Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for December, 2009

With the new year approaching I thought it would be good to explore some of the predicted food trends for 2010.  I thought that I would use the “Top 10 Food Trends for 2010” that http://www.foodchannel.com put out and add my own thoughts to their predictions in some future posts.  So here we go, Food Channel’s Tops 10 Food Trends for 2010.  You can use the link above to head to their site and get some more information about each of their predictions.

1. Keeping it Real
In a back-to-basics economy perhaps it is natural to return to basic ingredients. This isn’t about retro, or comfort food, or even cost. It’s about determining the essentials and stocking your pantry accordingly. It is about pure, simple, clean and sustainable. It is—dare we say—a shift from convenience foods to scratch cooking, now that we have more time than money and more food knowledge and concerns.

2. Experimentation Nation
When’s the last time you sat down to fine dining at a taco truck? If you live in L.A., chances are you’ve at least given it a try (Kimchee quesadilla, anyone?). How about selecting your own wine by the glass after sampling a few from an Enomatic system, the way you can at Nora’s Wine Bar & Osteria? Restaurant concepts are in flux as people redefine what going “out” to eat means. Gastropubs, fusion dining, shareables, and communal tables are all being tried. While this started because of the economy it will finish because consumers will indicate what works for them and what doesn’t. New concepts around “fresh” and DIY will do well. Experimentation is the trend, so we’ll see concepts come and go.

3. More in Store
We predict growth in grocery stores, particularly as private label assumes prominence. Those old generics have morphed into their own brands, so that there is a blurring and less of a caste system—there is no particular glory in using a “name brand” anymore (unless you are ketchup). And that’s not the only way grocery stores are growing. They have been paying attention to the trends and are doing things such as upgrading their delis and fresh take out sections, all the way to returning butchers to a place of prominence. Just as in restaurants, the stores that can help redefine the family dinner table are going to show the most gains.

4. American, the New Ethnic℠
This is all about flavor delivery. Immigration has come to the plate, and we are now defining a new Global Flavor Curve. Part comfort, part creativity, the latest flavors are coming from the great American melting pot. So, it’s about grandma’s food, but the recipes may be written in Japanese. American food is distinctive in its lack of identity outside of the hamburger—until, that is, you mix in our heritage. This is the year we’ll do it in a big way. The presentation of food, the flavor, and the experimentation is coming into its own in 2010.

5. Food Vetting
You are what you eat, and we are big into understanding ourselves! That’s what’s leading this trend—our constant need for assurance that we are eating the right things, that our food is safe, that we are not ingesting pesticides or anything that will someday prove harmful. If we can provide jobs, help the economy, protect animals and ensure a sustained food supply at the same time, well, that’s all the better. Call it food vetting, sourcing or whatever you want—the issue is that people are asking where their food comes from. We call it the “new luxury food” because it can be more expensive to include that traceability into delivery, but we want it anyway.

6. Mainstreaming Sustainability
We think people have mainstreamed sustainability. Unlike a year ago, when we were somewhat afraid to use the word, now it flows trippingly off the tongue. America is just now learning how to be sustainable, and Americans are holding themselves responsible. In 2010 we’ll see people and companies becoming sustainable for authentic reasons; they are doing it to make a difference. After all, that’s what comes with understanding.

7. Food with Benefits℠
Call it what you will—nutritional, healthful, good-for-you—but this trend toward beneficial foods is growing at a pretty big rate. Expect food to either have nutrients added, or have the word “free” (gluten-free, allergy-free). Just last year we talked about “functional food,” which was really about adding ingredients to pump up the nutritional value. Before that, it was “fortified.” Next year we see this idea morphing into a grown-up version.

8. I Want My Umami
The “foodie” has settled into a more universal designation of someone who loves food—not a food snob. They are just as likely to want a PB&J as they are to try the latest soft shell crab sushi. And they may put French fries on it! The point is experimentation and a willingness to try new things. They are the ones who find their adventure leaning over the cookstove rather than climbing the mountaintop—although a mix of both would be just fine. The new foodie is driving all kinds of adventures in flavor, too.

9. Will Trade for Food
We’ve called it “the rental economy” and just plain ol’ bartering. In an era when you can rent a name-brand purse for a special event, we want to know how we can apply that same concept to consumables. So what do we do in a bad economy when we have more time than money and skills that we still want to put to use? We barter. We predict that we’ll all see more of the barter system come into play now that technology can assist with the connections.

10. I, Me, Mine
It really is about you. It’s the rise of the individual. While sharing has come into its own in restaurant concepts (goodbye additional plate charge), there is a separate but equal trend toward individuality. It’s part of the reason why we are making our own cheese, smoking our own meats, and making our own specialty desserts. Expect more attention to the individual, but it’s not just about portion size—it’s also about food that reflects personality. With the decline of the economy, it’s more important than ever that you have a voice.

I looked at a number of “Food Trend” predictions and this list seemed to pretty good.  I’m going to save my comments for a few upcoming posts where I’ll explore each one individually.  Do you have any predictions that you would add to this list?  Let me know and we can explore the ideas together.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Two weeks ago I received a phone call to see if I would be interested in catering a businesses open house.  I spent four years cooking in a professional kitchen as an assistant chef.  Two of those years I managed the kitchen operations for the catering requests the restaurant would receive.  I love to cook for people and teach others how to cook.  But I was surprised to get this phone call because I’ve never done any private catering on my own before.  It’s one thing to prepare a meal for 8-10 people; it’s an entirely different thing to prepare hors-d’oeuvres for 75 people.

I’ve had the opportunity to cook for this business owner before, and I knew that they wouldn’t ask me if I was interested unless they were happy with my ability to cook.  This couple recently purchased a coffee and paper house and are having the open house to welcome back some of the locals that the previous owners scared away.  The new owners wanted to have some festive hors d’oeuvres and cookies to serve during the open house.  I told them that I would think of a few menu options and get back to them.

Two days later we settled on the menu:
-Spanakopita triangles (traditional spinach/feta as well as wild mushroom/blue cheese)
-Cranberry Cheddar meatballs
-Baked Brie
-Hummus and crispy pita chips
-A simple cheese platter
-Cookies (fresh ginger, espresso-chocolate shortbread, chocolate chip, and another variety I have yet to decide on)

I feel really good about the menu.  I wanted to have foods that people will be able to eat easily, without utensils, as they walk through the store and mingle.  I was also trying to offer a few special items- handmade spanakopita, meatballs with a holiday twist, a baked brie, and my favorite shortbread cookies.

This past Tuesday was the open house.  Lauren made up a business card design for me to have available on the tables.  I wasn’t really sure if I could handle doing many catering gigs like this on my own, but we decided that it couldn’t hurt to have my information available if people were interested.

The evening was a success for the new owners of Longs Peak Coffee and Paper House.  My guess is that they had well over 100 people in their shop during their two hour open house.  I received many sincere compliments on the food and in fact, a few people went out of their way to track me down and offer their appreciation.  Cooking for that environment reminded me how much I love to cook for people.  It reminded me of how much I enjoy preparing food for others to enjoy.  Here’s hoping I have another chance at it.

Read Full Post »