Food trends coming soon to an eatery near you
Remember your first bite of sushi? Your first banh mi sandwich? That initial spicy slurp of dan dan noodles? Some of us recall the day we boarded the bus for “anywhere but here” cuisine, the day we realized a whole world of flavor awaited our taste buds.
That quest appears to be driving modern food trends. Flavors jetting in from far off lands—South America, Africa, the Middle East and South Asia—continue to amp up local menus with succulent spices such as caraway, coriander, cardamom, turmeric, sumac (essential to Persian cuisine) and star anise. Peppers are hotter than ever in 2020, we’re told, including the superhots like Trinidad Scorpion and Carolina Reaper.
Chile sauces like sriracha are now commonplace condiments while new spice blends (Ethiopian berbere, anyone?) are coming on scene. Sea salts have always been amazing, but new versions are now smoked and infused with herbs. A never-ending supply of exotic mushrooms and fruits continue to make an appearance at Asian markets and health foods stores. Gourmet snack foods such as crackers, chips and even popcorn burst with flavors that range from red chili to caramel chipotle.
Devour writers hit the streets to check in with those on the forefront of the local culinary scene to see what they’re excited about. Here are a dozen ideas for your consideration.
Chicken Sandwich Wars, All-Day Breakfasts, Bone Broth Soup
As a food broker, Christian Frech follows food trends as a way of life. The business development manager for KeyImpact represents food manufacturers selling products ranging from hot dogs to chocolate.
Working for a variety of food operations, from the mom-&-pop shops to locally owned restaurant groups, Frech says that when he hears numerous customers talking certain foods, that means it’s trending. “If there is someone from a university asking me about a chicken sandwich and then a local, independent shop opens, and they are asking questions about a chicken sandwich, it is flagged,” he says.
Restaurants pride themselves on starting trends but also do not want to miss out on what’s hot, he says. Frech then looks for ways he can increase business for the manufacturers he represents by hopping on board the latest hot-ticket-item express.
“Food in general is super interesting,” he says. “Whether I am talking about a product or just talking about food itself—it’s fun to talk about,” Frech said.
He uses social media to stay in the loop, he says. “I turn to Instagram [to see what people are talking about]. It makes staying on top of trends that much easier.”
The notorious chicken sandwich wars, breakfast all day and bone broth soups are the current trends Frech is seeing. You may have picked up on them, as well? (By Aimee L. Cook)
KeyImpact Sales and Systems Inc.
World Flavors and Clean, Plant-Based Food
Nicholas & Co. business development specialist Andrew Redford sees products such as pot stickers, ramen noodles, chile verde and tempura in high demand while Salt Lake diners’ interest in Indian and Mediterranean flavors has spiked orders for aleppo peppers, peri peri seasoning, curries and coconut products.
Nationally, Redford notes that fermented foods, insects and protein noodles—a noodle that’s made from pollock fish—are rising trends that Utahns may soon taste on a regular basis.
Alongside world flavors, plant-based foods made with no animal or animal by-products and eco-friendly and compostable packaging products are becoming mainstream as well.
In addition, Redford points to increased requests for clean-label foods (no antibiotics ever, no nitrates, humanely raised) where consumers can follow the story of their food. “Customers not only want to know what is in their food, but how it was raised or grown, how those who harvest it are treated and what the environmental impact is,” Redford concludes.
Founded by Nicholas Mouskondis in 1939, Nicholas and Co. is a third-generation, family-owned food distribution company based in Salt Lake City that sells high-quality proteins, produce and beverages throughout the Intermountain West.
Serving schools as well as health-care and the food-service industries, Nicholas delivers to more than 1,100 restaurants in the Salt Lake metro area. Of those, just over 60% are independent, one-location operators.
And nearly a third of the company’s Salt Lake restaurant business comes from establishments serving international cuisine—with Thai, Korean, Japanese, Italian and Latin American representing growing market share.
With access to so much information readily available to all consumers, Redford sees the role of food distribution businesses like Nicholas evolving into a more consultative role where they can provide value-added solutions (such as washing and cutting lettuce) to save restaurants labor-intensive work and bringing new and emerging trends to their customers to be on the cutting edge of the changing food landscape. (By Heather L. King)
Nicholas & Co., 5520 W. Harold Gatty Drive, SLC, 801-531-1100, Nicholasandco.com
Incubators Hatch Diverse Eateries and Products
In the seven years since Spice Kitchen Incubator has opened their culinary business-incubator program for refugees and the disadvantaged, they’ve helped numerous entrepreneurs open food businesses and ultimately create viable income and work for themselves.
