What will the future of the American food industry really look like? GQ Magazine attempted to find out the answer by discussing the subject with a panel of esteemed professionals. Writer Brett Martin chatted with culinary stars David Chang (Momofuku, New York), Ashley Christensen (Pool's Diner, Asheville, N.C.), Brooks Headley (Del Posto, New York), and Jessica Koslow (Sqirl, Los Angeles). The group tackles fine dining, fast-casual, the next hot cuisine, and more. Below, read the 11 best lines from Martin's story.
Chang, on some of America's best chefs working outside of fine dining: "It's no longer just "I'll go work in a fancy French restaurant." It's like, "Fuck it, I'm going to go work for Chad Robertson [at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco], learn bread, and maybe open my own bakery." Or, "Maybe I'll work in a taqueria."
Chang, on whether people miss sit-down restaurants as fast-casual takes over: "I would, but will the next generation? I mean, I don't give a shit about Lutèce. I don't care about the old Le Cirque. When The Four Seasons closes, I won't give a fuck. Will the next generation want this?"
Koslow, on what diners will want out of restaurants in a decade: "I've been thinking a lot about what our meals will look like in 2025. And right now, I see people wanting like a meat-and-three."
Headley, on the surge of excellent Middle Eastern restaurants in America: "Before I went to Zahav, people were like, ‘You gotta go, it's the best hummus you've ever had.' I was like, ‘The best hummus? Who cares?' And then you go, and you're like, ‘Holy shit, this is the best hummus.' Outrageously delicious."
Christensen, on why Southern food has become a national phenomenon: "It was really entertaining for me when, like, biscuits exploded in Brooklyn. It's interesting, the effect the South is having on the country. The network of southern chefs is strong, and that's a big part of our reach."
Koslow, on how other cultures will change American food: "Remember when National Geographic did this thing about 'what will Americans look like in 2050?' and it was this green-eyed multiracial princess? I think it's like that with food as well. All these techniques and influences — French, Moroccan — that are entering into how we layer our food."
Chang, on trying to source ingredients that are sustainable and delicious: "The supply side of food freaks the shit out of me. I don't want to eat tilapia. I don't want to eat jellyfish. I've tasted a lot of hydroponic stuff, and it tastes like shit. It grows great weed but terrible vegetables."
Christensen, on the culinary rise of smaller cities: "We just had a really good cook who went to San Francisco and came back to us because she could barely afford to live there. Cities outside of the major cities have become really interesting. Some of that is a product of the crash in the economy. People like to go home — to places they can live and pay the rent and work at their craft."
Chang, on why New York isn't on top anymore: "When you're opening a restaurant, you need to think, "Will I have an opportunity to fuck up? To find my voice?" In New York, it's so cost-prohibitive that it's gotta be a perfect thing right off the bat. I hope New York gets back on top, but I don't blame anyone if they want to move to any other city."
Christensen, on the critics: "I don't mind reading something someone wrote, as long as they take responsibility for it. I'm not a fan of anonymous journalism."
Chang, on whether America's obsession with food is coming to an end: "I think it's only the beginning."