The new year is here and with it comes anticipation and excitement throughout the local culinary scene. 2014 was saturated with paleo diets, ramen fanatics, gluten-free options, kale everything and coconut oil — but the winds of change are upon us. Local culinary experts weigh in on what they're leaving behind and what they’re hoping to embrace in 2015.
“I would hope to not have grits on every menu in the city in 2015,” says Joe Anguiano, executive chef of Vox Table. “I think the process of fermentation and dehydration will be the next big thing in 2015.”
Forget fad diets
“I would love to see the end of the unbalanced diet. Avoiding certain things and going heavy on other things is difficult to handle in the kitchen," says Rob Snow, Executive Chef of Greenhouse Craft Food. "If someone is allergic to an ingredient, it can most always be handled, but someone who is on a fad diet that says they cannot have sugar, eggs, wheat flour, dairy, animal protein, legumes, green vegetables and/or cooked fruit may be better off eating in the comfort of their own home.”
Beets need to beat it
“I love bourbon, but I’m ready for a new player in the barrel-aged trend. I’ve been seeing more tequila barrel-aged items and I hope that catches on in Texas,” says Lynda Berrios, Whole Foods Market’s Texas forager. “Also, beets. Okay, this has been a trend for years, but I’m glad the humble cauliflower got a little of the spotlight this year.”
Sayonara to sous-vide
“I would like to see the reliance on cooking items sous-vide and hydrocolloids fade away,” says Uchiko sous chef Sterling Ridings. “There's nothing wrong with any of these techniques, but they should be used as a method for enhancing cooking — not replacing it. It should be the icing on the cake, not the cake itself.”
Toast is ... toast
“Artisan toast is a trend that I wouldn't be sad to see go,” says Eden East Executive Chef Sonya Cote. “Also, plating food on one side of the plate is so 2014!”
Stop questioning the staying power of local sourcing
“I think it’s become a trend to question the validity and longevity of this renewed interest and importance placed on what we eat," says Justine's Brasserie Executive Chef Casey Wilcox. "The mistakes we made in the last two or so generations in how our meals were treated, sourced and prepared is becoming a thing of the past, and the interest in knowing what, who and where is only a return to our roots. Celebrity chefs, food trends and restaurants may now be getting a lot of attention, but as a response to how little we were concerned not so many years ago, it's definitely for the better.”
“We’re hoping that the barbecue trend is as popular in 2015 as it was in 2014,” says Alison Clem, La Barbecue's general manager. “We see that the food truck scene has really kicked off in the past few years and continues to grow bigger and bigger every year. I feel like some popular restaurants will even extend their businesses with mobile food trucks.”
Casual fine dining excels
“I’m hoping the transition to casual fine dining stays,” says Uchi Executive Chef Tyson Cole. “We’re transitioning across the board by developing new ideas, systems and technology to better serve the general public and each other. The restaurant community is working on tweaks and changes to improve casual fine dining. "How can we make easy even easier?" is what I see happening everywhere lately.”
More vegetable-centric fare
“I’d like to see more of the shared plate. Everyone enjoys more small bites to keep the taste buds entertained. Sharing makes dining out more personal and fun,” says Chef Brian Malarkey of Searsucker. “One thing I’m hopeful for 2015 is more vegetable-driven menus. I’m excited to see less protein and more vegetables playing the lead role.”
“Even though this trend started showing up more near the end of 2014, I am hoping that vegetarian items and the use of vegetables as the focal point continues to grow as a trend. Making vegetarian items and using vegetables as a focus is fun — and challenges my creativity in a positive way. With our own farm, I am able to help choose the items for the restaurant and know exactly how it is grown,” says Bess Bistro Executive Chef Roman Murphy.
Authentic Chinese is set to make a mark
"Authentic Chinese food is primed for a big resurgence in 2015,” says Executive Chef Mat Clouser of Swift’s Attic and the soon-to-open Wu Chow.
“I’m ready to see lots of new smoked items in every style cuisine and more on the health movement as well,” says Carlos Buscaglia of Due Forni.
“I think the next big thing to hit 2015 is for lesser known cuts of meat to become household names. At Black's we're having fun cooking pork belly and some other cuts of beef," says fourth generation pitmaster Barrett Black. "Brisket, ribs and sausage will always be our mainstays and we will never change from the way my ancestors have always prepared them, but that doesn't mean we can't have some fun tasting some other cuts, too. When we find a good one, we look forward to sharing it with everyone."