2012 Food Trends
Hottest Food and Dining Trends For Restaurants and Hotels in 2012.
So what's going to be next years next big thing.
There is of course no perfect answer, so its best to cast around for different ideas One such sources is Baum+Whiteman International Food and Restaurant Consultants who create high-profile restaurants around the world for hotels, restaurant companies, major museums and other consumer destinations. Based in New York, their projects include the late Windows on the World and the magical Rainbow Room. They were this year’s lead speaker at the CIA’s “World of Flavour” conference in Napa.
Here's what they predict in their 12th annual predictions;
1 WHAT’S THAT CRASHING SOUND?
A troubling economy sends danger signals for stand aloe restaunts and eateries. Each time a big chain cuts its prices, or flings a million half-off coupons into the market via social networks, independent restaurants are hit and hit hard.
These corporate businesses are able to borrow money cheaply and use this funding line to keep growing, but smaller independents don't have that easy access to loans. If the economy slides more, the last week of every month will be a killer for these places as their bills out pace receipts. Reports are that the US could lose 8,000-10,000 restaurants in 2012, and similar challenges remain in Asia and Australasia.
2 THE WHOLE WORLD ON A PLATE.
Innocative chefs are piling flavours from all over the globe onto a single dish. Baum+Whiteman illustrate this with the example of a sandwich of chipotle pork chop with burnt sugar glaze, carrot kimchee and tarragon mayonnaise. The trend is for multi-ethnic, multi-sensory dining experience where flavours clash on purpose and create something positive and enhancing.
A multi-culti zucchini pizza dabbed with hummus and topped with crunchy wasabi peas, tacos and tortillas stuffed with octopus and feta cheese, or with barbecued chicken gizzards and sriracha slaw; everything collides.
This tend has been pioneered at food trucks and other down market eateries, where food is cheap and the risk is low … for both buyers and sellers.
Sandwiches in particulare seem to be the big focus of this mix-match trend. There’s an over-the-top thrill about a sandwich filled with a carnitas, sausage, jalapeno, an egg over easy, or a hot dog with cilantro aioli.
Positively, these menu items are alien to your local McDonalds and Hooters -- because the chains’ financial stakes are so high, they’re compelled to serve the fewest number of items that appeal to the greatest number of people.
This enables F&B entrepeneurs to use this growing “flavour gap” to differentiate themselves from more staid corporate competitors.
3 INSTEAD OF BREAD:
Stretching for even more differentiation, look for sandwiches based on things other than bread. Arepas (corn dough), for example. Flattened tostones (fried plantains), Bao, Waffles, Rice cakes.
4 INNARDS AND ODD PARTS:
Continues to attract innovative chefs. Tongue – lamb and beef -- and gizzards are hot. They’re moving up from ethnic neighborhoods (think Mexican and Korean tacos) and onto menus of upscale restaurants.
Pigs’ ears, too, seen on breakfast menus to night-time bar snacks (above).
In the year ahead, look for more tripe, and chicken livers that are crunch-fried (a great topping for Caesar salad), and even beef heart (but not brains, yet) -- because customers are increasingly adventurous
Even fancy places will discover that they can sell tongue tacos at the bar and izakaya-style gizzards on skewers, and pigs’ ears and ox tails will show up on white tablecloths.
5 IN A PICKLE:
House-made vegetable and fruit pickles will appear on more and more western menus as chefs concoct ever more complex ways of making these preserves.
They’re important because they enliven all those ingredient-laden multi-culti sandwiches and they provide a tart foil for intensely flavoured organ meats. And Pickles are now global with additions of Asian fish sauce, Mexican peppers, ginger, yuzu, smoked paprika, star anise, raw garlic and chili. Some places are selling bowls of their own pickled products as individual menu items … and there’s a kimchee free-for-all, since there’s no “authentic” recipe. Kimchee might become the ingredient of the year, which leads to...
