Sic transit food trucks, and whither meatballs, thence quinoa. Nothing fades faster than a food fad. Wanting to seize the moment in menus, we asked five intrepid chefs (and one bartender) to name a dining trend for the year ahead, then concoct a dish that exemplifies the next big thing.

Savory Desserts

Joe Cassinelli | Painted Burro + Posto
Sundae of sweet corn gelato, chipotle Mexican chocolate and coconut-and-avocado ice cream, with Mezcal-soaked cherries, canella-glazed cashews, spiced pumpkin seeds and house-made fluff

“People are getting away from sugary-sweet stuff in dessert,” says Cassinelli, who operates his Mexican eatery alongside his acclaimed Italian one. “Chefs are using less sugar because it masks the nuances of the fruit. You want to taste natural flavors and textures.” Hence his reliance on sweet corn, coconut and avocado for creaminess, with nips of spice from Mexican chocolate, canella and Mezcal. “We’re playing with items usually associated with being sweet,” he says. “Like sangria popsicles. It’s trying to use foods that aren’t normally thought of as being in desserts.” In the same spirit, Posto serves a rosemary polenta cake with olive oil–scented ice cream. Adds Cassinelli, “I don’t order crème brûlée or molten-chocolate cake.”


Health

Leah Dubois | Local 149
Raw vegan pad thai

A believer that diet and vitality are inseparable, Dubois invented this dish as a comfort food and healthy takeout meal. “It’s the anti–Red Bull, hamburger thing,” says Dubois. “Doing it raw, vegan and healthy, so you can rejuvenate yourself through nutrition.” The dish combines young Thai coconut noodles, daikon, carrots, cilantro, pea shoots and jalapeño, with the traditional shrimp being replaced by whole jumbo cashews. “They’re the same shape and offer the same protein.” Tossed with coconut foam, warm spices and garlic, “it contributes to energy levels and well-being.” Such benefits are much on the minds of consumers who’re increasingly gluten or dairy intolerant, or who spurn the sallow deflation of a calorie hangover. “I believe in eating for beauty,” says Dubois.

 

New Grains

Matthew Gaudet | West Bridge
Venison with freekeh, mastic cream, Worcestershire and golden-raisin puree and Strega-infused radishes

A dish grounded in the idea that spelt and farro are almost too conventional, the centerpiece venison highlights a complementary trend of nonindustrial meats. “Everything starts new but ends up everyday,” says Gaudet. “Freekeh’s got that fresh, nutty taste, and it pairs well with gamier meats. It’s super high in protein, calcium, magnesium.” Mastic cream lends an edge of pine resin, while the radishes have a peppery bite, cut by the herbal notes from the Strega. “It’s an array of flavors,” says Gaudet. “Pretty rare meat with a bit of chew, piney cream, bitter salad and nutty grain.”


Blur Between Bar and Kitchen

Rachel Klein | Asana
Terrine of foie gras with rosewater and pistachio beignets, black stout reduction and crystallized rose petals

Beer pairings are nothing new, but Klein sees a closer union between kitchen and bar. “Things are crossing over where beverage programs are using items usually associated with cooking, and the other way around,” she says. Her seared foie gras terrine (“With the whole banning on the West Coast, I see a lot of people seeking out foie gras”) is served with rosewater and pistachio beignets. “They give it kind of a carny feel,” she says with a laugh. “And the beer’s hops have that rose undertone,” a concept spurred by a childhood memory of sniffing the air near a brewery and thinking of flowers. “The dark stout reduction plays well with the rosewater.”



Highballs

Jackson Cannon | The Hawthorne
Phil Collins

In today’s tide of serious cocktails, a sense of fun is sometimes lost in the undertow. “A lot of craft cocktails are served in a coupe glass if they’re a sour and served austerely down if they’re positioned masculinely,” says Cannon. “Now what I’m seeing is attention in bringing the same level of craft construction to highballs. In this climate of semi-super-seriousness, they can be more fun and approachable.” Cannon’s answer is a cousin of the Tom Collins, made of cucumber-infused vodka, yellow Chartreuse, a dash of local cranberry bitters and, of course, soda. “You end up with this long drink, with an effervescence that’s unlocked from the shaking. You have these likeable, sweet, sour and floral qualities.” Served with
       a metal straw, it’s approachable but refined. “It’s not rocket
       science,” admits Cannon. “But there are principles.”



Responsible Sourcing, 2.0

Jeff Fournier | 51 Lincoln + Waban Kitchen
Local fluke with peekytoe crab and sweet pea risotto

Since yellowtail flounder is now considered off-limits for responsible chefs, Fournier found an alternate in Massachusetts fluke. Pairing it with peekytoe crab (“It’s rock crab from southern Maine. A few years ago the industry started calling them peekytoe”), dressed with crème fraîche and leaves of celery heart, the dish is grounded in a risotto cooked with onion, butter, Parmesan and peas from Brookline’s Allandale Farm. “There’s a lot going on in terms of waking up your palate.” Carrots from the farm are prepared in two ways: in a silky puree and diced to give the plate texture. “We’re getting stuff from the region in season,” says Fournier. But the next step in the responsible sourcing movement is influenced by the fact that the public now knows that farm-to-table may not always mean the best flavor. “In November, there’s only so much product you can get from here.” The trick is opting for what’s fresh when possible, and making careful choices.