Thursday, December 8, 2016

Atlanta Chefs and Mixologists Predict 2017’s Top Culinary and Cocktail Trends

For more information:
Emily Connolly or Morgan Lanier
Melissa Libby & Associates

Atlanta Chefs and Mixologists Predict 2017’s TOP CULINARY
More Veggies, Less Meat, Smartphone Ordering and Tastier Takeout on the Menu
in the Coming Year

ATLANTA (Dec. 8, 2016) - As 2016 draws to a close, it’s time once again to break out the culinary crystal ball and ask some of the Atlanta area’s best chefs, mixologists and restaurateurs what big trends are in store for 2017. Get ready for more locally sourced vegetables, more (and better) meal delivery options and cocktails on tap. Oh, and did we mention lasagna cupcakes? Read on!

Red Beard Restaurants chef/owner Kevin Gillespie sees chefs zeroing in on the thing they do exceptionally well. “We’ll continue to see more specialization with restaurants that serve one thing or have a very limited menu. I also believe the time of the big restaurant will draw to a close, and we will see restaurants scale down in size,” he says.

Executive chef Matthew Ridgway of Gypsy Kitchen agrees, predicting smaller restaurants “focused on a simpler ‘bistronomy’ style of cooking that puts the emphasis on the food and flavor.”
Like many in the industry, Doug Turbush (Seed Kitchen & Bar, Stem Wine Bar, Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar) is keeping an eye on skyrocketing meat prices and sees chefs turning to alternative cuts, along with “the creative use of vegetables.”
Southern Fried Hospitality’s Marc Taft is also looking at alternatives to protein, “maybe mixing mushrooms with beef for burgers” and also predicts “vegetables will take center stage.”

Dolce Italian chef Paolo Dorigato sees a sprouting love affair with fresh vegetables and less reliance on meat as a fresh opportunity for creativity. “It will be a priority for the chef to create something good and accessible at reasonable prices. Menus will have more seasonal vegetables and fewer proteins,” he predicts.

Naturally, with a renewed emphasis on locally sourced vegetables, the bond between farmers, chefs and diners will grow even closer. According to Ormsby’s chef Nick Anderson, “Farmers markets are going to blow up, becoming more popular than they already are. More farmers are going to be coming to the markets to supply demand.”

Bellina Alimentari creative director Alice Fabi agrees. “The relationship between the chef and the farmer is becoming crucial, giving both parties the possibility to work more creatively and efficiently together. Chefs are becoming storytellers, going to the source of ingredients and interpreting what is in season directly from farm to table.” 

Revival chef Andreas Müller even sees restaurants sourcing products from their own farms. “This is happening right now on a small scale. I also see a bigger partnership between restaurants and farmers. For example, a smaller local farm growing greens and vegetables for one restaurant only,” he says.

With takeout windows and home delivery becoming more of a weeknight option for time-starved hungry diners, Gypsy Kitchen’s Ridgway predicts more chefs will turn their attention to this growing consumer need “but using really good ingredients alongside an increasing mix of ethnic ingredients.” 

As food delivery grows, Southern Fried Hospitality’s Taft says chefs “need to create food that travels well and be able to capture the art of presentation in the foods that are delivered.”

Jamie Lynch of 5Church thinks chef-inspired meal kits are going to take off. “People can put together some of their favorite chef’s dishes at home. There are a couple of kits I’d like to grab for myself, just to see how they do it!”

HOBNOB Neighborhood Tavern director of operations Mark Nelson foresees growth in walk up ordering and delivery as well as a return to more casual restaurant environments and a more technologically wired customer. He says, “Smartphone technology will allow guests to order another drink or place their own food order.”
Johnny’s Hideaway owner Chris Dauria also predicts an uptick in mobile device ordering “but not at the Hideaway!”
Ormsby’s Anderson sees some ethnic role reversals on the menu for 2017. “Asian restaurants are going to start doing American takeovers, like Korean barbecue doing Southern barbecue ribs. With all these American restaurants serving pop-up ramen, I just see a resurgence.” 
American Cut executive chef John Adamson is excited about “an emergence of ultra-regionalized ethnic food.”
On the cocktail front, Marlow’s Tavern’s Rick Blumberg sees more wine and cocktails on tap in our imbibing futures, plus cocktails enhanced with fortified wine. “I think we will continue to see more sherry, Madeira and port cocktails,” he adds.
Ben Yabrow of Himitsu says guests are moving toward more refreshing drinks rather than the boozy and stirred variety. He says, “I've also noticed more people putting their faith in the bartender's judgment. It's exciting.” 
Sublime Doughnuts founder Kamal Grant predicts our palates will get spicier, and our hunger for savory/sweet combinations will grow in 2017. “Spicy foods will continue to trend, thanks to the popularity of Sriracha. Americans’ tolerance for heat has increased, and they want more. The sweet and savory combo is another trend I see continuing. Things that are traditionally sweet but made in a savory style or vice versa. For example, a doughnut filled with salad, vegetables or meats or lasagna cupcakes.”
As you attempt to digest the idea of a lasagna cupcake, here’s a parting wish from Ormsbys' Anderson: “I believe 2017 is going to be so much better than 2016. I mean, just get lost already, 2016!”


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