July 15th, 2019

Plant Based Meats Hit the Bigs

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Vegetables

Big Players Join the Plant-Based Meat Movement

Plant Based Meats

In our last blog we discussed the proliferation of plant-based meats, along with the new clean/cell-based meat technology. We covered the big players in those arenas and the popularity of their products through growth and national menu acceptance.

This week we’re going to piggyback on that topic by looking at some of the bigger international players looking to break into the plant-based meat market. The most notable names in this category include Tyson, Nestle, and Hormel.

Plant-Based Meats Go Prime Time

Tyson

Tyson Foods crafted their empire through chicken and poultry but have proven repeatedly to be willing to change. From bacon to dog treats, sausages to meal kits, Tyson is no stranger to exploration. Which is why it should come as no surprise that they’ve begun the development of their own plant-based protein brand, Raised & Rooted.

Plant based proteins

Image courtesy of foodnavigator-usa.com

Using blends of pea protein powder and other plant-based ingredients, Tyson looks to gain a strong foothold through diverse product development. Foods included in this category are chicken nuggets, blended burgers (which will include Angus beef), and a mix of sausages and meatballs under the Aidell’s brand name. The vegan nuggets are expected in stores this summer while the blended burgers are slated for fall, 2019.

In support of these products, Tyson is working with and investing in many plant-based protein startups in order to gain an edge in the flavor race. One such company is MycoTechnolgy, the developer of a mushroom-based product called PureTaste. PureTaste is a clean label product designed to” clean up the taste profile of plant-based proteins.”

Nestlé Sweet Earth

meat alternatives

Image courtesy of foodnavigator-usa.com

Instead of undergoing their own infrastructure change, Nestlé purchased Sweet Earth, a plant-based protein producer, in 2017. While the agreement left original owners Kerry and Brian Swette in charge of operations, they actively receive support from Nestlé USA Foods Division.

Sweet Earth has gained quite the cult following in California with their craveable breakfast burritos and flavorful veggie burgers. Their partnership with Nestlé offers them immediate national distribution, marketing support, and trusted brand recognition. This year they intend to launch a new wave of products including the “Awesome Burger,” and its ground beef component, “Awesome Grounds.” A higher percentage of protein and fiber sets Sweet Earth products apart from their competition.

Hormel

Plant-based protein

Hormel is entering this market a bit more timidly than the other players. The initial offering will be a plant-based pizza topping (with little more description than that) focusing on the food service market. They’ve also recently introduced the “Fuse Burger,” a blend of turkey and rice, and the “Blend Burger” under the Applegate brand. The “Blend Burgers” feature a mix of meats and mushrooms.

No word on whether Hormel will investigate further plant-based meat options, but it’s clear they are monitoring the situation with a focus on restaurant applications.

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July 1st, 2019

Meat Alternatives – A New Normal?

Posted in Food Trends, Product Innovation

Could the new generation of meat alternatives win over even carnivores?

Plant-based Proteins

Plant-based proteins, clean meats, and other meat alternatives continue to evolve in the world of culinary innovation. A handful of imaginative companies have progressed this category so far that it’s caught the attention of larger food manufacturers, distributors, and restaurants looking to get a slice.

Even national restaurant brands are taking notice, including meat alternatives on national menu rollouts. Let’s look at a few leaders in this category and see if meat alternatives could become the new normal.

Plant-Based Proteins

Impossible Foods

Impossible Burger

Photo courtesy of Medium.com

For those not familiar with Impossible Foods, maker of the Impossible Burger, you might recognize their original shtick: A plant-based burger that seems to bleed like a beef burger using vegetable heme. While this concept was somewhat repulsive to vegans and vegetarians, and a novelty with omnivores, the brand earned its staying power with how delicious the product is.

The new focus has been on removing allergens to increase the consumer base. As of 2019 Impossible Foods has reformulated the product in order to remove wheat, making it now vegan and gluten-free. It does, however, still contain soy. This step makes the brand much more accessible and attractive for national menu roll outs.

