Raves and rants: Local chefs weigh in with their culinary predictions for 2011

TAG executive chef/owner Troy Guard predicts that cheese will be the top food of 2011
TAG executive chef/owner Troy Guard predicts that cheese will be the top food of 2011
Lori Midson

What does 2011 hold for the culinary world? We asked several local chefs to consult their crystal orbs, talk to the (whole) beast, bend their ears to the farmland and unearth a few trends that will shape the way we eat next year. Here are the predictions of some of our best kitchen magicians:

"Because of the uptick on the stock market and stabilization of fuel prices, as well as a freeze on most federal taxation, the anti-luxury trend will loosen up, so I think we'll see more foie gras, caviar, luxury meats and seafood making a semi-comeback," predicts Michael Long, the executive chef of Aria, which opened last week in Cherry Creek . In addition, he says, "the farm-to-table will only get bigger as farmers adapt to food service purchasing needs and get real with pricing." For his part, Long is longing for a year full of cardoons, bottarga, razor clams, huitlacoche, duck eggs that have the fetus intact, and more traditionally raised veal.

"I think 2011 is going to see the blossoming of Front Range food artisans and their cuisine," foresees Eric Skokan, owner and executive chef of Black Cat Bistro, a pasture-to-plate restaurant in Boulder that procures many of its ingredients from Skokan's own farm in Niwot. "I think we'll also see more restaurants that root their menus in local artisan food crafts. My restaurant, Root Down, Osteria Marco and the newly opened Pinyon in Boulder are a few examples." The corollary, notes Skonan, "of this emerging trend is the diminishing use of Costco -- literally -- as a source of inspiration for restaurant chefs."


Brad Rowell, the stove sultan at Colt & Gray, is hoping for more offal. "The more the merrier," he says of the whole-beast movement, adding that he'd also like to see more Indonesian, French and classic barbecue joints popping up on the pavement, as well as ethnic barbecue -- joints like Fatty Que in New York City. "I'd love to see more foraged foods, as well," continues Rowell. "I wish there were five foragers coming to the back door of Colt & Gray with their goods every day." Rowell rings in with the things he hopes will disappear in 2011, too: "I like anything that makes food better, but I don't want to be told that food is prepared using certain equipment -- I don't need to know that it's liquid nitrogen Twinkies or sous vide beef tenderloin," he says. Other trends he'd like to see evaporate? Yelp, sushi in non-sushi restaurants, and molecular gastronomy. "Just because you can do molecular gastronomy doesn't mean you should."

A trend that Brandon Biederman, head cooker of Steuben's, is witnessing is the plea for all-day morning glories. "Our customers are wanting breakfast all day long -- specifically simple egg dishes," notes Biederman. "I think it's a great trend, and there are so many ways to make really good egg items using just fresh eggs, meats and cheeses." Biederman, who's also the captain of the Steuben's food truck, is betting, too, that the wheels will continue to roll. "Like this past year, I see the whole street-food scene taking off even more." What would Biederman like to see less of in 2011? Restaurants that ballyhoo their farm to table philosophies. "I think everyone is, or has made the effort to be local, green and all of that, so can we move on?"

Troy Guard, the head chef and owner of TAG, and soon, TAG|RAW BAR, says that 2011 will usher in "comfort connecting foods -- foods that connects us to our childhood memories, the kind of stuff that we like to eat every day." Guard, who will open TAG|RAW BAR with his wife, Leigh Sullivan-Guard, in early February, also believes that diners can expect "smaller menus at foodie restaurants" and "the truck phase to fizzle because of tighter restrictions with the city." Cured meats, cheese-making, dumplings, tacos, smaller spaces to eat or drink and a proliferation of vegetarians and gluten-intolerant diners will shape the new year, according to Guard, who predicts that cheese will be the trendiest foodstuff of 2011.

Check this space tomorrow for more culinary predictions from Matt Selby, Chad Clevenger, Jamey Fader, Max MacKissock and other local culinary kings.

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