By Jonathan Shikes
By Alex Brown
By Cafe Society
By Samantha Alviani
By Lori Midson
By Mark Antonation
By Loren Lorenzo
By Nate Hemmert
On nanobreweries: I love the trend of the nanobrewery in the Colorado craft beer industry. These guys are the classic example of a slab of concrete plus a keg of good beer plus a friendly bartender adding up to success. Even cooler is watching the big guys like Left Hand or Oskar Blues show so much support and camaraderie to these newcomers; it's really fun to watch. I'd really love to see our winemakers follow their lead.
On looking out for one another: I think for the insiders in the Denver restaurant scene, that feeling of wanting to support each other, cheer for each other and cook together whenever possible is only going to get bigger and better. I want to believe that other towns follow this road map, but I just know in my heart and gut that what we have here is truly something special.
John Imbergamo, president, The Imbergamo Group
On restaurant economics: 2013 makes me nervous. It very well might be a troubled financial year for Denver's restaurant industry, predominantly from the cost side of the business. Increases in commodity prices will continue to rise in 2013, as we reap what we did not sow in 2012. While the full hit of the Affordable Health Care Act will not hit restaurants until January 2014, operators must analyze its impact in 2013 and make staffing and pricing decisions accordingly. The de-Brucing passed by Denver voters will significantly increase restaurants' real-estate property taxes in the City and County, and the solution won't be as simple as raising prices in this increasingly competitive environment. Restaurateurs will need to creatively massage their offerings, pricing, staffing and profit structure to stay in business.
On food for all: Making informed food choices based on source, ethics, allergies, blood type and politics ad nauseam is a luxury enjoyed by a minority of humans. I'm hopeful that a food trend will emerge in 2013 that we who are fortunate enough to eat three meals a day and have easy access to food acknowledge that is a great privilege, and we bow our heads in gratitude every time a plate of food is in front of us.
Brian Melton, PR consultant, Leigh Sullivan Enterprises
On the rise of technology: Restaurants have been using Facebook, Twitter and OpenTable for years, but there are companies out there right now that are making iPad POS systems better and better. Application-based companies are looking at creating software that measures user feedback so that owners and chefs can make decisions on menu items, app-based inventory-management systems and a whole lot more. We help design websites for different restaurants, and we're seeing owners taking a more active approach to how their site functions on the Internet — things like responsive design, scrolling development, online gift cards, OpenTable, Twitter and Facebook all working together on a restaurant's site to make buying and selling to potential guests that much easier while looking more professional.
On fewer ingredients: Maybe it's because I'm biased due to my fiancé's dietary restrictions, or maybe I've been spending a lot of time with Matt Selby and the chefs at Corner House, but limited ingredients, cooked simply and beautifully, is something we've seen on the rise. Oak at Fourteenth is doing this brilliantly, and there are a few other amazing spots in the city embracing this, but I think the days of seventeen different sauces, chile oils and such thrown on a plate for no reason are over. Perhaps it's the rising cost of ingredients, or guests with increasing dietary restrictions, but cooking a plate of food simply is something that I see more and more chefs embracing.
On mixology's demise: I think the final nail in the coffin was when Hotmixology Lounge opened, but it's been headed this way for some time. It's like using "local, seasonal ingredients" — most restaurant owners want a good bar program. But as a consultant, I'm teaching every bartender I can the proper way to make a Manhattan, or the reasons we all should use jiggers. I teach everyone why we shake a cocktail versus why we stir one. It's the fundamentals that matter — not "mixology." I don't care if you started tending bar last week or if you're a lifer, the foundation of a good cocktail is in the technique — and it has to be taught. You don't have to be Bar Rescue's Jon Taffer to know that without a good bar program, you don't stand a chance against your competition.
On artisans, cheese, pickling and mixology: I predict that chefs will go back to their artisan roots — making cheese, curing meats, making their own pastas and baking their own breads, butchering whole animals, focusing on artisan farmers and staying as local as possible. I think we'll also see more rooftop gardens, restaurants growing their own herbs, and a lot more pickling and preserving. I think cheese, in particular, is going to become a real focal point in a lot of restaurants; it's so very underrated and deserves more attention, especially with all of the amazing artisan cheesemakers in our own back yard. When it comes to herbs, I think we'll see a lot more uncommon varieties — things like lemon verbena, lemon balm, chervil, sorrel, chamomile, lovage, hyssop and angelica. I also see more chefs teaming up with mixologists to create amazing restaurants that really personify ultimate dining. For me, personally, I know I'll be focusing on keeping my food simple and looking back to the classics and putting a modern twist on them.
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.