Chefs, restaurateurs predict the food trends of 2016

With the countdown to the New Year — and New Year's resolutions, which for many of us will involve eating more sustainably or locally or gluten-free or Paleo or simply "better," in some form or another — over and done with, it's an appropriate time to discuss what could be the food trends for 2016.

Here, a few Lawrence chefs and restaurateurs give their predictions for what's ahead in the culinary world and (in some cases) what we should leave behind in 2015.

Rick Martin, executive chef and owner of Limestone Pizza

Rick Martin, executive chef and owner of Limestone Pizza by Nick Krug

Rick Martin, chef-owner of Limestone Pizza, 814 Massachusetts St.

"I think the big one I'm seeing is open-fire cooking, which I see in the bigger cities — taking things back a hundred years when we cooked over open fire a lot. You see a lot of restaurants that are serving wild game and whole birds and larger cuts of meat that are cooked over an open flame."

Martin says there are about 50 restaurants in the country engaging in this pioneer-style method of cooking — Husk in Charleston, S.C., and Hatchet Hall in Los Angeles being two examples — though he doesn't expect the trend to hit northeast Kansas anytime soon. "It seems like Lawrence is a bit behind by about five years."


Nick Wysong, owner of Ingredient, 947 Massachusetts St.

"I think steadily and in general, everyone is becoming a lot more aware (of food) and the impact it can have on health and healthier habits, and I think that’s probably a pretty strong trend. That's an idea that's happening globally."


Louis Wigen-Toccalino owner of Decade Coffee and Espresso, 920 Delaware Street, pours hot water into an AeroPress to make a single cup of coffee. Coffee is steeped for between 10-50 seconds and then forced through a filter by pressing the plunger through the tube.

Louis Wigen-Toccalino owner of Decade Coffee and Espresso, 920 Delaware Street, pours hot water into an AeroPress to make a single cup of coffee. Coffee is steeped for between 10-50 seconds and then forced through a filter by pressing the plunger through the tube. by Mike Yoder

Louis Wigen-Toccalino, owner of Decade coffee shop, 920 Delaware St.

On which trends he'd like to continue: "Lawrence specifically has been pushing in the right direction in the past few years. I would like to see more small businesses and startups finding their feet, like 1900 Barker and Leeway Franks. More untraditional food venues, more little popups and more little corners and additions to existing businesses to give small-business people with creative ideas an opportunity to do something that doesn’t involve opening an entirely new restaurant — Fork to Fender, the Waffle Iron and Taco Zone (are) really creative solutions to that problem."

On which trends he'd like to see less of: "I'm curious to see what the next sandwich trend will be. A couple years ago it was bacon, then it was egg. ... I think putting an egg on top of every sandwich is getting tired at this point. Pâté — that’s my wish. Let’s bring mousses back."

Wigen-Toccalino says he and the Decade crew are working to "overhaul" their menu now, with a new roster of soups, sandwiches, salads and small plates (during bar hours) expected by mid-January. Perhaps we'll see a return of Decade's popular banh mi with Hank Charcuterie pâté?


Ted Nguyen owns Ted's Taphouse, 1004 Massachusetts St.

Ted Nguyen owns Ted's Taphouse, 1004 Massachusetts St. by Richard Gwin

Ted Nguyen, owner of Ted's Taphouse, 1004 Massachusetts St.

"What I see happening is more of a fast-casual concept of food, more of what you’d call peasant fare or actual street food. You see that in other countries, and I see that becoming more of a trend this year, not necessarily in the price point but in the simplicity of the food. In the past we’ve had things like sustainable food. Right now it’s really big in Lawrence to use local ingredients, which I think will continue."

Nguyen is also launching a new menu at the Taphouse, slated for late January and based around a similar "chef-driven, fast-casual concept."


Lee Meisel, who up until recently worked as 715's butcher, makes his own gourmet sausages at the newly opened Leeway Franks, 935 Iowa St. The shop and restaurant serves a variety of sausages, from an all-beef frankfurter to classic bratwursts, all made in-house by Meisel.

Lee Meisel, who up until recently worked as 715's butcher, makes his own gourmet sausages at the newly opened Leeway Franks, 935 Iowa St. The shop and restaurant serves a variety of sausages, from an all-beef frankfurter to classic bratwursts, all made in-house by Meisel. by Richard Gwin

Lee Meisel, chef-owner of Leeway Franks, 935 Iowa St.

On which trends he'd like to see continue: "I think as far as Lawrence in particular, I think we're still getting to the point where people are looking more at local products. It's been growing for the past 10 years, but I think people are going to start sourcing (local products) even more. Guys like Rick Martin down at Limestone are doing a great job contributing to that, getting people aware of these different farmers and building those relationships."

On which trends he'd like to see less of: I’d like to see the whole bacon thing go away once and for all. Bacon's great, but at the same time, there's only so much bacon to go around. I get tired of it. And then the whole afterthought of putting an egg on everything … it's kind of played out. I like eggs as much as anybody, but I'd rather focus on the egg and have it not be an afterthought."

Hey, maybe Louis and Lee are onto something here...

And a few thoughts on beverage trends: "It seems like we’ve been in the 'Year of the Cocktail' for the last five years. I think we’ll see more of a tongue-in-cheek pushback against the $12 cocktail. Someone’s got to bring back Jell-O shots or gin and juice. I’d like to see us go back to more utilitarian drinks as opposed to the more fussy stuff."


Rob Schulte, a barista at La Prima Tazza, prepares a drink on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

Rob Schulte, a barista at La Prima Tazza, prepares a drink on Tuesday, April 21, 2015. by Nick Krug

Rob Schulte, manager of La Prima Tazza, 638 Massachusetts St.

"I think just education has been high. People are teaching themselves about different coffee trends and different ways to make drinks. We try to stay up on what people like. I think people are kind of coming back into the realm of tea as well. Everything has its peaks and its drops, but I've seen more people ordering tea. That's why I put out those matcha options." (La Prima Tazza unveiled a new menu, including a handful of matcha specialty drinks, in August.)

One last thing: "I want to see the burden of recycling shared by both the patron and the business place. We offer that 20 percent off if you bring your own mug."

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