Meat Alternatives

Photo courtesy of ImpossibleFoods.com

This fact is further exemplified by their newly announced relationship with Little Caesars. As of May 20th, Little Caesars will be testing a meatless pizza topped with Impossible Sausage crumbles in 58 restaurants including Washington State, New Mexico, and Florida. If initial customer feedback is positive, we could see a national launch shortly after. You can also find Impossible products at Red Robin, Dave & Buster’s, QDOBA, Bar Louie, Burger King and more.

Beyond Meat

Photo Courtesy of BeyondMeat.om

Photo Courtesy of BeyondMeat.om

Beyond Meat is another brand that has effectively matched the flavor and texture of meat with their plant-based products. While Beyond also produces a burger patty, they differentiate themselves with a line of sausages. Available in Traditional Bratwurst and Hot Italian Links, Beyond Sausages have proved to be a true crowd pleaser in testing, focus groups, and at food shows. I can attest to the food show craze, having to wait in a line 30 people deep to get a taste of the Traditional Bratwurst. Worth it.

Beyond has also managed to expand into food service on a national scale. Their products are available at places like TGI Friday’s, Carl’s Jr., Del Taco, Burger Fi, and A&W. With their ever-growing list of accolades, including consecutive FABI awards in 2017 and 2018, there’s no doubt we’ll see continued innovation from, and interest in, Beyond Meat products.

Clean Meats

Clean meat, which is also referred to as “cultured meat,” is produced through cellular replication. Why this may seem like off-putting science fiction, the truth is it’s likely to be not only indistinguishable from natural meat, but more affordable. Best of all, this meat be can produced without hormones and antibiotics.

Meat Alternatives

Photo courtesy of MosaMeat.com

While these products aren’t currently on the market, it’s valuable to look ahead and see what kind of potential they could become in a rapidly changing market space.

Memphis Meats

Meat Alternatives

Photo Courtesy of MemphisMeats.com

Launched in 2015, Memphis Meats is a pioneer in clean meat production. They’ve been striving to bring the cost of clean meat production down in order to make it fiscally competitive against natural meats.

In 2016 Memphis created the world’s first cell-based meatball, and in 2017 the world’s first cell-based poultry. In a sign of future expectation, Cargill, Bill Gates, and Richard Branson have all invested in Memphis Meats.

Mosa Meats

Clean Meat

Image courtesy of MosaMeat.com

Creators of the first slaughter-free hamburger in 2013 (at a whopping $330,000), Mosa Meat endeavors to not only create affordable cell-based meats alternatives, but also reduce animal slaughter worldwide. Mosa expects to have its first meats on the market in the next 3-4 years, which would show a remarkably fast increase in efficiency.

The process of development is described as being the same process animals use to create meat, only outside the animal. The cells “naturally” proliferate and do so without the need for additives or GMOs. Not only have they successfully produced muscle fiber, but they’ve also produced fat cells, which we know is extremely important for taste and mouthfeel.

What’s Driving Meat Alternatives?

Many components are driving the want for meat alternatives. Health factors play a large role, both in increasing the amount of vegetables consumed and decreasing the volume of meat consumed. For the clean meat alternatives, environmental and ethical concerns are the largest driving factors. Specifically, the reduction of carbon gas emissions, deforestation, and factory farms utilizing inhumane practices.

Regardless of the motivating factors, meat alternatives will continue to grow in interest and popularity.

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June 17th, 2019

MATS Technology – A New Wave of Innovation

Posted in Product Innovation, R&D Technology

MATS technology could be the next game changer in packaged foods

MATS technology

Photo courtesy of foodnavigator-asia.com

Microwave assisted thermal sterilization, or MATS technology, could be the next big wave of innovation to hit packaged food. It promises to preserve the nutrients, color, texture and flavor of foods — while providing a shelf life equivalent to conventionally processed foods.

This seems like a pretty lofty goal, but it might be closer to a reality than we think. Let’s take a look at the MATS technology and how it might help to change the landscape of packaged foods as we know them.

What is MATS

MATS MAPS

Photo courtesy of foodnavigator-asia.com

As stated above, MATS stands for “microwave assisted thermal sterilization.” 915 Labs, the exclusive developer of this technology, believes it can solve one of the most ardent challenges facing the food industry today: providing consumers with high quality, natural, and additive-free packaged foods. On paper this seems great, but how exactly does it work?

