2013 was a fascinating year in the world of food. Arguably, the biggest food item of the year was the Cronut, Dominique Ansel’s donut-croissant hybrid that’s had New Yorkers lining up for hours every morning since its debut, and it’s an item that nobody could have predicted would dominate the culinary world this year. But that’s just how it is: you think we’re heading in one direction, and we head off in another one entirely. And while it’s impossible to predict the future, we’ve put our heads together (and recruited some of the country’s top chefs to pitch in), and have assembled a list of 20 food and drink predictions for 2014.
Before we look forward, however, let’s take a step back and take a look at last year’s predictions for 2013 and see how we measured up.
#21: Healthier In-Flight Options: Healthy options exist, but we’re still at about the same amount as last year.
#20: Eastern Europe as a Culinary Destination: Not yet, but it’ll happen, trust us.
#19: Urban Honey: The trend is still going strong, with even the Waldorf-Astoria installing beehives on its roof.
#18: Lardo Is the New Pork Belly: Pork belly is still the new pork belly, and lardo is still waiting for its moment.
#17: Restaurants Charging for Bread: You’ll find this occasionally, but it hasn’t become the norm by a long shot.
#16: Chips and Salsa… for a Price: Again, it’s something you see occasionally, but it’s nowhere near commonplace.
#15: Beer Cicerones: Still waiting for their moment in the spotlight.
#14: Beer and Wine Hybrids: Didn’t really encounter any new ones this year. People want their beer or they want their wine, but not mixed together.
#13: Smoked Everything: This one we certainly saw plenty of.
#12: Sea Beans: We didn’t see much of these on menus this year.
#11: 'Designer' Brand-Name Meats: While Pat LaFrieda still doesn’t quite have Prada levels of cultural cachet, we’ve seen a rise in this in 2013. Strassburger in New York, Brandt Beef in California, and Double H Farms in Nashville are turning up by name on local menus, however, and we certainly expect this trend to continue as more and more diners want to know where their meat comes from.
#10: More Bloggers to Cookbooks: Want a cookbook deal? Start up a blog that develops a massive fan base. This year saw plenty of examples.
#9: 'New' Cuts of Meat: We definitely saw more of this in 2013. Butchers looking to show off their skills began to hawk the spinalis (formerly just the outer edge of the rib-eye), the sirloin filet, the Denver cut, and, of course, the "Vegas Strip," which all rose in popularity.
#8: Fast-Food Mash-Ups: If 2012 was all about the Doritos Locos Taco, this year certainly kept the trend going. People simply love it when two of their favorite foods are combined. While it’s not fast food, even the Cronut is a mash-up.
#7: Korean Inspiration in Our Kitchens: Two years ago, most people still couldn’t tell you what kimchi was. In 2013 Korean food continued to become more mainstream, and now its influence is undeniable.
#6: Eggs in Appetizers: In 2013 eggs didn’t just end up in appetizers more, they ended up in everything. Heck, Marc Forgione’s new steakhouse American Cut even lets you top your steak with one.
#5: Brooklynization of the World: Brooklyn’s cultural star certainly reached its zenith in 2013, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. If you want your brand to be cool, just tack the word "Brooklyn" onto it.
#4: Queens Is the New Brooklyn: While Queens continues to have some of the city’s best culinary offerings (especially Greek), it’s still on the sidelines to its neighboring borough.
#3: Alternative Citrus: While we didn’t see much of a rise in use of kumquats and Buddha’s hands in 2013, blood oranges continue to be everywhere you look, and more chefs are discovering that there’s an entire world of ways to add brightness to a dish using a citrus other than an orange or lemon.
#2: High-End Counter Dining: For proof of this trend, look no further than New York’s ZZ’s Clam Bar, which opened this year and is one of the hottest (and most expensive) seats in town. The centerpiece of the restaurant? A counter.
#1: Rise of the Pressure Cooker: More and more home cooks continued to be swayed by the pressure cooker’s charms this year, and while they’re still not in every household, even Mark Bittman’s been singing their praises lately.
We didn’t quite nail them all, but certainly were on the right track. So what do our editors think 2014 has in store? More vegan and vegetarian dishes in non-vegetarian restaurants, more chefs turning to invasive species, the rise of microdistilleries… click here to learn what we and a handful of chefs predict. And don't forget to check out what upward of 25 chefs believe 2014 has in store for the culinary world.