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The Next Comfort Food Trend?

Right now...Hamburger joints are the new comfort trends among chefs. Everybody from Michel Richard, Alain Ducasse, and Thomas Keller are opening up burger joints. So what comfort food or junk food do you think will be "next food"...the thing that top chefs will gravitate to? Hot Dogs? Philly Cheesesteaks? Soups? Gourmet Fried Chicken? Gyros? Tacos? Meatloaf? What will be the next/new comfort food trend that everybody will start gravitating towards? Thanks.

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  1. Bierocks :)
    Cabbage will be the new letttuce.

    1. I dunno. Sheep's stomach stuffed with oatmeal and foie gras. and flaked with gold? BTW, "comfort food" isusually is used to refer to traditional stuff like meatloaf, roast chicken, pot roast, macaroni and cheese, and the like. That is, it's untrendy.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mpalmer6c

        Except what would call the mac and cheese with mix ins (bacon, lobster, etc.) and those made with non-traditional cheese that have popped up on menus everywhere? Still comfort food, but also trendy in the way that it is prepared.

      2. Hard to tell... I do like the present menu-fad of sliders everywhere you go. I can hardly ever finish an entire hamburger at one sitting, but hey, a freezer full of really good sliders to nuke-n-nibble at will, and I'm there!

        I can tell you where I hope it will go. Tamales! I know. I know. Bobby Flay has done them to death. BUT! He has never (that I know of) done the really really good ones! When I was a kid, a couple of friend's moms were from southern Mexico, and both of them made the great big fat huge tamales that were wrapped in traditional corn husks, then tied shut with corn husk "string" at both ends. They were HUGE! Depending on the corn husks, at least five inches long and three inches in diameter. Some were bigger. They were filled with a thin shell of traditional masa, then inside was this fantastic mixture of pork, chile con carne, fresh corn, black olives, green olives, chiles, potatoes. One was a full meal! There was a commercial preparation that was similar called "XLN-T" tamales. Like all super-market prepared food, they were good, but nothing close to home made.

        I wish those would be the next ubiquitous comfort food. Boy, would I be comfortable!!!

        1 Reply
        1. I'm thinking you hit it with meatloaf. a natural progression from burgers. meatloaf, and even more so perhaps, meatloaf sandwiches. maybe open faced with mashed and gravy?

          5 Replies
          1. re: KaimukiMan

            Already there - I had a fantastic Kobe beef meat loaf a couple of weeks ago at Pops in Boston, accompanied by creamy mashed potatoes and sweet roasted carrots.

            1. re: BobB

              Yep, meatloaf is all over the place in NYC and has been for a few years.

              Wow, Kobe beef meatloaf, though... I'm not sure whether to be scandalized that such good meat is being cooked to death or drool because I'm sure it was pretty darn delicious.

              1. re: cimui

                I had the same double reaction, but decided to try it and wow, was it good! They make small individual loaves and bake them in a very hot oven to order, which maximizes the amount of the crispy outer layer.

                1. re: BobB

                  alright, the drool wins. a small pool has formed at my feet.

                2. re: cimui

                  I'm ready for artisan meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

            2. I'll go with variations on the grilled cheese (and perhaps some form of "tomato soup") ... and milkshakes.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jasminetea

                Milkshakes? I like the idea. Where are you seeing a proliferation of milkshakes?

              2. How about a crockpot inspired restaurant?

                1 Reply
                1. re: southernitalian

                  I like that! Chefs could even compete to see who can be the most creative.

                2. Great Question

                  I think it may not be a dish so much, as we see regular restaurants try to democratize molecular gastronomy. I'm surprised there hasn't been a MiniBar-esque Tapas and Wine Bar (with tart yogurt or cupcakes for dessert, lol)

                  NW DC could use a really good wing place though, as opposed to a bar that happens to serve cheap wings.

                  I'd really like to see Chicken Fried Steak (Chicken and Bacon as well) make it's way onto menus again.

                  1. The meatball sandwich.

                    Endless variations on the meat used, size of the meatballs, filler, bread, sauce and cheese.

                    I once had a Greek lamb-meatball sandwich in thick pita with cubed feta and tzatziki.

                    1. I suppose it depends on what part of the country (meaning USA) you are in, because a lot of things mentioned are already are being featured as "trendy, new" comfort foods here in Houston. A lot of the newer places with young chefs have buffalo, or other meatloafs with hunter sauce, or other creative concoctions. As far as chicken fried steak goes, it has never been out of favor around here. One place even has chicken fried venison, which I haven't tried, but sure would like to. And Macaroni and Cheese has made a big come back, with some interesting twists. It is getting interesting to see how menus are changing practically on a monthly basis.

                      1. I never understood the burger thing since I never knew it was missing....

                        next up? I'm thinking maybe a resurgence of some turkey-gravy-stuffing meals (open-faced sandwhich; "thanksgiving" on bread; classic turkey-day dinner)...

                        possible ethnic comfort foods: pierogies/dumplings, or some high-end plays on classic Jewish-Eastern European (potato, kasha, vegetable, sweet noodle).. is it a pudding? a casserole? a baked side dish? does it go gourmet with a protein added to become a main course or app?

                        1. How about "nuken cuchen" - everything prepared from scratch in a microwave? Or is there, or was there, already such an establishment?