MATS technology immerses packaged food in pressurized hot water while simultaneously heating with microwave energy at a frequency of 915 megahertz. Unlike retort processing, MATS can eliminate pathogens and spoilage microorganisms in a matter of minutes, rather than hours. As we know, the longer food is cooked under high heat and pressure the more it degrades the color, flavor, and nutrient bioavailability.

You could see then, how if MATS can deliver on its promise, our expectations of shelf-stable foods could change dramatically.

What About Pasteurization?

Clean Label Preservation

Conveniently enough, MATS units also provide microwave assisted pasteurization technology (MAPS) without any additional equipment.  This results in restaurant-quality, ready-to-eat foods and beverages with a shelf life of up to 12 weeks.

The extended shelf-life for the likes of prepared foods and ready-to-eat meals, beverages, vegetables, fruits, dips, sauces and salsas means less waste, higher quality, and greater availability. This can become especially important in food desserts, where convenience stores and bodegas serve as the primary grocery centers for a large population.

What Other Benefits Can MATS/MAPS Offer

Aside from increased quality and shelf-life, the technology can also assist in the clean label mission. By extending shelf-life through mechanical means, MATS can reduce the amount of preservatives and flavor enhancers needed to make packaged foods safer and tastier. Think of needing less sugar, salt, and artificial flavors in foods because the natural flavors haven’t been cooked out.

bowl-cherries-chicken-936611

These benefits could also parlay into school food programs, nursing homes, cafeterias, and meal kit enterprises.

What’s Next for MATS Technology?

E-commerce providers like Amazon, Alibaba, and Jet are especially interested in this technology as they try to break into the prepared foods market. The ability to create high-quality, shelf-stable meals that are safe to eat for 12 months plays directly into their supply chain strengths.

The interest from these companies in MATS technology is not passive. Amazon was an early investor in 915 Labs for use in its AmazonFresh brand. Many observers are connecting its interest in this technology with the acquisition of Whole Foods markets. The digital and brick-and-mortar avenues could offer Amazon a large advantage in the distribution of ready-to-eat and meal kit foods.

AmazonFresh

Photo courtesy of IMD.org

The U.S. Military has also been a long supporter of MATS technology as a way to provide more nutrient dense, portable meals as a replacement for the classic MRE (meal ready to eat).

Summary

As MATS/MAPS technology continues to merge into the packaged food realm, we need to be ready for the potentials that come along with it. Consumers have driven the demand for clean label options, along with healthier foods. MATS could be the bridge that brings fresh tasting, long lasting, healthier foods to shelves and refrigerators nationwide. It’s important that packaged food producers become intimately acquainted with the technology as consumer demand could soon drive a global change in quality expectations.

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June 3rd, 2019

What’s the Story with Za’atar?

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Product Innovation

Za’atar makes waves with vibrant flavors

Za'atar

Za’atar continues to grow aggressively in popularity throughout the country, but it’s still far from well known. Currently early in the adoption stage, za’atar has, however, been featured heavily in culinary and lifestyle magazines.

You can hear all about za’atar in publications like Specialty Food Magazine, Fine Cooking, and even the Boston Globe. But what’s all the fuss about? What makes za’atar so special?

Let’s check it out.

What is Za’atar?

Za’atar is both a Middle Eastern herb that’s very rare and almost never exported (so you likely won’t find any here in the states) and a spice blend. For the purposes of this blog, when we refer to za’atar it’s the spice blend we speak of.

Za'atar

You can find za’atar in dried (most common), oil-based (more common), and fresh (least common) formats in most grocery stores. Za’atar is usually made from a mixture of spices like oregano, marjoram, thyme, sumac, sesame seeds, and salt. There are many different styles, like chimichurri, but some combination of the previously listed ingredients is always present.

What’s it Good With?

This is really what makes za’atar special. Its flavor profile can adapt to lots of different cuisines and applications. It works as a dry rub, marinade, sauce, salad dressing, finishing spice, salsa, snack topping, or pretty much any other application you can imagine.

