(Bloomberg) –In late August, when Popeyes was selling about 1,000 sandwiches per store per day, it didn’t seem like there were more than three words—“fried chicken sandwich”—in America’s culinary lexicon.
And yet when some of the country’s top food and drink professionals were polled on what they’re most eager to say goodbye to in 2020, that came up only once. No matter how ubiquitous these crunchy, salty sammies are, we’re not tired of them quite yet! (And, let’s be honest, even if every food professional screamed for a moratorium, fried chicken sandwiches aren’t going anywhere in 2020, thanks to McDonald’s Corp.)
Instead, when we asked what leading chefs and bartenders would like to leave behind in 2019, these experts griped about an array of dishes, spirits, products, and people—from Fred Flintstone-size steaks to the Turkish butcher Nusret Gökçe (aka Salt Bae).
We imagine you’ll agree with many of the complaints—but some, such as carbonara, might surprise you. Wish these food pros luck as they endeavor to change the conversation in the new year.
Here they are, the Worst Food and Drink Trends From 2019, from the mouths of chefs and bartenders:
Played-Out Ingredient Trends
“Time to say goodbye to cauliflower [pizza] crusts. They’re not really tasty, and the texture is awfully chewy. Farewell to everything açaí: It’s usually put together in a mediocre way, and it’s so overpriced. Bye to activated charcoal—contrary to popular belief, it’s counterproductive for our digestion. Goodbye to truffle oils. The majority are imitations and made with bad chemicals.”
—Gabriel Kreuther, owner and chef at Gabriel Kreuther in New York
“I’d love to see the grain bowl trend take a back seat for 2020. Nothing against the dish itself, but it’s gotten to the point that I see them in restaurants where it doesn’t even make sense. Like, if you post up at the raw bar, there should’t have to be a grain bowl option on the menu just to check that box.”
—AJ Walker, chef at Café Cancale in Chicago
“I want to say bye to high-carb and high-dairy-focused diets and diets that rely on red meat. They’re too heavy and high in fat and cholesterol. More plant-based foods, more dishes that are high in omega-3s. They’re better for digestion, and everyone will thank me.”
—Sung Park, chef at Ivy Lane in New York
“I’m most looking forward to the end of the trend of cave man-size cuts of meat. Those large cuts are not environmentally friendly, not healthy, and just wasteful.”
—Justin Houghtaling, chef de cuisine at Amity & Commerce in the Mandarin Oriental in Washington, D.C.
“See you later, Salt Bae. Because unless you’re in the middle of the Sahara Desert, there’s no reason to wear sunglasses while you’re salting your meat.”
—Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York
“Poke and fried chicken sandwiches. Chicken sandwiches have become marketing strategies for Popeyes and Chick-fil-A. Poke in Hawaii is amazing, because they have very fresh tuna from local fisherman. Most of poke anywhere else is frozen, precut tuna or low-quality fish.”
—Manabu Horiuchi, chef at Kata Robata in Houston
“I want to see weird versions of carbonara disappear. I want chicken liver toasts with fruit compotes to stop. Steak tartare variations could kindly show themselves out. Little gems salads. We get it.”
—Brian Bornemann, executive chef at Michael’s Santa Monica in Santa Monica, Calif.
“I’d like to see the trend of microgreens go away, especially cilantro. Dumping a pile of microgreens on a dish doesn’t improve it. It’s time to move on.”
—John DePierro, chef at the Banty Rooster in New York
“I’m thinking that dishes like crudo and ceviche won’t be so frequently eaten in 2020. I also think that overdone plating and single-ingredient layering will stay behind, for example, using a carrot seven different ways, exaggerated use of a technique, and overdone, showy plating.”
—Matt Danko, executive chef at City Mouse in Ace Hotel Chicago
“I think dessert-wise, microwave sponge cakes have got to go. They look pretty but taste like nothing. In regards to savory food, I loathe the ‘impossible’ line of plant-based meat substitutes. As a vegetarian, I don’t want a veggie burger that tastes like a cow. That’s why I’m a vegetarian.”
—Nicole Guini, pastry chef at Blackbird in Chicago
“I’m hoping the plants-hanging-from-the-ceiling design is on its way out. It’s overdone, and it feels odd to sit underneath plants while you’re eating dinner.”
—Neal Fraser, chef and owner at Redbird in Los Angeles
The Stuff We Can All Agree On
“I would love to see CBD-infused everything be left behind in 2019. I am on board with CBD supplements, pills, oils, etc., when it’s part of a daily regimen, but not so much when it’s a hyped-up ingredient in a cocktail.”
—Peter Lipson, chef at La Ventura in New York
“Food halls. A huge component of dining is the ambience and experience, and food halls don’t do justice to that. Instead, diners are subject to this homogeneous dining atmosphere. I totally understand the need for quick, quality food on the go. But you don’t get the full, 360 immersive touches of a traditional restaurant and its heart and soul.”
—Erika Chan, executive pastry chef at the Publican in Chicago
“Sad to say, but the phrase ‘farm to table’ has lost its meaning. It’s time for a new term to emerge about why we care where our food comes from. Also, time for the end of reclaimed wood as restaurant furniture—you don’t know where it’s really been. And enough with denim aprons and uniforms.”
—Eric Arill, chef at Doi Moi in Washington, D.C.
“I’m excited to see the whole snout-to-tail concept fade away in 2020. I think it’s a bit presumptuous to think that diners will eat certain parts of an animal.”
—Nick Accardi, owner and chef at Tavolino in New York
“2020 will be the year we’ll say goodbye to food preferences sold as allergies. Hopefully, to meals sent out ‘as ready’ with no thought to appropriate coursing as well. Also foresee less cannabis tasting menus in the coming year.”
—Lincoln Carson, owner and chef at Bon Temps in Los Angeles
“A trend that should stay behind in 2019 is food created solely for Instagram. While I love beautiful photos of food, social media has pushed people to value the look of a dish over the taste and quality.”
—Todd Mitgang, executive chef at TacoVision in New York