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10 October 2012 @ 09:05 pm
What’s next for Next?  

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

Next, the restaurant which reinvents itself several times each year, offering up a cuisine for several months that then vanishes, never to be seen on the menu again, has asked over on Facebook what we’d like to see in the future. So far, the query has received 772 comments, which represents an even greater number of suggestions.

Since I learned during my Sicilian meal that Next serves the platonic ideal of whatever concept they’ve chosen—so much so that I was moved to purchase Kitchen Table tickets for its Kyoto dinner—I feel very invested in the outcome.

So which three menus should they serve in 2013?

Here are the most intriguing suggestions so far.

The final years of the Tsarist Russian Empire (1894-1917)! The last years of the Tsarist empire were filled with excess and ritual, much of it forgotten today.

Ancient Rome complete with Trojan Pig and Peacock Tongues

White House State dinners from 1874, when President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife welcomed Kind David Kalakaua of the Sandwich Islands, (seriously) which included Hawaii, the future 50th state….the 1949 banquet, when President Truman welcomed the Shah of Iran, etc.

Turkish Ottoman Empire

Christmas in Victorian England

A tour of the Middle East…regional Middle Eastern cuisine varies quite a bit, and it’s something that isn’t well-explored in the States. Differences between Syrian, Lebanese, Palestinian, Moroccan, and Egyptian cuisines, for instance.

As a foodie who has lived and worked in Ghana on and off for ten years (academic researcher) I think THE culinary frontier that has not yet been elevated to fine cuisine is African food. In the Ghanaian ouvre alone there are more than 40 superb dishes, utilizing some unfamiliar and fantastic ingredients, with the potential to introduce guests to a novel taste palate. Spicy groundnut stew with octopus and goat served with fermented corn dough. Delectable okra stew with forest snails the size of your fist. wood fire grilled whole tilapia with a hot sauce that puts sriracha to shame. Drinkable hausa porridge (cream and millet with a hint of hot ginger and sweetness). red plantains fried and served with spicy black-eyed peas.

Brueghel type banquet, just like in his paintings…

Victorian era dinner party (upper class, please – no gruel), Southern Silk Road (with an emphasis on Sichuan), Indiaaaaaaa!!!

1914 Imperial Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia; Mogul Empire, 1600 Agra; 2080 Shanghai, China

Roman Bacchanalia

For the last menu of 2013 it will be almost time for the Winter Olympics. An Olympic inspired menu would really be cool. Something like 12 courses corresponding to past Olympic hosts, recent hosts and future scheduled hosts. Each course would be a seasonal course (summer or winter) and correspond to the country and year where the Olympics were held – so would be courses from 12 different countries spanning the past (i.e. 1896 Athens, 1936 Berlin, 1968 Mexico City), present (i.e. 2014 Russia, 2012 London, 2010 Vancouver) and future (i.e. 2016 Brazil, 2018 South Korea) based on which countries hosted Olympics and what year and season.


Whatever three menus Next settles on will be wonderful, I’m sure, but here were the two suggestions I posted.

First, I’d heard a rumor that Next was considering an Indian menu—and not just Indian, but the evolution of Indian food prior to, during, and after the British. I thought would not only be a culinary delight, but also educational, and so made sure to let them know that if they went that way, I’d be in!

But I also suggested a recreation of François Mitterrand’s last meal—even though I suspect I may be the only one in the world tempted by it.

What can I say? I want my ortolan!