Chefs share their top ingredients for 2019
FSD asked members of its Culinary Council which items they expect to have the biggest impact on their menus this year. Here's what they had to say.
Infused olive oil
There’s a specialty store here in town, The Tubby Olive, that sells olive oil from around the world. The oil comes to them in casks and then they place the different varieties in stainless vessels. You open the spout on the bottom and draw the oil into glass bottles of different sizes … in flavors such as truffle, peach and other citrus fruit, herb-infused—the blends change with the seasons. As for using them: just dipping a nice piece of crusty bread into them, or with salads or for roasting vegetables and finishing fish dishes instead of mounting with butter.
—Stephen Plescha, executive chef at Pennswood Village in Newton, Pa.
Yogurt is an amazing ingredient with multiple uses and purposes. Yogurt serves as a neutral and easy vehicle to incorporate healthy fermented foods into your diet. [It] is not only super high in protein and calcium, but it’s also high in B12 and potassium. Yogurt often serves as a way to get stomach bacteria in good shape for those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome and other stomach issues. It also gets your flora in good shape and helps with proper digestion. Yogurt is also a tremendous substitute for fattening cream in a variety of ways. Its neutral flavor can lend itself nicely to desserts, curries, cheese sauces and many other things. Yogurt is certainly going to play a role in the dishes I create this year.
—Adam Smith, executive chef at WakeMed Health & Hospitals in Raleigh, N.C.
Fresh fruit juices
We will be using fresh fruit juices to perk up our menus this year, including fresh lime juice with our fish tacos and a citrus vinaigrette, using fresh orange juice, on our salad bars. We also have recipes using lemon, mint and cucumbers in our hydration stations. Fresh juices offer a wonderful scent and great flavor, and they let customers know items are homemade and freshly prepared.
—Mark Mendoza, director of child nutrition services at Cajon Valley Union School District in El Cajon, Calif.
I will turn this question on its ear and say this: The singular ingredient and flavor that will make the hugest impact on my menus in 2019 is salt. In senior living, excess sodium is an issue for most residents in our community. In fact, I’m confident in saying most Americans ingest way too much salt on a daily basis. It makes everything taste so darn good! Nonetheless, I’m challenging my team to come up with flavor bombs that do not require salt and fat to carry them, with the goal of helping everyone in our community be healthier in 2019.
—Eric Eisenberg, director of dining services at Rogue Valley Manor in Medford, Ore.
Lemon is an important flavor in the Mediterranean diet, which has been chosen as the best diet for 2019. It’s also a key ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine, which is also trending in 2019. With its bright acidity, lemon adds pop to whatever you add it to. I also like the fact that you can utilize the entire fruit. Whether zest or juice, it’s 100% utilization—you have no waste, which is also trending for 2019.
—David Joyce, division chef for B&I Dining at Flik Hospitality Group in Rye Brook, N.Y.