2011 was quite a year in the Los Angeles dining scene. If you had told us a year ago that we'd be eagerly wolfing down plates of alligator schnitzel, polenta sushi, and corned beef tongue sandwiches from a Michael Voltaggio shop with the word “sack” in its title, we wouldn't have believed you. The future may seem unpredictable, but this year we plan on using our powers of prognostication to show you exactly, with 100% certainty, what next year holds in store. Turn the page for our top 10 food predictions for 2012.
10. Chef Ludo Lefebvre finally opens a permanent restaurant in Los Angeles to much fanfare. The complex and revolutionary reservation system will determine seatings via several intense rounds of rock-paper-scissors. His recent line of baby foods turns out to be a clever ploy to make children crave the taste of foie gras, leading tantrum-weary parents to reverse California's foie gras ban.
9. Mixologists, not merely content with making their own vermouth, will begin illegally distilling their own spirits. Some will even become bootleggers, racing across town in brightly-painted hot rods to deliver homemade moonshine. Unfortunately, a freak still explosion will hamper the movement's growth.
8. Homemade dairy products will become commonplace, ensuring that the phrase “churning your butter” will no longer be used solely as a sexual euphemism. Purists will insist on growing their own yogurt cultures, which inadvertently leads to massive advances in bio-warfare.
7. Son of a Gun chefs Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook complete their scientific quest to successfully deep-fry every known food item. Their research later leads to the development of a Chicken-Fried Steak/Steak-Fried Chicken hybrid, a project that had stumped Paula Deen for several years.
6. Underground dinners grow so rapidly in popularity that blindfolds, treasure maps, and forced kidnappings become necessary to maintain their secrecy. Restaurant critic Jonathan Gold vanishes for a solid month after one such dinner; he is later found wandering through Joshua Tree muttering incoherently about truffle-infused pork belly.
5. Kogi chef Roy Choi is revealed to be the evil clone of David Chang, spawned several years ago by a miso-fermenting experiment gone terribly wrong. At the 2012 James Beard Awards the two engage in a Highlander-esque battle marked by its heavy use of kimchi and chicharrón.
4. Locally sourced restaurants will supplement their on-site gardens with the additional of on-site livestock pastures. Inspired by avant-garde restaurants such as Noma, some will invite guests to milk their own glass of milk from a house cow. Diners will later complain that ordering the steak has become much more ethnically challenging.
3. Ricardo Zarate, head chef of Picca, shockingly announces his retirement from cooking after discovering the lucrative profits of amateur Alpaca farming. Sometime later, an artisanal line of alpaca fur-lined oven mitts takes the culinary world by storm.
2. The coffee world enters into a Fifth Wave. [Editor's note: The fourth wave? See The New Yorker.] Coffee will be hand-grown, hand-picked, hand-roasted and hand-brewed, ensuring that numerous people will have touched your coffee by the time you drink it. Beans will become so precisely sourced that each bag will be accompanied by a brief biography of the plant's life.
1. Restaurants that feature seasonal rotating menus will become so advanced that the traditional paper menu will become obsolete. Instead, kitchen staffers will be forced to make up the menu as soon as they are asked for it. The restaurant's name, address and bathroom location will also rotated regularly, making the reviews of confused Yelpers essentially meaningless.
Follow Garrett Snyder on Twitter @searchanddevour.