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Posted: March 06, 2013

Chef Laura’s predictions for the 2013 eating season

Pink slime, and who shrunk my plate?

Laura Cook Newman

Every year around this time, celebrity chefs predict food trends for the upcoming year.  In the past it’s been shockers like: “Deviled Eggs are Heavenly!” and “Popcorn – not just for movies anymore.”

Sometimes a trend sticks; take Greek yogurt, for example.  It took a few thousand years for this creamy delight reach the U.S., but when it finally did, it pushed aside the pedestrian American cultures on the Safeway shelf.

Other trends explode onto the scene and almost become a staple. I’m talking cupcakes, sliders and baconizing everything from doughnuts to air fresheners. 

Then there are the trends that come and go so fast, your wanna-be-hipster Dad didn’t even get to modest-brag: So Mom and I went out for sea urchin last night…

I enjoy trends.  Like Dr. Evil doing the Macarena, I, too, want to be “hip” and “with it."  But I also like tradition. 

What tickles my nostalgia is that many of today’s fads are in my grease-stained copy of The Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook circa 1941. You know the one: the three-ring binder with the gingham checked cover.

Crack open this relic and you’ll find:  Devils on Horseback, Pigs in a Blanket, Meat Pies (aka empanadas, which are incidentally…trending), and chapters on “Classic Cocktails” like: Rob Roy, Rusty Nail and Grasshopper.  And you can bet that these throwbacks are on a Food Truck menu or served in a “hidden” Speakeasy near you.

Here are Chef Laura’s gastronomic predictions for this eating season:

  1. Who shrunk my plate? – This is today’s “slider." Minis are still hot.  Samplers, flights, shooters and small plates.
  2. Where’s the Beef? – The cow is becoming sacred – not for religious reasons – but because raising cattle is crazy expensive.  Vegetables steal the spotlight. Meatless Mondays, “premium” chicken cuts and lesser quality beef cuts (pot roast anyone?) fill menus.
  3. It’s Crafty – Coloradans jumped on the craft beer band wagon before there even was a band…or a wagon.  Now there’s a circus of brewpubs, microbreweries and even nanobreweries.  Growlers have replaced six-packs; “Beer & Breakfast” takes over where traditional “B & B’s” left off; and let’s start cooking with beer: sauces, soups and dips get hoppy.
  4. Pass the pink slime – Clean food is in.  Not in a Clorox way, but in a Whole Foods way.  Less of the stuff you can’t pronounce with weird acronyms (HFCS) and more of the good stuff.  Colorado-based Chipotle calls this “Food with Integrity."  It doesn’t have to be organic or gluten-free – just more what nature intended and purchased a little closer to home.

The ridiculous ephemeral trends in 2013:

  1. Sherbet Punch – Ginger ale, some random booze, pineapple juice and scoops of rainbow sherbet adorn this pastel bowl of sugary goodness.  Everyone put a straw in and now it’s a hipster’s “Scorpion Bowl."
  2. Tuna Noodle Casserole – a deconstructed version – maybe made with Ahi Tuna and a wasabi cream in place of StarKist and Cream of Mushroom soup.  Hey, that actually might work, and bonus – no can opener required!
  3. Waffles used as a hamburger bun or hot dog bun or in place of sandwich bread.  Don’t waffle on this trend.  We’ll iron out the details later.
  4. Monte Cristos, Croque Monsieur, Croque Madame – Is it breakfast?  Brunch?  Lunch?  Dinner? The answer is a resounding “YES.”  This throw back sandwich bravely tackles three key tastes: salty, sweet and umami, in a pretty package with a side of syrup.

We will revisit these at the end of the year to tally up the score.  In the meantime, I’m looking to buy a red truck to launch my “Tomato Aspic-on-the-Go” business. Betty Crocker and I think that idea’s got some real legs.

