If 2010 was the year of taco trucks, umami and all things pizza, what does 2011 have in store? I asked chefs across the country what they think the next big food trends will be. (Check back later this week for what mixologists and sommeliers are looking forward to drinking this year.)
Jose Andres, chef/partner at The Bazaar in Los Angeles. "Vegetables. Not necessarily vegetarian, but building meals and dishes around vegetables. To some degree chicken is just chicken. Beef is just beef. But think for one moment of all the varieties of vegetables—the aromas, the colors, the textures. Meat cannot compete!"
Joe Bayley, sous chef at Boqueria, New York City. "Scandinavian cuisine because of Noma (the Copenhagen restaurant that unseated El Bulli as best restaurant in the world). A lot of people are going there to study and you'll see that influence in the next couple of years."
Ben Pollinger, executive chef at Oceana, New York City. "Approachable seafood restaurants. I've seen several open this past year and hear of a few more on the horizon."
Howie Kleinberg, chef/owner at Bulldog Burger and Bulldog BBQ, Miami. "Classically trained chefs opening simple restaurant concepts like burger, BBQ, sandwich and noodle shops."
Hooni Kim, executive chef/owner at Danji, New York City. "American chefs whose parents are originally from Asia, Latin America, and Africa are being classically trained in top restaurants. I think it's time for these chefs to show us their take on the foods of their heritage."
Vikas Khanna, executive chef at Junoon, New York City. "So many people are opening very small places and doing small menus. The single-purpose places, such as falafel, remind me of India—we are very entrepreneurial and we have innumerable vendors who only do one thing, but they do it very well.
Costas Spilliadis, chef/partner at Estiatorio Milos at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. "People are getting more serious about the foods they allow to enter their bodies. With this comes the trend for more open kitchens, accessibility to the chefs, and the use of pure ingredients simply prepared."
David Myers, chef/partner at Comme ça, Los Angeles. "New concepts will incorporate an Asian influence, whether it's a traditional take on Asian cooking, like Japanese yakitori, or tempura done in new, modern ways."
Merlin Verrier, chef de cuisine at Graham Elliot, Chicago. "Exotic citrus from Asia. I've started seeing fresh yuzu being grown in California. Finger limes are super cool—they're like little caviar balls of citrus."
Homaro Cantu, chef of Moto and ING in Chicago. "The miracle berry. Because it's like a real life everlasting gobstopper. They can make lemons taste like lemonade without sugar or make sour cream taste like cheesecake."
Sergio Sigala, executive chef of Cecconi's Miami Beach, Florida. "Menus based on the tasting portion. This is a trend I really enjoy because I love being able to tgo to a new restaurant and try many different items on the menu."