New Food Trends 2015


At the end of every year, platoons of food professionals -- consultants, chefs, writers and research firms -- race to predict the trends that will influence foodies all over America and ergo the world. According to Carol Tice from Forbes, the forecast released in mid-November by Baum+ Whiteman international restaurant consultants, was "one of the most fascinating." You can check out their full report of 11 dining trends plus 22 hot restaurant buzzwords for 2015 here.

Although I am married to Mr. Whiteman, his prognostications were unknown to me until they were released on Nov. 11th. The trends sit in telling categories: how the importance of technology will profoundly change the way restaurants function; how the notion of authenticity has less relevance, and how our lust for new and different has resulted in "restless palate syndrome" -- meaning that we can't leave simple food alone. One upon a time we liked salty, sweet, spicy, smoky, fatty and bitter flavors -- but now we want them all at once. In other words, "too much ain't enough."

The report, picked up by an Arabic newspaper, focuses on the importance of hummus, which Whiteman says, is probably the most mispronounced word in our country's food vocabulary. It gobbles up shelf space in our supermarkets because of a profusion of flavors added to what simply is a chickpea dip eaten in Israel and Arab countries. It now comes in dizzying variations including red pepper, chimichurri, lemongrass-chili and even chocolate mousse! (I've recently discovered a hummus ice cream in Tel Aviv).

Or take beer. Cocktails with beer are finding favor in trendy bars. Meanwhile, Micheladas are creeping up on us. Micheladas are Mexican beer concoctions that invite you to dump in all manner of spices -- bloody Mary mix, chipotle-tomato juice, soy sauce, beef broth and tequila get the idea: beer for restless palate people who've become blase about just a pint of IPA.

They also note in their predictions that honey is being "enhanced" with ghost peppers; that bourbon is being flavored with honey and chili pepper or with pumpkin pie spices; that while the fixation of everything-bacon may be abating, now there's 'ndjua, a light-up-your-mouth spreadable sausage from Calabria that's finding its way onto pasta, melted over pork chops, even blended into vinaigrettes as sauces for fish. "If bold flavors are a trend" they say, "this eye-stinging, red-peppered mushy salami is next year's bold flavor."

Do strawberries taste sweeter on a black plate or a white plate? On a square plate or a round plate? Their forecast about "neurogastronomy" -- how your mind and body can be manipulated to enhance how you sense and taste food --is required reading. So is their comical rant about overpriced avocado.

Among their predictions: The death of tipping, and a reduction in the vast earnings gap between tipped waiters and low-paid cooks and dishwashers; fine dining chefs ditching flowers, linens, reservation systems and expensive china, instead going downscale to develop fast-casual restaurants; insects as food as we search for renewable sources of proteins; savory ice creams and yogurts as consumers realize how much sugar they're getting in sweetened cold treats; the war on waste is gaining traction; pistachios will be the nut of the year; authentic Jewish delis and also Jewish-ethnic mashups; savory waffles and waffle sandwiches; matcha (green tea powder) in fancy beverages and even seafood stocks and sauces; night markets, building on food truck rodeos, growing around the country with multi-ethnic festivals that bring thousands to riverfronts and public squares.

In their trend called "Soda Fountain Crashes the Bar," Baum+Whiteman sees childhood treats boozed up as adult shakes and smoothies with bourbon, gin, Frangelico, Galliano, Chartreuse.

Even coconut and cucumber waters, promoted as somehow being "purer," are being overlaid (or adulterated) with flavors like coffee and mango and with energy-boosting ingredients. Now maple water and birch sap are being tested.

Finally, clever computer programs now allow high-end restaurants to sell tickets for dinner rather than take reservations. Eating out could become as hateful as dealing with the airlines, the consultants say, with cancellation penalties and price shifting based upon demand for seats or time of day.

My adds? Cabbage. Food as medicine. Page oranges from Florida. Tahina is the new mayonnaise. It will come in as many colors (and flavors) as a box of crayons. See you in 2015.

You can also check out the National Restaurant Association's list for the coming year, Carol Tice's report from Forbes, and this article from Cosmopolitan.

Singapore Food Critic Loves My Mac-n-Cheese

It's amazing how recipes circulate around the world. Back in the early '80s it took about two years for "blackened redfish" to migrate from New Orleans, where it was invented by Paul Prudhomme, to Chicago. But that's because the primitive media of culinary exchange were cooking magazines and Wednesday's newspaper food sections.

By the time the blackening fad arrived in Australia, redfish had been over-harvested to near-extinction, recovering only after trendinista chefs moved onto something else. These days, of course, food news and recipes shoot around the globe in no time flat via the Internet -- which is why we're suddenly inundated with gilded "gourmet" hamburgers and bizarre pizzas everywhere in the United States.

I'm reminded of this by an email that just arrived from Singapore, where one of my own recipes recently appeared. Two years ago, Michael Whiteman, my husband The Restaurant Consultant, worked with Richard Helfer, the former far-thinking president of Raffles Hotels, to help create a fast-casual rotisserie chicken restaurant prototype that was slated to colonize numerous corners of Singapore and then beyond.

On one of his trips he brought as a gift a cookbook, which I'd written with my daughter, called Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs. Every recipe is healthful and colorful, with major emphasis on swapping fresh vegetable purees for otherwise fattening cream and butter. For example, zucchini gets whirled into a gorgeous jade-green sauce for pasta primavera; cauliflower gets star billing in a delicious side dish called "Looks Like Mashed Potatoes;" and creamed spinach is enlightened with a puree of (yes!) cottage cheese.

