Dining

Cooking Ahead

Chefs, authors and artisans share their predictions for 2015
Visiting Chefs to Tasting Table
TT's visiting chefs: Kevin West, Dominique Ansel, Levon Wallace, Dominique Crenn, Agatha Kulaga and Erin Patinkin, Jeni Britton Bauer | Photos: Tasting Table

Tasting Table's NYC Test Kitchen has seen a lot of action this year.

We've had chefs, authors and artisans from all over the country come through and show us how they work their magic—and they've shared some killer recipes along the way.

We circled back to 10 of our favorite very talented, very opinionated guests and picked their brains about the year that was 2014 in food, as well as the year ahead in dining, drinking and more. Here, their best answers:

DOMINIQUE ANSEL, Dominique Ansel Bakery (New York, NY)
What he made us: Banana Bread

What was your favorite food moment of 2014?
We've had some big moments in 2014. Personally, for me and my team, it was winning the James Beard—it still feels very surreal. But aside from here in the bakery, I really enjoyed what the team at Shake Shack did for their 10-year anniversary. That was some operation and an amazing week of incredible chefs and free food.

Which food/dining/drinks trend do you hope disappears in 2015?
I'm getting a little sick of kale. Okay, a lotta sick of it.

NICK BALLA AND CORTNEY BURNS, Bar Tartine (San Francisco, CA)
What they made us: Sauerkraut Soup 

Restaurant trend prediction for next year?
A move away from tipping as people find alternative methods of compensation. We don't like tipping. The experience is uncomfortable and feels disingenuous. It is difficult to move away from this system as our entire restaurant culture is built around it, but many restaurateurs are starting to look for a new method.

Which food/dining/drinks trend do you hope disappears in 2015?
Using one side of a plate to compose a dish. It feels like a trend just like the tall Jenga salads of the 90s. Instead of wasting space, we would just use a smaller plate. We try to think about the presentation that will give our guests the best experience. The size and shape of the vessel a dish is served on is almost as important as the ingredients used to create it.

JENI BRITTON BAUER, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams (Columbus, OH)
What she made us: Salty Grahama Sundae

What was your favorite food moment in 2014?
Chef Edward Lee's ash-pit roasted whole vegetables at Molly O'Neill's event, LongHouse Food Revival, in Upstate New York.

Restaurant trend prediction for next year?
Nashville hot chicken is finally having its moment, and I think that it might just explode.

DOMINIQUE CRENN, Atelier Crenn (San Francisco, CA)
What she made us: Open-Faced Grilled Cheese with Smoked Avocado and Tomato Compote

What was your favorite food moment in 2014?
Cooking for my mother. She visited Atelier Crenn for the first time. The restaurant is an homage to my father, with some of his paintings on display. My mom and my dad had a beautiful love story, and feeling his spirit in a different form was quite emotional for my mom. She cried and finally understood my journey. I was very nervous; I wanted her to feel how thankful I am to her and my dad for giving me a beautiful life.

Restaurant trend prediction for next year?
More personal cooking, continued growth of prix fixe and tasting menus, and advanced tickets.

DAVID KINCH, Manresa (Los Gatos, CA)
What he made us: Garlic Panna Cotta with Tomato Soup

Restaurant trend prediction for next year?
I think we're going to see a subtle shift toward more comfort—but I'm not talking about comfort food. Diners are going to move away from loud environments, uncomfortable chairs and communal tables toward more personal service and "creature comforts" so to speak.

What do you look forward to exploring in your own cooking next year?
With Manresa's closure, we've had the opportunity to be introspective and rethink what we're doing moving forward. When we do open the doors again, it won't so much be a reopening as it will be a new restaurant. I want the new Manresa to be as dynamic as it's always been.

AGATHA KULAGA AND ERIN PATINKIN, Ovenly (Brooklyn, NY)
What they made us: Poppy Seed, Prune and Lemon Coffee Cake

What are you most excited about in your own cooking next year?
Agatha: Attempting at least one thing out of Chris Kostow's A New Napa Cuisine. To start, it's definitely going to be the wild grape blue cheesecake.
Erin: I have two large boxes filled with handwritten and typed recipes cards that were my granny's. They range from exotic Serbian (her homeland) nut rolls to 1950s pineapple-gelatin cakes. I'm looking forward to experimenting with those and adapting some for Ovenly.

Which food/dining/drinks trend do you hope disappears in 2015?
A: Latte art. I don't like to drink art.
E: I'm hoping that the cake pop officially meets its demise in 2015. The death has been long and painful. Let's just put it out of its misery. I also kinda never want to hear the words "Cronut" or "doughssant" ever again.

LEVON WALLACE, Proof on Main (Louisville, KY)
What he made us: Butternut Squash Bread Pudding

What was your favorite food moment of 2014?
The increased awareness and dedication to push forward good, healthy food at the low-income level. The announcement of the Roy Choi-Daniel Patterson partnership that's bringing Loco'l to the game. More farmers' markets accepting SNAP and programs like "double bucks" are proof that change is in the air and on the streets. So awesome.

Which food/dining/drinks trend do you hope disappears in 2015?
Oh, boy. Listing certain ingredients on a menu by their genus group. Brassicas? Homie, it's kale and cauliflower.

RELATED   Our 10 Favorite Cookbooks of 2014 »

KEVIN WEST, Author of Saving the Season and Director of Grand Central Market (Los Angeles, CA)
What he made us: Raspberry Jam with Rosé

What was your favorite food moment of 2014?
I was knocked out by the food scene in Lima, Peru. The biodiversity of ingredients is mind blowing. The single best meal I had there was from chef Virgilio Martínez Véliz at Central, which is like a brilliant R&D lab for global gastronomy. Also the Asian-Peruvian mash-up tasting menu at Maido is like a news flash beamed in from the Blade Runner future. Genius.

Restaurant trend prediction for next year?
We're just at the leading edge of the vegetable-driven restaurant trend. Not necessarily vegetarian or vegan places, but menus that reverse the standard arrangement of a big slab of protein accompanied by a few piddly vegetables. My evidence: Alain Passard's influential cooking at L'Arpege, Dan Barber's The Third Plate, Roy Choi's restaurant Commissary and Thomas Jefferson's much-repeated comment that, for him, meat was "a condiment to the vegetables." The economic and ecological justifications for less-meaty menus are unavoidable.

TIM WIECHMANN, Bronwyn & T.W. Food (Somerville and Cambridge, MA)
What he made us: Cvapi with Mushrooms and Stewed Plums

What do you look forward to exploring in your own cooking next year?
Digging deeper into the little-known (to me) lexicon of Eastern European baking. Steamed breads, quick doughs, pita-style breads and working on my fish technique in a high-end setting.

Which food/dining/drinks trend do you hope disappears in 2015?
Craft cocktails anywhere and everywhere! They definitely have their time and place, but they've become as much a watered-down buzzword as "local," and it takes real talent to make them well.

TAKASHI YAGIHASHI, Takashi, Slurping Turtle and Tabo Sushi (Chicago, IL)
What he made us: Duck Fat-Fried Chicken 

Restaurant trend prediction for next year?
I think restaurants will offer more options with mixed grains and legumes, because more and more people are doing gluten-free diets.

Which food/dining/drinks trend do you hope disappears in 2015?
Cupcakes. I think they're too sweet.

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