Photo: readysubjects, Flickr
Forget valet parking and a wine list the size of the Empire State Building. The hottest restaurant trend of the year, according to a survey of chefs, is decidedly more down to earth.
More than a third of the nearly 2,000 chefs surveyed by the National Restaurant Association picked kitchen gardens as the top trend of 2010, which dovetails nicely with another of the survey's findings. Chefs were also given a list of more than 200 separate items to rank as "Hot Trend," "Yesterday's News," or "Perennial Favorite." "Locally grown produce" ranked number one on that list, with more than 88 percent of chefs identifying it as a "Hot Trend."
And really, you can't get much more locally grown than plucking lettuce from your restaurant's own back yard.
It would seem like this is one trend where New York would be unable to compete, however. After all, the notion of a restaurant garden conjures up images of some bucolic bistro nestled in the rolling hills of Napa Valley.
But some Big Apple restaurateurs are taking this trend to a whole new level -- literally. The Associated Press highlights one of them, John Mooney, whose West Village eatery Bell Book & Candle is scheduled to open this fall. Mooney has outfitted the roof of his restaurant's building with 60 hydroponic towers, which he says will provide the restaurant with 60 percent of its produce.
So what else is hot, according to the NRA survey? After "locally grown produce," the following trends rounded out the top five: "locally sourced meat and seafood," "sustainability," "bite-sized/mini desserts," and "locally produced wine and beer."
If it seems like there is a general theme there, the same can't be said for the hodge-podge of things that chefs most ranked "Yesterday's News," which included "ostrich/emu," "sea urchin," "pre-blended cocktail mixers," "bottled water," and "boxed wine."