Cuisine 'Smashing' & Other Lessons from MenuDirections Day 2

A full day of education sessions and sampling yields some aha moments

No longer a MenuDirections newbie, I was able to work the comprehensive education program more aggressively today, jumping from chef demos to flavor forecasts while sampling recipes developed with both health and flavor in mind. Here’s some of the more delectable brainfood that was served up:

--Fusion is the dainty way of blending ethnic cuisines. The new, bolder method is called “smashing,” according to Chef Andrew Hunter. He cites the approach of Kogi Truck creator Roy Choi, whose Korean tacos have fostered a cult following on the West Coast.

“When you smash things, you try to create layers, so when you bite into them, they come together,” Hunter said. And that’s exactly what Choi does, he explained: Tortillas are layered with sauces and meat.

“Chef Roy is less interested in weaving a harmonious flavor and more into having you taste the individual flavors by pushing them all together,” said Hunter.

--Chocolate is a health food. But it’s typically adulterated with sugar and processed in a way that strips out the healthful components.

--You have to smash or chop garlic to release its considerable health properties. The beneficial aspects are in the aromatics. Roasting it without breaking the surface of the cloves won’t release the health-boosting compounds.

--Youngsters may be suffering taco fatigue, or at least a tendency to yawn when a traditional taco bar is presented to them. To rekindle interest, foodservice directors are trying variations like fish and Indian-style tacos.

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