“We can clearly see that there’s value in what we’re doing,” program manager Kate Idzorek said. “Salt Lake City really wants this, and [the city] also really needs [the culinary startups] to continue.”
Although the nonprofit recently had to move out of their South Salt Lake location, Idzorek said they’re continuing their program at Square Kitchen, also a culinary incubator kitchen, while they seek new, larger space. It will likely include a cafe and storefront to increase brand exposure and allow them to test packaged products and prepared foods.
They also hope to have more room for food trucks, which Idzorek said is an easy way for entrepreneurs to test their business model without the overhead costs of a permanent location.
Once Spice Kitchen has a new permanent home, their overall goal is to get more food entrepreneurs into brick and mortar locations and to ultimately diversify the food scene in Salt Lake City, Idzorek said.
As for food trends they’re seeing, Jackie Rodabaugh, community relations coordinator, notes their entrepreneurs seek to use local ingredients while many offer high-quality plant protein and plant-based products.
“They want to support the farms where they know where their ingredients are coming from,” Rodabaugh said.
In addition, their clients work hard to blend culinary traditions from their home countries with what local customers want. “There’s a demand for authentic ethnic food,” Rodabaugh said, “so it’s exciting to see cultures and food identities blend as they create dishes that are accessible to everyone.”
As for other trends in the culinary incubator world, Ana Valdemoros, the founder of Square Kitchen, notes many businesses are focused on creating specialized foods and products. She thinks the future of incubator kitchens will likely involve kitchens and facilities dedicated to producing exclusive foods or products. (By Brooke Constance White)
Spice Kitchen, 751 W. 800 South, SLC, 385-229-4484, SpiceKitchenIncubator.org
Brewing Outside the Box
Although the original science of brewing beer hasn’t changed in thousands of years, a few Salt Lake City breweries are playing with different ingredients and flavors to put a new spin on things.
For instance, Kiitos Brewing, which brews entirely with solar and wind power, encourages visitors to blend their beers. Head brewer Carl Turnbow said their Milkshake series brew, which changes seasonally, is one that customers often combine with other brews to cut the sweetness and fruit flavor a bit.
“We encourage our bartenders and customers to be experimental,” he said. “If someone feels like a flavor profile is too sweet or something, mix it with something else.”
And if you need help with combinations, Kiitos’ secret beer menu suggests combinations and ratios for these mixed beer “cocktails.” Want to try the Sweet N Sour? Mix three parts Vanilla Nut Cream Ale and one part Blackberry Sour. How about the Morning After? Mix equal parts Vanilla Nut Cream Ale, Coconut Stout and Coffee Cream Ale.
And because they use a less traditional, high-efficiency brewing system, Turnbow said they use ingredients that other breweries can’t.
“If someone comes across a random, fun ingredient, we’re always interested in seeing what we can come up with,” he said. “Our customers love it and we love thinking outside the box.”
Over at SaltFire Brewing, owner Ryan Miller said they’ve started focusing on barrel-aged sour and wild beers, which can take months—or even years—to make. A new brew they’ll be releasing soon is soured in Jamaican rum barrels and fruited with Utah peaches. They’re also aging their flagship IPA in charred gin barrels from Beehive Distilling.
“It’s a fantastic beer and really picks up the oak, gin and botanicals from the barrels,” Miller said, adding that customers also love their Dirty Chai Stout, which is made with Blue Copper coffee and chai spices.
While they try to stay true to the art of craft beer, “it’s fun to play around a bit with simple flavor profiles,” he said. (By Brooke Constance White)
Kiitos Brewing, 608 W. 700 South, SLC, 801-215-9165, KiitosBrewing.com
SaltFire Brewing Co., 2199 S. West Temple, South Salt Lake, 385-955-0504, SaltfireBrewing.com
The Call of the Hall
HallPass, Salt Lake City’s first food hall, located in The Gateway mall, has been jampacked since it opened in mid-January. But unlike most other food halls, one company owns all the concepts in the 11,000-square-foot eatery, so there’s no competition and each eatery is held to the same high standard.
HallPass owner Reed Allen Slobusky says that, so far, guests love the variety of cuisines. Along with SkinnyFats, Slobusky’s Las Vegas-based eatery built around a half healthy/half happy menu, HallPass includes Blaze of Thunder, CodSpeed, Colossal Lobster, Raining Ramen, Waffadopolis, Hibachican, Beer Zombies and Guac Pusher. There’s also a tiny, password-protected “speakeasy” style bar.
