PASTRY: Sweet Guys Switching Sides
Many of last year’s major culinary trends were responses to the big bad economic wolf. It was a year of comfort food; DIY; mobile restaurant concepts (how better to flee angry investors?); tech-savvy, in-house PR; and marquee star mixology programs—the profit margin lifesaver of struggling operations. And we’ve seen growth within those trends. Social media outlets continue to diversify communication between chef, purveyor, and diner; the Asian concept restaurants of 2009 are evolving, with hopeful franchises like Sensebowl and concept-driven spots like Bill Kim’s communal urbanbelly; and house-made, hands-on, bare-knuckle prep (e.g., 2009’s ubiquitous canning and pickling) has transitioned from the professional kitchen to consumer shelves, courtesy of gourmet retail.
Strong as those veins of ingenuity are, this year in food was not a reaction to the recession. The culinary trends of 2010 illustrate what the industry learned about itself through the lens of necessity—from ingredients and service to the fundamentals and fantastical. We’ve seen locavore and DIY values progress toward high-concept naturalism, with a strong emphasis on terroir. We’ve watched as comfort food, culinary darling of the recession, morphed into a more distinctive, ambitious expression of soul and local character. We’ve seen mixologists marry doggedly authentic cocktail puritanism with sleek, next generation technologies, shedding the skins (and costumes) of hospitality-historicism for a more idiosyncratic bar menu. And we’ve witnessed the sphere of industry influence expand, from the cuisine on the plate to the welfare of a school, an environment, and even a nation.
2010 was a year of rededicated focus and renewed freedoms. And it wasn’t because of any magically resuscitated financial health. It was because the industry learned to trust itself, its strengths, and its special influence in the (ever-so-slightly tattered) fabric of modern culture. Here’s a recap of the outstanding culinary trends of 2010.
Click here to view a printable version ot the 2010 Culinary Trends Report.
2009 found us waxing hopeful about pastry chefs rising from the ashes—bravely innovating in the face of an economic storm, even as more and more savory chefs were taking on pastry duties. But this year we’re happy to report that pastry chefs are not only enjoying greater job security (after a 13 percent nose dive from 2008 to 2009, pastry chef salaries are on the rise ), they’re playing around with savory options of their own. We’ve already toured the kitchen of 2010 ICC presenter and Rising Star Jordan Kahn's Red Medicine (LA), a Vietnamese concept restaurant where Kahn—high priest of high-concept dessert—will oversee non-traditional savory and pastry menus. And Kahn isn’t the only pastry chef with savory on the brain. Alex Stupak has plans to leave the laboratory of WD~50 and open a new taqueria—that’s right—next year. Meanwhile, Johnny Iuzzini, New York’s own punk rock pastry maven, was caught tinkering seriously behind the bar in his 2010 ICC mixology workshop, and it seems like a habit he’s not soon to break (Iuzzini, also in the roster at the recent Alchemy of Taste, seems committed to industry cross-pollination).