Locally sourced vegetables, high-fiber grains, family-style dining, and unconventional cuts of meat are forecast to trend in 2015.
Hospitality.net asked chefs from Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts to chime in on what they believe will be this year’s biggest food trends.
Going Green. Fresh, locally sourced vegetables are at the forefront of diners’ minds—and their palettes. “For a while, gluttony was cool, but then people realized it doesn’t do anything for your waistline. There’s a new, healthier lifestyle that people are trying to choose,” says Executive Chef Aaron Brooks of Edge Steak and Bar at Four Seasons Hotel Miami. Even though he runs a classic steakhouse, one of the most popular menu items is his “Edge” green salad, in which everything is green—arugula, raw cucumbers, cooked asparagus, avocado purée. It’s how he whips up “creative sides with vegetables that are creative and have big flavour impact.”
Both meat lovers and vegetarians will flip for what Executive Chef Martin Knaubert of The Ritz-Carlton Chicago (A Four Seasons Hotel) foresees will be heating up the city’s dining scene: mushrooms. “It’s such a versatile food—it can enhance meat and is also great eaten alone,” he says. In the winter season, the Hotel receives a weekly delivery that changes with what’s fresh and available. Recently, Knaubert took blue-foot mushrooms, roasted them in a hot oven and served them with chermoula dressing.
Executive Chef Zack Mills from Wit & Wisdom at Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore says that healthier choices shouldn’t be limited to what we’re eating, who also takes the environment into consideration when sourcing produce. By partnering with small, local farms, Mills wants to make sure “the same vegetables are still around for generations to come. That’s why ordering food from responsible places is so important. We’re trying to educate our diners, too, so they’ll hopefully take some of that information home.”
Great Grains. While embodying a healthy lifestyle is nothing new to LA, what’s new is healthy options on all the menus at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, says Executive Chef Cyrille Pannier. Pannier makes a healthy start to your morning an easy and scrumptious decision with his pancakes. “By swapping out the white flour to grain flour, you can still enjoy a fantastic pancake that’s healthier,” says Pannier. Top it with a dollop of peanut butter for an even more balanced breakfast.
Even though beef reigns in Texas, Executive Chef Maurizio Ferrarese of Quattro Restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel Houston believes that this year, “there will be a growing number of customers looking for healthy options beyond meat proteins. This will support the already growing vegan and vegetarian movement. Grains, especially high-fiber options, will be a huge hit.” Quinoa packs a punch of protein and fibre in his popular seared tuna and tomato salad.
Sharing Is Caring. At the recently openedFour Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort—a big draw for groups, whether families or business conventions—sharing comes naturally. “Family-style dining is big,” says Executive Chef Fabrizio Schenardi. “Nowadays, people like to share, and big groups always want to try more than one thing.” At Capa, the resort’s Spanish restaurant, items like the patatas bravas and the croquetas fall under a menu section called “para picar,” strictly meant for sharing.
In his city, Chef Jelle Vandenbroucke of ART Restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel Seattle believes, the concept of shared plates is a no-brainer. “Seattle is very much about supporting smaller local restaurants and rooting for hometown chefs,” he says. “There’s a convivial spirit here, it’s a real Seattle vibe.” In the lounge at ART, groups can mingle over savoury plates like smoked salmon flatbreads, short-rib tacos and warm pretzels with onion-mustard dip.
Beyond the Filet Mignon. Steaks aren’t the only way to enjoy meat. Chefs are experimenting with unconventional cuts and parts from the cow and other animals. According to Executive Chef Joe Palma of Bourbon Steak of Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC, there’s a very practical reason why chefs are seeking alternative sources of protein like rabbit, goat and mutton: cost. “Beef markets are going haywire, especially from a price perspective,” he says. Add to that diners’ growing interest in trying new things, and you have the perfect setting for exploring choices besides the tried-and-true beef. Come spring, expect to see dishes like a braised goat and rabbit duo salad, composed of roasted, stuffed loin and confit leg, on Palma’s menu.
Executive Chef Thomas Bellec of Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills (A Four Seasons Hotel) agrees with Palma: “Rising food costs (in particular, beef) are getting to be a challenge in the industry.” But rather than sourcing from other animals, Bellec believes that chefs will be using more of what he refers to as “third cuts” from the cow, like kidneys, liver and other organs.