While many of us have traveled less and stayed closer to home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will continue to expand our palates to far-flung areas when we dine out, according to the annual Hospitality & Dining Trends Report 2022 recently released by af&co, a leading restaurant and hospitality consulting firm, and Carbonate Group, a boutique creative services, and brand communications agency.
The theme of the report is Through The Looking Glass, a nod to the book, “Alice in Wonderland,” and reflects “the topsy-turvy nature of the last two years, with the ground constantly shifting beneath our feet, and the need to chart a new path forward in this seemingly upside-down reality,” noted Andrew Freeman, founder, af&co.
Despite all the uncertainty, there is still one thing that is certain: With the challenges come opportunities to facilitate change, as the report’s authors underscored.
“This year was supposed to be a year of recovery, yet it feels like we’ve all gone ‘down the rabbit hole’ and must figure out how to adjust to this strange new world. While the unknown can feel daunting, it also presents opportunities to create a more equitable, efficient, and profitable hospitality industry, and we’ve seen some incredible innovation and progress on these fronts,” said Freeman.
The report is extensive- more than 50 pages. Here are a few morsels on the food and dining front:
Food City of the Year: Nashville, TN
There’s more than great country music hitting high notes in Nashville. It’s “Noshville” time for food lovers, with high-profile chefs opening restaurants in Music City. The report cites these examples:
Audrey, Chef Sean Brock’s most ambitious project to date, celebrates his heritage growing up in the rural South, Appalachian cuisine, his love of Japanese culture, and the traditions impressed on him from his grandmother.
Yolan Michelin-starred chef Tony Mantuano and his wife, wine and hospitality expert Cathy Mantuano, brought their signature Italian fine dining from Chicago to Nashville.
Drusie & Darr, legendary chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s new restaurant in the Hermitage Hotel, will showcase Tennessee’s rich culinary heritage, and its abundance of regional produce.
Santé Magazine Food Editor Melanie Young recommends these women-owned Nashville restaurants: Margot Cafe, Henrietta Red and Etch. But also don’t miss visiting a traditional “meat and three” (a protein and three sides). A local favorite is family-owned Arnold’s Meat & Three.
Cuisine of the Year
“Caribbean is a catch-all term for the islands of the West Indies and the Caribbean Sea, as well as coastal countries like Belize and Guyana. The area encompasses a mélange of culinary traditions including African, Creole, Cajun, European, Latin American, and more,” notes The Carbonate Group report.
Caribbean cuisines can be found in all corners of the United States and not just in South Florida, New Orleans, and New York. Examples include:
Canje (Austin, TX) focuses on Guyanese, Puerto Rican, and Jamaican cuisines.
Kokomo (Brooklyn, NY) highlights the diverse cultures and culinary traditions throughout the West Indies.
Chao Pescao (San Francisco, CA) offers Latin-Caribbean home cooking based on Chef Rene Denis‘ Cuban-Colombian heritage
Sobre Mesa (Oakland, CA) features Afro-Latino cooking influenced by Chef Nelson German’s Dominican roots, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and other Caribbean countries.
Santé Magazine Food Editor Melanie Young recommends trying a taste of the Caribbean in New Orleans. Compère Lapin is a mashup of Caribbean and creole cuisines by Chef-Owner Nina Compton, and 14 Parishes, which serves traditional and contemporary Jamaican dishes.
Cuisine on the Rise: Indian… How About Those Goat Testicles?
Regional Indian cuisine is having its Bollywood moment. The Carbonate Report says, “Chefs are delving deeply into its rich and vibrant foodways, boldly championing lesser-known dishes or ingredients that push the boundaries of what many in the States have tasted—such as Gurda Kapoora at Dhamaka (NYC), a dish of goat kidney & testicles, red onion, and pao.”
Examples in the report include:
Aurum (Los Altos, CA) Chef Manish Tyagi’s menu highlights “the best of forgotten traditional recipes” regularly showcasing varied dishes from different regions of India, while using local California produce.
Unapologetic Foods (New York, NY), Restaurateur Roni Mazumdar and chef Chintan Pandya are on a mission to “redefine Indian food” and have created a mini-empire of restaurants showcasing regional Indian cuisine (including Adda, Semma, Dhamaka, Rahi, and Masalawala).
Amber India (multiple locations, San Francisco Bay Area), credited with introducing Butter Chicken to the Bay Area over 30 years ago, continues to preserve Indian culinary traditions, bringing in highly trained chef artisans well versed in Indian culinary history.”
Santé Magazine Food Editor Melanie Young recommends: Junoon (New York City) delivers exceptional Indian cuisine worthy of its Michelin star with an impressive wine and cocktail list.
Dishes That Tell a Story
Social consciousness has increased awareness of not only where our food grows but also its historic and cultural relevance.
“Questions about where our food comes from have gotten much more complex as chefs and artisan food producers of color have started to dig deep into very specific regional culinary traditions to bring back ingredients and techniques that have been misappropriated or all-but disappeared,” states the trends report.
Roux40 (Oakland, CA) focuses on Black heritage cuisine with modern interpretations of traditional dishes and most produce sourced from farms owned by people of color.
Owamni by The Sioux Chef (Minneapolis, MN) serves modern indigenous cuisine “without colonial ingredients such as wheat flour, cane sugar, and dairy” to present a “decolonized” dining experience.”
Santé Magazine Food Editor Melanie Young recommends Field Trip (NYC). Chef JJ Johnson’s New York City community-based eateries in Harlem and Rockefeller Center showcase rice-producing nations and their local dishes.
The Hot Dessert: Shave Ice: It’s Snow Good!
There’s nothing like a close shave, especially when it results in a silky, snowy dessert treat. Versions of shave ice desserts can be found in many cultures, including The Philippines’ Halo Halo, Japan’s Kakigori, and Korea’s Bingsu. Stateside, there’s Hawaiian shave ice and New Orleans Sno’Balls, both rendering a piled-high powdery, snowy concoction drizzled with exotic fruit syrups and fruits.
Santé Magazine Food Editor Melanie Young recommends: Creative New Orleans sno’balls at Hansen’s Sno Bliz and Chance in Hell Sno-‘Balls pop up shop in the Bywater (both open seasonally). For a “real deal” Filipino Halo Halo shave ice dessert, check out Joey Macadangdang‘s version at Joey’s Kitchen in Maui.
Download the complete AF&Co/Carbonate Group 2022 Hospitality Trends Report here: www.carbonategroup.com/insights