1. ORIGINS: Recipes
This year we’ve seen evidence of a move away from space-agey, futuristic dishes from avant-garde chefs. Instead of looking forward, they’re reaching back, looking to centuries’ old cookbooks and foodways, searching for the origins that will take them to the next frontiers of cuisine. It began with the opening of Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner in London’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel, inspired by “historic British gastronomy.” Then Grant Achatz combined Escoffier’s recipes with cutting-edge technique for the first menu at his new restaurant, Next. Nostalgic and historic dishes aren’t new—we saw Gavin Kaysen harken back to the good ole days of sous vide in his 2010 ICC presentation, in which he demoed the ye olde sous vide technique of “en vessie,” sealing a chicken inside a pig’s bladder and poaching the parcel without the use of immersion circulators or plastic. But this year, thanks to a trickle down effect, we saw historic recipes go full force, with regional Texan versions (that eschew all post-Industrial Revolution advances) from Chef Michael Sohocki at Restaurant Gwendolyn, and a new wave of interest in historic ingredients and technique from Chef Ryan Smith at Empire State.