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  FASTER FOOD? GREEN DECÓR? DINING’S FUTURE IS AT HAND

BY JANET FRANZ • CHICAGO TRIBUNE • July 2, 2008

What will the dining-out experience be like 25 years from now? We asked a few of Chicago’s trendsetters — chefs, restaurateurs and an architect — to gaze into their Riedel crystal goblets and envision the future.
QUESTION: In 25 years, what should guests at fine-dining restaurants expect to see on their plates?

faster food P

What will the dining-out experience be like 25 years from now? We asked a few of Chicago’s trendsetters — chefs, restaurateurs and an architect — to gaze into their Riedel crystal goblets and envision the future.

QUESTION: In 25 years, what should guests at fine-dining restaurants expect to see on their plates?

Homaro Cantu, executive chef, Moto: Everything local, organic and transmogrified. And (to save energy), the next step will be three-dimensional food replication. No food miles, all organic, grown locally. You grow, say, 10 core ingredients, pop them in the food replicator and out pops Mom’s fresh-baked apple pie.

Carrie Nahabedian, chef-owner, Naha: I don’t foresee us eating space-pack food or anything. But there will be no trans fats, and the industry worldwide will make all junk food healthy (through technology).

Q: What will restaurants of the future look and feel like?

Nancy Warren, principal, Warren Architects: Green is the buzzword and I think that will continue. And using green materials doesn’t mean the place has to look earthy. It can be recycled plastics and concrete and glass.

Nahabedian: You’re going to think about every single element that’s going into your space.

Jerry Kleiner, partner, Marche, Red Light, Carnivale, Room 21 and Park 52: Hopefully we won’t be living in bubbles by then. But we’re inventing new stuff every year, and everything’s going green.

Q: What do you think successful restaurants will need to do to stand out?

Kleiner: Packaging is so important. You need great service and décor and to have the whole vibe going — and you need great food too. People expect to be entertained — we call it “eatertainment” — so music is going to be a major factor too.

Miae Lim, owner-partner, Mirai Sushi, Japonais and Brasserie Ruhlmann: I’m a firm believer that whether you’re talking 25 years ago, or the present, or 25 years from now, everything comes back to the bottom line — and that’s great service, great food and consistency. It’s about having a great concept and preserving the integrity of the food and service.

Q: Are there any ingredients or ethnic cuisines you see coming into vogue?

Cantu: We’ll break down food into its core components that make up taste, texture and smell. I’ll be able to give you prime beef that’ll make you healthier by getting rid of the cholesterol and adding vitamins and minerals. You’ll have user-programmable prime beef that doesn’t require cows to be raised. Why wouldn’t we do that?

Nahabedian: I think you’re going to see more fruits, berries and spices indigenous to South America and Africa hitting the marketplace. They’ll be used in everything from liqueurs to dessert purées to fruit preserves.

Lim: I love Middle Eastern food. But I think that in order for it to be successful, it needs to have an upscale design and good service. With the food, it would be good to keep the traditions, but clean it up a bit. Maybe add a little fusion.


Q: How will the dining experience be different?

Grant Achatz, chef and partner in Alinea restaurant: Like now, many types of restaurants will exist. The fast food will become faster. Ordering your meal choices via handheld device before you arrive will allow you to go through one of several lines for fast-food pickup.

Warren: What’s going to change restaurants is the way … people interact with them. Technology in the form of computer systems and the Internet will play a big role. And restaurants will reach out to become more a part of community life than they ever have before.


Q: How do you see the restaurant kitchen evolving?

Nahabedian: We’re going to have to get more energy-efficient. My kitchen starts up at 8:30 in the morning and the whole thing doesn’t shut down until 11:30 at night. That’s a lot of energy.

Achatz: Heat sources will rely on greener energy and quick and efficient methods of cooking food. Sanitation will become increasingly important as the world becomes more vulnerable to bacteria and viruses.