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Food and Dining In 2020

Wednesday, 04 December 2019 13:41
Flintwood Cattle Co. in Seattle Isn't Limited to Beef  Dishes Flintwood Cattle Co. in Seattle Isn't Limited to Beef Dishes

TASTE News Service, December 4, 2019 – For several years we at Taste Washington Travel and Taste California Travel have enjoyed Baum + Whiteman’s annual look toward the year ahead.

Though based in New York, this restaurant consulting firm has insights to what may—or may not—become part of the food scene on America’s left coast. Below are ten of their predictions for 2020.

1 –FRIEND OR FAUX?: We called “motherless meat” and plant-based food the top trend three years ago ... and we predict it again for 2020: Americans are on a fake food quest because they have been persuaded that the real thing is neither ecologically sustainable nor politically kosher. They’re seeking processed “food forgeries”. This profound consumer mind-lurch threatens every player in the food industry. Real dairy milk looks endangered... and next up are cheese, chicken, fish, pork, shrimp and, who knows, maybe foie gras. The white coats at Harvard say they’ve produced motherless cow and rabbit meat. Russia, perhaps tongue in cheek, claims to have made the world’s first in-vitro meatloaf. We’ll pass on that, for now. Side notes: We predict probable consumer backlash against faux food as questions seep out regarding their health and planetary benefits. And expect plant-based turkey for Thanksgiving 2020.

2–GHOST KITCHEN GIANTS and DELIVERY COMPANIES could overturn the entire restaurant business ... leaving independents in grave danger. They’re gaining a stranglehold on consumer data and loyalty just the way Amazon has in retailing. We predict mergers between online order-delivery companies and ghost kitchen owners, perhaps with credit card companies sticking a spoon into this alphabet soup: AmazonUberGrubhubOpenTableMastercardDeliverooUnitedKitchensDoorDash, Inc

3 –PEEPING TOM AT THE DRIVE-THRU: Restaurant chains are toying with the notion of scanning your license plate at the drive-thru and maybe combining that with facial and voice recognition systems and the data that instantly flow from this. We predict that they’ll know your mood, what your food preferences are, your receptiveness to upselling, your credit status ... maybe even your immigration status. And who’s that in our passenger’s seat?

4 –LIFESTYLE BOWLS: Unlimited customization may be gumming up service speed at fast-casual chains ... so many are focusing consumers’ attention on culturally relevant pre-set “lifestyle bowls”: keto bowls, whole 30, no gluten, low carb and the like. Some are toying with eliminating build-your-own bowls, which may defeat fas-cas’s fundamental distinction. The lifestyle idea is spreading to pizza so we predict that more chains to shift customers away from infinite invitations to choose individual ingredients. (See Leon restaurants, London and DC, right)

5 –YEAR OF WOMENBECOMES YEAR OF OTHERS WHO’VE BEEN UNDER-REPRESENTED OR IGNORED. Women chefs and restaurateurs dominated consumer and trade press articles this past year... see for example Rozanne Gold’s One Woman Kitchen https://onewomankitchenshow.com podcast and the resurgence of Cherry Bombe. For 2020, we predict that coverage of under-represented minorities in the industry will take off ... particularly second-and third-generation children of West African immigrants who are rediscovering their culinary ingredients and foodways and applying them locally... as well as immigrants from South America, many of whose foods are unfamiliar to us.

6 –TAKING “ADULT” OUT OF ADULT BEVERAGES. Millennials killed milk and doorbells. Now they’re killing cocktails. Low-proof and zero-proof cocktails ... boozeless beverages imitating gin-and-tonic and martinis ... defeat the purpose of drinking. We predict increased imbibing wine-flavored water, flaccid cocktails and hard “lite” seltzer ... as millennials pose at bars and parties looking like real swells. Sidenote: Hipsters in London are forsaking boozy cocktails and rediscovering ... sherry, the everyday fogey drink of their grandparents.

7 –FRIED CHICKEN SANDWICHES –HOT BEFORE THEY’RE NOT?  Back in 2015 we forecast an obsession with fried chicken sandwiches among independents. Now chains have overhyped the item. We predict that in2020 the trend will morph into crisp-fried everything in sandwiches ... including vegetables faux and real. Nashville Hot Eggplant? Vegan crispy chicken? It’s the schnitzelization of American sandwiches.

8 –THE NEXT CAULIFLOWER? If cauliflower was the next kale, what’s the next cauliflower? We predict that it’s a tie between sweet potatoes and winter squashes, especially delicata. See them battered and fried at Olmstead, Brooklyn. Our favorite trends maven says it’s roasted (and over-roasted) cabbage.

9 –LOOKING FOR THE NEXT CUISINE? FOLLOW THE REFUGEES. Here’s where people are coming to the US from these days (in order): Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, Ukraine, Eritrea, Afghanistan. Before Trump’s clampdown, Syria and Iraq made the list. We predict these new immigrants’ restaurants will spill out of close-knit neighborhoods into future dining trends (see Somali food in Minneapolis).

10 –OBSCURE INGREDIENT OF THE YEAR: PAPALO. A Mexican herb from Pueblo, making its way north. Big nose ... tasting like a combination of cilantro, arugula and nasturtium.  leaves. Inserted whole into cemitas ...complex, layered Mexican sandwiches you also should know about. Heat won’t kill its character, as often happens with cilantro.


Editor’s note: Baum+Whiteman creates high-profile restaurants around the world for hotels, restaurant companies, museums and other consumer destinations. Based in New York, their projects include the late Windows on the World and the magical Rainbow Room, and the world's first food courts. They've recently been at work in Dubai, New York, California and Florida. More details about their predictions can be had at www.baumwhiteman.com

Last modified on Wednesday, 04 December 2019 13:47


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