Eat Their Words

We wanted to know what Texas dining would look like in the next few years, so we asked the biggest names in food—the state’s leading chefs, restaurateurs, cookbook authors, and the like—to tell us what we’ll be having for dinner.
Illustrations by Gluekit

In a highly unscientific survey, we sent a twenty-item questionnaire to some 75 chefs and other movers and shakers in the Texas food world to ask what dining will be like as the twenty-first century unfolds. More than 50 responded, and here’s a smattering of what they said. Beef, both fatty and lean, isn’t going away anytime soon. Raw fish—and not just sushi and ceviche—is coming on strong. And brush up on your Spanish, because quinoa (“keen-wah,” a nutty South American grain) will be on our plates alongside wheat, rice, and barley. Texas’s up-and-coming cuisine will be Indian, and our trendiest restaurants will be found in Dallas. Don’t bother to dress up for dinner, because formal dining is as dead as a dodo. So is “the crazy stuff” of overelaborate menus driven by chefs’ overinflated egos. Independent operations are not endangered—yet. If there is one single thing, however, that will transform restaurants, it is the state’s growing Hispanic population; Latino cooks will emerge from behind the scenes to become stars in their own right. And what will chefs need to cope with all this future shock? Same as they’ve always needed since the first caveman laid a haunch of woolly mammoth over a bed of smoldering coals: passion and a good palate.

1. The trendiest vegetable or grain in the next two years will be ________________?

• Quinoa …..15%
• Black vegetables and grains …..11%
• Dark leafy greens …..19%
• Local and seasonal produce …..9%
• Different kinds of rice …..7%
• Exotic potatoes …..4%
• Salsify …..4%
• Other …..41%

Answers included purple corn, fregola (a Sardinian pasta), crosnes (a type of Asian tuber also called knotroot and chorogi), cardoons (a celerylike plant related to artichokes), seaweed, and “What’s left?”

2. In two years, the next big protein will be ________________?

• Beef, especially grass-fed and the Akaushi breed …..36%

• Fish, including Kona Kampachi, the brand name of a type of yellowtail farmed off the coast of Hawaii …..18%
• Buffalo …..8%
• Unusual poultry, including guinea hen and non-cage-raised chickens …..8%
• Pork …..8%
• Lamb …..6%
• Other …..16%

Answers included tofu, goat, rabbit, shrimp, and organ meats.

3. The hottest Texas chef of 2010 will be _______________?

• We don’t know yet …..30%
• Tyson Cole, Uchi, Austin …..7%
• Andrew Weissman, Le Rêve, San Antonio …..7%
• Tre Wilcox, formerly of Bravo’s Top Chef and Abacus, Dallas …..5%
• Other …..51%

Answers included Anthony Bombaci, Nana, Hilton Anatole hotel, Dallas; Ryan Pera, 17, Alden hotel, Houston; and “Whomever the media anoint.”

4. The current restaurant fad most likely to fade is ________________?

• Foams …..18%
• Molecular gastronomy …..12%
• Exotic salts …..10%
• Truffle oil …..8%
• Foie gras …..4%
• Bad service …..4%
• Other …..44%

Answers included Japanese, small desserts, and “obscenely huge portions and using a tenth-grade chemistry set to try to prove something.”

5. The appetizer of the future will be _______________?

Raw fish …..16%
• Wraps and rolls …..8%
• Foie gras …..4%
• Fruit …..4%
• Something (anything) liquid …..4%
• Cured meat or fish …..4%
• Other …..60%

Answers included crispy lamb’s tongue, pig’s feet, organ meats such as sweetbreads, and tempura quail eggs.

6. The next global cuisine craze will be __________________?

• Indian …..12%
• Peruvian …..8%
• Moroccan …..6%
• Mediterranean …..4%
• Other …..70%

Answers included Greek, English (gastro pubs), and “I don’t want to see the words ‘global’ and ‘cuisine’ next to each other anymore in any form for any reason.”

Section 2 Multiple Choice

7. In five years, diners in Texas restaurants will think which of these sauces and/or dressings are so last century?

• A. Chimichurri …..9%
• B. Vinaigrette with Maytag blue cheese crumbles …..15%
• C. Chipotle anything …..33%
• D. All of the above …..37%
• E. None of the above …..7%

8. In ten years, Texans will eat their evening meal at home how many times a week?

• A. Seven …..2%
• B. Five …..14%
• C. Four …..2%
• D. Three …..75%
• E. Zero…..7%

9. The trendiest Texas restaurants five years from now will be in which of these cities?

• A. Houston …..25%
• B. San Antonio …..13%
• C. Austin …..25%
• D. Dallas …..29%
• E. Other …..8%

Comment: “It will be a horse race—too close to call.”—Charles Butt, H-E-B and Central Market, San Antonio

Section 3 True/False

10. True or false: Carbs are coming back.

• True …..89%
“Thank God, yes!”—Stephan Pyles, Stephan Pyles, Dallas

• False …..11%
“Being more conscious of your diet should not be a fad.”—Jason Gould, Gravitas, Houston

11. True or false: Beef is on the wane.

• True …..9%
“Great beef has become sooo expensive.” —Nick Badovinus, formerly of Hibiscus, now developing F\ NB, Dallas

• False …..91%
“Not in Texas.”—Diana Barrios Treviño, Los Barrios, San Antonio

12. True or false: By 2010 every dish in the majority of restaurants will contain at least one genetically modified ingredient.

• True …..57%
“They already do.” —Stewart Scruggs, Wink, Austin

• False …..43%
“Texans will become increasingly aware of what is in their food.” —Robert Rhoades, Hudson’s on the Bend, Austin

13. True or false: By 2015, ninety percent of our meals will be eaten in chain restaurants.

• True …..24%
“Sadly true.”—Mark Schmidt, Café 909, Marble Falls

• False …..76%
“Future generations will have an awareness and appreciation that will demand more than what the chains can offer.” —Lisa and Emmett Fox, Fino, Austin

14. True or false: By 2020, Texas’s wines will rival California’s.

• True …..30%
“Don’t they already?” —Bryan Caswell, Reef, Houston

• False …..70%
“I am sorry, but this is impossible.” —Paul Petersen, Café Cenizo, Gage Hotel, Marathon

15. True or false: By 2025, Texas’s olive oils will rival Italy’s.

• True …..23%
“Wow, that would be great, and I own a little part of this movement.” —Scott Cohen, Watermark Hotel Company, San Antonio

• False …..77%
“I just laughed out loud. Let’s make it 2055.” —Jason Dady, The Lodge, San Antonio

Section 4 Essay

16. What will be the most significant developments in fine dining over the next two years?

“The old standards—fine linens,
china, crystal, flatware, and outrageous build-outs—will start to vanish because

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