Macrobiotic food, raw food, local food…the list of food trends that have popped up in restaurants in recent years is virtually endless. The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) recently surveyed 400 chefs to find out what they think about the future of food, with some surprising (and not-so-surprising) results.
As you might expect, sustainable food will be at the forefront of chefs’ minds over the next decade. That means non-traditional (read: sustainably-farmed) fish like red sea urchin, herring roe, mackerel, octopus, and sardines will become more popular. Vegan entrees will also gain traction, as will artisan meats that skip the factory farm production line. And yes, organic alcohol will probably start showing up on more store shelves.
Here are the 10 foods for the future, according to Canadian chefs.
1. Ancient grains: We’re talking kamut, spelt, amaranth, teff and other grains that haven’t been altered by plant science for commercial purposes like bigger yields and pest resistance. Proponents say ancient grains are more flavourful and richer in nutrients.
2. Gluten-free beer: Gluten intolerance or allergies sometimes extends to hordein, the gluten in barley. Buckwheat and sorghum are the most common no-gluten substitutes for barley in North America but rice, maize, amaranth, flax, millet, teff and soybean have also been used to make beer.
3. Vegan entrees: That means no meat, fish, poultry, dairy, eggs or for that matter, honey or gelatin. The term “vegan” was first used by Donald Watson, an American, in 1944. He used the first three and last two letters from the word vegetarian. He said it was the “beginning and end of vegetarian.”
4. Organic alcohol: There’s organic produce, organic meats, and clothing. Why not alcohol? Organic wines in B.C., for example, are made with 100 per cent certified organic grapes and at least 95 per cent of the ingredients must be organic. Chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides are not allowed.
5. African cuisines: It’s a big continent with many countries, many tribes and regions. Some of the foods that could become more mainstream are tajine (been to the trendy Medina Cafe recently?); injera, a spongy Ethiopian flatbread; groundnut (peanut) stew and African-style curries. Heaven knows Vancouver lacks a good Moroccan restaurant.
6. New fabricated cuts of meat: It’s an extension of artisanal foods. Small, traditional butchers are gaining momentum and they’re offering more variety than large commercial operations. At Refuel, chef Robert Belham is teaching his staff the art of butchering pork.
7. Gluten-free cuisine: At one time, fear of gluten was confined to people with celiac disease, but there are increasing numbers with wheat sensitivities. And yes, I’m starting to see gluten-free options available on menus.
8. Middle Eastern cuisine: We’re no strangers to Persian food in Metro Vancouver (especially on the North Shore) and we’re quite accustomed to falafel and some Israeli food, but there are many more cultures in the Middle East with unique and regional dishes and ingredients.
9. Quinoa: It’s pronounced keen-nwa and it’s a grain-like crop. Since it’s a good source of complete protein, it ties in to the other food trend, veganism.
10. Non-traditional fish: We have only to look to Blue Water Cafe and Raw Bar and its annual Unsung Heroes Festival, encouraging people to try these non-traditional fish. Last January’s Unsung Heroes included red sea urchin, herring roe, mackerel, octopus, sardines, sea cucumber and jellyfish. C Restaurant is another local restaurant pushing these sustainable seafoods, taking the pressure off at-risk species.