Laura Cook Newman is a professional Chef and Training Manager for a Fortune 500 food manufacturer. She earned her chops at Johnson & Wales University, has an MBA in Marketing and hosts a blog for behind-the-scenes insights on the food service industry. Contact her at www.ThreeHotsAndaCot.net

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Readers Respond

Some things will never go out of style: wing tip shoes, Coach bags, and...tuna noodle casserole. Rachel, please add one more "hot" and you're good to go! By Chef Laura on 2013 03 13
I love Tuna Noodle Casserole! But I can understand why it may not be a long term winner. Nice to read a piece that has good info and a sense of humor. Checking out Two Hots and a Cot next! By Rachel Saunders on 2013 03 12
Brilliant! I'd expect nothing less, Chef Laura. I certainly wouldn't want to be without my tattered copy of Betty Crocker's Cookbook. Now, to follow your blog: http://threehotsandacot.net. By Julie on 2013 03 07
Great stuff Laura. I made more tuna noodle casseroles in college than I can count. Amazingly my future husband loved them. Really! Maybe I'll try your updated one on him and the kids. Cheers to your new writing venture! By Jennifer on 2013 03 07
Insightful and full of humor....I really enjoyed this article! Would love to try your sushi-inspired tuna noodle casserole...what time is dinner? Hope to see more ink from you in the future! By Nicole Aulik on 2013 03 07
Wow- you hit the nail right on the head! I'm so proud of you! By Ta Tee on 2013 03 07
Grasshopper pie!?! Oh my - what a delicious blast from the past! My other "go to" cook book is still the "Joy of Cooking". Love those red ribbon bookmarks. As for my "ridiculous" predictions, I think they sound yummy too (thanks E. Phil & Mrs. Crocker), but also think they will be, pardon the pun, a "flash in the pan". Time will tell...And one more prediction: Dachshunds, in lieu of the ubiquitos hot dog bun costume, will now be dressed up in waffle weave blankets for Halloween 2013. By Chef Laura on 2013 03 07
Thanks for the good read. I am hungry for more!!! By liz wendling on 2013 03 07
My mother gave me an updated copy of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook in college. Twenty plus years later is is still my go to cookbook. I actually made Grasshopper Pie out of it. Nothing like a classic. By Bill C on 2013 03 07
Don't knock waffle dogs, heavenly! Bet we see them in the freezer section at King Soopers before too long. By Lord Eat a Lot on 2013 03 07
I'm confused! Are you panning or praising the "ridiculous ephemeral?" 3 of the 4 sound good, but I hate tuna casserole. By E. Phil on 2013 03 06
Smart, funny and a great read! Look forward to your next column. By Shermagne on 2013 03 06
Chef Laura-I think that your predictions are spot on! I predict that your predictions will be accurate. I can just visualize you gazing into your crystal goblet, to view the future food trends . I am waiting for someone to come up with a good bacon and sea urchin punch! I will look forward to your blog! By Mama Mary on 2013 03 06
Great read! Looking forward to more by Chef Laura! By Jessica on 2013 03 06
Pet Peeve #1 - "Facon" (fake bacon). Pet Peeve #2 - "I'm such a 'Foodie'" which immediately implies that you are the exact opposite. I once had a self-described "Foodie" confuse parsley for cilantro. That pretty much confirmed for me that "Foodies" are anything but. - Chef Laura By Chef Laura on 2013 03 06
Oh and remember is was me who there in the beginning of this writing journey! smile By Anna Hart on 2013 03 06
Congrats Laura! Don't forget me as you head to the top...lol! By Anna Hart on 2013 03 06
"baconizing" ha! I look forward to more from you. By Slim Fast on 2013 03 06
Chef Laura - I love your style! Thanks for making me laugh while prompting me to consider both the delicious and the ridiculous trends in food. I look forward to reading your blog. By Shellie on 2013 03 06
I hope people stop referring to themselves as 'foodies.' By Dieter on 2013 03 06
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