6 AT LAST, KOREAN HITS MAINSTREAM:
Thanks largely to food trucks, Korean food has entered the American lexicon, as it has in ASEAN countries. Bulgogi, kimchee, kalbi, bibimbap are all the rage and we wouldn’t be shocked to see Korean-inflected fried chicken or burgers appearing on some chain menus.
Look for upscale places to serve items poached or braised in kimchee broth augmented with Asian and non-Asian flavours. Red pepper paste (kochujang) won't be too mainstream but it will in 2013.
Added extra Korean barbecue comes with a barrage of pickled things, making them right on target. And in the US as Koreans run most of the US’s sushi bars, expect lots of fusion recipes as they open restaurants beyond the bounds of ethnic centres.
7 NO, EVERYONE’S NOT BROKE:
While the depression/recession hits the middle and lower sections of society, not everyone is on the bread line. They’re not burning money, but they’re still having fun spending. And when they do, they’re seeking fun, interesting food and a sense of adventure. Such as
COMFORT FOOD beats CRISIS FOOD: When the recession hit three years ago, Americans gravitated to “crisis food”: homey roast chicken, soothing meat loaf, calorie laden mac-and-cheese, unchallenging sushi, and the Holy Cheeseburger. Now they're bored by gastro-nostalgia. Instead, they'll be demanding new taste thrills and culinary invention. Mac-and-cheese is being reworked with pork rillettes, or with chicharrones for crunch and braised pork necks for depth of flavour; or it is being stuffed into sandwiches along with fried chicken or chicken-fried steak.
Classic fettuccine recipes are twisted with Asian Bolognese; pasta carbonara, already much abused, now comes with meatballs, with snails and with chorizos. There’s no limit to what people will slap onto hamburgers (head cheese, bone marrow, pastrami-and-eggs, Cajun crawfish) as new entrants to the “gourmet burger” bisness fall over themselves being creative.
Sushi’s getting stuffed with fusion ingredients; Korean and Latino flavours are being grafted on. Guacamole is being spiked with wasabi paste. Hummus comes in a dozen or more flavours. And meatloaf is being replaced by all manner of meatballs at twice the price.
ROUND THINGS THAT GO POP IN THE MOUTH: Not only meat balls but Kimchee- and-parmesan-filled arancini, fried goat cheese balls, spherical falafel, bacalao croquettes, crispy oxtail risotto balls – all of them dropped briefly in the fryer and served with multi-ethnic sauces and dips – are becoming hot-hot share-able bar food. They’re contemporary, drink-friendly finger food and no one seems to mind the calories. And savoury lollipops- small meat balls on sticks- will become more mainstream.
EARLY DRINKING, LATE NIGHT DINING: People making sales and service calls, and supervisory staff, are spending more time in their cars, so they’re shifting social times to cocktails at four and dinner at ten. That’s because they’ve only chatted and texted with colleagues also scattered on the highways, and 4 p.m is a logical time to rendezvous somewhere, unwind with a cocktail and maybe have lunch that was missed earlier.
Hotel bars and lounges are big beneficiaries and they’ll be upscaling drink lists, bar food and furnishings. Road warriors, and late-working desk jockeys get a second wind long after dark, congregating in better restaurants’ bars and hotels that are now revving up flavours and presentations … but still pricing things so that they are “affordable luxuries”.
8 BEER GARDENS:
Outdoor or indoor/outdoor, beer gardens will boom around the US – especially from restaurants and breweries with unused backyards, oversized parking lots or available rooftops. The bigger the better. Good, cheap beer, and unchallenging food like pretzels, hot dogs and burgers, draw crowds seeking a fresh air alternative to indoor bars or lounges. Movable roofs and warmers make them year-round businesses.
9 WHEELS COME OFF FOOD TRUCKS:
Last year was the food truck, now these entrepeneurs will open brick-and-mortar shops in 2012 as existing places go broke and rents plummet in US cities. Many will put their vehicles on the block; others will attempt to run both businesses.
The reason is clear: there’s more money to be made in storefronts now that food trucks – pioneering in social media marketing -- prove that eccentric menus have great market potential, and after the trucks create strongly branded identities that attract customers and satisfy wary landlords. If they open two or three storefronts, the trucks act as moving billboards. Only danger: They may lose menu focus in trying to keep their new places filled; then they become like the big chains.
