Chefs Share: Food & Cocktail Trends of the Moment

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First it was Roasted Brussels, then Roasted Cauliflower. Mules were all the rage, now CBD cocktails are hot on the scene. The hippest dishes and drinks are always changing, so we’ve caught up with some of San Diego’s top chefs on what the food trends of the moment are!

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Rob McShea

Mixologist for Mission Beach’s island-inspired Miss B’s Coconut Club, and Park 101, a family-friendly eatery in Carlsbad, takes pride in creating cocktails that tell a story. “Making new drinks are usually the intersection of problem-solving, creativity, layering flavor, along with some kind of pun; not necessarily in that order,” says Rob.  “I think the beverage trend that seems to be the most successful right now is FUN. Whimsy, fun cocktails, presentations, and service are trumping the stuffy chilled brown liquid, bars at the moment. Seemingly, people have a more light-hearted approach to how their social life is spent, and with that has brought balance back to the bar scene.”

Jeff Rossman

Chef-owner of Terra American Bistro and Bunz burger joint is looking back while he’s looking forward. “I think there’s an old-school revival of sandwiches and more back-to-basics food. I think we have to now think past the farm-to-table moniker and think that our guests assume all restaurants are farm to table in one way or another.” He stays ahead of the trends by constantly trying new things. “We’re always trying to get in local produce and delicious, but lesser known, breeds of fish so we can educate our customers.” What changes does he see coming next? “I think labor issues and rising wages arising across the country are forcing chefs and restaurateurs to rethink menu items and heavy prep within the kitchen. The rise of the fine casual movement has made chefs rethink what’s doable with great flavors, quickly and easily.”

Sabrina Mitchell

This bartender is shaking things up at South Park’s Del Sur Mexican Cantina, a vibrant spot to enjoy a tasty margarita or craft cocktail. Sabrina is all about “cocktails using local and seasonal fruit and veggies. Not only are they cost efficient, but it’s something different/outside of the box. Instead of a sweet (sugary) strawberry margarita, try a juiced savory celery margarita – it is very refreshing.” What’s next? She is seeing high-ABV ciders and local spirits as the next trending drinks.

Chef Michael C. Brown

With over 30 years in the food industry, acclaimed Chef Michael C. Brown is no stranger to the kitchen. He has dropped anchor in San Diego as the Executive Chef for Barrel Republic, as well as the newly opened Jalisco Cantina. “I love seeing the diverse meat & cheese boards around town. It’s great seeing the quality and versatility of these continue to grow as the food scene grows.” What’s next? “The next trend that I think may come to pass is a small push on Nashville Hot Chicken with the warmer season, but on a larger scale, I think probably a sashimi-type sampler platter will begin to light up at non-sushi restaurants.”

Michelle Stansbury is a freelance food, travel, and lifestyle writer. Feel free to reach out to her at [email protected] with story ideas!

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