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NoDef Nods: Food

2014's Top 10 Trends from Kale to Food Trucks



There is no doubt food is as fundamental to New Orleans culture as jazz or the Saints. There were plenty of food trends to talk about in 2014 from the Great Kale Controversy to the rise of the food trucks. NoDef runs down the year’s top ten culinary cues.

 

1.Kale

Contrary to actress Tara Elders accusations to the Old Grey Lady—“New Orleans is not cosmopolitan. There is no kale here”—kale actually made quite a splash this past year in the Crescent City. The cruciferous vegetable found its way onto many a restaurants menus, including Satsuma Cafe where it can be enjoyed in all its leafy glory as a salad or in a juice. On the other end of the spectrum, it has taken up residence at Emeril’s in the Charred Local Kale Salad with pickled fresno chilis, blue crab, and watermelon radish. In 2014, it seemed that the once under regarded vegetable exploded into a full fledged health movement, and it even garnered such fancy labels as “the world’s healthiest food” or “food of the year”.

 

2. Food Trucks

In 2014, NOLA’s new food truck legislation went into effect. Suddenly, the already popular meals on wheels became ubiquitous. The trucks appeared at parties, concerts, and organized roundups. La Cocinita even made it to CNBC. Oh. The food trucks also just park and sell food—you know, like a food truck. There are now about two dozen food trucks in town; expect that number to keep growing.

 

3. Pop-Ups 2.0 

Social media has done more this year than making Kim Kardashian’s posterior go viral. The medium is also boosting NOLA’s already burgeoning pop-up culture. Milkfish, the godmother of pop-ups, has thrived in their brick and mortar location, providing a location for other startups as well as offering a little inspiration in the form of a success story. McClure’s, Pizza Delicious, and NOLA Smokehouse also speak to the potential for a successful transition.

 

Cocktails have joined the mix. Most prominently, Oxalis’ The Branch have featured Cure, Cane & Table, and Sobou staffer taking guest spots on Sunday nights. Dinnerlab used some of their recent investment funds to add a liquid component to their mix.

 

4. Awards and Exposure

It seems like every day, a different cable television series is shooting a piece on a New Orleans’s restaurant. Crescent City eateries appeared on outlets including Esquire, the Travel Channel, Bravo, CNBC, network, and a host of web series.  

 

The dining options in town also took home some hardware. Donald Link's new seafood spot Peche won the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant. The CBD seafood-focused spot is a partnership between Link, Cochon chef Stephen Stryjewski and chef Ryan Prewitt. For the win, Peche bested fledgling New York City eateries Betony, Carbone and Estela, as well as San Francisco's Coqueta.The excitement came as the restaurant was already riding a wave of success, as Prewitt shared in the win for the Best Chef: South category. Sue Zemanick of Gautreau's and Ivy and the Peche chef split the Best Chef: South category.

 

5.Gluten-Free

According the Mayo Clinic, only one percent of the population actually suffers from Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disease that can only truly be treated by complete abstinence from gluten. Yet, it seems that about half the population is rejecting gluten anyways. Many chefs in New Orleans have been reacting to the dietary limits and creating some classics along the way. Some restaurants like the Irish House have added numerous gluten-free options to their offerings, and others like newcomer Ten Eleven have entire gluten-free menus.  

 

6. Casual Restaurants Helmed by Fine-Dining Chefs

2014 didn’t see the days of the white clothed tables come to an end but formal dining is certainly not growing. Casual restaurants helmed by chefs with fine-dining experience is a growing trend. Maurepas and MoPho are just a couple of establishments eschewing crystal and opting for high quality ingredients with solid technique.

 

7. Quinoa

This was the year everyone learned how to correctly pronounce quinoa (kinwa), and the delicious protein supergrain found its way into several dishes this past year. A lot of local restaurants jumped on the root’s bandwagon, including Baru Bistro & Tapas which features a quinoa salad with seasonal vegetables and kalamata olives. Some local chefs gave quinoa a Creole spin, swapping out the rice in Monday’s Red Beans and Jambalaya for the supergrain. And while Red Beans and Quinoa doesn’t have the same ring to it, it looks like it is here to stay. 

 

8. Molecular Gastronomy

Molecular gastronomy, the tantalizing blend of science and food is starting to hit its stride in New Orleans. The trend has been popular for several years in other parts of the country but we like to take things slow in the Big Easy. We had our first taste with the Chef Philip Lopez’s creations Square Root. Regardless of one’s opinion of the divisive dining destination, there is no debating that ice spheres, foams, and baumés are working there way onto our plates and into our drinks across the city. 

 

 

9. Classic Louisiana Goes Derridean

Deconstruction has been in NOLA for a while, but in 2014, Louisiana cuisine found itself in the crosshairs of the break down. Classic dishes of oysters, red beans and rice, and even gumbo are being deconstructed and molded into a delicious new beginning. The concept first began attracting attention in 2007 with the opening of MiLa. By 2014, essentialized and rearranged variations of classics from pickles to beignets are a staple on menus.Tradition even found itself twisted at Reveillon dinners,with dishes like Restaurant R’evolution’s "Corn and Crab Cappuccino” soup.  

 

10. Specialization 

New Orleans’ is also seeing increased focus in food. Newcomers and veterans with retooled menus are turning away from the eponymous. Chefs are eschewing ambiguous genres like “cajun” and “asian” and instead turning towards specifics like noodles from a particular region or traditional seafood preparations. The result is a wider scope of options delivering a higher level of quality.

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Contributors

Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde

Photographers


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.

Editor


Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

Alexis Manrodt


B. E. Mintz


Stephen Babcock

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