| September 16, 2015 | Food & Drink
As summer draws to a close, and the lazy days of sangria and lobster rolls go along with it, the booming D.C. restaurant scene is showing no signs of letting up. To get the scoop on what diners can expect from their favorite eateries this fall, we speak to 10 local chefs who reveal that the average Washingtonian’s palate has evolved in interesting ways, that diners are willing to experiment with different cuisines more than ever before, and that local produce will dominate the season’s most interesting dishes. Take a look:
“I definitely think food is going in the direction of working with the best products you can get your hands on and most [of those are] local products, because those are always the most tastiest ones. […] I definitely see a big trend [of using local produce in] ethnic restaurants, where there’s Mexican, Greek, Italian, an upcoming Japanese restaurant. And that’s the fun part for us: taking those classic ethnic cuisines and putting local products into them.”
Meredith Tomason, Owner and Pastry Chef at RareSweets
“I am such a fan of Concord grapes and I am excited they are coming into season. They are the perfect mix of tart and sweet and I'm looking forward to incorporating them into our fall desserts at RareSweets. I'm also excited to see them used in some fall cocktails around town.”
Rob Rubba, Chef at the Upcoming Hazel
“I think definitely you’ll be seeing a lot more use of vegetables and less proteins. One reason is that people are much more health conscious, and the cost of proteins in general these days has kind of skyrocketed. So it’s kind of twofold there. As far as vegetables for fall, expect root vegetables. Carrots, beets, celery roots–all locally sourced. Also, darker leafy greens, chicory, cabbages. As far as cooking technique goes, we’ll be doing some unique things [at Hazel]. We’ll treat some vegetables like a meat, BBQ-ing them. We’ll do a head-to-tail root treatment of the vegetable, trying to utilize as much of the vegetable as possible, the leaf, root, and whatever else tastes good.”
Tiffany MacIsaac, Pastry Chef at Buttercream Bakeshop
“I think one of the big trends that I’m kind of thinking will catch on and hoping will catch on is reinventing the holiday classic. For example, last year was the first year I kind of treaded the water in doing non-traditional pies. I wasn’t really sure how it was going to sell. People have their kind of holiday traditions. […] I did pumpkin pie last year, but instead of using regular milk, I did coconut milk and kind of a chai spice flavor. And people really loved it. I sold a ton of them. […] I think there’s a customer base in D.C. that’s gotten a little more accepting of kind of more quirky takes on what they’re used to eating.
I think rather than the generic bakeries and coffee shops popping up, you’ll be seeing a lot more pastry chef-driven bakeries opening up this fall and winter, which I’m super excited about because D.C. definitely needs more of those.”
Michael Costa, Head Chef at Zaytinya
“I think you will see a lot of fermentation this fall. With the proliferation of businesses like Hex Ferments, No1 Sons, and the popularity of kombucha, I see ferments being a huge category. More and more chefs are doing their own fermentation and it is a category that transcends particular ethnic cuisines. We currently ferment our Tursu (Turkish pickles) in house and are working on a new Harissa made from local fish peppers. Fun thing that you learn is that it’s actually harder to stop things from fermenting than to get them to ferment.”
Marjorie Meek-Bradley, Executive Chef at Ripple
“I think that seeds will be really big this fall. So many people are taking superfoods to the next level, and the more we learn about things such as hemp seeds, the more fun it is to incorporate it into restaurant menus. I also think treating veggies like meat will be big this fall. Think whole roasted cabbage or celery root. You get amazing flavor as well as a super soft texture.”
Mark Furstenberg, Owner of Bread Furst Bakery
“I’m very much a traditionalist and I’m anti-trend because I think there are certain enduring themes, particularly in baking. I ignore pretty much all the trends that people think are important. We don't make cupcakes here, for example. Though I’m surprised that cupcakes have continued as long as they have. I find them very unappealing as far as baked goods. We don’t make cronuts. I prefer to spend my time making a consistently good croissant, for example, than invent something.
One of the great pleasures of having a neighborhood bakery, particularly in the fall, is that I have an opportunity to add measurably to the holidays that people celebrate at home. […] We like to do special menus for all these holidays, anything to the extent we can have our foods and breads in people’s homes for the holidays. We’ll have pumpkin bread, both savory and sweet. Pumpkin pastries. Pumpkin spice, as well as your savory pumpkin pastries.”
Danny Wells, Chef and Partner at Republic
I’m really looking forward to game season, and serving some locally raised pheasant in the restaurant. I also love when the humidity drops and the temperatures go down but it’s still comfortable enough to dine al fresco. We’re doing an Outstanding in the Field Farm dinner at the end of September at Even’Star Farms in Lexington Park, Maryland, and I am really looking forward to showcasing all of the season’s best ingredients—eggplants, delicata squash, mushrooms—right in the middle of where they’re grown.
“I think you’re going to see a lot more Filipino food, which I think is perfect for this area. Purple Patch and Bad Saint are opening up, and both are going to be awesome.
I don’t think it’s just Asian food people are interested in. I think it’s just regional food, whether it’s Northern Italian, Ethiopian, Northern Thai, ramen. People are just looking at very specific things and doing them very well. “
Colin King, Head Chef at Oyamel
“The trends we will be seeing are really the ones we have been seeing more and more of over the last few years. As food trends have been focusing more on using ingredients are their peak, we will continue to see the utilization of locally grown foods during their appropriate season. The great thing about chefs and consumers wanting more seasonally appropriate foods is that it is giving us more insight into the different varieties of things we already know about. Going to the market and seeing ten different kinds of apples and five different kinds of pears, being able to learn about their characteristics and flavor profiles, lends them to more specific uses.
This trend is becoming more important to the public as a whole and we are benefiting from it. As money is spent locally, these people can grow more and teach us more. We always get excited about the fall at Oyamel because the types of food being grown are comforting and remind us of what it feels like to eat something that warms you up and makes you feel good. That is until we get sick of it and start looking forward to summer!”
PHOTOGRAPHY VIA SCOTT SUCHMAN (WELLS, TOMASON); SWEET ROOT VILLAGE (MCISAAC); REY LOPEZ (MEEK-BRADLEY); DORI PHAFF (FURSTENBERG); MARISSA BIALECKI (RUBBA); GREG POWERS (ISABELLA); THINKFOODGROUP (COSTA)
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