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Las Vegas chefs, experts predict food trends for 2019


The beginning of any year is a time of reflection, resolution and renewal, but also of uncertainty, as we wonder what the next 12 months will bring. We asked members of the Southern Nevada culinary community to peer into their virtual crystal balls and tell us what they see coming up in the world of food in 2019. Responses, which are in no particular order, have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Perry Wiley, vice president of food and beverage, JW Marriott Las Vegas

Higher prices in all markets due to U.S. tariffs will equate to less dining out. Service and quality will become even more scrutinized as diners decide where to spend their budget. There also will be increased automation, such as face-recognizing ordering systems and robots flipping burgers.

Dan Krohmer, chef/owner, Other Mama and the forthcoming Hatsumi and La Monja

Chefs will start being more controlled in their ingredients. People are getting tired of trying to be everything to everyone, which makes chefs mediocre at a variety of things instead of focusing on improving what they are really passionate about. This won’t be a year of new products and tools; the industry is dealing with such a staffing crisis with higher operating costs, mental health and the increase in cost of living that it’s going to be more introspective. If any new trends come, it will be more about going backward — fewer machines and more mortars and pestles.

Brandon Nickles, general manager, Thunderbird Boutique Hotel & Lounge

There seems to be a growing trend in more group dining, so our guests are looking for great food at an affordable price but in a location that also has some life to it and a cool factor — games to play, a variety of food, great drinks and pretty centrally located.

Kelley Jones, Kelley Jones Hospitality

Because people are working remotely more and more and shared work spaces are growing, the food delivery business will continue to be a big trend in 2019. Most of the restaurants I have team up with delivery services, which can account for more than 10 percent of my total sales.

Ann Alenik, owner, Pasta Shop Ristorante & Art Gallery

The restaurant and food industry is moving in a holistic direction, with cuisine centered around farm-fresh ingredients. I see the trends moving away from processed food and into the realm of flavorful dishes made with whole foods, exotic spices and fresh herbs. Inclusion is also a big part of the dining scene, especially in Vegas, with eateries catering to meat eaters, vegans and everyone in between.

Adam Rains, head mixologist, The Golden Tiki

2019 will see the off-Strip dining scene continue to evolve, especially in areas like the Arts District, Summerlin and Chinatown. Look for big things from Gina Marinelli, James Trees and Sheridan Su.

Vincent Rotolo, chef/owner, Good Pie

All of the major pizza and burger chains in America will launch vegan options in 2019.

Lissa Hamilton, Shake Shack area director

Having convenience without sacrificing quality will be huge. We recently launched an app and added online ordering to help our customers get their orders more quickly and efficiently without having to stand in line.

Sheridan Su, chef/owner, Fat Choy and Flock & Fowl; consulting chef, The Golden Tiki

Chinatown is already known for great Asian restaurants, but in 2019, it’ll continue to solidify itself as one of the best dining/drinking neighborhoods in the entire country. And skull-shaped desserts will be blowing up Instagram!

Ariel Zuniga, chef, Pamplona Cocktails & Tapas

Growth and opportunity for restaurants off the Strip as Vegas becomes more populated, professional sports teams relocate and state-of-the-art venues become available. The opportunity is wide open for chefs to showcase their talents.

Brannon Rees, director of marketing, Hash House A Go Go

Restaurants will face continued pressure in increased costs for labor and food and beverages. More attention will need to be placed on overall value, and those restaurants that deliver exceptional value will be rewarded with increased customer loyalty.

Elizabeth Blau, Blau & Associates

More use of turmeric, probiotics, prebiotics and Middle Eastern herbs and spices with health benefits, exciting flavors and medicinal properties anchored in Ayurveda. With digital media taking over the traditional book business, cookbooks have to be reinvented, with culinary scrapbooks as the new wave. Communal dining and pop-up dinners at existing restaurants to facilitate family-style meals among strangers, creating the community that all of us are craving. And gourmet ghost restaurants, which don’t exist as brick and mortar and only do delivery.

Glenn Rolnick, corporate executive chef, Alicart Restaurant Group (Carmine’s and Virgil’s)

Wood smoking of not just proteins but more bulk vegetables, fish and desserts. And growth of curry as a seasoning in other regions of cooking.

Erin Ward, corporate beverage director, Alicart Restaurant Group

Cocktails with simplicity, featuring fresh herbs and bright flavors and keeping the ingredient list to a minimum. CBD/pot-based beverages as the laws change. And sour beers continuing to pick up momentum, especially fruit-based, easy-drinking versions.

Jeff Tomastik, president, Ambros Banana Whiskey

2019 will be all about social experiences — anything that can be turned into a small spectacle in front of the consumer to create involvement, from craft cocktails with smoke, desserts with alcohol on fire to finishing dishes tableside.

Bradley Manchester, executive chef, Hard Rock Hotel

Gluten is making a comeback. With many restaurants and chefs focusing on old-world techniques such as artisan bread-making and fresh pastas, the gluten (avoidance) craze, although it will never go away, is starting to mellow out a bit.

Tylor Urias, chef, Forte Tapas

Family-style dining and social neighborhood restaurants will be the next paradigm shift; the next generation of eaters wants to try multiple dishes and experience a variety of flavors in a fun and light atmosphere, not the larger composed dishes and quiet environments we grew up with. More aquaculture along with sustainable and seasonal products featured across all of our menus. Chefs from all over the country are pouring in to create their own projects and offer something unique to locals. I expect a massive increase in dining options off the Strip in the next three to five years.

Bryce Krausman, owner, DW Bistro

A lot more special menus and fan favorites ready for to-go ordering. People are trying to create dining and restaurant experiences at home, and restaurants are going to heavily get into the game.

Van-Alan Nguyen, co-owner, 595 Craft and Kitchen

Fusion foods will continue to take center stage as more and more consumers venture out of their comfort zones and try new flavors that combine fun and funky with familiarity. Charbroiling/grilling foods is going to be big because it introduces a new layer of flavor and great complexity with no additional costs.

Jolene Mannina, founder, Secretburger.com

Food halls have arrived and are going to grow in the next year. And pre-buying off-the-menu dishes will be adopted by consumers and loved by chefs.

Diana Edelman, founder, Vegans, Baby

Vegan will go mainstream, with Carl’s Jr. and Del Taco announcing their vegan meats to start. But it’s not just fast food; chefs want to be challenged, diners want to try more plant-based options and the population is getting educated, expanding their horizons and wanting to help the environment.

Tony DePasquale, president, Calant Capital LLC and Big Whiskey’s American Restaurant & Bar

Whiskey will make its way to the forefront of the beverage world and drinkers will be looking for additional ways to experience it with diverse cocktails using whiskey and bourbon as the base, whiskey on tap and tasting events. It’s becoming a very social drink.

John Arena, co-owner, Metro Pizza

Independent restaurants will get smaller and more quality-driven as they surrender discounting to the big chains. Smaller staffs and technology-driven service in response to labor challenges. The vegan movement is here to stay and great chefs are taking it seriously. On and off the Strip, the Las Vegas dining scene is entering a new era of excellence; celebrity chefs can’t just slap their brands on Las Vegas outposts or the local talent will swallow them up. Look for Chinatown to become a more multicultural dining destination; every up-and-comer wants to be there. Main Street is starting to gel. Chefs like Dan Krohmer and James Trees have the potential to be the new generation of multiconcept entrepreneurs. And long-time operators will team up with young talent to stay relevant.

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11 Jan 2019


By Heidi Knapp Rinella
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