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A Look Ahead

A Look Ahead

Industry hot shots predict culinary trends for 2019, from smaller restaurant concepts to reimagined, iconic dishes.

Photo:Breakfast at Brennan’s

With each new year, we poll experts to get their take on what will have significant impact on the restaurant industry in the coming months. Here’s what to expect, from the general manager of a legendary New Orleans establishment to a respected culinary instructor at a Wisconsin-based college.

Christian Pendleton

general manager, Brennan’s Restaurant, New Orleans

In 2017, more than 150,000 people enjoyed “Breakfast at Brennan’s.” Since 1946, Brennan’s has been waking up this grand Southern city with wonderful things to eat. “It’s not easy to remain relevant this long,” says general manager Christian Pendleton. “Like everyone else, we must consider preferences of both baby boomers and millennials. To add a bit of magic, we make Bananas Foster and Steak Diane tableside. Older patrons remember this service fondly from the past; millennials view it as something new and exciting.”

Pendleton says today’s diners expect menus to change with the seasons. “We keep our iconic dishes, and reimagine the rest with what’s in season and on-trend. I recommend forming close relationships with farmers and purveyors to get the best ingredients. We’re currently experimenting with kalettes (hybrid of brussels sprouts and kale).”

Brian McBride

chef/partner, Siren by Robert Wiedmaier, Washington, D.C.

In April 2017, legendary D.C. chef Brian McBride joined Robert Wiedmaier to open Siren, which specializes in globally sourced seafood. It recently earned a Michelin star. Here are his frank predictions and sage advice.

“I see the demise of the large restaurant,” says McBride. “The trend will be on smaller concepts, in which chefs can get very focused. Siren has just 88 seats. The operation is very manageable, and the dining room always appears full. We’re keeping our prices reasonable because we want to remain accessible.

“I am observing a lot of space-sharing among chefs. A pastry chef might operate a café in the morning, and another chef takes over the space at dinner. Or, a chef might operate a butcher shop during the day, and a restaurant at night.

“We love sous vide and induction cooking. These methods give us a more consistent temperature. Chefs used to sear, then cook. Now, we’re cooking first, then searing. We’ve begun using a smoking box for cocktails made with bourbon and scotch. We also smoke our own mushrooms and salmon.”

Paul Short

C.E.C. department head, culinary arts, Madison College, Madison, Wis.

Short has helped influence the careers of thousands of young chefs in his 25-year tenure at Madison College. The college boasts a new teaching kitchen filled with state-of-the-art equipment.

“Here in Wisconsin, we’ve witnessed the farm-to-table movement firsthand. Madison College now leases a farm where our students grow, harvest and cook with the produce we cultivate. Student enthusiasm is extremely high during harvest.

Short adds that he sees smaller storefronts replacing bigger operations. For example, former grad and James Beard nominee Justin Carlisle has opened three small, yet successful operations in Milwaukee: prix-fixe, fine-dining concept Ardent, and the casual Red Light Ramen and Laughing Taco

“When students leave school, we want them to have fundamentals firmly in hand,” stresses Short. “If they can’t roast a chicken, they aren’t ready.”

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