by Jamie Drummond and Malcolm Jolley

Cavalo nero sprouting through the snow

Cavolo nero and leeks, Christmas Day 2009, Wales. Photo: Malcolm Jolley

What will happen gastronomically in 2010? Hard to say, but it seems very likely that interest will continue to grow in the farm-to-fork movement, both at the retail and restaurant levels. While we can’t be certain in our trend predictions, we can be pretty sure about what we’re covering in the coming months. Many of the news stories that we’re allocating resources to have to do with distribution: bringing the boutique locavore experience (or something like it) to a greater audience. In particular, Cole Snell’s About Cheese/Provincial Fine Foods which is just beginning to bring properly made Quebec and Ontario cheeses to GTA supermarkets and Ontario’s Own a company trying make everyday products like soups and pasta sauces from exclusively local ingredients. If the last five years have been mostly about getting the production of artisanal foods on line, then it stands to reason that much of the next few years will be about getting those products to more and bigger markets. On the wine front, as Ontario producers and consumers become more and more sophisticated, it seems likely that quality will continue to improve and more and more attention will be paid to regional signature varietals like Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. Distribution will continue to be a big issue in wine as well, since sophisticated consumers will increasingly look for ways to get around the LCBO’s dual monopolies on retail sales and warehousing – look for more wine clubs and innovative internet options.

But what do we know? We asked the panel below what they thought would be the most significant gastronomic story of 2010, and a few of them what they they thought would surprise us in the coming year. Here are their answers.

Amy Rosen, Food Writer, National Nosh
Everyone will make everything themselves. From the Black Hoof (and Black Hoof Café) to Reds in Toronto and Campagnolo in Vancouver, the curing process has gone whole hog and in-house. Restaurants used to buy the best local product, but now that’s not even good enough. In 2010 more will strive to make their own charcuterie, cheeses, breads, pickles and preserves. From raising their own animals to having farmers plant custom seeds for them, it’s all going artisanal. In a word: Yum.

John Szabo, Master Sommelier
Big trends for 2010? I’ll let you know as soon as I do. I suspect the “value” wine category that everyone has been pumping over the last year will be expanded to include higher priced wines. Let’s be realistic: serious, regular drinkers get tired of the same flavours over and over. I predict they’ll once again get out of the safety (fu)z(i)one and into wines of real personality and distinctiveness. And what will be the most surprising food / wine trend of 2010? Kékfrankos will become the new darling variety of cutting edge sommeliers…

Corey Mintz, Food Writer, Toronto Star
One legitimate trend I see for 2010, and by trend I mean cultural shift and not fad, is getting to know your butcher.  This can mean knowing someone by name who might special order you duck legs or give you bones for free, as well as answer your questions.  I’ve seen this happen between the residents of my neighbourhood and Sanagan’s Meat Locker.  I hope it is happening in Rosedale with the more upscale Olliffe.  [It is, it is – Ed.] It’s an amazing connection to have.

Nicholas Pashley, Author of Notes From a Beer Mat
he most surprising event or trend of 2010 will be that Molson and Labatt will both launch health-food beers made with flaxseed, ginkgo, and soybeans. The most significant event will be that, shocked by the hostile response to these beers, both companies will announce that they are tired of being outbrewed by guys operating out of crummy industrial parks in Etobicoke and they are hereby leaving the beer business altogether and going into car manufacture, where they might at least get government handouts.

Dana McCauley, Editor, Topline Trends /
While farm to table will continue to be persuasive in 2010, I see it melding with a return to luxe dining. Banker’s bonuses are predicted to be bigger than ever this year and that bodes well for fine dining restaurants. It also means higher end wines, rare and special ingredients such as chanterelles and specialty produce and pedigreed meats will fetch good prices on menus. While I don’t see the $40 entree returning in 2010, prices for specials will edge up and allow restaurateurs to anticipate those prices for 2011. Likewise, consumer purchases of pricey items such as stand mixers, pasta makers and fancy canning equipment will be strong as these once again affluent people empty their cash onto retail counters so that they can bring the farm to table/slow food experience home with style.

Billy Munnely, Billy’s Best Bottles
LCBO folds. David Mirvish opens Ontario’s first dollar wine store. Also, my second annual Men in Pink Luncheon and 64 Ways to Drink Wine, a new book by Billy Munnely. (Could be upstaged by the privatisation of the LCBO, though.)

Matt Galloway, Host, Here & Now, CBC Radio 1 99.1 FM
My crystal ball is notoriously fickle, but I’d like to hope that the financial nightmare we’ve all lived through has reminded us of the importance of actually knowing how to cook for ourselves. Cookbooks you can actually cook from… grocery stores that proactively stock local food… backyard gardening made cool again… Sign me up.

George Gurnon, Owner, Pastis Express
Small plates will continue to flourish and prices will stay affordable: around the $100 mark for two.

Sacha Douglas, Coupe Space Proprietor-turned-Bobcaygeonite
I hope that the next big trend in the Toronto area will be a move towards over-the-top Middle-America versions of classic comfort food at reasonable prices (still using honest ingredients and made with love), instead of more ‘delicate’ interpretations like mini-hot dogs and $40 gourmet burgers. After all, where would the über-annoying Guy Fieri visit if he were to feature us on ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’? Sometimes you just want a big honkin’ burger without the truffle aïoli. I also think there will be more chefs as farmers. It’s already a budding trend in city restaurants (rooftop and parking lot gardens), I foresee more chefs buying plots of land in the country (Kawarthas, PEC, Stratford, Niagara) to personally farm for their establishments- with many ending up opening small restaurants out of the city.

Joshna Maharaj, Chef, ROM Food Studio
My prediction (or, at least, wish) for 2010 is for the momentum created from having food on our collective lips for most of ’09 will carry us into a year where people get back into the kitchen. 2010 could be the year people start cooking again! The simple comfort of the satisfaction of cooking something delicious might be just what we all need as the first decade of the new millennium rounds the bend.

Anthony Walsh, Corporate Executive Chef/Partner, Oliver and Bonacini Restaurants
Watch for restaurants going home. I mean catering and full meal replacement. It’s all about initiatives to keep the head above water, making what we do realistically more accessible to more people, to drive the business creatively with some shred of decency.

Charles Grieco, Chair and President, Ontario Hostelry Institute
First, will the use of local foodstuffs continue, grow and expand, or will the challenge of both the real and the perceived higher costs prevent this from happening? Secondly, will this be the year we stop importing cuisines and settle down to developing and inventing our own?