He Said, She Said: Nobody Asked Me, But…

ICE’s Culinary Management Instructors are seasoned industry professionals who are still active in the industry and working on their own projects while teaching classes at ICE. Here on DICED, two of our Instructors, Julia Heyer and Vin McCann, have regularly been looking at topics and trends in the industry, shedding light on some complicated issues and sharing their in-depth expertise. This week, Julia and Vin are taking off the gloves and putting their own spin on things to watch for 2012 — without holding anything back.

Vin McCann: Julia, let’s kick the New Year off on the right foot, or at least the foot a good portion of the blogosphere kicks off on. Like every columnist, blogger, and expert, let’s address trends for 2012… On second thought, forget that! How about a page out of the Jimmy Cannon book of tricks; “Nobody asked me, but…” Nobody asked me, but the term “foodie’, descriptive of virtually everything and nothing needs to go the way of the pet rock. N.A.M.B. can the cutting edge, self-appointed experts in the industry please stop trying so hard to create new trends. I don’t need flowers frozen into the ice cubes floating in my drink, or some arcane atomized substance posing as a cocktail.

N.A.M.B. trend identifiers ought to have to put their money where their mouths are when they prognosticate about the future, or, at the very least, publicly own up to their lifetime accuracy percentage. Roulette wheels have more predictable outcomes than restaurant “trend” predictions. N.A.M.B. sooner or later there has to be an end to the discovery of new, exciting, hitherto unknown vegetables. N.A.M.B. the endless expert pontificating about the nutritional value of foods is really sapping the fun from food and beverage. Let’s face it — none of us are going to live forever, and 50 is not, nor will it ever be the new 30. N.A.M.B. does anybody really believe that in a list of “101 best restaurants” that the author can objectively qualify the difference between number 68 and number 69, or even 89 for that matter?

Julia Heyer: Vin, wow. You seem to have missed my sunny disposition. Let me start by asking you, did your sense of humor drown over New Years? Perhaps eggnog prepared by a “foodie”? May I recommend a bottle of fancy champagne and maybe some scorzonera stew to brighten the mood? It’s a new year, a reset button, and you did ask me, so… I love flower petals frozen in my ice cube — they’re pretty and playful! Though I do wonder about their nutritional value. More in the sense of whether they are edible or pesticide sprayed. The caloric value will at least be of no consequence. Y.D.A.M. about ‘new’ trends. Nobody besides Ferran Adria has invented anything new in the past 25 years. There is nothing new, just a lot of repackaging. We’ve come back to the idea that food is similar to fashion, which is fine by me as long as it is tasty, playful, possibly pretty and doesn’t take itself too seriously (and no, shoulder pads should NOT come back). Y.D.A.M., so have you looked at some of the “experts” talking about trends? Saying one is an expert these days clearly doesn’t make everyone qualified (yes, I am aware that I’m sitting in a glass house, so I should be throwing marshmallows only).

As with everything else it is always useful to look a bit deeper and see if they have an agenda and what their motives may be. Y.D.A.M. about “foodies.” Please don’t sour my mood. Pet rock status is too kind a status for us to lay on that ridiculous word. At least six feet under a rock is the place for that term. Y.D.A.M., and I fully agree with you on the silly vegetable front. Just like your BFF, the “mixologist”, these tend to be PR and marketing generated terms. It’s not like the farmers got together last fall and picked the most random obscure vegetable to grow this season (although I’d prefer that). It’s the food editors and PR firms that need to fill pages and they pick a target. Then chefs are asked for recipes and the next thing you know there are specialty dishes, publicity and a plethora of Google hits for previously little-known plants. What’ll it be this year? Escarole? More varieties of radishes? Or even possibly scorzonera?

Vin’s Last Thought: N.A.M.B. we may just be the only species on the planet who are incapable of saying enough when it comes to food consumption. Enough already. But I do have one prediction… shoulder pads are coming back!  

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