Five global food trends coming to a restaurant near you
Standing room only at Mile End Sandwich in New York. Image via New York Magazine.
Five global food trends that will soon be in a restaurant near you.
IF NEW York and Los Angeles are anything to go by, then Australia is about to see restaurants with no chairs and bars with no stools; the end of the elegant, be-suited maitre d'; and unmentionable mystery intestinal bits for breakfast instead of that cafe staple, the egg-and-bacon roll.
New ideas and movements continue to be created across the US to meet the economic and social challenges. Currently trending there - and in some cases, here already - are fundamental changes in the way urban societies are sourcing, cooking and eating food. Warning: some of these trends may surprise, and should be read sitting down. If, that is, you can find a chair or a stool to sit on.
1. Standing room only
They're taking away our chairs. At Mario Batali's Otto and at his huge food emporium Eataly in New York, there are serried ranks of high tables, with no stools or chairs. Diners are expected to stand, have an aperitif, order some salumi, then go. At the new Mile End Sandwich opened in Noho in May, owner Noah Bernamoff designed a dramatically zig-zagging high table with no seating for those seeking ''Jewish comfort food'' - although he has had to install a few ''tall but small'' stools since.
2. The virtual maitre d'
At the forward-thinking chef Jose Andres' The Bazaar restaurant in the Philippe Starck-designed SLS Hotel in Los Angeles, diners are greeted at the door by a life-sized video screen showing a handsome, silver-haired maitre d'. He approaches, bows, greets you, and turns to show you to your table, before the footage is repeated.
3. Food camps
Young chefs and entrepreneurial food producers are looking at ways to run smaller, simpler, more sustainable food businesses. Enter the food market, best seen at the DeKalb food market in Brooklyn, where vendors operate from salvaged shipping containers and the hipster-filled UrbanSpace market in the Meatpacking district. The big daddy is Smorgasburg, where more than 100 single-subject food vendors sell everything from fried chicken and waffles to yuzu lemonade on the waterfront at Williamsburg.
A nutty-smelling dough made from dried corn soaked in a lime and water solution, rinsed then ground, masa is having more than just a moment in New York, as gifted pastry chef Alex Stupak raises it to high levels of deliciousness in tamales, spaetzle and even ''masa balls'' at his Mexican restaurant Empellon Cocina.
Melbourne's Mexican wave could be on the brink of its own creative bent. Cesar Duran, whose Port Melbourne business El Cielo imports masa flour ground from blue, white and yellow corn says he is beginning to see the flour turn up in some unusual places; most notably on the specials board at St Kilda's Newmarket Hotel, which has featured chocolate and cinnamon stuffed masa doughnuts and an ice-cream dish flavoured with charred masa tortillas. Meanwhile, city hotspot Mamasita features a blue-corn flauta, a tortilla rolled and fried and served as a dessert, filled with a pumpkin mousse and topped with praline.
El Cielo is Melbourne's first tortillaria. Duran says there is no sign of the taste for Mexican food abating and he believes the rise of people experiencing gluten intolerance is a big factor.
5. Tripe for breakfast
Melburnians seem unwilling to experiment beyond black pudding for breakfast. The European's Stephen Giblett says tripe and sweetbreads have been regulars on the lunch and dinner menus at the Spring Street restaurant, but even then tripe in particular, ''does not fly out the door''.
''I guess it's a cultural thing,'' Giblett says.