Top Chefs Forecast New Food Trends

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We’re always hungry to find out the latest trends in the culinary world. To uncover the top foods, ingredients and cooking methods we can look forward to this year, we asked some of the country’s best chefs. See what these pros are forecasting for the world of food.

Robert Curry, executive chef at Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford, Calif.

What are the hottest food trends in Napa Valley?
Cultural and ethnic flavors are the new hottest food trends in Napa. People are seeking a little more diversity in their cuisine. Many chefs are expanding their menus and subtly incorporating ingredients and products that are outside of the style of their cuisine.

What foods are you hoping to see more of in 2013?
I am always rooting for the culinary underdog. I love it when I go into a fine-dining establishment and see unglamorous vegetables like carrots and Brussels sprouts predominately displayed.

Are you planning to cook with any new ingredients this year?
I love going to the Asian and Middle Eastern markets to dig up new ingredients that I haven’t had a chance to work with. We will see what will be discovered in 2013.

Hot: Tasting menus, fermenting, food trucks, sous vide.

Not: Gluten-free menus, liquid nitrogen.

 

Chris Hastings, executive chef/owner of Hot and Hot Fish Club, Birmingham, Ala.

What are the hottest food trends in Birmingham?
Ethnic foods: Korean, Chinese, Mexican and even Argentinian. Also, I see the polished casual scene emerging, meaning higher-quality food and service than a casual restaurant at very affordable pricing. In Birmingham, the food truck scene is still growing in a big healthy way.

What food trends would you like to see die?
Foam; bacon on everything.

What ingredients will become more prevalent in 2013?
Less common foraged ingredients you can find in the wild—for example, lion’s mane mushroom, pine needles, wild hickory nuts. Also, new things from our waters and less traditional parts of the fish, like throats, collars, livers, heads, etc.

Are diners more adventurous than five years ago?
Yes, much more. I think our nation’s obsession with food and access to information about food through blogs and social media allows people to be more knowledgeable about different foods, techniques and cultures, so they’re more willing to dive in.

Hot: Sustainable seafood, restaurant gardens, molecular gastronomy, charcuterie.

Not: Pop-up restaurants, gourmet/specialty burgers, foams.

Sean Brock, executive chef/partner at McCrady’s and Husk, Charleston, S.C.

What are the hottest food trends in Charleston?
Ember cooking, growing your own food, and hanging and aging squab, ducks and game birds. In Charleston, cooking new species of fish from our waters that haven’t previously been used.

What foods are you hoping to see more of in 2013?
I would love to see more of a focus on forgotten heirloom fruits and vegetables. It’s a fascinating subject and a delicious one. This year, I would really like to focus on vegetable cookery. I think that vegetables are the most challenging.

What ingredients will become more prevalent in 2013?
Celtuce, pawpaws and goat.

Hot: Fermenting, pickling, sustainable seafood, restaurant gardens.

Not: Amuse-bouche, foams/froths, gluten-free menus.

 

Scott Conant, chef and owner of Scarpetta, Montage Beverly Hills; Scarpetta Miami Beach, Scarpetta Toronto and Scarpetta New York, plus Scarpetta and D.O.C.G. Enoteca in Vegas

What are the hottest food trends in L.A.?
I’m seeing more vegetables as the center of plate, like a roasted butternut squash with bacon vinaigrette. I think it’s for health reasons—people are keeping a better eye on those things today. But the cost of doing business is so insane, so chefs have to look at things in a different light. One way to do it is to choose vegetables over really expensive cuts of meat. Heirloom vegetables and original strains of vegetables—those are super interesting.

What food trends would you like to see die?
I’m a lover of avant-garde cooking and molecular gastronomy, but in the wrong hands, those become wildly disappointing. Also, terra cotta plates.

What cooking methods will become popular this year?
I think there will be a lot more wood grilling; things that are seemingly rustic and, in the right hands, really elevate the product. People are smoking a lot more stuff than they used to. I’ve seen smoked cauliflower a lot lately, and I love it.

Hot: Fermenting, charcuterie, amuse-bouche, specialty burgers.

Not: Pop-up restaurants, foams, liquid nitrogen, food trucks.

Photos Courtesy of Melanie Dunea, Peter Frank Edwards and Jason Wallis

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