By John Carruthers
Between new restaurant openings and closings, Instagram brunch porn, and the constant yammer of Twitter, it can be overwhelming to keep up with the newest developments in the cooking and dining world. By the time you’ve figured out what things are cool for 2016 and pretended to like them, it’s time to move on to the HOT NEW STUFF those terrible Millennials like. Don’t worry – we’re here for you. Here’s a list of what will be incessantly popping up in your Facebook feed soon enough:
Food Network’s Culinary Guantanamo!
“Shouldn’t have burned the garlic, man.”
Our relentless thirst for cooking competitions with inexplicable challenges will reach its apex in the new year. Hopeful young chefs from across the country will show up to compete on what they think is Chopped. But no! They’re stuck on this season’s most INTENSE new competition, with a chance at political asylum and $5,000 furnished by Slim Jim. Bound in a stress position and kept sleepless for 79 hours, can these hotshot hopefuls tell Rocco DiSpirito where the detonators are hidden before the Brussels sprouts burn? Sure, he talks a big game, but can the chef/owner of Portland’s hottest new off-cuts butcher shop and cafe make a perfect buerre blanc while a member of Delta Force hits him in the testicles with an extension cord? Find out Tuesdays at 9. Only on Food Network.
Leinenkugel Taste the Rainbow Shandy
The good folks at Miller’s Chippewa Falls subsidiary have really made a thing out of year-round fruit-forward beer. Winter time? Not a problem – they invented a cocoa shandy, which is a combination of words scientifically engineered to make beer enthusiasts smell burnt toast. This year they ditch all pretense and just start melting Skittles directly into the batches. In response, BeerAdvocate will douse itself in gasoline and light itself on fire like that monk in the famous picture.
You nose-to-tail people have ruined all my favorite cheap eating cuts. First you made brisket expensive. Then you started buying up all the hanger steak and pork belly. I predict that this year, you’ll finally move on to the cannery-grade cuts I don’t enjoy. So why not a racquetball-tough piece of shoulder too crappy to be called “chuck”? All it takes is one chef with knuckle tattoos in a mid-sized city to cook it up with whatever vegetable is in season, throw in some expensive chiles, and talk about the “integrity of the ingredient.” Then suddenly everyone’s talking about pork taint or lamb ankle like they were all about it from the start. “It’s more unctuous,” they’ll say “the nine hours it takes to break down the collagen and connective tissues results in a more robust pork taint product.” You can keep your spareribs, casuals!
Gwyneth Paltrow’s No, Really, I’m Like This All the Time
Are you worried you might not be spending enough of your paycheck at Whole Foods? Do you still believe in the need to “detox,” despite having a functioning liver and kidneys? Does it worry you that you might be sharing a zip code with people who eat hot dogs? Not to worry – Paltrow’s third mildly hectoring lifestyle book will give you foolproof recipes for everything from Kale Loaf to Gluten-Free Lavender Pasta to Rosemary-Inflused Air. Remember, perfect looks and a healthy lifestyle just takes determination, positivity, millions of dollars, and hitting triple cherries on the genetic slot machine.
Let’s stop pretending the word “chef” has any shred of meaning left. I had someone on Twitter get pissy with me for pointing out that cooking for your friends at Thanksgiving doesn’t make you the boss of a professional kitchen. Tweet about ramps? You’re a chef. Instagram a burger you made? Home chef. Dishwasher who had to chop some celery because a line cook called out hungover? Prep Chef. So why not just say “fuck it” and give all the self-involved foodies the industry cred they so desperately crave? You’re a key part of the food production process and the restaurant industry at large; the very last person who touches the finished plate. Welcome to the industry, Chew Chef.
Anthony Bourdain’s The Thirty Minutes Hate on CNN
Lap it up, food obsessives! You loved Kitchen Confidential, so you’re duty-bound to agree with him on all his food opinions from now until the sun is a cold, lifeless black hole. Tune in for a half hour a week of the original kitchen bad boy telling you which things you need to hate this year to maintain your culinary cred. The only thing he can’t bear to hate is a certain gluten-free vegan chocolate bar. As edgy as ever, but now with endorsement deals!
The Re-Launch of Bljurnyn
Chef’s special – €88
Norwegian superstar chef Olav Larssen is reopening his acclaimed six-seat restaurant Bljurnyn. The menu is mostly moss, bark, and bitter terrible roots foraged from the rock-hard dirt surrounding this Scandinavian fine-dining paradise. It’s a menu as unsparing and abrasive as the Nordic landscape. Located within a slope-face on a dangerous mountain pass, sixty five miles away from the nearest paved road, reservations are nevertheless booked through 2022.
CeReal(TM) Kickstarter Launches
Top minds have disrupted the kitchen paradigm and brought bold new solutions to your countertop through the magic of crowdfunding. Now two laid-off Google engineers, tired of stale cereal, have built a prototype machine that stores up to TWO boxes of cereal. They only need $50,000 to make it a reality. Early bird units can be had for $499 each, with an eventual retail price of $799. Go back it now, so the government knows who to sterilize for the betterment of the nation.
It’s Chardonnay. Or lettuce. Or a hat, or something. Either way, Yoga Mat Lady at your farmer’s market isn’t shutting up about it anytime soon.
The Great British Bakey-Wakey
Fans of soothing, conflict-free food competitions will sink into this upcoming show like a warm bath after a glass of wine and a Xanax. In it, 14 extremely English hopefuls spend an hour a week in a cheerful meadow in Sussex, eating jam sandwiches and rolling a tennis ball back and forth to each other. Catch it now before the inevitable much worse American remake!