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Food Predictions For 2007

Here is the Pundit’s first opportunity to run a prediction list for 2007. Expect a lot of these to come.

Marriott International has tasked its top culinary folks — Brad Nelson, Vice President of Culinary/Corporate Chef, and Matthew Von Ertfelda, Vice President, Restaurants and Beverage, Lodging Operations — to predict the food and beverage trends for 2007.

The list basically speaks to an upscale trend filtered through the hectic, high-tech experience of modern life. Most things are going toward better quality, including times in life, such as grabbing take-out, where lower quality might have once been acceptable. Even when there is a backlash yearning for simple foods such as French toast and fries — this is not your mother’s French toast or fries — unless your mom made Pressed French Toast with Artisanal Bread and Parmesan and Garlic Kennebec Shoestrings.

And for every action, there’s a reaction. So one trend is high-tech with digital menus on PDA’s and flat screens, with mouth-watering food photography. But another trend is high touch with open kitchens that provide interaction with chefs and personalized drinks.

The Pundit adds his prediction: This overall move to quality will tend to favor perishables in both foodservice and retail.

Here is their top ten list, with an 11th thrown thrown in for good luck in 2007:

Matthew Von Ertfelda and Brad Nelson’s Top Food and Beverage Trends for 2007:

TRAVELING CUISINE — No more is it simply fried chicken, burgers and fries. Take- out cuisine has come of age. As lives become busier and office hours longer, more and more, consumers are turning to the meal ready to eat — now available in grocery stores, gourmet markets, etc. Restaurants, too, are getting into the act. Many top chefs and restaurants are now offering menu selections to go, filling the need for quick foods available in the home — but as good as a high end restaurant. From hotel restaurants to neighborhood eateries, diners’ needs for quality, speed and convenience will be addressed both within and outside of the dining venue.

PERSONALIZED DRINKS — A choose-your-own ingredient/create-your-own-blend approach to the customized cocktail. Guests will be originating and constructing cocktails to personalize them — adding the element of creativity in today’s “do-it-yourself” culture, plus feeding the public’s desire to experiment, etc. Alexandra Simon of the Renaissance Plaza Vendome is among the pioneers in creating and serving drinks a la guests. Her creations have spawned this movement.

ALCOHOL ALTERNATIVE — Look for ‘fashion-forward’ lemonade, iced tea, etc., combinations and infusions. Priced equal to their sister libations, these high end mocktails are making an appearance on bar and restaurant menus. With their beautiful presentations and clean flavors, they rival the cocktail market. They also rival the cocktail market in price. These drinks can be priced equally to “high test” libations. This is not a price savings, but a style/lifestyle choice.

WAR OF THE ROSES — Rose wines are making a comeback as more and more consumers become vintage-savvy. In Champagnes and still wines, add pink to the reds and whites.

A TOAST! — Toast makes an unprecedented comeback. Whether buttered, griddled, French-style, pressed or plain, the simple joys of heated bread is heating up. Artisan and conventional styles add warmth to breakfasts and beyond.

VIRTUAL FOODS — High definition digital menus displayed on PCs and PDAs, electronic food photography on a state-of-the-art flat screen; cameras that transmit from kitchen to televised prime time spectacle to guests — food has gone techno tantalizing. The senses are heightened and barraged with luscious and vibrant food and drink that can’t be eaten or sipped.

CANDY IS DANDY — The days of the classic citrus twist, olive and onion aren’t numbered, but bartenders are getting sweet on their garnishes. Look for licorice, Gummi Bears and Oreos to join their more savory counterparts as cocktail garnishes.

OPEN KITCHEN, LIVING LAB — Misstep or hit? Chefs are bringing development front and center by creating spaces for the real judges, the guests, to experience their ideas. No longer just a chef’s table, these open kitchens provide front row interactions with the chefs while they try out new ideas, ingredients and presentations. It’s also the perfect way for chef-savvy guests to form a relationship with their favorite culinary ‘star.’

HELLO, I MUST BE GOING — Destination bathrooms add to the complete experience. Signature restrooms with unique design and artifacts, from chirping crickets to interactive stalls to vintage Borax soap dispensers, the rest room is an integral part of the environment and has become a focal point. Make a reservation, enjoy the food and drink, but make SURE to check out the facilities.

PLEASE (DON’T) PASS ON THE CARBS — Cheese fries… NOT. Especially not with that questionable yellow cheese sauce. Now it’s parmesan and garlic Kennebec shoestrings, truffled tater tots, scampi mashed, artisan cheese risottos, and smoky bacon-studded breads. Hail the return of carbs with a serious attitude and real flavor. Carbs — we knew we couldn’t get along without them for long — and they’ve come back better then ever.

SPA MEETS RESTAURANT — No longer just about ‘spa food,’ scents of exotic herbs and oils migrate into the restaurant experience. From the aromatherapeutic to the homeopathic — what’s next? Buffalo wing facials??

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