Its Middle Eastern heritage finds it most commonly applied to items like hummus, lamb, and vegetable salads, but this pigeonholes its versatility. I find za’atar equally delicious on proteins like chicken or tofu, on crackers, cheese, and even fruit like pears and apples.

Za'atar

The point is, za’atar has a friendly, exciting flavor that plays well with many other foods.

How Can I Take Advantage of Za’atar?

Well, that of course depends on what you’re in the business of making. Try chicken wings with spicy za’atar sauce, or a zesty pizza made with za’atar marinara. A citrus za’atar glaze goes great on chicken or pork, or a fire roasted green chile and za’atar smothered bison burger.

Whatever you decide, you can rest assured za’atar will grab the curiosity of your guests with its unique, vibrant blend of flavors.

Cheers!

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May 20th, 2019

Time to Adopt Hatch Green Chiles

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Grocery

Hatch Green Chile on the Cusp of Proliferation

Hatch Green Chile Trend

Hatch green chiles are quickly making their way out of the Southwest and onto menus nationally. This smoky, not too spicy pepper currently maintains a massive following in the Southern and Western states. You can find Hatch chile festivals in Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, and California, among others.

In fact, Texas-based Central Market grocery stores celebrate Hatch green chiles with a month of Hatch infused products. You can find everything from salsa and sandwiches, to Hatch lemonade and cream cookies.

That’s all well and good for this segment of the country, but what does it mean for the rest of the states?

Hatch Some Love

According to Nation’s Restaurant News and Datassential, Hatch chiles are currently in the Adoption stage on a national level. Therefore, the flavor is gaining popularity, but is still considered unique enough to be trendy. Independent casual dining and progressive fast casual restaurants tend to pick up the trends in this stage.

This is best evidenced by the 97% increase in menu mentions nationally over the last 4 years. Taco Bueno capitalized on the trend last year with its Hatch green chile menu. Other restaurants like Habit Burger, BJ’s Brewpub, and Chuy’s Mexican Restaurants also maintain Hatch green chile builds on their menus regularly.

Time to Pepper in Some Flavor

While it’s difficult to estimate the time between adoption and proliferation, it’s safe to say that Hatch chiles will be in adoption soon, and if the current trends predict the future, ubiquity shortly after. It would be smart to jump on this train as soon as possible.

Hatch Green Chile

Photo courtesy of Chuys.com

There’s no easier way than with a bright and smoky salsa or a Hatch chile concentrate for mixing into creams, aiolis, and other sauces. There’s an endless amount of possibilities once you get your imagination rolling. Personally, I think a Hatch chile ice cream sounds pretty darn good, how about you?

Comment below with your favorite Hatch recipes or questions about this blog.

Cheers!

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May 6th, 2019

New Pizza Flavor Opportunities

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Pizza

Fast-Casual is Driving New Pizza Flavor Ideas

New Pizza Flavors

Due to its worldwide ubiquity, we are always searching for new pizza flavor ideas. Thanks to the rise in fast-casual pizza restaurants, with their lower price point and menu flexibility, experimentation is becoming expected.

With that expectation, it’s important for pizza flavor trendsetters to forecast ahead of the curve and try new things. So, what kinds of flavors should pizza restaurants be experimenting with? How about…

Regional

One big way to attract excitement in your local market is with regional flavor ideas. Restaurants along the BBQ belt should be experimenting with different BBQ sauce-based pizzas. It’s important to maintain popular trends within this category, however. Spicy, smoky, bourbon-based, and chile specific (i.e. ancho chile BBQ sauce), are great ways to tack on unique twists. Build that up with exciting new toppings like pulled pork, brisket, pickles, or fried jalapenos.

Pizza Flavor Trends

New York still reigns as the Buffalo chicken capital of the country, and with no end in sight for the love of spice, why not double down? How about a Buffalo chicken pizza made with buffalo sauce infused queso, or Buffalo caramelized onions for a sweet heat mix? Even changing up proteins can go a long way. Buffalo ground beef with a creamy blue cheese drizzle could be a way to reinvigorate the customer base.

