It may be difficult to predict 2019’s kale, Unicorn Frappuccino, or avocado toast, but we always look to the country’s most trusted chefs for guidance on trendy dishes, ingredients, or global cuisine that’s worthy of media attention. Lucky for us, most of these chefs congregated at the Sun Wine and Food Fest, held annually in January at Connecticut’s famed Mohegan Sun Casino and Resort. The extended weekend, featuring live demos, tastings, and signings, has become a culinary institution in its own right, rivaling many of the most popular food and wine festivals across the country. Visitors can interact directly with chefs, all while enjoying the property’s own surplus of celebrity chef restaurants (the macaroni and cheese at Ballo is a must) and notable food offerings (they have a Chick-fil-A).

Mohegan Sun

As this year’s chefs chilled in the green room between events, we were able to grab time with four of the most talked-about—Maneet Chauhan, Aarón Sanchez, Alex Gaurnaschelli, and Brian Duffy—to get their unique perspectives on what 2019 will bring, as well as the hidden regional cuisines that are deserving of the respect and praise found in mainstream food media. Check out their responses below.

Maneet Chauhan

Mohegan Sun

Chowhound: What will be 2019’s biggest food trend, ingredient, or dish?
MC: If I could predict it, I would be out in the casino playing and winning millions. I do personally, strongly believe that everybody is getting back to the basics…things that have been around for generations, for centuries. Like fermentation. Fermentation is a thing that we have grown up with and now it’s becoming a big rage. I think it’s going to go back to the basics.
Chowhound: Is there a part of the globe where the cuisine is underrepresented by mainstream media?  
MC: So many. There’s Indonesian food, there is South African food, even Chinese food. What you get over here is not like what you get in China. There’s a whole world out there. I mean, Peruvian food, oh my God, traditional Peruvian…it’s so much, so much. I think everything is underrepresented.

Flavors of My World by Maneet Chauhan, $28.47 on Amazon

A culinary tour through 25 countries.
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Aarón Sanchez

Mohegan Sun

Chowhound: What will be 2019’s biggest food trend, ingredient, or dish?

AS: I think what’s going to spark a lot of interest is that people are going to go back to grandma‘s kitchen and start eating more family-style. I think we see that with all of these different communal tables in restaurants. I think people are a lot more amenable to eating with strangers.
Chowhound: Is there a part of the globe where the cuisine is underrepresented by mainstream media?  
AS: For me, I feel like the food in South America. Chilean food is really phenomenal. I’ve been [to Chile] several times. Chile has a list of ingredients, like cold-water shellfish and fish, that nobody knows about in this hemisphere. I’m talking about little barnacles called picoroco, deepwater cod, and an unbelievable spice called merkén, which is a natural chile that they use. [Chile] has a lot of influence from Europe [in its food], so I think it’s one of those foods that needs to be explored a little more.

Simple Food, Big Flavor by Aarón Sanchez, $17.39 on Amazon

Unforgettable Mexican-inspired recipes.
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Alex Guarnaschelli

Mohegan Sun

Chowhound: What will be 2019’s biggest food trend, ingredient, or dish?
AG: I’m going to go with watermelon. It’s tremendously hydrating, it’s sweet, it’s satisfying, it’s juicy, it’s great for a hangover, it’s great for a cocktail. You can squeeze lemon on it, get that vitamin C, and people love it. It goes anywhere. And it’s guilt-free because it’s not fattening. It’s just got a little sugar.
Chowhound: Is there a part of the globe where the cuisine is underrepresented by mainstream media?  
AG: I think a lot of great things we enjoy in America are rooted in Chinese cooking. I’m going to go with China for the win.

The Home Cook by Alex Guarnaschelli, $19.62 on Amazon

Recipes to know by heart.
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Brian Duffy

Mohegan Sun

Chowhound: What will be 2019’s biggest food trend, ingredient, or dish?
BD: Bigger, bolder flavors. It’s all about bigger, bolder flavors. We’re moving away from some of the Latin stuff and we’re starting to move into some of the bigger and bolder Middle Eastern flavors. We’re starting to do a lot more with plant-based and a lot more with super clean food. The power greens are still going to be there. We’re really digging into that for the next couple of months. It started on the West Coast, hit the East Coast, and now it’s starting to make a massive play through the Midwest and we’re starting to see the country actually eating much healthier, which is cool. They’re starting to question why am I getting nine or ten nuggets for 99 cents, which I think is a really good thing. We’re starting to educate more.
Chowhound: Is there a part of the globe where the cuisine is underrepresented by mainstream media?  
BD: Ireland. We need big, bad things coming out of Ireland. It’s always kind of made fun of. Realize that Ireland is actually an island, so there’s a tremendous amount of seafood that comes out of there and really, super creative ways in how they’re doing stuff. One of the best culinary schools in Europe right now is Ballymaloe and they’re doing amazing things out of that place. I really do think in the comfort, casual world that we’re living in right now, I think Irish food needs a little more play. But I’m Irish so I always have to put that out there.
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