“People love going somewhere where they all have different options but can all eat and drink together in a communal area,” Slobusky said.
HallPass employee Andrew Bona said he thinks food halls are the future of dining. Not only are there choices for every palate but as with food trucks, there’s lower overhead for each of the concepts.
In a similar vein, Hoang Nguyen, managing partner with Sapa Investment Group, says their long-awaited Food Alley will open the first phase of their project in 2020, with Phase 2 opening in early 2021. Unlike a traditional food hall, Food Alley will be located in a small alley off State Street at 800 South, made up of 17 family-owned restaurants offering different cuisines.
Of the 17, five or six will be larger “anchor” restaurants, Nguyen says, while the rest will be smaller, micro-restaurants in reclaimed shipping containers. All will be locally owned/operated, representing as many different food cultures as possible.
“We will be working with Spice Kitchen to help some of their entrepreneurs bring their concept to life, which we’re really excited about,” she said. “We also hope to have urban art studios on the second level. There’s a lot of moving parts to this process, but we’re so excited to see it come to fruition in the coming months.” (By Brooke Constance White)
HallPass, The Gateway,
153 S. Rio Grande St., Ste. 107, SLC, HallPassSLC.com
Food Alley, 757 S. State, SLC, SapaInvestment.com/foodalley-restaurant
Sustainability and innovations are a challenging balancing act for local urban farmers.
For the past decade, Shayn Bowler, a fifth-generation farmer, and wife Kristen have operated Utah Natural Meat and Milk, selling their grass-fed beef in response to customers who, after viewing various food documentaries, began seeking local and sustainable sources for meat. “That’s when it kind of dawned on us there is this whole other outlet to farming that now people are starting to value,” Kristen says. Located in West Jordan, they already had the infrastructure in place along with pastures and cows. The Bowlers cleaned out their garage and created a store.
“People started lining up down our driveway and down the street every Saturday to buy our products,” Shayn says.
Currently, the farm is building a goat dairy to supply raw goat’s milk in addition to raw cow’s milk and other products. They are also producing goat’s milk soap. Cheese production has been on their radar for a while, so don’t be surprised if you see that on their shelves in the future.
They also grow sprouts in their hydroponic greenhouse, which uses only 3% of the water that a traditional irrigation pasture requires. “Being in the middle of the city, water is not as accessible for us,” Kristen says. “This way, we can feed our animals fresh greens every day, even during the winter.”
Urban farms need to educate customers and neighbors who often misunderstand the ways of the farmer and tend to humanize the animals. Still, farming is in Shayn’s blood, and he takes the challenges in stride.
“It’s something I was always drawn to and enjoy. It is not just about producing a product. It’s rewarding to see that we can help people through something as simple as food with profound results,” Shayn said.
“It’s meaningful to me to raise the animal, and then share that product with someone else,” he says. “I really don’t think it’s something you can understand through words—it’s something you understand through experience.” (By Aimee L. Cook)
Utah Natural Meat and Milk, 7400 S. 5600 West, West Jordan, 801-896-3276, UtahNaturalMeat.com
Small Cheese is Big
Matt Caputo, cheese monger and CEO of Caputo’s, is concerned about the disappearance of family dairy farms and is on a preservation mission.
“We have many cheeses in our case from small farms or small producers in Utah and have seen how hard it is for them to survive,” Caputo says. “Mesa Farm will be the first to tell you that without Caputo’s, they wouldn’t still be here, and we had to undertake a huge effort to make it work for Mesa Farm.”
Caputo believes the survival of small cheese producers depends on consumers making a point to buy local cheeses on a regular basis. He encourages consumers to incorporate Utah’s small cheese makers into their regular rotations.
“Park City Creamery is Utah’s newest (and quite likely smallest) cheese maker. While [owner Corinne Zinn’s] cheese is insanely delicious, she is going to face many challenges and hurdles that many other categories of food don’t face,” Caputo said.
“Our government has been lobbied so hard by big cheese companies,” Caputo says, “it’s really difficult to be a small cheese maker these days. My hat goes off to them all. I don’t think there are many humans on Earth that work harder than the farmstead small cheese maker.” In particular, Caputo says, Randy Ramsley from Mesa Farm must be a “demi-god” for as hard as he works. (By Aimee L. Cook)
Caputo’s, multiple locations, Caputos.com
Park City restauranteur Bill White is known for doing things differently. His eight eateries—Grappa, Chimayo, Wahso, Windy Ridge Café/Bakery, Ghidotti’s, Sushi Blue and Billy Blanco’s—cover the spectrum of regional cuisines and price points and helped advance the culinary scene in Park City over the past several decades.