Breakfast

Breakfast Pizza Flavor Trends

Breakfast is all the rage right now, and breakfast pizzas are an easy way to harness this trend. Try a shakshuka pizza made with a spicy harissa and roasted tomato sauce topped with feta, kalamata olives, and crispy onions. Or go fusion with a zesty Piri Piri chili sauce, smoky Spanish chorizo sausage, and sweet bell pepper.

Or go all-American with a hash brown pizza topped with sriracha ketchup, grated cheddar cheese, and thick cut bacon. Finish it with a little green onion and you’ve got a winner!

Exotic

If you really want to try a wild card go for a more exotic build. A Korean BBQ pizza made with gochujang sauce, candied pork belly, and fresh bok choy will challenge palates and perceptions. Or if you’re looking for something smokier, how about a guajillo chile sauce topped with sliced Andouille sausage, pickled red onion, and some fresh cilantro.

Pizza Flavors

Personally, I’m a fan of a good Indian red curry pizza with fire grilled chicken, thick cut yellow onion, a drizzle of citrus yogurt sauce, and a dash of fresh mint. If you’re looking for a fresh take on a classic, try this Hawaiian/Mexican hybrid. Al Pastor style pulled pork, tangy pickled pineapple, Hawaiian Kona coffee sauce, and fire-roasted red peppers.

The World is Yours!

Literally! Global flavors are the driving force for current food trends. Finding ways to introduce international flavors into familiar builds will go a long way in staying current. The uniform love for pizza makes it the perfect medium for flavor experimentation, especially in the fast-casual arena.

Cheers!

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April 22nd, 2019

The Global Breakfast Boom

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends

Breakfast is Back!

Global Breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. At least that’s what our mom always told us, right? Who’s to know if it really is the most important, but thanks to the rise is global flavor trends, it just might be the most delicious.

Datassential reports that breakfast currently ranks in the 94th percentile for future growth. This means that breakfast is predicted to beat out 94% of all other foods, beverages, and ingredients over the next 4 years. This illustrates a great opportunity to capitalize on the love of breakfast in conjunction with the rise in global flavors.

Global Breakfast

Indian

Indian Breakfast

Photo courtesy of BBC.com

Many restaurants have already jumped on this hype train. At Rooh Progressive Indian Restaurant in San Francisco, you can find a bevy of unique Indian/American mashups on their brunch menu. The Masala omelet frittata, for example, is made with a creamy masala sauce, red chili paste, and house made cilantro oil. The Kashmiri duck kulcha (a type of Indian flatbread) combines savory duck and bacon with a savory chili chutney sweetened with apricot.

Mexican

Mexican Breakfast

Modern Mexican fare has moved beyond the classic breakfast burrito. In Austin, TX, the land of the breakfast taco, Manuel’s Regional Mexican Cooking offers a brunch specialty called Torta de Papa. These are potato and corn masa cakes stuffed with black beans, venison chorizo, and smothered with a roasted pasilla chile sauce. The specific call-out to pasilla chiles also aligns with the Specifically Spicy trend we discussed in the New Hot Sauces blog.

You could also go all in on the Sopa Con Huevo Estrellado. This is a grilled masa boat filled with black bean paste, an over easy egg, queso fresco, and a smoky chile de arbol sauce.

Others

Peruvian food continues to hold strong interest nationwide as well. At Llama in Brooklyn, you can grab one heck of a unique brunch. The Tacu Tacu plate is made with fresh pork sausage, a fried egg, creamy avocado, and a dousing of spicy adobo sauce.

Global Breakfast

Photo courtesy of oliveandfincheatery.com

On the Asian side of things, you can try the Japanese style breakfast bento box at The Lobster Club in New York City. It combines a shiitake scramble with rice, savory miso soup, and a strip of teriyaki glazed salmon.

And don’t forget about shakshuka. This stewed pepper, tomato, and onion dish seasoned with harissa is quickly becoming a staple menu item across the U.S. Just check out Denver based Olive & Finch. Their shakshuka served in a mini cast-iron skillet is driving both excitement and sales within the local community.