10 THE FORAGERS ARE COMING!
A few years back, an unknown chef at restaurant Noma, in Copenhagen, created a strange series of tableaux on his dining room tables, using tree bark, pine needles, lichens and other things normally grazed by reindeer. So it was that in 2010 the Nordic forager Rene Redzepi and Noma displaced the Spanish chemistry wizzard Fernan Adria (for whom he once worked) and El Bulli as the world’s number one restaurant. And with this molecular gastronomy hasn’t exactly evaporated, but now you might get trampled by dozens of upscale chefs rushing to harvest dinner from the underbrush and under rocks – or assembling dishes that looked like they might be untamed gardens.
In the US, “wildcrafting” is largely, but not entirely, a West Coast trend. Forerunner Jeremy Fox composed beautiful plates at Ubuntu in Napa several years ago; John Sedlar at Playa and Daniel Patterson at Coi, both in Los Angeles, and David Kinch at Manresa in Los Gatos are masters of the style. These horticultural foodscapes appear to have been assembled by gnomes with tweezers and dental instruments. They’re sent to your table on slabs of slate, miniature rock slides, primordial wood shapes and thrown glass instead of plates. Their dishes come with lyrical names such as Ocean Creatures and Weeds, A Walk in the Garden, Into the Vegetable Garden, or Le Jardin d’Hiver.
Watch for these kinds of items slipping onto upscale menus: White acorns; tips of fir needles; “dirt” made of dried and crumbled mushrooms, black olives, bulgur wheat, or sprouting grains; eucalyptus leaves, chickweed, wild ginger, wood sorrel, yarrow, and sumac. Dirt is so hot that Crenn cooks her potatoes in the stuff before washing them clean.
11 JAPANESE CRAFT BEERS
Will gain a following in the States. They’re already is making inroads on beer-centric menus and Asian-inflected restaurants and they give lots of local artisan brews a good run for their money.
12 FORGET SKYSCRAPER ARCHITECTURE.
Chefs are shifting from stacking food as high as possible to stringing out ingredients in caterpillar-like lines along oblong or rectangular plates as it keeps the flavours separated. Ceviches, tartars, sushi and sashimi primarily, with salads as the next frontier.
13 PERU's THE PLACE:
Peru’s food is cross-pollinated by Japanese, Spanish, Chinese, Italian and Andean flavors and cooking techniques. It is the source of the world’s most exciting ceviches and tiraditos (another raw fish dish), and it is where pisco sours come from .
We predict that this is the next cuisine, so you need to know about causas, lomo saltado, aji amarillo, anticuchos, cuy (whole roast guinea pig, legs, head and all) and tiraditos, along with vibrant, acidic fruits and juices that go into their unique raw fish preparations. Better get to Lima and Cuzco before they’re overrun by foodies!
THREE CAUTIONARY TRENDS:
(1) Misuse of words like “artisan” and “heirloom” and “local” will pollute their meaning, especially as chains co-opt them for marketing slogans. Adding a whole grain to factory bread doesn’t make it “artisan” and not all misshapen tomatoes are “heirlooms” from “local” growers. “Green” and “sustainable” are in this category, too.
(2) There’s a looming oversupply of farmers markets.
(3) Too many chefs are smoking too many foods.
BUZZWORDS FOR 2012
Fresh sardines. Ultra-long dry aging of meat. Uni. Yuzu. Tamarind. Ox tail. Hand-made ricotta and burrata. Kalbi, bibimbap, bulgogi. Huacatay (better look it up). Bone marrow. Flowers re-appearing on dinner plates. Hibiscus. Arepas. Coconut oil. Shiso. Nordic cooking and ingredients. Upscale restaurants re-tenanting shopping center food courts. Lamb ribs and belly. Bao. Nduja. Micro-distilleries. Bacalao. Large displays of exotic bitters on the bar. Green papaya. Seaweed in non-Asian dishes.