Graham pours on the hospitality.
On pickling: We're going to see a lot more pickling. Not just pickles, but all sorts of different items. Shit I don't even know about, or know you could pickle -- they're gonna pickle it.
Lon Symensma, executive chef, ChoLon Modern Asian Bistro
On spices: Indian spices may be worked into more menus. Someone is going to open up a cool Indian restaurant here soon. It's a wide-open landscape for this cuisine in Denver.
On atmosphere: We'll see more industrial and sleek designs. Expect designs to be a little more refined, as opposed to the extreme rustic/farmhouse look you see in so many restaurants that opened a few years back. I think we can also expect to see more open kitchens creating theater and giving guests a seat at the counter. More and more people continue to become passionate about cooking and dining out as a hobby. They want a front-row seat so they can take in all the action.
On pop-ups: They're basically a fad, and not really sustainable. You put just as much work into opening a pop-up as you would a long-term restaurant, only to take it all down a short period of time later. It only works best for the buzz factor and artistic expression, but it's not economically viable, as almost every pop-up loses money. Food trucks will withstand the test of time better and can be successful at a much lower cost of entry.
Jensen Cummings, executive chef, Slotted Spoon Meatball Eatery
On the obvious: Meatballs!
On stews: I think regional and international peasant/comfort stews are going to make a surge in 2013, and the pressure cooker and crockpots are going to be in. In fact, the pressure cooker should be the new, hot kitchen tool in restaurant kitchens.
Jonathan Power, co-owner/executive chef, The Populist, Crema Coffee House
On storylines: More food as narrative. There's a good start in that direction with Next, in Chicago, and to some extent, Eleven Madison Park, but I think you'll see more of it, and on a national scale, especially in fine dining. Fine dining is becoming increasingly "experiential," and the food served will have a more developed story behind it as restaurants seek to satisfy a growing demand for something unique. Beyond that, I think we'll start to see more of a resurgence in luxury ingredients, but in less traditional manners. Look for foie and caviar in unexpected places.
Sean Kenyon, barman, Squeaky Bean and Williams & Graham
On cocktail fads: Novelty cocktail trends like barrel-aged cocktails, keg cocktails and bottled cocktails will fade away. These trends are taking us back to the "Age of Convenience" that almost led our craft to ruin. What's next? Housemade dehydrated "fresh" sour mix? It's been done. All of these ready-made beverages take away from the craft and interaction with our guests. Oh, and beer cocktails still suck.
On bar hospitality: I'd love to see bartending return to basic hospitality: greetings, eye contact, introductions and congeniality. For a true bartender, the art of conversation is just as important -- if not more important -- as the craft of mixology. There was a time when the bartender was a complete guide to the city, other bars and restaurants, current events, sports news, etc. Hardly any of the new generation of bartenders even cares about that aspect of our profession, because they've focused so much on the science that they've forgotten that we're serving people, not drinks.
On spirits: People's eyes will be opened to amazing lower-alcohol vermouths and fortified wines like Cocchi Americano, Lillet, Barolo Chinat and Bonal. Amaros and digestivi will continue to surge, and the Leopold Bros. Fernet will become a cult sensation. (Todd, please make more. Quickly!)
Watch for another installment of "Trends Without End" tomorrow.