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David Lissner
for restaurants

Foodie forecast for 2013 predicts global cheap eats

Ryan Poli

Ryan Poli

The team behind River North’s Mercadito, Tavernita and Barcito, Double A and the soon to open Little Market Brasserie on the Near North Side recently issued their predictions for the restaurant industry in the coming year.

Perhaps most surprising is Chef Ryan Poli’s forecast that there will be a move away from locally grown foods due to their increasing costs. Continuing the low-cost trend, he predicts chicken, including its cheaper parts — thighs, livers, hearts and skin — will play an expanded role on menus.

Managing Partner Alfredo Sandoval foresees, “The industry will continue to see an uptick in casual, everyday spots in lieu of fine dining destinations and with that will come price consciousness and less up-selling to stay within diners’ anticipated budgets.”

Sandoval says we will see fewer ethnic specialists and more fusion and eclectic concepts. “I think we will see restaurants whose cuisines are less focused on one region or country, but whose menus reflect a combination of different regions and cultures from around the world,” he says.

Spices purveyor McCormick & Co. also predicts increasing globalization and ethnic combinations in its flavor forecast for 2013.

Poli expects more use of quinoa and other ancient grains on menus. McCormick concurs on that as well, in a trend they call “empowered eating.” This may be fueled by the continuing fad for wheatophobia.

Poli and cocktail mavens Paul Tanguay and Tad Carducci (aka Tippling Brothers) also predict increasing use of vegetable juices, such as cucumber, cilantro and kale in both food and beverages — perhaps because people believe they’re more healthful. Other cocktail concepts coming, they say, are less heath-oriented beer cocktails, booze-laced smoothies, coffee- and tea-based alcoholic libations and craft sodas.

Ryan Poli now

Ryan Poli now

UPDATE: A spokesman for Poli got in touch to say that the chef has had something of an about-face on the issue of local sourcing. Poli clarifies: “Chefs will have to be more selective when buying products due to the increase in cost.” He doesn’t expect them to forgo local farm produce altogether.

He also says that the prediction of more chicken parts on your plate is not, as I suggested, predicated on the cost of the product, but “because of taste and an increased focus on rotisserie-style cooking, which chicken lends itself to quite nicely.”

In a literal change of face, they also forwarded this updated photo of Poli. Very handsome.

Leah A. Zeldes