                          Taking this deeper into the comfort zone, some enterprizer could do something with frozen or canned victuals.

                          1. Not sure that top chefs will gravitate to these predictions, but they are my guesses at what we'll see more of in the near future.

                            Cookies will replace the cupcake
                            Bubble Tea will replace the smoothie
                            Crepes will be the next quick service/mobile trend
                            Pie will have a resurgence
                            Breakfast for dinner
                            Blue Plate Specials make a comeback on menus

                            Casseroles, Meatloaf, Mac-n-Cheese, Roasted or Fried Chicken, Grilled Cheese/Soup...nothing's more comforting than those, just like Mom used to make! I'd gladly welcome any of those as the next food trend.

                            1. on second thought.... varied nut butters/jams-or-preserves/artisan breads... this could be sweet or savory prep... PBJ goes uptown

                              1. Casseroles. I would love to see great chefs' takes on tuna casserole, chicken tetrazzini, chicken and rice casseroles, Mexican casserole...

                                I think warm specialty cocktails will follow on the heels of their cold counterparts and become trendy this winter. Hmm, actually, with this economy maybe not...

                                Agree with cookies replacing cupcakes as the baked good du jour.

                                1. another post jogged my memory: will somebody please bring back the Automat? I've never eaten at one and I'd really like to!

                                  i'd love to see more places doing really good biscuits & gravy and cassoulet. i predict that boudin noir and grits are going to go (more) haute, dandelion green are going to go to the masses (outside of Appalachia), and scrapple is going to make it out of PA in a major way. i'd be tickled pink to see what the big name chefs can do to sexy up the common bowl of porridge, but they probably won't try.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: cimui

                                    Plate lunches at $49.99 paired with wine using all organic ingredients.

                                    1. re: cimui

                                      Automats! I am so in for this idea! I wonder if the food is any good?

                                    2. If there's any justice in the world, it'll be one of the following:

                                      philly cheesesteaks
                                      hearty soups

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Sammiches

                                        Hearty soups already seem to be a making a strong comeback in my neighbourhood. It is a very welcome trend, it makes for a nice lunch.

                                      2. Not necessarily a food item trend per se, but as the economy continues to tank I think you're going to see more and more high ticket items dropping off of menus and replaced with items that have lower raw food costs and are more economical to produce (i.e. not labor intensive) so that restaurants can stay in business.

                                        So less and less lobster or truffle mac 'n' cheese but more straightforward mac 'n' cheese that may or may not have add-ins and multiple cheeses.

                                        Vegetarian dishes will expand and become more complex as people eat less meat, restaurants play with locally grown produce and people try their had at growing some of their own veggies. Vegan and raw food may continue to gain popularity.

                                        Peruvian food may gather some steam especially with respect to some of the causa (potato based) dishes and noodle and stir-fry dishes that have evolved out of the Chinese immigration to Peru (Chifa food). In other words, the starch based foods from Peru

                                        In fact, the whole Pan-Latin segment may blossom. Ingredients are getting easier to find and are selling at reasonable prices. Many of the cooking methods from Mexico, Central & South America lend themselves to making good, deeply flavorful, food out of inexpensive food. (And since many of these recipes don't require a lot of labor, it means restaurants might not need as many people in the kitchen). Restaurant chef will take these recipes and ingredients and tweak them enough for restaurant service without substantially changing the nature or the soul of the dish.

                                        Upscale, cafeteria-style places where creative salads are made to order as you move down the line telling the server what you want, or you simply select one of the "signature" salads from a pre-set menu and the server makes it right before your eyes. I've been to two separate operations like this in the last 6 months. Both were great but very different from the other in how they executed the concept.

                                        Comfort food is what we turn to when we need a sense of safety in a chaotic world, and boy is the world ever chaotic today! Since the issue is financial melt down and financial security, whatever comfort food trends emerge, they will be economical, a good value for the money spent if eating in a restaurant, or easy on the pocketbook for the home cook. They need to taste good and satisfy an innate and instinctual need for safety or to feel safe in the environment. This was a great question because fundamental change is afoot. What we eat will probably change pretty dramatically over the next few years and what we've thought of as comfort food may turn out to be something totally different in the future. For me, however, it will always have to be carb-based :-)

                                        1. I had chicken hash the other night, just tender shredded chicken in a savory brownish sauce/gravy served over rice, however it would be good on toast, mashed potatoes, biscuits, puff pastry, etc.

                                          1. How about more restaurants specializing in breakfast for dinner?

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: southernitalian

                                              I would *definitely* go. Mmm, waffles.

                                              1. re: SeaSide Tomato

                                                I'm thinking pot pies, you can turn almost any protein into something heavenly with a flaky crust. I've made vegetarian ones too and they are great.

                                              2. Gnocchi...it's wonderful if done right. Tender, can be sauced with anything, mmmmm!!

                                                1. Chicken and homemade noodles over mashed potatoes. That's my favorite comfort food ever, my grandma makes the best, but I wouldn't mind seeing it in restaurants, either.

                                                  1. Bierocks have always been a comfort food in our house!!!!

                                                    1. well, its been a bit over a year now, and what i have seen begin to emerge is mac & cheese. am i alone in that observation?

                                                      1. Something inexpensive, like soup or eggs? Good question.