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Dining Trends for 2010: A Sarcastic Look at a Silly Report. “Zing” is in and WTF is Mood Food.

vision2010_index_01_000Each year, Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman Co., a big-time restaurant consulting group in New York, releases their lists of foreseeable trends. It’s a fancy report that is meant to read like a technical survey, but, to me, it’s basically a round-up of what is going on now and a “prediction” that current big-city trends will spread. In short: it’s a lot of bull about pigs ears.
You can read the full report here. Below is a cheater’s sheet.

NEW PRIORITIES FOR BEATEN-UP CONSUMERS: “Too many restaurant and hotel execs are grappling with pre-recession consumer issues, while people today are expressing entirely new – and more complex — sets of concerns.” Yes, according to these guys, we (consumers) are “personal, emotional and ethical.” That throws me out of the equation, but for you this is very important. Are you familiar with your “hot buttons?” (Beat, beat.) “Hot buttons include: economic survival, reassurance, intimacy & friendship, feeding my knowledge, feeding my emotions, artisan, hand-made, neighborhood, local, authentic, real.” Cold, hard bitches need not apply to 2010. Look for this: “hotels and restaurants should be luring these hunkered down consumers from their psychological storm cellars (Cymbalta?) by replicating the “campfire experience” – building emotional ties and connecting to communities. OH GOODY, more S’MORES!

PUTTING FOCUS ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE MENU: Have you ever read about the psychology of menu writing? I’ll bet you didn’t know that the left side of the menu is reserved for “emotional resonance.” In case you don’t watch In Treatment, that translates into creative snacky things, small plates, food sized for one, two, or for a crowd. Sharing is the key because we need comfort and safety for intimacy and friendship. (Hmm, I usually feel safer when I get the whole cake.)

Jump for more joy!

UPSCALING THE DOWNSCALE: (Clever title, eh? I even remember the PBS series.) Anywhoo, next year look for gourmet hamburgers (groan) smothered with fancy cheese (they suggest Manchego) and fancy hot dogs (yes!) served with goat cheese (no) and guacamole (what are these guys smoking?). I’m sorry I just lost respect for this report. “French fries revved up with parmesan cheese and truffle oil”—puhleeze make truffle oil disappear into the tanks of delivery trucks.

FRESH = LOCAL = HAND-MADE = SAFER = BETTER: Do you have “organic” and “natural” fatigue? Your medicine will be exciting “new” comforting words like “fresh” and “local” and “hand-made.” Feel better? The report goes even closer to the ledge: “That’s why farmers markets are catching on everywhere even though food there (sic) costs more than at chain retailers: People are looking for edibles they can trust.” (Yea, my ex-husband is finally out of style.) Be bold—“house-made, locally-made bread, artisan cured salami, chef-pickled vegetables, locally- butchered beef, honey from nearby hives, food purchased from regional farms” will be strong. Vegetable gardens and beehives on roofs! Vegetable gardens at the White House! Rejoice!

FRIED CHICKEN IS THE NEW PORK BELLY: Over it. I am not paying Thomas Keller a zillion dollars for fried chicken.

PUTTING IN “GOOD” ADDITIVES INSTEAD OF TAKING OUT NASTY ONES: This should be a law not a trend.

THEY LAUGHED WHEN WE SAID “TONGUE”: Yes, they did and in Dallas, they will continue to do so. However, in case you travel, eat on Jefferson Avenue or at Charlie Palmer’s,  look for pig’s ears, pork cheeks (yummers), gizzards, tripe, and “other innards” to be chic. They should have titled this entry, “Poor People’s Food is the New Sorta Rich People’s Food.”

LOSING CONTROL OVER LANGUAGE: Talk about burying a lead—look out folks, YOU are in control. Bloggers, Twitters, Facebookers, Yelpers, and Texters are replacing food journalists. OH. MY. GAWD. PR people are also headed to the endangered species list.

SWEET TO BITTER TO TART: Did you know that “a decade or so back, American palates (and food journalism) made a profound shift from sweet to bitter?” (My guess is that drug pusher Howard Schultz did.) That is why you can’t get enough strong coffee, dark chocolate, broccoli rabe, or Brussels sprouts. Don’t worry, the report notes that we are getting older and we all need more “zing” so we will be rebalancing our sour-salty-sweet tastes. Zing is in. Do not forget that. Very 2010.

MENU CHURN: “A crummy economy and declining consumer traffic forces restaurants to poach each other customers by stealing competitors’ top menu items.” WHAT? No, this can’t be. First, I want a job where I can get paid a bazillion dollars for actually getting “crummy” printed in an expensive report. Second, I can’t believe that any self-respecting restaurateur would actually steal from his competition. I guess I can comfort myself in the knowledge that the report predicts: “Cupcakes are popping up in so many places that this trend is sure to self-destruct.” Get Sprinkles on the line, I feel like celebrating!

MEET YOU AT THE SUPERMARKET: Seriously? This is soo 1999. “The frequency of meals eaten away from home was sliding even before the global economic collapse – in large part because fewer women are working…” I can’t even go there, I’m late for my appointment at Jenny Craig.

CATERING TO KIDS: “It’s no accident that kids’ menus are popping up on chain restaurants: The recession did it.” WTF? Once again, I want the job of writing this report next year. Oh, here’s some big news: “Chains such as P.F. Chang and Cheesecake Factory added children’s menus this past summer, with Chipotle Grill following suit.” Shocker.

Here is your homework. Buzzwords for 2010.
Authentic Neapolitan pizza. Lamb riblets. Too many food trucks, not enough curb space. Latino street food. Farmed trout creeps up on farmed salmon (potential movie). Curry- and Indian-spiced fried chicken. Vietnamese sandwiches (bahn mi). Gelati. Global comfort food (HUH?). Artisan hot dogs. Made-to-order ice cream. Chefs turned butchers (Brad Pitt to play Nick Badovinus.). Casual comfort. Touch-screen kiosks and home delivery in fast food outlets. Latino street food. Wood oven cooking. More energy drinks and adulterated waters (interesting choice of words). Mood food.(Excuse me? Mood food? Somebody help me here.) Backyard and rooftop bee hives. Stevia. Kimchee. Urban farms. Griddled burgers. Free food. House-made everything, especially in sandwiches.

Blatant ommission: Frozen yogurt.

6 comments on “Dining Trends for 2010: A Sarcastic Look at a Silly Report. “Zing” is in and WTF is Mood Food.

  1. And they get paid for doing such a report?! Wow. It is like they played a bizzare version of scrabble with pages torn from NRN.

  2. That report borrows a lot from Faith Popcorn and her “end of the world as we know it” report.

  3. Maybe restaurants should start throwing in rope courses and drum circles for that added touch of “emotional resonance.” (I’m being flip, but then just wait: coming to a restaurant near you, “Chef Louis serves up organic algae sorbet in a recycled puff pastry shell.”)

  4. Wow, you complain too much. Instead of bad mouthing their report, you should at least attempt to give a reason for your incoherence. Where’s your forecast for next year’s trends? When I’m researching dining trends, I’d like to hear inputs…not one group’s researched thoughts and another person’s simple rag on it. Let’s hope you didn’t get paid for bullet pointing their report.