As 2009 nears its close, bracing to pass the baton to 2010, chefs and culinary experts alike are reflecting on 2009’s culinary influences and speculating about the impending year.
California heirloom garlic, interestingly enough, is on par with the majority of emerging trends.
Nutrition, sustainability and locally sourced ingredients are three concepts predicted to take precedence in 2010, according to the “What’s Hot in 2010? survey conducted by the American Culinary Federation.
Staf Chefs – a publication for the culinary world – released its 2009 Trends Report, highlighting such notions as “in-house” creation, “street food inside,” “pastry chefs emerging from the ashes,” “Bahn Mi blow up” and many more.
Finally, The Food Channel released its top-10 list for the new decade, reinforcing several ACF and Star Chef trends, while providing its own spin, including:
*Keeping It Real - The idea of reintroducing basic ingredients that will provide chefs – in restaurants and at home – with a high-quality, fresh, functional base to start from. Home cooking will continue increasing, and thus, people striving to create scrumptious, healthy food. However, the meaning of basic ingredients is likely to morph – rather than a tomato, perhaps an heirloom tomato? Rather than a mushroom, an enoki mushroom? (The same is true for California heirloom garlic.)
*Experimentation Nation - Restaurant overpopulation is facilitating a need for differentiation when eating out. The days of playing it safe are gone – consumers appear ready for a new approach, and restaurants are daring to distinguish. Taco trucks, gastropubs, fusion dining and communal tables are among the new faces of dining. In other words, eating out of a truck and sharing food are no longer passé.
*More In Store – The grocery store is revamping its style and selection, catering to an on-the-go lifestyle that is looking for flavorful, healthful “fast food” and fresh options. See delis, takeout sections and the modern-day butcher claim a renaissance, while the consumer brings back daily shopping, seeking fresher products and creativity in their cooking. Stores will likely begin appealing to the older generation, with larger aisles for mobile chairs, and the multi-generational use of social networking – like Twitter – will give stores increased instantaneous exposure. Stores like Whole Foods, HEB Central Markets and Ralph’s have found success in establishing an efficient deli/to-go area, with a plethora of delicious, healthy and convenient options. Watch out McDonald’s and Subway.
*American, The New Ethnic - A more global philosophy is sweeping the American pallet, with a bolstered desire for infusions from Africa, Japan and Asia, in addition to the traditional influences from Mexico, Italy and China. The melting pot that is the U.S. is truly beginning to show in menu options and will continue to do so in 2010. (California heirloom garlic is a popular, versatile ingredient for all cuisines.)
*Food Vetting – People are finally grasping the importance of food, where it comes from, how it was made and what steps it took to get to their plate. Are there pesticides? Were animals treated humanely? Fair labor? Any hormones? Organic? These are questions consumers will be asking, and those who want to meet newfound demands better have answers. (Christopher Ranch keeps its pesticide and fertilizer use below standard levels, abides by fair labor practices, including minimum wage regulation, and farms organically. We love to vet.)
*Mainstreaming Sustainability - Sustainability has been the “it” word for a few years, but, if you’re like me, there’s a good chance you didn’t really grasp the term for at least a year. Well, the idea of reducing waste, enhancing environmentally friendly practices and doing our part to create a better society has taken hold. Businesses are starting to make sustainable changes because it’s the right thing to do – as opposed to marketing advantages – and consumers are looking for sustainability in their dining and shopping decisions. Time to ride the green wave. (Christopher Ranch follows a comprehensive sustainable program throughout all levels of operations – read more here.)
*Food With Benefits - People traditionally like any “free” perks they can get, and their food is no different – especially if it’s a nutritional perk. Food with added nutrients – like probiotic-filled yogurt – or free of anything deemed harmful – such as preservatives and gluten – are on track to be mega hits among consumers. Awareness of food-related health issues has encouraged consumers to seek increased nutritional value from their food. (California heirloom garlic is 100% natural and FREE of any preservatives.)
*I Want My Umami – Umami, what? The flavor sense has been awakened and umami – a savory taste (considered the fifth flavor beyond bitter, sour, sweet and salty) naturally found in meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products – is becoming a fan favorite. As foodies – newly defined as someone who loves the culture of food – become more widespread, they also are becoming more adventurous in their quest for innovative flavors and food combinations. (The bold, sweet, smooth flavor of California heirloom garlic can enhance the flavor of nearly any dish – at least we think so.)
*Will Trade For Food - The days of bartering for goods along the Oregon Trail are upon us. The poor economy and technology spike – making people and products more accessible – have encouraged a barter-exchange system, wherein people are swapping skill and time for food – and the other way around. Companies like BizXchange are even redefining traditional monetary exchange with “trade dollars.” Hmmm….thanks for mowing the lawn – here’s a box of garlic. Not a bad idea.
*I, Me, Mine - We’ve been told we are our own best friends, and the Food Channel’s final trend caters to that concept. The rise of the individual – the personalized cupcake, creating our own wine, making our own breads, etc. – is paving the way for personal gratification. Nothing wrong with a selfish mentality, every now and then – particularly when it comes to eating.
It’s the advent of a new decade, and the culinary world is storming the globe like never before. Stay tuned to see which trends thrive – and how Christopher Ranch meets these concepts. The upcoming year is going to be an interesting, innovative, crazy ride, and we’re looking forward to it.
Happy New Year!