Beat the Competition

And yes, that is an egg pun. But seriously, with the projected popularity of breakfast, be sure to set yourself apart from competitors with unique, global breakfast offerings. This is much easier than it seems with the use of flavorful sauces like harissa, gochujang, and Indian red curry. A simple way to take your breakfast global!

Cheers!

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April 8th, 2019

New Hot Sauces

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, New Foods and Flavors, Sauce

A Wave of Global Flavors Brings Us New Hot Sauces

New Hot Sauces

In our last blog we discussed new trends in hot sauces revolving around global influences. We saw how Asia, the Middle East, and Africa are helping to drive the hot sauce flavor boom.

In this week’s blog, we’re going to discuss how hot sauces and chilies are imposing their will into other food categories as well.

Specifically Spicy

In the wake of all these wonderful chile-based sauces hitting the market, consumers are starting to recognize their favorite varieties. A new trend for consumers wanting a specific chile in their sauce is becoming prevalent.

New Hot Sauce Trends

For example, La Meridana is making waves with their variety of Habanero hot sauces. They come in different flavors, like green, red, and mango. Sriracha flavor has been popular so long it’s starting to find it’s way into lots of other foods. For example, popcorn, protein bars, and chickpea puffs.

Ancho is another chile getting its own stage. With a smoky sweet profile, Ancho is a perfect fit for hot sauces, BBQ sauces, and pretty much anything else. Just check out Frontera’s Ancho Pepper Adobo sauce. If Rick Bayless is doing it, it’s probably a good thing. Also, peruse Sauce Piquante’s lineup featuring jolokia, fatali, and arbol.

Chile-Based BBQ

New Hot Sauces

Photo courtesy of kuhne.de

BBQ sauce has never been a stranger to spice. Cayenne and chipotle are pretty much standard fare in BBQ these days. But now, food manufacturers are getting creative with new flavors and chilies.

Kuhne, for example, just launched their “Made for Meat” line of BBQ sauces. A standout of this is the Grilled Paprika Sauce. A nice twist on a familiar flavor. Wildly Delicious’s line of Badass BBQ Sauces also feature a pair of unique flavors: Roasted Garlic & Smoked Sriracha Mop Sauce, and Ghost Chili & Mango BBQ sauce.

Even brands like Williams and Sonoma are ahead of the curve with their Ghost Chili Garlic BBQ sauce. If ghost chilies are officially mainstream, I think the floodgates are effectively wide open.

Sweet & Fruity Hot Sauces

Coming along for the ride with the unique new chilies are the fruits and sweeteners that help balance them out. Sweet and spicy just seem to fit together like peas and carrots, or pigs and blankets. Or whatever you think fits together. You get the idea.

Hot Sauce Trends 2019

As we saw previously, La Meridana’s habanero sauces featured a mango variation, but they also have a papaya habanero sauce. Mexican chamoy sauce also uses fruit to balance heat. It’s made using pickled fruits, like apricots, and ancho chilies blended together with lime juice and spices to form a thick sauce or paste. It’s gaining a lot of steam in restaurants nationally for its unique sweet, spicy, and tangy profile.

Chocolate hot sauces, hot honey, and even kimchi jam also fit into this category in their own unique way. No matter how you pair it, people like a touch of sweet with their spice.

New Hot Sauces in Restaurants

Many mainstream restaurants are not shying away from the spice trend with unique new hot sauces and flavors. Mod Market is highlighting their Merida Salad made with a guajillo lime vinaigrette. CAVA Mediterranean restaurant makes a Spicy Lamb Meatball with harissa and cilantro, along with a savory tomato-based harissa spread.

The Thirsty Lion Gastropub and Grill hits the mark on its menu with the gochujang and kimchi fried rice. Minnesota based BBQ Chain Famous Dave’s marries sweet heat with their Pineapple Rage hot wings. Finally, don’t be surprised to find an Ancho Chile Salmon on the menu of your local Chili’s.

Ciao for Now

Now that you’re enlightened, go out and set some new trends. I can’t wait to see what new hot sauces pop up this year.

Cheers!

