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Kate Lacroix, president, Dish Publicity
On the whole smorgasbord: I think we'll see inventive bar snacks with fruit and chocolate and unusual spices and meat in them (maybe not all at once); the increase of small plates and sides with more of a focus on lesser-known vegetables and cuts of meat; chef-driven cocktails and a return to the humble barman and a backlash against the over-tattooed mixologist; a return to elegance, including formal coat check, maître d', tableside service, jazz bands and the occasional chanteuse; Twitter fatigue from restaurants due to lack of interest on the part of everyone involved; smaller, louder and more packed restaurants, because the recession ain't over, so we all need to cram in and keep up the party; and food-cart fatigue on the part of patrons.
Michael Long, chef and co-host, KEZW's The Main Course
On expense-account dining: I think as the economy continues to improve, we'll see a resurgence of fine dining and expense-account dining, but without the sideshow trappings of luxury — just fine dining with regard to the food and beverage aspects.
On farm-to-table fatigue: I think we'll also see the inevitable exhaustion of "farm to table" as a raison d'être for a restaurant theme, but the principles will remain in practice, as they should.
On pot joints: As the roads to marijuana legalization continue to widen, I predict that the hospitality world will find a way to expand with it, and we may start to see pot cafes popping up, just like tap rooms and breweries.
Max MacKissock, executive chef, Squeaky Bean
On stomach restrictions: It's insane how crazy the diet thing has gotten. Ten years ago, I'd never heard of anyone being a celiac, but now at the Bean, we have 30 percent of our customers claiming to be one, so while we don't necessarily change the menu, we do try very hard to educate our employees on what ingredients are in each dish, and how we can change them to accommodate the needs of our customers. And that, it seems, will have to continue.
On kitchen sharing: I think we'll see a lot of chef collaborations in 2013. We're starting to see more chefs leave their home restaurants to create unique dining experiences in Denver. Frasca Food and Wine, in Boulder, has hosted a handful of great chefs from major food cities like San Francisco, New York and Chicago, which provides an extraordinary learning experience for the young chefs in the kitchen.
On breed: Heritage-breed animals of all sorts will be a big trend in 2013, as more consumers opt out of consuming conventional factory-farmed animals and choose to support small family farmers who protect the biodiversity of the species, including chickens, turkeys, lambs, goats and pigs. We'll also see more whole-animal dinners, along with local artisans — urban beekeepers, cheesemakers, picklers and fermenters.
Etai Baron, co-CEO/founder, Udi's Foods Local
On food sex: Healthier eating is becoming sexier as vegetables move to the center of the plate, and I couldn't be happier about this trend. Everybody is cooking more vegetables and doing a better job with them, but True Food Kitchen has elevated healthy to an entirely new level. The rumor that P.F. Chang's has bought an option in True Food Kitchen is further evidence that healthy is going big-league.
On bread: With the renaissance of Northern European cuisine, led by Noma, we're seeing bakers turn their attention to the fine breads of Northern Europe — and it's a blessing for us all, because the bread culture of Northern Europe is even more rich and developed than that of France and Italy, the breads of which currently dominate the tables and grocery stores of this country. Chad Robertson of Tartine, Dan Leader of Bread Alone and Craig Ponsford, who owns Ponsford's Place in San Rafael, California, are helping lead this revolution in bread. Another bright spot is that Northern European breads tend to use more whole grains and alternative grains to wheat — and that translates to better flavor, more variety and more healthfulness.
We'll also see the continued ascension of overall bread quality. A big part of this story is that we're finally digging the grave for Wonder Bread; the other part of this trend is that Starbucks bought Pascal Rigo's La Boulange and the Bay Bread Company. Starbucks has been trying to figure out how to corner the market on quality pastries forever; they did plenty of experimentation all across the country with different delivery methods and suppliers. They finally decided to buy the bakery itself — and Rigo's Bay Bread is one of the country's best bakeries. You can bet that Starbucks has a grand scheme for figuring out how to use Rigo's magic in their stores — and let's not forget that the La Boulange restaurant brand will soon expand outside of San Francisco.
On delis: I think we'll start seeing some Montreal-style delis. Jewish food from Montreal is different from what's considered Jewish food in this country, but it's similar and delicious. Mile End, Rye Deli and Wise Son are some of the leaders out there, and here in Denver, we have Justin Brunson, who will probably prove to be one of the leaders of this cuisine's renaissance.
In Iowa--less emphasis on pork and booze; more emphasis on eating healthy. Pigging out and getting drunk are among the leading pastimes in Iowa.
I predicted last year that Scandinavian cuisine and more low spice/low intensity meals would come back but it didn't happen. Maybe this year.
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