February 2017

 

Black Sesame / Bittersweet Chocolate / Grapefruit / Aperol

Pastry Chef Meg Galus

 

This is an terrifically balanced dessert. Unique nutty flavor from the black sesame, dual-bitterness from the chocolate and grapefruit, gently cleansing brightness from the grapefruit juice, and novel sweetness character from the Aperol. The color play in this dish is also thoughtful.

 

  • Black Sesame - Black sesame can quickly upgrade a basic flavor concept into a mature one. We've seen this being used in desserts with increasing popularity. One of the many drivers may be the influx of culinary inspiration coming from Asian cuisine.
  • Bittersweet Chocolate - Okay, let's be real here — chocolate will never go out of fashion nor is chocolate particularly "on trend" right now. The reason this item fits the bill is because the menu doesn't simply say "chocolate". It feeds the curious dinner additional, upfront info, increasing transparency i.e. Bittersweet Chocolate. This tiny bit of extra info, one extra word cue, can make or break a concept (industrial and food service).
  • Grapefruit - Incredibly trendy right now. Want to you why grapefruit has become so darn prevalent? Click here to learn what ripple-effect factors caused grapefruit fame.
  • Aperol - Yes and yes. Out-of-context use of liqueurs, bitters, tonics, craft beer, and spirits is everywhere. No, this isn't the first time cooks have used alcohol in desserts — not even close [think: Grand Marnier®and Truffles, Riesling and Baked Pears, Reduced Port and Pot de Crème, etc. ]. We're simply seeing notable frequency. 
 

 
 
 

Ora Salmon / Fennel / Dill / Caraway / Oyster Bread Pudding

Chef Andrew Zimmerman

 

Keep an eye out — some noteworthy "trends" related to this dish:

  • Ora salmon has beautiful coral color pop and a robust mid-section, resulting in a thicker fillet (more so than traditional Atlantic Salmon); 
  • Playing with creamy textures in unique ways;
  • Pairing unexpected savory with dessert applications is getting serious momentum — you can see this with the savory "Oyster Bread Pudding" component. 
 

 
 
 

A5 Miyazaki Wagyu / Tongue / Marrow / Tendon / Umeboshi

Chef Jake Bickelhaupt

 

The reason this meaty dish is particularly "on trend" is because it's a nice reflection on the concept of sustainable "nose to tail" preparation technique. "Nose to tail" has become a buzzword phrase in the past couple years. Sustainability-driven chefs, such as Dan Barber, have been drivers for this technique becoming more mainstream. Check out this cool, new app that teaches butcher info and meat-breakdown insights.


Nevertheless, smart chefs know that "nose to tail" is not just a trendy preparation method for the following reasons:

  • Flavor: Secondary cuts and offal (this 42 Grams dish uses tongue, marrow, tendon) are much more flavorful than retail, primal cuts [think: chicken breasts];
  • Chef Skills: It takes more skill to prepare second cuts and offal than primal cuts. Thomas Keller once said that quickly searing a perfect slice of beef tenderloin is not cooking, but thoughtful, beautiful preparations of tough, secondary meat cuts shows the quality of a chef.
 

 
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Meyer Lemon Mousse / Guava Gelée / Macadamia Nut / Rosemary Ice Cream

Pastry Chef Ji Hyun Yoon

 

  • Flavor Balance — Bright, fruity, nutty, herbaceous.
  • Texture Balance — Fluffy mousse; satin gelée; crunchy macadamia nut; thick, smooth ice cream.
  • Meyer Lemon Mousse— Yep, it's still a hip citrus. But it should be noted that restaurants have been using Meyer lemon for a very long time. The reason chefs use Meyer lemon in the first place is because of its novel flavor; it does in fact taste differently from a standard lemon.
  • Guava Gelée — Tropical fruits are very popular right now. Also, French is used to describe this item on the menu: "gelée" means "jelly" in English; this is a common practice for fine dining (with classically trained cooks), the reason "using foreign terminology" is a highlighted trend, is because we're seeing this trickle down to affordable food service franchise menus for the first time, with noted frequency.
  • Macadamia Nut  Very fitting,  it adds a great crunchy texture, nutty flavor (duh), and hits on the trend that consumers are tired of hazelnut-everything and seeking other nut options.
  • Rosemary Ice Cream — The incorporation of herb instantly elevates this to an "adult status ice cream". It also follows along with what we're seeing in modern mixology right now, incorporation of fresh bouquet garni class herbs (sage, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary) in fruity cocktails.