© Maddi Bazzocco
Culture

New York: The Future of Food

07.06.2019 | By ANNA MADSEN

New York sets the trend with most things including the food scene. From Uptown’s multi-Michelin starred restaurants to Downtown’s celebrity-packed ‘hole in the wall’–type of venues – some real New Yorkers and local newspapers weigh in on the upcoming trends on the menu coming your way in the next couple of years. Both your mind and your taste buds are in for a feast!

To take the temperature on New York’s current trending food scene, we talked to Fahad Saud AlShalan a partner/investor in King Restaurant; a casual yet classy SoHo restaurant, which was featured on New Yorker’s list of favourite restaurants, and has received a rave review from the New York Times and other notable publications.

King is one of the most popular restaurants downtown right now. What sets it apart?

It’s all about the food and the atmosphere. There’s an intimacy that Clare, Jess, and Annie created that is magical and familiar. It feels like you’re in someone’s home rather than at trendy restaurant. The ever changing delicious menu is also key. It’s an interesting paradox which I think people are looking for now; familiarity in combination with constantly changing food.

It’s an interesting paradox which I think people are looking for now; familiarity in combination with constantly changing food

Where do you see the food scene in New York heading in terms of food trends, technology or new ideas?

The cross pollination of industries and backgrounds is creating interesting restaurant concepts that can work brilliantly but sometimes don’t. What lasts ultimately is how you make people feel when they experience your restaurant.

Indeed, the restaurant trends all seem to move into a more conscious direction, putting an emphasis on sustainable production, mindful atmospheres and clean eating. Below are some other examples: 

The increased awareness for mindfulness and mental health has also been adopted by restaurants

Phone-free dining

The increased awareness for mindfulness and mental health globally has also been adopted by restaurants. As a reaction to this, people are becoming open to the idea of focusing on their company and the experience of dining, without the constant updates from their phones. A number of restaurants are adopting the ‘disconnected dinner’ approach – asking guests to leave their phones at the door or at least turning their phones to silent during their meal. Apple has even recognised this trend, and the new iOs version for iPhone triggers a notification for Calendar scheduled dinners and lunches asking the user to turn on a ‘Don’t disturb’ mode during 1,5 hours.
“According to Forbes, 90% of Avant Garden’s guests are non-vegan”Hearth, an Italian-inspired restaurant in the East Village, takes an alternative approach – instead inviting guests to voluntarily stow away their phone in a vintage cigar box on the table during their meal. Whatever the method, get prepared for the idea of not having your phone at all times during dinner. Sounds like a liberating thought, right?

The increased awareness for mindfulness and mental health has also been adopted by restaurants

Take-away Deluxe

The cold take-away pizza is on the decline, as food-delivery apps are multiplying. It’s no longer uncommon that people wish to have their fine dining experience within the comfort of their own home. As an example, Grubhub, New York’s busiest food delivery service are happy to scooter a ‘Penne alla Vodka’ from upscale Petaluma restaurant every lunch or dinner of the week.

Plant-based dining

It has escaped few that veganism is on the rise, and New York restaurants have naturally followed suit. Manhattan-based fine dining restaurant Avant Garden recently opened a second location in Williamsburg, proving that the trend seems to continue – and people are willing to pay top dollar for their veggies. According to Forbes, 90% of Avant Garden’s guests are non-vegan, and if you are to believe the restaurant, some of their visitors can hardly tell the difference between a piece of seitan and a piece of chicken.

The cold take-away pizza is on the decline, as food-delivery apps are multiplying

Vegan Sushi

Former contestant on Hell’s Kitchen Chef Guy opened the so called ‘green roll’ restaurant ‘Beyond Sushi’ in 2012. What was just a humble storefront on East 14th Street, would turn into six full-sized restaurants on Manhattan a few years later as the concept took off. Beyond Sushi is built on the philosophy of only using what Mother Nature offers, avoiding all meat and seafood alternatives in making sushi. Chef Guy instead “fuses unconventional pairings of fruits, vegetables and whole grains along with meticulous preparations, including vibrant sushi, dumplings, rice paper wraps, salads and noodle soups”.

Cultured Meat (New!)

Cultured meat, or ‘clean meat’ relates to lab-grown meat, the cultivation of cells to produce a piece of meat or fish rather than through animal slaughter. Before you shrug your shoulders and mumble something about that ‘you don’t actually eat burgers that often’, consider the positive effects this will have when it comes to climate change. According Yuval Harari and his best-seller ‘21 Lessons for the 21st century”, the meat industry is the biggest cause of the rise in temperatures due to its massive greenhouse gas emissions. We are breeding way too many cows basically. To put the negative effects on the earth into perspective; for 1 kg of meat you need 18,000 litres of water (compare this to the same amount of potatoes where you’d need 340 litres).

The first hamburger grown from stem cells was done in 2013 – and cost $230,000 to produce. In 2017, the cost was down to $11, and New York Post is predicting that the first lab-cultured meat will be sold in restaurants and stores within two years. And as for the taste and quality, scientists are experimenting with adding healthy omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins, while stating that the cell-grown process will be exposed to less bacteria and disease, as well as putting and end to animal cruelty within the food industry. Amazing positives basically!

For the first time, new food and restaurant trends relate not only to changes in taste, but to our climate and mental wellbeing as well. Let’s hope things continue in this delicious direction.

The first hamburger grown from stem cells was done in 2013 – and cost $230,000 to produce. In 2017, the cost was down to $11