My favorite lists to read this time of year are the trend predictions—mostly for a laugh. But for every tired claim that “[blank] is the new cupcake,” there’s some truth—and perhaps a lot of hope—behind these hypotheses. Since I am less qualified to theorize than the city’s chefs and restaurant owners, I emailed our virtual Rolodex with one important question: What do you think Seattle's major food trend for 2014 will be?
A few themes emerged, primarily veggie-centric menus and a greater offering of Japanese food (both of which I'm more than a little excited about). Read on for the full report, and feel free to leave your own hypotheses in the comments:
Derek Ronspies, chef-owner, Le Petit Cochon: "Sour! Lots of delicious sourness in beers, foods and cocktails. Fermented, pickled, or steeped, I love the flavors and think they will continue to grow in popularity."
Karen Rosensweig, public relations: "My thoughts on a food trend for 2014 will be the increase of allergy-specific menu items (gluten free, dairy free, vegan, paleo, etc.)"
Jason Harris, owner, Bloom Bento: "In 2014, we'll be seeing a lot of sake kasu popping up on menus in Seattle. Kasu is the "waste" product from making sake, but to a chef, it's just as exciting as the actual sake. It's fragrant, sweet, and packed with umami. Seattle chefs have not had access to fresh sake kasu until very recently, when Seattle's first sake brewery, Cedar River, opened in Greenwood."
Brendan McGill, chef-owner Hitchcock and Altstadt: "Major food trend in 2014? People not following food "trends" so closely... And there are some things I'd like to see: the modern izakaya continuing to popularize (a la Miyabi 45th), more Spanish food (thanks team Aragona) and more healthy options that make your body feel good (Juicebox!). Also quick-service establishments serving food that is sourced responsibly and made in-house by humans (sort of like my deli), I'd like to see more of that."
Joe Fugere, owner, Tutta Bella: "In my opinion the major food trend for 2014 can be summed up in one word: wholesomeness. People are longing for a time when our food was less complicated, yet it had great taste and integrity."
Karen Krol, pastry chef, Cantinetta: "More focus on local. Less focus on organic."
Andrew Friedman, owner, Liberty: "What I’m looking forward to seeing is more food trucks and pop-ups and then seeing the food trucks and pop-ups turning brick and mortar. So many great chefs proving that they make great food–well, let’s see which of them make great operators, also."
Timothy Czarnetzki, owner, Urban Family Public House: "While not restaurant related, I really think halloumi is going to blow up this year. East Coast cities are already all over it, hopefully not too long until it's an easy [to] find in the grocery store."
Manu Alfau, chef-owner, La Bodega: "Middle Eastern and South American! Also, classic Americana, old school green-bean-casserole style."
Jamie Boudreau, owner, Canon: "Given everything I've been seeing nationwide and the number of potential seminars on this subject at Tales of the Cocktail this coming July: more serious thought given to the food programs in bars. Bigger food programs, better quality food, and more thought on bar snacks."
Joleen Zanuzoski, public relations: "I think we’re leaning towards authentic ramen offerings, veggie-centric menu offerings that aren’t salads, and caviar."
Melissa Nyffeler, chef-owner, Dinette: "I think a major food trend for 2014 will be a move toward more vegetable-heavy menus and beer-based cocktails."
Elizabeth Shoemaker, pastry chef, Stoneburner: "Towards the end of 2013, I noticed a trend of childhood favorites in the sweets world of Seattle. I think this trend will carry through into 2014, as these types of desserts—s'mores, PB&J, caramel corn, sweet cereal, and the classic combo of peanut butter and chocolate—can be made fun and funky or classed up."
Sharon Campbell, co-owner, Tieton Cider Works: "The inclusion of heirloom beans or shelling beans (as they are sometimes called) on more menus will be on trend for 2014."
Mark and Brian Canlis, owners, Canlis: "Good service. The food in the this town is already superb. The trend will be for service to become just as special, just as important as food."
Kurt Dammeier, founder, Beecher's Handmade Cheese, etc.: "Every food establishment will be required to have the word "bar" somewhere in its name." (Let's hope he's kidding.)
Justin Marx, owner, Marx Foods: "Expect more food news out of Lower Queen Anne. The neighborhood is a fine food desert (except us!) that has seen a massive surge of new high-end condos. The restaurants haven’t followed and it is just a matter of time... I’m not saying that it’s the next Pike/Pine Cap Hill corridor, but Lower Queen Anne is primed for a renaissance, and good food options will surely be part of it."
Savuthy "T" Dy, chef, Rione XIII: "I think that Seattle's major food trend for 2014 will be a move towards pushing the envelope with new flavor combinations and cooking techniques. Furthermore, Seattle chefs will be honing in on the dishes that makes this food region so wonderful and unique, and in doing so, will continue to make us one of the best food cities in the nation.
Meeru Dhalwala, chef-owner, Shanik: "1. Ethnic-on-ethnic fusion, for example, Japanese and Indian (this is already happening in Japan, as "Japanese Curry" is very popular there). 2. Cooking or baking with insect flour. Insects are super healthy for us and environmentally very sustainable and easy to farm. 3. Sophisticated vegetarian eating. I don't mean more people becoming vegetarians, but more people adding more vegetarian foods with "tasty umphs" to their meals. The days of vegetarian meals as an aside for the few vegetarians, or as healthy cardboard eating are gone."
James Weimann, owner Bastille, Poquitos, Macleod’s, Von Trapp’s, and Stoneburner: "With the emphasis on beautifully prepared organic vegetables and smaller portions of proteins, I believe that the door is open for a new focus on exotic spices, sauces and broths."
Branden Karow, chef, Staple and Fancy: "I think that Seattle’s food trend for 2014 should be pho until 3am!"
Eric Banh, owner, Monsoon and Ba Bar: "Locally sourced ingredients are here to stay, which is great. I think that more gluten-free options and allergy accommodation for customers will be a big trend for 2014."
A happy new year indeed!