Looking for the Trends

A big part of being an Corporate Chef is staying aware of the current trends in the food industry. Trends tend to start on the coasts and move their way to Middle America. One of the best shows to see these trends in all their glory is at the Fancy Foods. There are two each year, one in LA and one in NYC and they are big and loaded with an overwhelming amount of new products and ingredients. Many companies use these show to test out new products and ideas, running test batches of products to cover the shows. If they receive traction at the show, they will go into production, if not, they go into the old R&D vault where they might be brought back once the trends takes heels across the country or just disappear into the file cabinet. I am always amazed when I first see a new item or idea and think just how unique of an idea someone beat me to, last year at the Fancy Food NY show, it was smoked maple syrup. One of the first vendors we met had an amazing product and it was the first time I had seen it in a consumer ready form. By the end of the day we had seen at least a half a dozen other vendors (most from VT or NH) with similar/same product. This year there was only one left, the first guy we had met, who was able to bring the product into production. I work with my “food show team” and we compile a list at each show of the trends we see repeated throughout the show. The shows on the West Coast tend to be more health driven as the East Coast shows tend to be more culinary driven. I will put together a list of the top items that I believe will transition to mainstream or are easily applicable to our crab. Then I begin to develop a menu for our food show season utilizing these items or ideas. This year I focused on a few items; eggs (in almost every form and application), pickled/fermented items, Old school becomes new cool, seasonal and local and the list goes on. For our show this spring we were serving an update on an Old school French classic via NOLA, ravigote. The herbaceous sauce, sometimes with the addition of hard boiled eggs, lends itself to a wonderful base for a chilled crab dip/salad. Instead of just mixing in chopped hard boiled into a herb and shallot aioli, I emulsify the cooked eggs in a Robot Coupe and use this as the foundation for the sauce, add an assortment of fresh herbs, some citrus zest and juice, shallots, capers and a little Creole mustard and mayonnaise and all you need is some crab to make a killer dish. We also took a classic Creole crab gratin (a creamy, cheesy roux based dip heady with crab claw meat) and stuff it into pickled Peppadew peppers. They are a little sweet, a little spicy, a little sour and a whole lot savory and craveable. Last week in Florida (where it was like 1000⁰) we went cold and tropical. Chilled watermelon and tomato gazpacho with our sweet crab meat and a mango and crab ceviche with leche de tigre (a coconut milk based sauce) over a warm plantain pancake. Our crab works with all types of flavors and the of course it also makes a fantastic crab cake.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *