What’s in your kitchen?

Chefs share the trends that are driving their kitchen decisions.

Published in FSD Update

quinoa-salad

Pork may have a place on menus in all market sectors, chefs say. For example, Joe Kraft, corporate executive chef for Morrison, says he’s incorporating pork flat iron into menus. Austin’s Burke has begun using a diced pork product.

“We’ve done a lot of work with that,” he says. “We make carnitas and a green chile pork that we serve over rice.”

When it comes to more exotic meats, colleges again lead the adventurous way.

“Primal butchering, using all parts of the animal, is growing,” says Kennesaw State’s Coltek. “We also do a lot of game meat like kangaroo and emu. They go over very well. We also serve wild boar and caribou. Once students taste it, they open their minds a bit on what to eat.”

Gourmet Dining’s Fischbach says pork belly, goat, rabbit and squab are becoming more popular, as are eggs from duck, quail and emu. Some of the items Fischbach has experimented with include curried goat with lemon-parsley quinoa and an apricot-curry glazed grilled pork belly steak over orange-fennel slaw.

Shawn Dolan, executive chef at UNC Healthcare, in Durham, N.C., believes goat “is poised to become an in thing. It does have a strong smell and flavor, so selecting a seasoning is key,” Dolan says. “The best preparation of goat that I had was in Jamaica. It was jerked. The flavor was fantastic.”

But branching out into less mainstream meats does present some hurdles, Fischbach notes.

“The biggest challenge with any trend is keeping costs in line,” he says. “Trendy items tend to be more costly because they are trendy and in demand. The second biggest issue is training employees how to work with new and trendy items to ensure they are cooked properly and made consistently.”

Grains

Have Americans become quinoa’ed out? Although UNC Healthcare’s Dolan suggests that may be the case—“you know it’s over when you’re watching football and a commercial comes on that spoofs the product”—he also notes that quinoa’s brethren may be coming into their own.

“With the anti-gluten movement that is currently underway, ancient grains are the hot trend,” he says. “I like spelt, farro and amaranth. We have a rotation of ancient grain salads that we sell in our retail venues and they sell very well.”

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From Stouffer’s.

A large part of menuing allergen-friendly cuisine is deciding which gluten-free items to serve.

In particular, college dining hall operators must decide whether to make gluten-free items in-house or to order gluten-free items from a manufacturer. Some factors to consider are: the size of the university, the demand for gluten-free options,and the ability to have separate gluten-free storage and workspaces in the university dining hall kitchen.

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