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Kendall College Staff Predicts Food Trends for 2016

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Perhaps we'll solve the mystery of where the sauce went.

Kendall College's Chris Koetke
Kendall College's Chris Koetke
Kendall College
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

This past year, Chicago's seen plenty of food trends, as chronicled by the friends of Eater. But what about 2016? Kendall College's chef Chris Koetke, the school's vice president of culinary, peered through his crystal ball and shared what he and his staff expect for the coming year.


Koetke agrees with the United Nations, which dubbed 2016 as International Year of the Pulse. That recognizes the nutrient-laden grain for its low cost and flexibility; it could surpass quinoa in popularity. Third World countries like India already understand the grain's potential, Koetke said, as low cost is a key. Koetke also mentioned that at Kendall, students don't just learn how to prepare food, but they also learn the business of being a chef. The bottom line matters: "I really do think this is the year a lot more chefs use pulses."

Millennials and Wine

Relax, no one's going to make disparaging remarks about millennials. Koetke and John Peter Lalganes, Kendall's beverage professor and sommelier, do say that millennials' sense of adventure help the take advantage of a more interesting world of wine where lists include more regions, such as South Africa. And everyone will feel the influence. Lalganes is especially keen on Austrian reds for 2016, as their price points make them consumer friendly: "You'll see a much more user-friendly wine list," Koetke said.

Photography and Plating At Home

In this age of Instagram, barely anyone bats an eye when a diner breaks out a phone to snap a photo of their meal. As long as no one brings their own obnoxious lighting or causes a commotion, Koekte doesn't see any problems. But perhaps diners will see fewer photos in public, as Kendall's chef Elaine Sikorski thinks chefs will focus more on photos and plating at home. Having more control over lighting and flavors, without worrying about annoying neighboring diners, will appeal: "You've created something appealing and interesting and you want to tell a lot more people about your food so you can brag," Koetke said.

Bonus: Where's the sauce?

"Where did the sauce go?" exclaimed Koetke, while describing his biggest pet peeve: The disappearance of sauces from entrees. He said "every bone in his chef's body screams" as he constantly sees plates that would be complimented by some moisture and additional flavor. For example, when he orders roasted salmon, he expects an apple-saffron sauce. Instead, he's served a dry piece of dish. A good sauce takes skill and practice, and Koetke would like this trend of shortcuts to come to an end.