Trends without end, round six: liquid assets, flesh and fine-dining elitism
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.
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 sixth 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
- Trends without end, round five: Pickling, pop-ups and moving beyond buzzwords
Kelly Greene, restaurant broker, David Hicks & Lampert
A cocktail from Colt & Gray
On this, that and the other: I predict we'll see more tacos, lots more cocktails, breakfast continuing its trendy rebound, glass garage doors, rooftop decks, "designer" pizzas, smaller portions, late-night dining options, the continuation of the craft beer movement, "comfort food" menu items like meatloaf and fried chicken, televisions everywhere, more pay-to-park or valet parking, and patios, patios, patios.
Kevin Burke, bar manager, Colt & Gray
On liquid assets: I think on the cocktail side of the world, we're going to continue to see boutique craft cocktails in vogue. Green Russell and Williams & Graham are the clear leaders in this group, and I think they'll continue to be the standard-bearers. They're both incredibly innovative venues with very dynamic teams that have the skills and talent to stay ahead of the curves. Cocktail lists will become shorter, with drinks featuring fewer ingredients, but the flavors will be more precise and louder as a result.
In addition, someone is finally going to point out that a few great restaurants have a beer selection that's outpacing their offerings on the wine side. I'm still surprised that Colorado is the epicenter of crafty beer and yet many restaurant programs don't give it the respect that it deserves. I think that's going to turn around next year, and we're going to see restaurants that are focused on food, beer, wine -- and possibly cocktails -- on equal footing.
I really hope, too, that we're going to see smaller, more concise wine lists with a focus on truly small vigneron and smaller importers. Clients will start demanding that their wine comes from a farmer, just like their mushrooms did. Hopefully, restaurateurs will step aside from the old three-to-four-times markup as a pricing model and start focusing on putting bottles of wine on people's table instead of relying on it as the crutch to keep the cash flow super-cushy.
Rich Byers, executive chef, The Corner Office Restaurant + Martini Bar
The Corner Office + Martini Bar
On casual dining: The upscale-casual concept restaurant is where it's at now. A restaurant has to be fast, good, provide lots of variety and be priced competitively. I think we'll see a lot of very good casual-dining options in the mid-range price category in 2013. I'd be surprised to see to see a lot of high-end fine-dining concepts open next year. I don't think fine dining is dead, but it's definitely different, and from the perspective of a chef, I think the evolution of people's diets and the current economy, among other factors, require us to be more versatile and smarter than before.
Dave Coder, business resource manager, Sysco Foods
On rising food prices: Proteins continue to rise in price, and 2013 looks to be very inflationary based on the future of corn. Because of that, I think we'll see smaller portions of meats and the continued use of non-traditional cuts that will be powered by intense spice blends and marinades using unusual pairings of flavors.
On copycats: The quest to duplicate Chipotle continues. Everyone and their brother thinks they can be the next Steve Ells and come up with the concept that will make them millions. Whatever.
On locavorism: While I know that "local" has been the focus for a few years now, I see that branching out a little bit. I think that some of the chefs who embraced the whole locality movement at first are now seeing that local quality isn't always what it was from the previous sources. I think that possibly more of an expansion into regional areas will take hold; we've especially noticed that in beef. Colorado doesn't quite grow -- or produce -- enough to meet the demands of our chefs, so branching out has been accepted, especially when the quality of Nebraska/Kansas beef is very good. Really good artisans may be looked at first, with local products taking its place as second on the list. But if we can have both, that's great.