Food forecasts for 2014

by Kari Walker

Local chefs and foodies tell us what they see on the rise in the culinary world this the year

Just like in fashion, food has its own trends - I'm very sorry curly lettuce garnish, you wore out your welcome back in the 90s. The food world is constantly evolving with leaders of the industry blazing new trails in methods of preparation and finding new uses to highlight ingredients. I recently asked local chefs, foodies and others what trends they see gaining popularity and what's fading to the rear view. Keep your eyes open for some of these ideas coming to a menu near you in Lafayette.

Abi Broussard Falgout (co-owner and "chief of fluff" of Bread & Circus Provisions)

"I think some trends will continue to grow especially the farm-to-table movement and sourcing locally. It's becoming much more mainstream and not so 'trendy,' which is awesome for those of us that just consider it normal. The big trends I see coming are the rise in popularity of weird grains like Freekah (saw it at least four times this week). It's an ancient grain similar to quinoa. We're going to start seeing a bunch of interesting grains take center stage. Also, VEGGIES! With the farm-to-table movement, people that are serious about it are starting to take vegetables more seriously too. I think even the most carnivorous of foodies will start to appreciate veggies in a whole new light. Now that Beyonce & Jay-Z have gone plant based, it's bound to become more popular. People are going to see how eating plant based for one meal here and there brightens your palate and makes meat taste much better. The other thing I see coming is tea. I've fallen in love with tea recently, and I think a lot of people are going to start catching on to what hippies and English people knew all along. But more than that, tea cocktails have been popular in the mixology world for years now, and that's going to move over into the kitchen, too."

Denny Culbert (food photographer and Runaway Dish co-founder)

"More pop-ups and underground dinners - creating a buzz around a once-in-a-lifetime menu or the testing of a concept that lasts a day or maybe a few weeks inside another restaurant. Smaller plates - hopefully we'll see a trend toward smaller portions with more impact rather than biggest pile of food for your buck. And locally grown, locally produced, and seasonal will continue to be important words for this year."

Collin Cormier (Owner and chef of Viva la Waffle and co-owner of Swamp Pop)

"I think people will always come back to simple, straightforward food. To me the most exciting food trends are the 'mom foods' from other cultures. The comfort comes through in those types of dishes even though the ingredients may be unfamiliar. I think things like molecular gastronomy are important to learning about what we can do with food and pushing boundaries... But give me something someone's grandmother cooked any day."

Jeremy Conner (Chef of Village Cafe and POUR)

"I think 2014 will see further demand for labeling of/opposition to GMO foods. I would also expect a general trend toward greater demand for local organic and artisan foods. I think 'molecular gastronomy' for its own sake has just about finished riding the boy-bandish novelty wave it was on for so long. Its techniques will remain important, but they're only the means to an end. People come to our restaurant to eat great meals and enjoy themselves, not to marvel at the technological sublime of how it arrived on their plates. Along with furthering our use of local foodstuffs at the restaurant this year, we also intend to inherit, preserve, and celebrate the area's local food heritage as well as its traditional ingredients. For us, this means incorporating all of the area's food cultures into our modern Louisiana kitchen."

And, finally, my thoughts:

I think 2014 will be a year that more people open their eyes to what it means to support local agriculture to sustain long-term farming efforts. I also think this year people who have been dedicated to chain restaurants/dining establishments will start to see more of what independently owned concepts can offer for a comparable price to chains.