Going back to their primal roots, many chefs this past year embraced food plus fire, an ancient equation to say the least. With charred carrots showing up on menus and smoke being recognized as a major flavor, we’ve seen fire-roasted cooking take center stage at events like this farmhouse gathering by Taher for K-12 chefs on staff.
Whether or not the benefits are scientifically sound (charcoal filters out impurities?), charcoal as a trend may stay behind in 2017. Although the “goth food” that it can create is pretty impressive. Perhaps we could save it for Halloween.
Bye bye, pumpkin spice
Old Trail School
Speaking of autumn, this past fall saw maple emerge as a new “it” flavor for lattes, desserts, cocktails and savory glazes. At the Old Trail School in Bath, Ohio, Metz Culinary Management incorporates maple syrup into the menu and the outdoor classroom, tapping trees as an activity to get outside during the long Ohio winter.
“Real food,” “clean ingredients” and “plant-based” were the foodservice phrases to know in 2017, especially on campus. It’s become not only the cool thing to do, but the norm at places like Elon University, which held a fun veggie passport contest to let students know there’s not just vegan and vegetarian food available, it’s actually awesome.
Gut health has been in the headlines as an important link to the other systems in our bodies. That “gut feeling” turns out to be a thing. So fermented foods have been getting more and more popular throughout 2017. Kombucha gets its reported wellness-boosting properties from a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). The bubbly probiotic beverage is made at Stanford University’s Flavor Lab, in sunny, bubbly flavors like cream soda and peach.
The warm, vibrant flavors of Indian food are sometimes locked away because Americans perceive it as too spicy or just too unfamiliar. Giving high school students the opportunity to try Indian food lets them find out for themselves how great chicken tikka masala can be, as shown here at Wayzata High School in Plymouth, Minn.
Kosher soul and upgraded, flavor-forward special diets
Cooking for special diets is a trend that’s only getting stronger as we head into the new year. Modern chefs who are successful at serving populations with special diet concerns work with lots of different cuisines, playing to the strengths of different cooking styles. Chef Ray Nottie at Touro University in Vallejo, Calif., creates all-kosher menus with the flavors and techniques of his Southern roots, and forays into Thai, Indian and modern American cuisine.
Only time will tell if people will ever come down from the (artificially) rainbow-hued unicorn/mermaid high of 2017. One thing working against this trend is that it’s literally a sugar high.
Intricately plated artistic desserts earned a place in the spotlight
While unicorns may not roam as freely next year, there will continue to be a place for beautiful sweets, like these gold-leaf chocolate tarts for catered events at Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.