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March 25th, 2019

Hot Sauce Trends 2019

Posted in Consumer Trends, Japanese, New Foods and Flavors, Sauce

Global Flavors Drive Hot Sauce Trends in 2019

2019 Hot Sauce Trends

2019 is going to be a great year for hot sauce trends. With our global love for spicy food continuing to grow, we’re seeing an explosion of new sauces and flavors from all over the world.

As with most trends, we’re also seeing a boomerang effect. Some hot sauce trends from the past are coming back in vogue. No big surprise here, it’s just the way of things. We’re currently seeing this with the revitalization of Char Siu, or Chinese BBQ sauce.

So let’s take a look at some 2019 hot sauce trends based on the regions they stem from.

Global Hot Sauce Trends in 2019

Africa

Known for it’s spicy meats and aromatic rubs, the continent of Africa gives us a diverse and unique set of hot sauces. The size of the country promotes regional differences and interpretations of similar sauces. Some have gained notoriety more quickly than others, however.

Hot Sauce Trends 2019

The most notable at this moment is harissa. Hailing from North Africa, harissa often comes as a thick sauce or paste. Made from multiple chilies, including baklouti and serrano, along with roasted red peppers, garlic, and seasonings, harissa has found a huge market in the food industry. It’s not uncommon to find this sauce on foods like falafel, burgers, loaded fries, roasted cauliflower, or baked eggs. Personally, I love it in a thick hummus.

Other African flavors popping up on the radar are berbere and pili pili, which, as it turns out, are both really fun to say. Pili pili is made from the piri piri chili pepper native to Southeastern Africa and is not to be confused with the Portuguese Piri Piri sauce. It tends to be scorching hot and a little goes a long way.

Berbere, however, reigns from Ethopia and is most familiar in its powdered seasoning form. But, we’re starting to see a rise in the “Awaze” sauce, which blends berbere seasoning with spicy chilies like habanero or cayenne. Don’t be surprised to see this item show up on chicken wings and pizzas soon.

Middle East

The Middle East is no stranger to spicy foods. But they also don’t shy away from herbs, spices, and other aromatics. So, when those characteristics come together, we get delicious chili sauces like zhug. Commonly compared to a Brazilian chimichurri sauce, this Yemenite paste is made from onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, and lots of spicy chilies, like Serrano or Thai.

Hot Sauce Trends

Photo courtesy of chilipeppermadness.com

Another new/old face in the hot sauce world is shatta. Like zhug, shatta uses cilantro and parsley along with serrano or Thai chilies. What makes it different is the use of red jalapenos and tomato, for a bit sweeter of a profile.

Finally, we’re seeing the hot sauce trend sneak into other Middle Eastern foods that aren’t traditionally spicy. The best example of this is Spicy Za’atar sauce. Za’atar, an herbaceous blend of thyme, sumac, and sesame, is a ubiquitous Middle Eastern condiment used on everything from meat and eggs to bread and salad. The spicy variation takes the flavor and impact to a whole new level.

Asia

Never to be outdone by the other countries, Asia continues to make waves with new sauces. Asian sauces are most noteworthy for their fermented characteristics. A great example of this would be la doubanjiang. This is another classic sauce, common in Sichuan cuisine, that’s finding new life in our spice crazy generation. Made from fermented broad beans and soybeans, this sauce is seasoned with salt, spices, and red chili peppers. It’s often eaten simply with sticky rice or noodles, but you’re likely to see it start popping up in stir fried and crossover foods, like sushi burritos or Asian style pizzas.

Another spicy Asian sauce on the comeback is karashi, or Japanese hot mustard. Different from the previous sauces, karashi gets its heat from ground mustard seeds and horseradish or wasabi, depending on the maker. This one is the quietest of the current trends, but there’s uniqueness in it that could harness quite the cult following.

Hot Sauce Trends 2019

Photo courtesy of favy-jp.com

Close

Thanks for reading along with our 2019 hot sauce trends blog. Next up we’re going to see how these trendy new sauces are making their way into the broader culinary culture.

Cheers!