As the farm-to-table movement gained mainstream appeal in Utah, consumer demand for sustainable agriculture such as open range, hormone-free meats, sustainable seafood and pesticide-free fruits and vegetables grew.
In 2013, White saw an opportunity to step back from his restaurants to return to his northern Michigan farming roots and shed light on the importance of how the plants and animals are raised and grown. Today, Bill White Farms and the Agriculture, Education and Sustainability Center put into practice innovative ways to grow and serve food as well as utilize the leftovers once a meal is finished.
Bill White Farms encompasses two properties—the farm on Highway 224 and also a 5-acre ranch on Old Ranch Road—each operating under the Earthganic standards White developed and trademarked to describe his holistic approach to agricultural and ranching practices. From soil restoration and cover cropping to rotational grazing and a focus on producing protein sources that improve human nutrition, White’s current efforts far surpass organic farming practices and USDA animal health standards.
The Highway 224 farm started as a hobby farm but quickly changed course to showcase sustainability and how much healthy food can be produced on very little land. Over time, it has become a model of clean farming principles and produces four dozen different varieties of vegetables and fruits including tomatoes, kale, corn, bell peppers, eggplant, asparagus, apples, strawberries and herbs such as basil and oregano.
At Old Ranch Road, White raises pigs, chickens, turkeys, cows and lambs where they forage and enjoy open air in addition to fresh kitchen scraps from the restaurants. A 100,000-gallon fish tank feeds plants that become fodder for the livestock during the winter months. White eventually hopes to grow 50,000 rainbow trout, too.
Food raised by Bill White Farms is then served at charitable dinners on the property and benefitting other nonprofit organizations or donated to Christian Center of Park City to feed 4,000 Park City residents each month. (By Heather L. King)
Bill White Farms, 5373 Highway 224, Park City, 435-647-2908, BillWhiteFarms.org
Feeling Good About Getting Wasted
What do gourmet butter, serrano peppers, tiny butternut squash, abundant herbs and spotted bananas all have in common? They were all diverted from a landfill and rescued by Utah nonprofit Waste Less Solutions. Even better, they became a multi-course, chef-prepared meal for 16 lucky attendees at the most recent Encore Dinner Series held at Salt Lake Institute of Culinary Education (SLICE).
The Encore Dinner Series supports Waste Less Solutions’ overall mission of reducing food waste and feeding Utahns in need through their food diversion program that engages the community to help rescue edible food and get it to the food insecure in Utah.
The dinner series pop up is a deliciously creative way that Waste Less Solutions’ founder and president Dana Williamson hopes to educate Utah consumers about rescued food.
Rescued food, says Williamson, can come in several forms—from imperfect produce like the undersize zucchini squash donated by Muir Copper Canyon Farms to an extra turkey breast from The Blended Table catering company.
By finding alternative consumers for products that would otherwise go to waste, Waste Less Solutions helps reduce food waste and, in turn, feeds Salt Lake County’s food insecure with donations from events, grocers and other food service industries.
The organization also strives to teach Utah diners about how they themselves can reduce food waste by shopping smarter, freezing leftovers and composting. Through newsletters, cooking classes and the Encore Dinner Series, they’re invited into the kitchen to see how professional chefs turn a grocery list of “extras and uglies” into a delectable meal that everyone can feel good about.
In the true spirit of the event, featured chefs only learn what ingredients they’ll have on hand a few days before the dinner when the rescued food has been brought in—adding intrigue to the one-of-a-kind dinners. It’s a “fun way to get people interested and to introduce them to the idea of food waste where they can see the food used firsthand,” Williamson says. Look for future dates of the dinner series at the website below. (By Heather L. King)
While the winter season delivered heavy doses of the Greatest Snow on Earth to Utah, Bountiful organic farmer Jack Wilbur began delivering organic hydroponically grown produce to restaurants and consumers along the Wasatch Front.
The new venture, branded Elite Greens, comes from the co-founder of 3 Squares Produce Farms and opens the door for year-round hydroponic growing of organic greens, microgreens and herbs.
