Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Miss a question? Go here.
Soon, 2013 will be upon us and so will a new year of eating, cooking, and dining out.
What can we expect on our plates next year? I asked Valley chefs and restaurateurs for their top food trend predictions and this is what they had to say.
Chef Robert McGrath, Market Street Kitchen
Small independent restaurants forming alliances to combine their marketing dollars and cross-promote their restaurants to be more efficient, competitive businesses. I see a synergy between French-country cooking and our American cuisine slowly inching together. An increase of micro-markets in restaurants for diners to shop for quality goods not available anywhere else.
Aaron May, chef and restaurateur
Scandinavian food is going to be a huge trend nationally, and someone will pick up on that here in town. I can't wait for the first smorgasbord to show up on a menu! While I probably won't be an early adapter, juicing will continue to explode in the Valley. One trend I'm looking forward to is deli fare. We're playing around with smoked and cured meat recipes, all sorts of pickles, and other delicious deli classics. This is going to be a big one in 2013.
Pauline Martinez, Chef and owner, Perk Eatery
The farm-to-table movement has turned dining on its head. We're going to see more veggies filling plates and more demand from consumers for healthy and tasty options. Global fusion has been around for a long time, and I see more of that trend coming out of European cuisine (think Basque region or Portugal). Also, better options on kids menus. Bye-bye, frozen chicken finger.
Chef Michael O'Dowd, Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel
Sustainable tapas-like foods that are small bites, comfort food gone wild, and themed restaurants that are more raw in design and more daring in food styling.
Chef Taylor Domet, North, Kierland
I see more and more people wanting to eat small bites and a lot of them. Four-course meals are falling by the wayside. Your "starters" menu is equally as important as your entrees. Gourmet "fast food." Chicken wings and sliders have never been so elegant. Many restaurants are rethinking the techniques for classic bar and pub dishes.
Lisa Khnanisho, Owner, Tryst Café
More ethnic build-your-own fast-food concepts like Chipotle. A continued focus on natural ingredients and more gluten-free menu items. Cocktails made with flavored vodkas and fresh fruit that is blended or muddled. Utilization of more grains like couscous, polenta, and quinoa.
Josh Hebert, Chef and owner, Posh
I think you'll see more offal on the menu. More gut-meat options. Maybe a little more adventuresome diners. And more traditional Japanese -- like ramen.
Chef Jacques Qualin, J&G Steakhouse
A big emphasis on vegetables and healthy cooking. Also, look for a moderation of carbs. Seafood, especially shellfish and oysters. The sustainable sources here in the United States are doing a great job providing variety.
Chef Chris Knouse, Litchfield's at The Wigwam
Many artisan products. Local organic produce and meats. Dry goods such as flour and polenta as well. Pickling: everything from grapes to French fries. Sour and tart items (think sour beer, fermented cherry juice, heavy vinegar dressings). Asian-influenced American comfort food (think Sriracha meatloaf, tempura fried chicken, umami hamburger).
Zach Bredemann, Corporate chef, Kona Grill
More small plates and small portions continuing into 2013. Food trucks holding steady. Non-Japanese restaurants incorporating sushi or sushi rolls into their menus in casual dining restaurants like Houstons and PF Chang's.
Justin Beckett, Chef and owner, Beckett's Table
More chef-counter dining, simple dishes done well with local foods, Americanized ethnic foods.
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Heather Bryan, General manager, Zuzu
We will continue to see a lot of healthy choices in 2013. Grains are becoming more popular and will be utilized in dishes that need added protein. More vegetable dishes will be offered as entrees instead of side dishes to satisfy the growing group of diners that are vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free. More small bites will be enjoyed and shared as opposed to diners ordering their own entrees. This seems to be gaining in popularity once again for the smaller portion size and price.