Efficiency and growth, featuring new farms, a focus on health and making an effort to further the gluten-free cause — these were some of the better practices that chefs resolved to address in 2011. Among one of the most notable resolutions in this category, was Chef Richard Sandoval whose resolution was, "Make Zengo's gluten-free menu a habit for those whose lifestyle requires it (available in D.C., Denver, New York and Santa Monica)."
Some menus and signature dishes stay constant, but some chefs get menu A.D.D. and need to adapt, experiment, shake things up with new dishes and ingredients. One potential new dish is the one imagined by Chef Ratha Chaupoly of Num Pang. He says, "One of our traditions now is to have Peking duck for the Holidays. Peking Duck Numpang would be a great sandwich! This would be my all-time resolution. We wouldn't have the room, nor the skills to make the correct Peking duck here now, but it's a great goal for the future."
Better practices don't always necessarily mean just the financial bottom line. For a chef like Brendan Fyldes of The Stafford London By Kempinski in London, England, it means focusing on colleagues.
"In my kitchen every January, we make a point of making fruit smoothies for the staff," Chef Fyldes said. "Those dull winter mornings seem a lot brighter with a fruit smoothie. We use fruit which might be bruised or not in perfect condition for our clients. Blended up with Ann Forshaw's Lancashire natural yogurt and topped with granola. It is perfect for getting some much needed vitamins into the staff after such a busy period of the year!"
For many chefs a major concern is to continue to focus on local and organic produce, and to pay more attention to sustainability. Chef Marco Moreira, for one, said he resolved to "work closer with our local farmers and fisherman."
But chefs are looking to make this push in different ways and for different purposes. For instance in Austin, Trio's Chef Elmar Prambs wants to use ingredients from local growers and providers, but to experiment with them to show "that 'healthy' doesn't have to come at the expense of flavor."
Other personal resolutions indicated possible news on the horizon from one New York City chef, Cesare Casella, "My restaurant resolution is to open another restaurant in 2011!"
Iron Chefs have resolutions too — and they don't involve using less pork, specifically, bacon. Take Iron Chef Marc Forgione: "I would like to incorporate more bacon fat into my cooking/dishes at the restaurant in the new year."
Even mundane resolutions when made by chefs can have an added flourish. Take FCI Dean Emeritus, Alain Sailhac, who said, "It's a tough question because I never make any resolutions. I'll eat less foie gras and caviar. And instead of two bottles of wine a day I'll try only two glasses."
Chef Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy in New York City has to get the prize for the year's best resolution, "Well, that's the same as it is every year: to replace myself with a giant robot arm that has 75 points of articulation."
Chefs Alex Guarnaschelli (Butter and The Darby, NY), David Felton (Ninety Acres at Natirar, Peapack-Gladstone, NJ), and Tony Mantuano (Spiaggia, Chicago) are looking to revamp their menus, but with focus on booze.
Chefs Alex Guarnaschelli: "My one drink-related resolution is to arrive at a cocktail list that rides the line between sour and sweet perfectly"
Chef Tony Mantuano: "We’ve seen an increase in artisanal beers in Italy that we’ve begun offering by the bottle at Spiaggia and on draft at Cafe Spiaggia.... We’re looking at re-inventing the Spiaggia bar in 2011... and we know this will be heavily inspired by our trips to Italy."
Chef David Felton: "My New Year's resolution for the restaurant is to start to produce our own barrel-aged liquors, vinegars, maple syrups and hot sauce."
A move back to the basics for a chef like David Santos of Hotel Griffou means focusing on the customers. He says, "I think in this day and age so many chefs are about themselves and their Twitter accounts and all that other bulls#@t. I'd like to see a movement torwards the customers. Making people happy, cooking great food and being truly proud of what you're doing."