A friend of mine recently invited me to attend the International Restaurant and Foodservice Show in NYC. MasterChef Ferdinand Metz and Reed exhibitions are the driving force behind this effort. It is a HUGE event, designed to bring together restaurants and their food-centric vendors and purveyors. Thousands of people attend this show every year, and hundreds of vendors showcase their products. Cooking demo stages are set up and well-known chefs and MasterChefs are invited to showcase their talents. A whole series of talks and presentations are held throughout the 3-day event allowing folks to grow their knowledge of operations in the food industry. Perhaps the most exciting show to watch is the Pastry Competition where absolutely stunning creations are created and submitted by well known pastry chefs in the area.
Before I carry on, allow me send a shout out to Connecticut’s very own: Chef Bun Lai of Miyas Sushi in New Haven- who was invited to do a culinary demo and Pastry Chef Maxime Oliver of J House in Greenwich - a finalist in the Pastry Competition.
Following are some of the emerging trends I observed at the show:
1. Sake is the new alcohol of choice. There were tons of Sake purveyors with their large selections of Sake – both regular and flavor-infused.
2. Thanks to David Chang, there is a growing enthusiasm and demand for Ramen noodle bowls. The Japan Pavilion showcased the four basic styles of broth for Ramen: Shiyo, Shoyo, Tonkostu and Miso (and I got to taste them all… yes!). I believe we will see many more Ramen noodle shops popping up all over US in the near future. Did you know that there are tons and tons of varieties of noodles used in the broth as well? Man! The flavor possibilities boggle my mind.
3. I also felt that Miso and Green Tea will continue to show up in our food and beverages. Their healthful qualities will continue to appeal to chefs and food vendors alike - and we will be all the better for it! So don’t be surprised when you see Green Tea truffles or Green Tea cookies or even Green Tea cupcakes gaining popularity. And when Miso starts showing up in your marinades and sauces, try not to look too surprised – coz you heard it here first. One product that I LOVED was a Miso-based marinade which made excellent tuna tartar. The product is called Shoyo Koji by Marukome - look for it in Japanese grocery stores.
4. Flavored and infused waters are on the rise – both flat and carbonated. Fruity flavors as well as flavors like ginger were prevalent at the show.
5. Flavored ginger ale tasted yummy. At one booth I tried black peppercorn flavor and surprisingly it tasted a lot like champagne – yet it was all natural and had no alcohol added. Amazing!
6. Fruit concentrates and purees will start showing up on our grocers’ shelves more often. The Perfect Puree of Napa Valley was one such company present at the show. The versatility of this type of product is exciting: add it to your cocktails, or to your cakes and cupcakes, drizzle on your dessert or make a decadent glaze for your next holiday duck or ham! I tasted some great flavors like coconut, raspberry, thyme…
7. Tea is slowly and steadily taking over the caffeine-market. I came across tons of tea vendors and was impressed with just how many varieties of teas and flavors we have in our near future. One brand I am going to keep my eye out for is The Teaologist. They are a NYC based company and can be found at Fairway.
8. Days of Fro-Yo may have peaked. Gelato is the next hot thing. Just like we saw tons and tons of Fro-Yo places open up all around us - we may now watch the same happen for Gelato. So buckle-up folks!
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