Food and Drink Trends for 2014 as Predicted by Valley Chefs

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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 laura.hahnefeld@newtimes.com.

As Sriracha, foam, and molecular gastronomy slowly fade into our culinary memories, a new group of food and drink trends are jockeying for position in the New Year.

What can we look forward to (or not) in 2014? I asked 15 Valley chefs what they see coming to restaurant menus next year, and this is what they had to say.

See also: 14 Favorite Restaurants of Valley Chefs for an Unconventional Christmas Dinner

Deborah Schneider, Chef and Partner, SOL Mexican Cocina

Nutriceuticals: incorporating highly nutritious "superfoods" (such as acai, sweet potato, chia) into restaurant menus.

Chef Matt Taylor, Market Street Kitchen

We will take a step back in time and start to see a lot of primitive cooking styles. More use of open flame, wood-fired cuisine, and naturally smoked proteins and vegetables.

Christopher Collins, Owner, Grassroots Kitchen & Tap

The trend of healthier lifestyles and growing awareness of the quality of foods we are putting in their bodies will continue in 2014. It's already started with the FDA 's recent announcement concerning the negative impact of trans fats in our diets. We will see the drink trend in the casual-fine dining segment move toward more boutique labels that reflect regional support.

Josh Hebert Chef and Owner, Posh

We'll see another modified version of the mojito. It turned into the Moscow Mule -- now it will take shape as another vodka, lime, and soda cocktail. Microbrew beers will continue to grow exponentially. Arizona wine also will start to get its day in the sun. The newest releases are the best they've ever been, and Arizonans will sit up and take notice en masse. For food, pork in everything will start to die a little bit.

Christopher Gross Chef and Owner, Christopher's Restaurant & Crush Lounge

Food: housemade breads, fewer ingredients on a plate, more offals. Drinks: fewer ingredients, so as to show off the spirits and not the mixers; spirits made in the U.S, and cocktails made with wine bases and natural products.

Heather Bryan, General Manager, Zuzu

More mixologists will use misting or smoke essences over cocktails and find ways to creatively flavor ice cubes.

Chef Nick LaRosa, Nook

Food is going to resort back to more classic, simple dishes rather than extravagant dishes and crazy flavor profiles. On the drink side, the reign of flavored vodkas is over, and we will see more bottled cocktails and liquor/wine on tap.

Sadhana Raj, Chef and Owner, 24 Carrots Natural Café & Urban Juicery

Foods: cacao, moringa, and ice cream sandwiches. Drink: tea! Craft tea is healthful, versatile, and perfect in cocktails and desserts (and with desserts) as well as a base for soups. Teas say slow down and take this cup in.

Chef Maurice Gordon, The Westin Phoenix Downtown

We'll see a trend of more seafood usage, more Spanish or Brazilian cuisine making its way to the States, and the use of more teas and coffee in the bars. Also, more food pairings with whiskey and scotches.

Chef Joey Maggiore Cuttlefish Ocean Kitchen

We will see handcrafted artisanal cocktails go through the roof, with a slight decline in craft beer. Food will be homing in on locally sourced ingredients, seafood will be on rise, and fusion cuisine will be on its way out. We will see chefs focusing on perfecting their true passion and not reinventing the wheel.

Chef Herb Wilson, Sumo Maya (opening in 2014)

One of the new trends that will continue is small-plate menus and communal dining. In other words, a lot more sharing. Also, I think we'll see more food coming from wood-burning grills and more ceviches, tiraditos, and crudo.

Michael Siggins Chef and Owner, Pasta Brioni

More restaurants are offering sections of their menu devoted to small plates (call it tapas or dim sum). An increasing number of diners are looking for light bites to eat or to enjoy as multiple, smaller courses without the doggy bag. This trend continues to grow in 2014.

Chef Rich Hinojosa, The Wigwam

Local beef, pork, and chicken will have a more pronounced placement on menus. The comfort food movement will continue -- a lot of chefs are excited and draw inspiration from dishes of their youth. I hope to see sour beers continuing to gain more popularity this year on the beverage side.

Don Carey Corporate Culinary Chef, TQLA

Hopefully, we'll see the dismissal of annoying terms like "farm-to-table," "artisan," and one of my personal favorites, "chef-driven." We'll see the return of hearty, rich entrees with mother sauces as the base, but modified to include healthier fat and calorie content.

Chef Jorge Gomez, The Vig

Food: green, healthy, diet-friendly, locally sourced food, and also an increase in juice bars. In addition, there will be a rise in popularity of traditionally healthy cuisines such as Israeli and Middle Eastern food. As for the drinks, we'll be seeing a lot extract juices and flavored oils and ice cubes.

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