The Arc of Flavor
November 12, 2012
By: Chef Beau Guthrie, VP of Culinary Services
After a fascinating, long weekend at the C.I.A. (Culinary Institute of America) at Graystone, in Napa Valley, CA, it is back to work in Nampa, ID. Although similar in name and proximity to wine growing regions, they could not be further apart in most respects. My associate Jody Slater and I were attending a conference with many other Chefs from around the world. The topic of this conference was “The Arc of Flavor: Re-imagining Culinary Exchange from the Mediterranean and Middle East to Asia”.
The conference centered around the idea of how ingredients, cooking techniques, and flavor profiles have been exchanged for nearly four thousand years along the spice routes and the silk road. Whether it was from the Portuguese bringing tempura to Japan, or the Middle Eastern traders bringing Black Pepper from India to Europe, to see how similar techniques and ingredients are used around the world is amazing. Realizing those similarities are a product of four millennia of trade really makes you think. What’s next?
There was a similar exchange of ideas and foodstuffs after the discovery of the New World, known as ‘The Columbian Exchange’, after Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. Now all these areas, from Norway to Peru, and Seattle to Singapore, are connected via the internet. How will this change food and cuisine as we know it? It has already begun. Just look Nampa, Idaho. 15 years ago your dining options consisted of Red Robin, Outback Steakhouse, or Applebee’s. There were a handful of good Mexican restaurants due to the large Latino population, but good luck finding Vietnamese or Sushi.
Now you can find everything from Vietnamese Bahn Mi sandwiches to panko crusted oyster club sandwiches. Through technology there is a new arc of flavor that is happening concurrently, between places all over the globe every moment. We live in an exciting time where no matter where you live, you are connected to cooks, restaurants and chefs from different backgrounds using traditional and cutting edge techniques and flavor combinations.