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.
This year, it seems like we've seen more Angus beef, truffles, mesclun greens, and bacon on restaurant menus than ever before. And despite some food trends never seeming to die out (cupcake, anyone?), are there any eats in 2012 Valley chefs and restaurateurs would dub the most overrated thus far? I asked a few, and here's what they had to say.
Aaron May Chef and Restaurateur
Bacon has definitely jumped the shark. It's great and all, but really I prefer a small boutique ham, a whole roasted pig, tender, slow-cooked pork butt, or any number of other cuts. Bacon just has that pedestrian appeal that people have sort of claimed as "cool."
Deborah Schneider Chef and Partner, SOL Mexican Cocina
Still pork belly. I am dead sick of pork belly. That's followed closely by beef cheeks and the more obscure forms of offal.
Chef Rory Hewitt Phoenix City Grille
The most overrated food of 2012, or ever, is foie gras. I know I just made the chefs reading this cringe. I have a friend who is upset because they banned the use of foie gras in California because it is not humane to raise [the animals for foie gras]. I personally have no problems with this.
Chef Eric O'Neill SmartKitchen.com
Food trucks. Sure, most of it might be "gourmet fast food," and there are some really fantastic dishes that trucks come up with, but it's becoming saturated and the ideas of names and what to serve is crashing a once creative business concept. With that, the integrity of food and flavors get diminished.
Chef Ehren Litzenberger BLD Chandler
Sushi. It's not what it used to be, and it's very hard to get the best quality. Thank you, Walmart!
Chef Christopher Nicosia Sassi
All of the spherefied, nitrogen frozen, encapsulated, and gelefied food out there just bugs me. You can enjoy an eight-course meal and then realize that it was an entirely liquid meal. It's also amazing how many young cooks can execute all these techniques but can't cook an over-easy egg or make a zabaglione properly.
Romeo Taus Chef and Owner, Romeo's Euro Cafe
Red velvet anything. Just because the name has the words "red" and "velvet" in it does not mean you should put it in your mouth. Something special about food coloring?
Joe Johnston, owner, Joe's Real BBQ, Joe's Fresh Farm Grill, Liberty Market, Agritopia
Bacon. It's been the most overrated food for the past five years. Torani just came out with a bacon-flavored syrup for coffee drinks and cocktails. When is enough enough? Bacon is great, but can't we move on? There are other salty, crunchy, fatty foods out there.
Chef Charles Schwerd, Arrowhead Grill
Gluten-free foods! In some cases, such as celiac disease, the request of gluten-free foods is a sincere one. Like most food trends, it, too, will pass.
Chef Peter DeRuvo Davanti Enoteca (opening in August)
"Organic," "free-range," and "grass-fed" stand for overpriced, mass-produced, and highway robbery. Stick to the basics and grow your own, if you can. Get a reputable source at your food store for when things typically come into season. Farmers markets, although thin during the summertime, have a bountiful variety of fruits, vegetables, fish, and meat.
Chef Kurt Jacobsen Hidden Meadow Ranch, Greer
I like micro-herbs to a point. They are overrated and over-served. They're an easy out for making beautiful food.
Andrew Nam Chef and Restaurateur
Gourmet hamburgers -- it's just a hamburger!
Eddie Matney Chef and owner, Eddie's House
Kale chips are very overrated. They're good, but after you eat a bunch of them, they kinda taste like charcoal.
Chef Tim Fields El Santo Restaurant + Patio Bar
Vitamin-infused waters. Most of them are loaded with sugar and have up to 125 calories per serving without all the vitamins and nutrients that two pieces of fruit would provide for the same calorie intake.
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Bernie Kantak Chef and Partner, Citizen Public House
Nothing specifically this year has bothered me; however, I would rather walk barefoot through a room full of Lego pieces than ever eat another cupcake. Never really cared for them in the first place, but for some insane reason, I agreed to be a judge in a cupcake contest. There were a total of 78 cupcakes we each had to try. I don't think I'll ever be the same.