As an urban farmer, Wilbur has spent years growing crops on small plots of urban land up and down the Wasatch Front, but his latest venture utilizes just 600 square feet of indoor space to grow up to 1,500 plants with an average harvest of 300-350 plants each week.
“I think it is part of the future of small urban farming,” says Wilbur.
This year-round growing arm of Wilbur’s farming operations features staggered planting and harvesting, using hydroponic methods in custom-built hydro towers.
Plants are initially germinated from seed then transferred to the custom-designed water walls which pump nutrient-rich water directly over the root system and utilize a 14-hour on and 10-hour off grow light operation.
Best of all, Wilbur says, “Things grow like crazy in here. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Elite Greens supplies red and green leaf and butter lettuces as both bagged salad and full heads, frisee, endive, radish, sunflower, pea and mustard microgreens. In addition, they grow parsley, basil, cilantro and rosemary. Small amounts of other greens, such as kale and Swiss chard will also be grown seasonally.
Most of the produce will eventually be distributed wholesale but consumers will also find head lettuces or a gourmet lettuce mix, microgreens and herbs appearing in their community supported agriculture (CSA) subscriptions, and any leftovers will be available for purchase at 3 Squares Produce’s farmers market booths in 2020. (By Heather L. King)
Elite Greens, 801-243-2801, EliteGreensUt.com
Ogden Seed Exchange
What started on a Saturday in February a decade ago as a simple gathering of friends at a local coffee shop to swap seeds has grown into a community event that hundreds attend annually.
David Wolfgramm and Gregg Batt started Ogden Seed Exchange with an abundance of garden seeds that they wanted to share with others. They didn’t realize how popular the event would become as it outgrew several venues over the years, including the Ogden Nature Center.
Anna Cash, who runs Ogden Preparatory Academy’s School Garden, stepped forward to offer the school’s gym for the event, where it’s held today. For three hours, you can meet dozens of local seed growers and small farm owners and learn all about the important craft of seed saving. It’s a great way to begin planning your most delicious garden yet.
“Ogden is the perfect community for this type of event,” says Mary Milan, who began participating as a volunteer in 2013. “It’s a good time of year—you get a head start on planning, and the swap has an energy there.” With a common interest in seed sharing, she says, you always learn something new from one another.
The seed exchange has a simple rule—local seeds only. Local seed is the foundation of healthy, localized food. Local seed yields healthier, heartier and better-tasting plants. All vendors at the seed exchange are bioregional—which means that they are in the same climate/zone for optimal growing conditions. Local seeds germinate and adapt better than commercially grown seed.
Dan and Suzy Dailey, who own Grounds for Coffee, have a community garden behind their shop. “Like-minded people are trying to make small changes to improve the current monoculture of seed (crops). Local seed variety has dropped over 80%—there used to be much more variety. Doing this encourages us to create a healthier world,” Dan says.
Although it’s safe to say wait until after Mother’s Day to put anything into the ground, it’s never too early to plan the garden. Visit the Facebook page for the Ogden Seed Exchange to start your dream garden. (By Rebecca Ory Hernandez)
The Ogden Seed Exchange
Upcoming seed exchange
May 2 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the
Ogden Nature Center
966 W. 12th St., Ogden, 801-621-7595, OgdenNatureCenter.org
Veganism Is Mainstream
Plant-based cuisine is now arguably on nearly every chef’s menu. No longer perceived a fanatical lifestyle choice, plants are in the forefront of the foods we all eat. Depending on the source, veganism is shown to have grown by over 300 percent in America in the past 10 years.
Plant-based cuisine equates to better food, better choices, better health and more nutrition. Whatever the reason for its growth, veganism has to be an element of every chef’s menu planning. Even fast-food places offer garden or vegan burgers and sides. Veganism is mainstream and can’t be ignored.
In order to get truly delicious vegan fare on the plate, there must be sources of fresh, good-quality ingredients from the garden. Buying locally grown produce supports the local economy while lowering pollution and costs of transporting food. Look for local produce at places like the Oasis Café, Vertical Diner and Zest Kitchen and Bar. When asking local chefs what they’re working on, many of them mentioned more vegan fare and highlighting organic, local vegetables.
Even “meatier” establishments such as Bambara are offering vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.
This writer’s favorite is Salt Lake City’s Zest because they buy from local farms such as Frog Bench Farms and other gardens whose produce you’ll find at the Salt Lake City Farmers Market. Taste matters, and many chefs have risen to a level of unbelievable creativity when it comes to incorporating plants into their offerings. (By Rebecca Ory Hernandez)