Just like in the world of fashion, food trends come and go. Some, like the shoulder pads of the 80s, have gratefully come and gone. When it comes to food, some trends go beyond being just “trendy.” These so-called trends actually develop and expand the fabric of our food scene into something better. The thing with trends is that they are all relative to whom you talk to-- some people still dig shoulder pads, just as some people still believe vegans only eat salad.
So, for the purpose of this article, we reached out to local chefs, restaurateurs, food enthusiasts, mixologists, bloggers, and just everyday restaurant-goers to get their insight. As industry folk and self-proclaimed food lovers, we also let our personal perspective weigh heavily on the topic. We reflected upon experiences we have loved, things we have seen occurring in trendsetting cities throughout the country, and trends that seem to be demonstrating some resilience in our marketplace. Time will only tell which trends are here to stay. We compiled a list of what we see as the top seven local trends that are spicing up our food scene and are, we hope, here to stay.
Image Courtesy of Moxie Kitchen and Cocktails
Local, Local, Local: Growing Social Responsibility & Healthier Food
Focusing on local and sustainable dining is a perfect example of a trend that has stood the test of time. Many feel that it is really no longer a trend, but a way of life--cooking, creating, and living responsibly. As Chef Tom Gray of Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails says, “It’s just simply a better way to eat, and when you are looking for nutrition, flavor and sustainability, it is the only way to go.”
What we are seeing is a shift in the extent to which restaurateurs are allowing this local and sustainable mindset to inspire the process. It is evolving to every aspect of the restaurant, not just the kitchen. Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails and Black Sheep Restaurant are perfect examples of incorporating sustainability into restaurant design. Many aspects of their buildings were made from repurposed materials and local creators. In New York, Jean Georges’ ABC kitchen uses local and sustainable philosophies in practically every detail of the experience, which is something we have yet to see here at home. From the plates on which guests dine, to the uniforms the staff wears, the commitment to locality is always displayed.
The focus on farm-fresh ingredients has not only led to more flavorful ingredients, but to a more healthful approach to cooking in general. Vegan and gluten free menu items are no longer being marginalized to menu afterthoughts, but are becoming menu features, to be enjoyed by everyone. We’ve seen this first hand at The Cafe at The Cummer Museum with the Black Bean and Quinoa Stuffed Roasted Portobello with Romesco sauce, which is not only vegan, but naturally gluten free. Menu items like this become top-selling items for omnivores and herbivores alike.