Top Food Trend Predictions for 2014 (Slideshow)
Biscuits are finally beginning to have their moment in the sun, and will explode in popularity in 2014. Empire Biscuit in New York City is on the vanguard, but expect to see more biscuits in bread baskets, biscuit sandwiches, and biscuits in just about every application you can think of.
In 2013 the Nashville, Tenn., dining scene rose to national prominence, and we predict that Richmond, Va., will be next. Restaurants like Acacia and Stella’s have been flying under the radar, but as more folks recognize the incredible culinary landscape and potential in this town, we’ll be hearing more and more about what’s happening here.
Nearly every chef has discovered the magic of sous-vide cooking by this point, but more home cooks will discover the cooking method, where food is placed in an airtight bag and brought up to the right temperature in a circulating water bath, and begin to use it in their own kitchens. Not only is it incredibly easy, but it can hold foods at the perfect temperature for as long as you want, and is nearly fail-safe.
Most restaurant desserts are still monstrously large, and diners are so full after a big meal that many do without a sweet ending to their meal. We expect to see desserts catch up with the "small plates" trend, where you can order a small sampling of desserts and get a full impression of the pastry chef’s prowess.
Sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes, are nutty, healthy, versatile, easy to cook, and delicious. Expect to see them in far more dishes than you currently do in 2014.
From chef Tony Mantuano (Spiaggia): "I think one thing we'll see in 2014 is the removal of stuffiness from restaurants. People still want to have a nice 'fine dining' experience, but with less of that Old-World approach. I also think more restaurants will create multiple experiences within one restaurant… dining, lounge, retail, private events, bar — finding more ways to export their brands so anyone can access it."
Chef Jenn Louis (from Lincoln Restaurant and Sunshine Tavern in Portland, Ore.) predicts that we’ll begin to see more non-beef tartare, with things like wild game and offal. Lamb and other red meat are delicious in tartare format, and tartare fans will be game for experimentation as chefs create their own applications.
With Lafayette opening in New York City this year, folks are beginning to remember the comforts of a classic, traditional French brasserie. We’ll begin to see more of these sprouting up, along with more French bistros, as diners look to return to more traditional — but just as laid-back — dining styles.
From chef Erik Anderson (The Catbird Seat): "Everyone these days is cooking pork. If I see one more pork-centric restaurant open, I might pull my hair out. That's not to say, I don't love pork. I do. But I think chefs will soon head back to beef. I've personally found it really interesting to find different ways to cook different kinds of beef, whether it's grass-fed or grain-fed — certain preparations enhance the flavors and textures of grass-fed beef that don't necessarily have the same results with grain-fed beef. It's all about finding the right application for the type of beef."
From chef Kevin Gillespie (Gunshow): "I am seeing more restaurateurs adapting the dim sum format to American food. The interactive connection between cook and guest is becoming more popular. People are looking for high-level experiences for food but in a more fun, casual setting." Gillespie's own restaurant, Gunshow, has adopted this format.
In New York alone, restaurants opened inside Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue in 2013. More than just a little snack bar, these are full-service restaurants where shoppers can treat themselves to a fabulous meal mid-shopping trip. In 2014, restaurants will open inside department stores that aren’t just for the shoppers; they’ll be destinations in their own right.
Stella 34 Trattoria
As recently as a couple of years ago, if you wanted a meat-free dish at a restaurant that wasn’t vegetarian you were stuck with a salad or boring appetizer. In 2014 you’ll see chefs embracing more vegetable-forward menus, making grains and vegetables the stars of the dish and doing away with meat entirely.
2013 saw the great Sriracha boom, and in 2014 more and more snack manufacturers will realize that folks want big flavors, and the biggest favor of all is spiciness. Expect to see more spicy potato chips and other snacks. Our money is on an "extreme" Doritos flavor that is so spicy they make you sweat.
From chef Wolfgang Puck (Spago): "I see a trend where talented young chefs open very small restaurants, maybe 30 seats maximum and even smaller, where they can really express their own culinary capabilities. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to discover something new or someone with a completely new technique." For examples, take a look at Ari Taymor's Alma in L.A. and Alex Crabb's Asta in Boston.
Amanda Marsalis/ Roger Davies
Flavored vodkas are played out. As distilleries focused on brown liquors like whiskey and rum look to extend their brands, expect them to start producing more brown-spirit-compatible flavors, like brown sugar, cherry, herbs, spices, ginger, and chile peppers.
Toloache and Empellón were just the vanguard: More and more people are learning what real Mexican food is, and it’s a lot more than tacos. High-end Mexican chefs will take their skills stateside, opening upscale, fine-dining restaurants serving high-end Mexican fare, both traditional and experimental.
If the success of Carbone is any indication, upscale Italian food, even classic red sauce-style fare, isn’t going anywhere. Expect to see more restaurants mimic the Carbone formula (although we’re not sure how we feel about a plate of Parm costing upward of $50), but also more Italian chefs preparing classic, authentic regional Italian dishes in upscale, high-end settings.
As the beer market continues to be oversaturated, there’s still a gap in the microdistillery market. Be on the lookout for more locally made gin, rum, and whiskey, but also more funky variations thereof that the big guys don’t make, like genever.
Back in August, the Institute for Applied Ecology hosted an Invasive Species Cook-Off, and in 2014 you can expect to see more locavore chefs doing their part to do away with invasive species by finding creative ways to prepare ones like snakehead fish, Asian carp, weeds like dandelion, and other plants, birds, shellfish, and mammals.
The farm-to-table trend will reach its inevitable next step, as leading chefs and restaurateurs cut out the middleman entirely and buy their own farms on their quest to become completely vertically integrated. Restaurants already taking farm-to-table to the max include New York's Blue Hill at Stone Barns, The Barn at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee, and The Restaurant at Meadowood in California.