Chef Kent Rathbun on the New Year

kentby Kent Rathbun

Reflections and Predictions

Looking back and looking forward is something we all do this time of year. For me, 2014 was busy and productive – and I can’t lie, it was a whole lot of fun! Tracy and I were lucky enough to explore China and Italy, as well as a few of the best places in the US.

Our travels are one of the best sources of inspiration for our restaurants. Each time we explore new places and try new dishes while we’re on the road, we bring back ideas that fuel innovation at Abacus, Jasper’s and Shinsei. While in China, we ventured out on a “Peking Duck Research Tour”. We happily report that the Peking Duck on our menu is really good! The culinary highlight of our travel-year happened at the base of the Great Wall where we marveled over a modest family-owned restaurant that served simple, yet delicious farm-fresh scrambled eggs and fresh tomatoes. The very best ingredients, prepared properly and served in an amazing environment is always a winning combination.  

The best part of 2015 for me was being able to help some of my favorite charities’ raise money and awareness for causes that are near-and-dear to my heart. On the 20th anniversary of the March of Dimes Signature Chef Gala, I was surprised to be named this years’ recipient of the Dr. Leonard and Pauline Graiver Award. My package raised a record $125,500 and the event raised $700,000.

We’ve set the bar high for 2015

We spent a significant amount of time in 2014 laying the foundation for 2015’s growth. All indicators tell us that if our best-laid plans come to fruition, 2015 will be the very best year in the history of our company.

Our newest concept, Rathbun’s Hickory Kitchen, is scheduled to open this spring and a fourth Jasper’s location is coming to Richardson, Texas this summer! Rathbun’s Hickory Kitchen will feature elevated burgers, BBQ, local beers on tap, breakfast, and a great patio. Look for it this spring near Highway 121 and Dallas North Tollway. The fourth location of Jasper’s will be located in CityLine’s high-energy district for dining and entertainment, and will be prominently located in this highly anticipated mixed-use development. We are thrilled to be the unofficial “front-door” tenant in the area.

I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by some of the most talented people in the industry – I’m proud of my team and look forward to working alongside them to give you a wider variety of high-end dining and catering options.

2015 Food & Beverage Trends That Will Support Our Growth.

Craft Cocktails -Craft Cocktails will continue to share the spotlight with wine next year. As top barmen and women fine-tune their skills, you’ll be able to enjoy more of the complex, perfectly blended cocktails you discovered in 2014. The only thing that will change in the New Year will be a shorter wait-time to get your drink!

Keeping it Casual-Fun, casual environments, where innovative and tantalizing food is served is the future of fine dining. Don’t let the term casual fool you – the quality of service, taste, and innovation are still the highest priority. Being able to enjoy them in a comfortable, up-scale, non-stuffy environment is what you can expect in 2015.

Our Most Important Critics-While last years’ shake-up between food critics and the culinary industry may have lessened the credibility of some food writers, we know that what really matters is what you think. We know our guests are savvy – just as you wouldn’t buy a car without driving it, or buy a boat without taking it out on the open water, you won’t judge a restaurant without trying it first. We’re not interested in the showboating and over-the-top antics that go on between chefs and professional food critics – and this next year, the most powerful critics we’ll be caring about are our guests.

The Cost of Food-Demand is high for all premium food products—especially pork, beef, and avocados, which could mean the prices for those choice ingredients could spike a bit in 2015. While we will continue to use the very best ingredients from the very best sources, when premium ingredients make their way to your plate you could potentially higher prices; regardless of where you dine.

I’m super excited about what’s in store for 2015, and hope you are too! Keep following us on social media and checking in for updates on our blog. I’ll be sharing my 2105 adventures as they unfold.

 

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