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Six experts tell us the biggest food trends of 2017 in NYC

Written by
Alyson Penn

We asked experts to digest some of the year’s biggest citywide food trends. How did we move from pop-up trends of cupcakes and Cronuts to the nonstop sugar rush we have now? Why is Asian food so much more specific than it once was? When did fusion get great? What’s the global story of New York? And why does luxury look so different now? It's time to let their wisdom marinate.

Dale Talde on smart fusion

Chef and restaurateur, Rice & Gold

Photograph: Courtesy Dale Talde

“Fusion always had a bad rap because it was Francophiles with Asian fetishes calling something Asian because they put yuzu in beurre blanc. Thanks, asshole. Wasabi mashed potatoes? Go fuck yourself. If you see that on a menu, run. Now it’s real. Now it’s us. Is it authentic? No, shithead, this is not my grandmother’s recipe for ube ice cream or kung pao chicken wings. But I’m Filipino, from Chicago, and this is authentic to me, David Chang, Eddie Huang. It’s authentic to all of us. It’s not Asian. It’s Asian-American.”

Kristen Tomlan on desserts’ renaissance

Founding CEO, 

Photograph: Courtesy DŌ

“There’s been a lot of rainbow this and unicorn that and fun throwbacks to childhood. We’ve seen a huge success because of the nostalgia of cookie dough and digging into that emotional connection. Desserts make people happy. Unlike with fine dining, you can walk into a dessert place at any time, and it’s less of a time and financial commitment. You can really have fun with it.”

Jake Dell on mom-and-pop expansions

Fifth-generation restaurateur, Katz’s

Photograph: Courtesy Katz's Delicatessen

“I love when a place opens and people say, ‘It’s just as good as Katz’s.’ It’s still the gold standard. I think family and business are like PB&J. It just works. It’s the difference between essential and quintessential. New York is filled with families. Russ & Daughters is like our sister. But, look: Our DeKalb Market expansion isn’t called Katz’s because it’s not Katz’s. It’s a taste of Katz’s—our online, our catering; it’s mini me. But we’ll always make you want to come home. That’s how family works. Why would family business be any different?”

Marcus Samuelsson on local spots going global

Chef and restaurateur, Red Rooster

Photograph: Courtesy Red Rooster

“If all I cared about was branding, I would’ve called it ‘Brooklyn Rooster.’ But I value hide-and-seek side streets—Bay Ridge over Williamsburg. Stockholm is more Brooklyn than Brooklyn now. I grew up in a mixed family, all over the world, and look where I’m opening: Harlem, East London, Newark. [They foster] cultures of craftsmanship where that story is very real. It’s not expansion to Dubai and Hong Kong. I don’t care about being in [Miami’s] South Beach right now. Harlem isn’t just Sylvia’s. It’s Patsy’s Pizzeria and Rao’s and Puerto Rican spots. Do you know there’s a TGI Friday’s in Stockholm? And I’m glad for its chaos, because it shows the world American is more than McDonald’s and Starbucks.”

Simone Tong on the Asian-niche boom

Chef and owner, Little Tong Noodle Shop

Photograph: Courtesy Little Tong Noodle Shop

“In the older generations, perhaps they needed to feed their families, so they opened their restaurants because it was all they knew. Now, there’s a passion for hospitality and to introduce different flavors from all around China that they think will be successful in New York. DaDong and Guan Fu Sichuan opening have been very exciting. There’s also been a boom in casual Korean, like Cote for barbecue, and great Indian like Babu Ji.”

Mina Newman on luxury dining

Executive chef, Sen Sakana

Photograph: Courtesy Sen Sakana

“The markets are doing better, so there’s more money around, and the consumer is much more educated about what they want. The fancy restaurants in midtown used to be the great French restaurants from the old French guys. Le Bernardin is still there, still great, still expensive. Now you have Empellón, which is wonderful, but it’s a Mexican restaurant. So, now people are looking for the best of whatever [cuisine] we can find.”

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