Identity of a coming trend

Joined Jun 1, 2002
I was lucky while in San Francisco to catch a presentation by Michael Chiarello, owner of Tra Vingne in Napa Valley, author of The Tra Vigne Cookbook and host of his own cooking show on PBS.

Chiarello gave a most impressive talk about his restaurant concept, "A celebration of well-being, of freinds and family, of the earth and its bounty". Chiarello has packaged this concept neatly in his cookbook and cooking show and it seems that the trend has indeed found its way across the states.

He was asked by the audience what might be the next trend, and how does he go about identifying the things that indicate a trend. He was unable to answer, saying that trends evolve and are nurtured, or something like that.

It has been acknowledged that fresh bountiful ingredients and foods grown by local farmers are the hit--that upscale coffee houses and thier bakery concepts will continue to prosper--that vegan and health rich wrap concepts will continue to pop up faster than Mcdonald's. Upscale variations of ethnic restaurants seem to be hot. Wood fired gourmet pizza..... fusion..... mediteranian influence......Tai.........

What is next? What seems to be evolving in your part of the country?

Midwesterner needs to know.

Joined Apr 19, 2001
Here in central Jersey, 'Northern Italian' seem to be the rage right now; and the definition of that escapes me; from the menus I've seen, it seems like a license to basically use French technique on whatever dish they're making, and call it 'Northern Italian'. I'm sure Tuscans who visit these restaurants are mystified.

We also have a rash of Thai - 4 in one small, one mile segment, one a 'French-Thai' which is actually quite yummy.

Restaurants here aren't really touting the locally grown ingredients, except for one excellent establishment, The Ryland Inn, with Chef Craig Shelton at the helm. Grows his own everything.

Most of the bakeries in my area are Italian, pretty traditional. A coffeehouse just opened - it's biggest draw seems to be the Krispy Kreme donuts!!! Go figure.

When I talk to people about their favorite places, the response seems to be that they enjoy more simple presentations, not the architectural wonders of the last few years. "I don't like people playing with my food before I eat it" rings through a lot of their comments.

From my hubbie and son's points of view, both of them being vegetarians, I would like to see more thought go into vegetarian offerings on menus in general. Not just a meatless pasta dish, or the old hippie standby, grains and veggies, but a knowledgeable combination of proteins, and the use of some of the better 'meat substitutes' on the market right now. There are a couple of products that are awesome in their reproduction of taste and 'mouth feel' to meat, and that supply a healthy amount of a complete protein.

'Exotic' veggies are big here right now; the more upscale grocery stores are starting to carry all sorts of baby everythings - veggies and greens; and the oriental and latino veg and fruit are being seen more in the stores, also. Maybe a reflection of the local populations of those two cultures growing, but I think a general public awareness also. We also have a growing population of Russian immigrants (this area has a huge amount of research - medical and scientific), but I don't see a greater amount of cabbage or beets in the stores!:D
Joined Dec 2, 2000
Speaking of crispy creme donuts, here in Portland they are shipped in from Washington and everyone goes nuts over them..
They really are nothing special..
Whole new thread I guess.
Joined Aug 11, 2000
Well~ St. Louis is moving more toward use of local ingrediants. King Louie's outdoor grill/oven fruitwood fired will beserving local foods.
Riddles, Eau, Cardwell's at the Plaza, Duffs, Some of Ed Neill's places, Richard Perry, Crossing occasionally, Trattatoria Marcella, Annie Gunns....all are buying from local farmers and most are featuring it on their menus.
Trends...more Thai and Veitnamese are definately popping up, some fusion, within the past year Zoe, Del Peitros and the Corky's crew have put in Spaghetti houses. Mexican is also making a showing, again Del Peitros.
I'm off to South Grand today for the international food fest...always a fun time.
coming down the pike, more organic< I'm hearing the requests every day> I think noodle houses will be least I hope so....Spainish is apexing but there are a few showing up...Blue Water Grill on Mondays, Modesto, one of the Italian is doing tapas on the hill....There has been other talk about putting in more...
Personally I revisiting my condiment making days....this is the first time I've made jam in a few years, I'm off to pick gooseberries and strawberries this week....busy week...
Joined Jun 1, 2002
Yep, you definetely have the take on St. Louis. Spaghetti Houses are the rage. Interesting review on Spaghettaria Mama Mia in the Riverfront Times this week, Corky's offspring. Not very complimentary as value seemed to be on the mind of the writer. (I don't necesarily disagree, lest we forget that pasta was once peasant food). She adds a little credibility to the issue by mentioning the cash machine in the foyer, and the restaurants poor choice of not taking credit cards. I was in a Taco Bell the other day that had the same set up. The check averages differ quite a bit I suspect.

I agree with Marmalady, the artistic finnesse of presentation (and I will also add painfully small portions), while making foods interesting to look at, have begun to take a backseat to a little more abundance and value--an earthier aproach to plate presentation and the foods offered. Perhaps vegetarian and vegan dishes are forcing the issue of larger portions because of thier many ingredients. I dunno. Maybe it is because I have kids now. Health, value, real food is my focus.

My company operates on-site catering management for Colleges and Universities and the such. It is interesting, the palates that come and go in the education market. Most are not very sofisticated. Alternative protiens are huge. Small batch portions are a must. I have recently introduced a wood burning pizza oven to one of the board operations along with an "iron chef" exhibition station in order to introduce the new stuff; pretty much what has been discussed here.

We will not do any branding, i.e. Taco Bell, B-King, (shudder) in this new facility. Instead the food service will act as an excersize in sofisticated dining concepts for the students to get a little education on healthier, more nutricios foods. We will also be interning Hospitality Services Management students from the area, eventually introducing a degreed Hospitality Program later.

So thanks all for your repsonses. Condiment making sounds interesting. I have read a few posts discussing the art. Fits into that earthy/organic concept I guess.

Shroomgirl, I should mention that the quality of dining out reporting for the RFT is so bad it curls my toes. You should give it a whirl.
Joined Aug 11, 2000
Ralph you are the second person this week to suggest such a thing.....I value my restaurant connections and would never write reviews on them in local publications.....I ask chefs to give up one of their most valuable commodities (time), with this comes a respect for their openess with me. They pull through whenever I need help....gotta love um, for someone to show up on Sat. morning and function in front of a crowd, basically winging it, as we shop the market for products before they cook....
So what university is going to have this great cafeteria? You know SLU is putting in an organic garden for the cafeteria? This is too great.
Joined Jun 1, 2002
I agree. There are many other ways to make a difference. One way is to teach. We really need to develop and nurture the young professionals coming out in the business. But this is another post. But if you were to read the RFT's review on Mangia Italia..........

Lindenwood University is the school where we are doing the remodel. We will open in Aug. 15. Email me and I will give you a tour if you ever get to St. Charles.

I heard about the organic garden at SLU. Are you involved in that? The dining services was recently awarded to Compas Group. It is a very large account. I am curious if the food service or the school is responsible for taking care of the garden and how it will work. Very Interesting, if not only from a marketing perspective. Tell me more.....please.

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