Helfer named his chicken chain Charly T's, after a fictional gastronome who roamed the globe in search of recipes that would sate his infinite lust for chicken. Knowing that go-withs and flavorful sauces are at least as important as a well-lacquered bird, Helfer paid lots of attention to side dishes, one of which he happened upon in the aforementioned cookbook.

A Singaporean food writer alarmingly named "Little Missy Greedy" recently visited the newly opened second outlet of Charly T's to write about how to make the restaurant's celebrated mac-and-cheese -- and there it is, straight from Eat Fresh Food: my singular recipe that incorporates, among other ingredients, red peppers, chipotle powder, honey and cauliflower florets. Its gorgeous bright orange sauce is made from cooked red bell peppers and garlic that get pureed together until silky. The seven step-by-step photos all have captions in Chinese, which happens to be Greek to me -- but you can make this at home with your kids and be rewarded for being a terrific parent. You'll love it because it looks like it's oozing with cheese, but it has much less fat and is more nutritious than regular mac-and-cheese. And now it's among the trendiest dishes in Singapore. Singapore Sling, anyone? MAC-AND-CHEESE with Cauliflower and Creamy Red Pepper Sauce

4 oz. very sharp yellow cheddar 2 medium red bell peppers, about 12 oz. 3 large garlic cloves, peeled 1 tablespoon unsalted butter 1 teaspoon honey 1/8 teaspoon chipotle chile powder 8 oz. ziti or penne rigate (or elbow macaroni) 3 cups small cauliflower florets 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives


Shred the cheese on the large holes of a box grater and set aside. Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds. Cut peppers into 1-inch pieces and put in a small saucepan with ½ cup water. Cut the garlic in half, lengthwise, and add to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium, and cover. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the peppers are very soft. Transfer the contents of the saucepan, including the water, to a food processor or blender. Add the butter, honey, chile powder, and salt to taste and process until very smooth. Return to the saucepan. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cauliflower and cook for 12 minutes, or until tender. Drain well and shake dry. Transfer to a large bowl. Heat the sauce and pour it over the pasta. Add the cheese and stir well. Add salt to taste. Sprinkle with chives. Serves 4 to 6

Someone is Killing the Great Consultants from Brooklyn

This year we consumed four Thanksgiving dinners. This is my husband's* account of dinner #3 hosted by another one of the most fabulous home cooks we know. Recipe below. The New York Gazette

Someone Is Killing the Great Consultants from Brooklyn

Brooklyn, NY -- Nov 28 – Two famous restaurant consultants were found in their car here last night in a complete daze. Rushed to Methodist Hospital nearby, they were diagnosed as having overdosed on L-tryptophan along with uncontrollable surges of melatonin.

The couple, whose heads were flopping about like Stevie Wonder dolls, reported that earlier that evening they had consumed large quantities of an extraordinary turkey cooked by the master himself – a seasoned amateur named Geoffrey Weill of North Bergen, NJ. According to the couple, from various accounts pieced together by the hospital’s staff, they were lured to New Jersey with the promise of a modest Thanksgiving dinner, only to be assaulted by an array of irresistible comestibles, their will to resist greatly compromised by champagne being poured down their empty stomachs.

Medical experts says that this condition frequently is induced during the Thanksgiving period with intent to do harm, although the couple, whose names were withheld pending notice of next of kin, appeared to be unscathed. There still was money in their pockets and credit cards unused.

Law enforcement officials said that no specific law was broken since the couple was not harmed but that they were exploring the legal implications of being seduced to cross state lines with malicious intent.

A Methodist Hospital spokesperson reported, shortly before midnight, that the couple would recover. However, in their delirium they talked about a mystical cranberry relish with pomegranate syrup; a stuffing so wonderful that it must have possessed ingredients that were medically antagonistic to human genes, and some superlative orangey-yellowish vegetable whose name they could not recall.

Calls to the home of Mr. Weill went unanswered and his whereabouts were not immediately known. He and his wife were described by neighbors as ordinary sort of people with a reputation for staging fabulous dinners. No one recalled anyone in their neighborhood ever falling prey to foul play after dining with the Weills. Checks of credit card usage at nearby supermarkets revealed that Mr. Weill had indeed purchased a turkey at Pathmark earlier in the week, this turkey being larger than any 24 people could safely consumer, and observers say that based on car counts there were no more than a dozen adults in the house that evening.

A turkey carcass was discovered in the couple’s car, suggesting to police that they had been given the promiscuous remains of that turkey and that they had consumed, perhaps with the urging of their hosts, all the remaining meat since only the bones were left as evidence.

My Once-A-Year Turkey Broth 2 tablespoons olive oil 3 cups finely chopped onions 1 large meaty turkey carcass 4 chopped tomatoes 2 bay leaves 6 cups, more or less, leftover roasted or raw vegetables 4 cloves garlic

Heat oil in a very large pot. Add onions and cook over high heat, stirring often, for 15 minutes until dark brown. Crack turkey carcass in half and put in the pot. Add remaining ingredients and water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, lower heat and add 1 tablespoon salt. Simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Strain soup into clean pot and reduce until desired flavor is reached. Makes about 2 quarts

* My husband Michael Whiteman ( is an international restaurant consultant who (with partner Joe Baum) created the Rainbow Room and Windows on the World.