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March 3rd, 2019

Time to Re-Think Chinese Food

Posted in Food Trends, Restaurants

It’s a New Era for Chinese Food

And it’s really stepping its game up

Chinese Food

For a long time, we in the states have associated Chinese food with the overly sweet, oily, and often deep-fried mess that comes from local restaurants. You know the types, they often throw the words “Jade,” “Garden,” or “Dragon” in their name to feign authenticity.

Luckily, times are changing. With the increase in culinary exploration currently happening, we’re seeing a re-birth of truly delicious Chinese restaurants. These purveyors reach back to the traditions of Cantonese and Sichuan cooking, using locally available ingredients and complementing them with savory sauces, spicy rubs, and umami rich glazes.

So let’s spotlight 3 restaurants changing what we think Chinese food should be.

Chinese Food in a New Light

Hop Alley – Denver, CO

Chef Tommy Lee, a Denver native, ventured into his second restaurant business with Hop Alley. His first spot, Uncle, is a well-renown noodle and Ramen bar in Denver.

With Hop Alley, however, he went from focusing on a single item (noodles), to developing a delicious and diverse menu of classic Chinese dishes with modern twists. The menu is especially conscious of using local products. The Cumin Lamb made with Colorado lamb ribs exemplifies this.

Modern Chinese Food

Photo Courtesy of Westword.com

The Char Siu (Chinese BBQ) Pork Shoulder and Sichuan Potatoes with fermented black bean sauce convey the traditional spirit of Sichuan and Cantonese cuisine. The main 2 regions we unwittingly reference when we speak of Chinese food. But more importantly, they do so without dumbing down the quality and complexity of what makes these foods special.

Duck Duck Goat – Chicago, IL

Bravo’s Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard has certainly made the most of her post-television life. Opened in 2016, Duck Duck Goat is Chef Izard’s 3rd restaurant, and personally, my favorite. DDG combines just the right blend of tradition, modern technique, and whimsy on the menu making it an unforgettable experience.

New Chinese Food

Picture courtesy of Chicagomag.com

The Char Siu Bao (there’s that Char Siu popping up again) are perfectly savory and chewy, acting as a terrific appetite warm up. Her menu further walks the tight rope of tradition with items like Wood-Fired Chicken Hearts with a sesame horseradish sauce, Sichuan Eggplant with goat sausage, and a fit-for-a-king whole Peking Duck with mandarin pancakes and an assortment of sweet, salty, and spicy Chinese sauces.

If DDG is not on your short list of Chicago restaurants, it definitely needs to be.

Wu Chow – Austin, TX

Everyone knows Austin is a culinary beacon for delicious Texas style BBQ. But what many folks outside this one-of-a-kind city don’t know is that it’s also a mecca for amazing Asian cuisine. Tyson Cole’s Uchi, Otoko from Chef Yoshi Okai, Thai Kun from Chef Paul Qui, and the plethora of Tatsu-Ya restaurants exemplify the breadth of delicious Asian cuisine in the city.

But not to be forgotten is the stand out hot spot of downtown Austin, Wu Chow. Executive Chef Ji Peng Chen brings a remarkably unique and delicious menu to life, highlighting familiar Chinese favorites and unknown oddities side by side in a winning tableau.

Chinese Food

Image Courtesy of atasteofkoko.com

The traditional soup dumplings (Xiaolongbao), made with pork shoulder and concentrated pork broth are some of the best I’ve ever tasted. Plus, it’s nice to get a little walk-through of the proper soup-dumpling procedure before you eat (dip in vinegar, place on spoon, bite a hole and suck out some soup, then eat the rest in one bite). For a nod to Texas, Chef Chen offers Wok-Tossed Texas Okra. Similar in preparation to dry fried green beans, the okra is made with ginger, Thai chili peppers, and a delicious seasoning mix. This is by far one of my favorite dishes.

For more abstract but delicious items try the Seafood Bird’s Nest, the hot and spicy Striped Bass, or the Chicken and Taro Egg Rolls. Really, you can’t go wrong.

Xièxiè

Thanks for reading along. I hope this article motivates you to go try out some new and unique Chinese food in your local area. If you know of any restaurants doing something special, be sure to let us know in the comments.

Cheers!

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