toronto garlic festival

Notes on the “Culinary and Drink Trends” breakout session at Terroir 2012

In Uncategorized on April 24, 2012 at 12:43 pm

I sat in on the “Culinary and Drink Trends” breakout session at Terroir 2012. The seesion considered  current influences and what’s on the horizon. Speakers included Franco Stalteri – creator, Charlie’s Burgers / VP Brand Experience, Your Brand; Grant van Gameren -Executive Chef, Enoteca Sociale; Frankie Solarik – partner, Executive BarChef; Nick Liu –  Executive Chef, GwaiLo;  Adrian Ravinsky – proprietor, 416 Snack Bar;  Andre Marques – partner, Milagro restaurants; Renee Suen-Freelance food writer; Chris Johns – food and travel writer.

Of course, not everyone was in agreement, so some notes below may seem contradictory. Sorry if I missed any comments – between note-taking I was nibbling on a deliciously distracting snack prepared by Chef Nick Liu.

 New Culinary Trends:

  • Lighter flavours, less salt and fat in food
  • More food based on childhood memories
  • More “hyper-local” food production, such as rooftop farming. The term “gastro-naturalism” was mentioned.
  • Tastes are getting more refined, since some people eat out 2 – 4 times per week. Toronto foodies are getting less and less conservative in their eating habits, and are more willing to try new foods. One chef mentioned that Torontonians are more willing now to try, “crazy ideas.”
  • People are more interested in “hand-crafted” food, they want to know the story about where the food comes from. On the other hand, some don’t care. The trick is to have servers who can provide the information as needed.
  • We’ll see an emergence of “real Asian food.”  There’s room for a restaurant in Toronto like the very popular Bao Bei in Vancouver, which pays homage to its Chinese roots in a modernist setting.
  • Design and ambience of a restaurant is almost as important as the food.
  • Pop Ups: there were arguments for and against their survival. On the one hand, they’re a good way for a budding chef to test their skills with very little overhead. One the other hand, because anyone can start a pop-up there’s an uneven quality about them, so foodies are becoming increasingly weary of them. In some cities pop-ups are getting a name for themselves and building a customer base. 

New Drink Trends: 

  • More traditional drinks are the norm (not big news), with more savoury cocktails, and more acid-based, to better complement food.
  • Pairing a cocktail with a food dish is a more interesting challenge than wine. 
  • Someone in the room commented that cocktails are easier to understand for many people than wines.
  • After the session someone suggested to me that shows like Mad Men directly influence the types of drinks and foods people want to eat or serve at their dinner parties or, have in a restaurant.

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