Hotel Online  Special Report


Top Toques Weigh in on the Season's Biggest
Food Trends and Flops in New York
NEW YORK, April 8, 2004 - What will spring 2004 taste like in New York City? What flavors and trends will define what we eat and drink over the next several months?  Which fads will fade?

Restaurant Associates (RA), which operates a major portfolio of restaurants on the east and west coasts, recently gathered together its team of NYC executive chefs to discuss what's on the menu in New York. Several years ago, RA merged with Joachim Splichal's Patina operations in California and Las Vegas, establishing Restaurant Associates/Patina as the nation's preeminent bicoastal restaurateur.  RA's chefs represent some of the most iconic, high-traffic dining spots in New York City including:  Brasserie, Brasserie 8 1/2, Cafe Centro, Cucina & Co., Naples 45, Nick + Stef's Steakhouse & Bar, Rock Center Cafe, The Sea Grill, and Tropica.

"We thought this would be a good time to take the collective pulse of our cooking talent," said Restaurant Associates CEO Nick Valenti.  "The city has rebounded, tourism continues to improve, and dining out is on the upswing.  Of course, New York is gearing up to play host to the Republican National Convention, which will draw even greater international attention over the summer," noted Valenti.  Restaurant Associates/Patina will play a major role in providing hospitality to New Yorkers, delegates and tourists who will be eating out in greater numbers in coming months.

What does RA's team forecast as this year's food trends? Here's a summary:

On the Front Burner: Top Food Trends

  • Ed Brown, Sea Grill (Rockefeller Center): "I think we'll be seeing a global table that's ingredient driven. My focus is on procuring the purest fish and food stuffs from artisan growers, fishermen and purveyors."
  • Eric Basulto, Tropica (MetLife Building): "Look for coastal global restaurants such as sushi houses, ceviche bars and raw bars that are in line with high-protein diets." Eric frequently offers ceviche tastings of Peruvian fluke, Ecuadorian shrimp and Thai tuna.
  • Robert Roaquin, Nick + Stef's (Madison Square Garden): "Classic American dishes are on the rise. We'll be doing healthy, clean cooking, not so ethnic. Expect lots of healthy soups and salads, with items such as warm asparagus, mushrooms and goat cheese."
  • Luc Dimnet, Brasserie, (Seagram Building): "My prediction is that we'll start see a lot more North African influences on menus. Chickpea fries with yogurt sauce is a sensational variation on an American favorite with a North African/Mediterranean twist. I'm also developing a recipe for foie gras beignets that reinterprets the foie gras appetizer that's become ubiquitous."
  • Franck Deletrain, Cafe Centro (MetLife Building): "The focus right now is on developing lighter fare and tasting menus that cater to diners' high-protein diets.  People also want value for their dollar. We're addressing these needs with our special tasting menus and wine dinners, offered at a great price."
  • Julian Alonzo, Brasserie 8 1/2 (The Gordon Bunshaft "9" West 57th St. Building): "Organic markets are hot. The lines are pouring over at the newly opened Whole Foods Market and that's just the tip of the iceberg (lettuce)."
  • Christopher DeLuna, Naples 45 (MetLife Building): "From take-out to four-star restaurants, there's a demand for low-carb fare. At Naples 45, we've created a reduced- carb pizza using soy flour. Look for a lot more whole wheat pastas and salad specials with more protein."
  • Antonio Prontelli, Rock Center Cafe (Rockefeller Center): "People are going to tire of strict low-carb diets and when they start to modify, we'll be ready with an antipasto platter that integrates proteins and fats with flavorful carb additions. Amish chicken, pork saltimbocca and vegetable plates will be in the modified low-carb vanguard."
Top Dining Flops

The chefs have strong views on some recent culinary experiments that won't last. Heading the list:

  1. Seaweed with strawberries
  2. Foie Gras Lollipops
  3. Seawater Sorbet or any dish conceived for its shock value, instead of taste
  4. Vegetable meatballs
  5. Ostrich meat
  6. Wasabi sorbet with olive oil and seaweed. Wasabi is a powerful enhancement to many dishes -- but when it shows up on everything from nuts to fish to ice cream - it's time to give it a rest.
  7. Foam: this airy essence is starting to weigh down too many menus.
  8. Overly descriptive menus that include what remote village where ingredients came from.
  9. Communal tables
  10. Fortified water
What's the biggest food story of 2004?

The dining resurgence that began over the winter holiday season has gained momentum. Restaurant Associates sees the rest of 2004 shaping up to be one of strongest dining seasons in recent memory. Probably no food company in New York has more at stake in the turnaround than Restaurant Associates.  It provides high-end food service across more segments and touches more aspects of city life than any other restaurant or food purveyor.

Mr. Valenti notes that given the breadth and scale of its operations, Restaurant Associates will likely feed more people who live in, work in, or visit New York than any other food company in 2004.

About Restaurant Associates / Patina Group

Restaurant Associates, an independent operating subsidiary of Compass Group North America, owns and operates award-winning restaurants and foodservice contracts including cafes in museums and performing arts centers in New York and other cities. In New York, Restaurant Associates' portfolio includes restaurant properties at Rockefeller Center, The MetLife Building, The Seagrams Building, The Gordon Bunshaft "9" West 57th Street Building, and Madison Square Garden as well as major sporting events including the U.S.  Tennis Open, The Ryder Cup and PGA Championship. 

On the West Coast, The Patina Group includes the flagship restaurant Patina, recently relocated to the world-class Walt Disney Concert Hall, as well as restaurants at Downtown Disney(R) in Anaheim and the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. Patina is also the exclusive foodservice provider for Music Center of Los Angeles County, Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Francisco War Memorial Opera House and COPIA: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts.




Restaurant Associates
Kay Nelson/212-789-7911

Also See Food Experts at ACF Convention Identify 'Retro Food' and Ethnic Cooking as Big Trends in American Dining / July 2002
FoodSense Offers its Restaurant Predictions: Six Trends You’ll See in Restaurants Over the Next Year / Nov 2000

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