Worst Food Trends of the Decade
I queried local chefs/restaurateurs about their most despised trends of the 00s--here's what they said:
1. The Tatertini I'd nearly forgotten about these atrocities until I encountered one at a function a few months back (I'm not going to say where...I don't want to sound ungrateful for the invitation): Mashed potatoes served in a martini glass. Yep, they dish you up a glob of potatoes, then you pick the toppings. Your host can feel generous--it's practically a meal, right?--for peanuts, er, actually I'm pretty sure potatoes are even cheaper than peanuts. "It was more of an 1980's hotel banquet thing," says Asher Miller of 20.21, "but I saw it a couple of times in the last few years...I hope I don't see it again (or have to do it again). Maybe it sounds fancy on paper, but it's bumpkin in person."
2. Excessive Use of Fuss Many chefs said they loathed gratuitous fuss, preferring to keep things simple. Miller says he hopes 2010 is the end of 'the Trio of things.' "Why put three of the same thing on the plate?" he asks "You know one's not going to be as good as the others and then it's not exciting. Just do one thing and make it yummy." Wil Borgstorm of Pazzaluna called out giant menus ("Who can execute consistently great food when you have a 75 item menu? Very few, if any."), deconstructed food ("If you need to deconstruct it, was it worth preparing in the first place?") and molecular gastronomy ("Rarely does a chef have a degree in chemistry and if they did they should work in manufacturing side of the food industry. The use of all the chemicals from stabilizers to emulsifiers and there effects on human health are no substitutes for what mother nature provides.") Russell Klein of Meritage found too many cooks getting in over their heads with Asian fusion. "Just because you put wasabi and soy on something doesn't make it Asian," he says. "Too many cooks with too little knowledge about the ingredients they are using..."
3. The Cheflebrity I have to agree with Michael Harper, a corporate executive chef with Morrissey Hospitality, that the glamorizing of chefs on television has gotten a little out of control. (Arguably worse: the glamorizing of non-chefs cooking on television.) "I can barely stand to watch some of these shows," he says. "The cooking is poor and the drama is high, so many people are coming into the industry to be a star and not a chef...a chef's life is far from glamorous."
4. Anonymous Online Slams Cynthia Gerdes of Hell's Kitchen echoed the thoughts some of her peers expressed in this recent Dish column on anonymous online reviews : concern about what she feels is a "wildly unbalanced" system that doesn't give restaurants a real chance to respond. "We of course accept that there will be times we deserve less than stellar reviews," she says, "but the ability of anyone to anonymously slam (and sometimes slander) an establishment with no recourse or even way to respond is becoming a restaurateur's worst nightmare."
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