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Seafood Trends 2015

By: Chef Beau Guthrie, VP of Corporate Accounts

Small portions – Consumers are looking for smaller portions because of their desire to try multiple dishes in one sitting, while not having to risk ordering too much of something they do not enjoy. The small portions also fit into the “all-day snacking” trend, and allows companies to cater their products to all day-parts. It allows for a more social dining experience where people share many different small plates to make a meal.

Vietnamese and Korean – Asian cuisine has been on trend for quite some time, and most Americans are very familiar with Japanese, Thai, and Chinese cuisines. As Americans learn more about the diversity in cuisine throughout Asia they are becoming most interested in Vietnamese and Korean cuisines. Both cuisines use significant amounts of chili, and can be very spicy. Vietnamese is one of the healthiest cuisines on the planet, using lots of herbs and vegetables, with some influence from Colonial France. Korean cuisine is based mostly on meats and fermented vegetables such as Kim Chee and spicy Gochuchong Chili paste.

DIY Health – The desire to build your own meal based on an individual’s dietary needs/preferences. The trend of customization is being driven by the rise in people’s awareness of what their individual body needs to live a healthier lifestyle.

Middle Eastern and North African Flavors – Zataar, Harissa, and Dukkah are unique flavor profiles on the rise from the Mediterranean region, outside of Europe. These unique flavor profiles are a blend of ingredients found in Asian and European cuisines.

Natural and Clean Label – As people become more aware about the ingredients in the prepared foods they eat, there is a continuing trend in the desire to have cleaner and simplified ingredient declarations. The GMO topic is also causing many consumers to look to Organic and Non-GMO options across all categories.

Smoke – From Chipotles and bacon, to BBQ and smoked salt, the trend of smoke is showing up all over the place. Smoked fruits, such as cherries, strawberries and tomatoes are some of the more unique flavors, but anything with a kiss of smoke is trending

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The Basic Steps of the Research & Development Process in the Food Industry

By: Chef Jody Slater, Culinary Development Chef

A research and development (R&D) department is a crucial part of a food company. They are responsible for creating innovative products to keep companies a step ahead of the competition. R&D also examines methods to improve existing products and procedures. HB’s experienced R&D department works hard to meet consumer demands and helps enable HB to thrive and succeed in the industry.

As research chefs and food scientists we have a basic way to approach the development process. Whether creating a new product or duplicating an existing one, these basic steps will help determine the direction of development.

We will use a basic sweet chili sauce as an example. Pretend like you are in the lab tasting with us. We are going to duplicate a typical sauce that you would buy in your local grocery store. We will use the basic steps below to dissect our control sample.

  • Color- typically chili sauces range from a bright orange to a deep red. What is the color of your sweet chili sauce?
  • Viscosity- is it a thick sauce or a bit thinner?
  • Mouth feel- think about how it slides off your tongue. Is the texture smooth?
  • Aroma- does it smell spicy and sweet or just sweet? Does it smell garlicky, or can you pick up some hints of vinegar? Really take the time to close your eyes and think about the aroma.
  • Flavor- think about the flavor that you taste first. This will help in the duplication process. What hits first? Second? Third? Also, keep in mind that not every ingredient will be listed on the label so you will need to taste closely and step into the role of a food detective.
  • Appearance- does it have particulates? What size? What color?

It is also incredibly helpful to look at the ingredient label. Some people prefer to do this in the very beginning. I like to walk in a little blind and look at the ingredients after I go through the initial process so I don’t have any preconceived notions. However, the ingredient label or declaration as we call it is a crucial piece to the puzzle. It will help us determine the order of ingredients and it also tells us what ingredients we need to use for development. Start out by thinking of the ingredients as a formula that needs to add up to 100%. The first ingredient in the sauce is in the sauce at the highest percentage. The second ingredient is in there at a lower percentage than the first and so on… You will typically need to make several revisions. Just continue to think of the sauce as a formula that needs to add up to 100%. That will help you determine what changes to make each time you reformulate.

Okay, now we are ready to begin. Let’s look at the ingredient declaration below:

Water, Sugar, Thai Chili Puree (Dry Thai Chilies, Water, citric Acid), Distilled Vinegar, Corn Starch, Salt, Garlic and Garlic Extract, Paprika Extract.

So, you can immediately determine that the water is in the sauce at the highest level, sugar falls immediately after the water. The Thai Chili puree has a separate ingredient label so you will need to do some research and source a puree that matches. Next we have distilled vinegar. Since you can tell that most of the ingredients on the label are liquid instead of dry we will need to use liquid vinegar instead of dry vinegar powder. Okay, we are down to the starch. You will want to pick a starch based on the cooking process in the manufacturing company; if the company is able to use a kettle and cook the sauce than you can use a cook up starch. If they are unable to cook the sauce, you will want to choose an instant one. Salt will come in at a lower level than the corn starch but higher than the garlic. Paprika will be the last ingredient and is used for color not flavor. At this point taste and compare to the control. Continue to make any necessary changes until you determine the sauce is a match based on flavor, color, texture, mouth feel, viscosity, aroma and of course the ingredient declaration.

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2013 Food Trends

Health Conscious and Affordable

By: Chef Beau Guthrie, VP of Culinary Services

1. Local – Once again, Local will be a big buzz word in the food world for 2013.   Whether it is buying your veggies at the local farmer’s market, or a restaurant that grows their own herbs out back, people want to feel like they are giving back to the area they live in.  Buying local also cuts down on the carbon foot print of food production.  The test now is figuring out how to define “local”.  Some are saying it is within 100 miles, while others feel regional food is acceptable.  Either way people will be eating more food from closer to home.

2. Healthy Kids Meals and Snacks – Fast Food joints are offering meals with apple slices instead of fries, juice and water instead of soda, and fruit and yogurt parfaits instead of a sugar filled sundae.  As the concern about obesity rises, parents are looking for fast but still healthy ways to ward off hunger.  With many ethnic foods being favorites of this new generation of parents, their children are dipping their carrots in hummus instead of ranch, and eating sushi instead of fish sticks.  While ranch and fish sticks are not going anywhere, the availability of healthier options for kids is certainly on the rise.

3. Healthy Dining Out – The concern about the growing obesity rate has many people looking for healthier options when they dine out.  Over the past several years the American diet has shifted from eating dinner at home to busy adults going out or grabbing take-out after work.  People are realizing that eating high calorie meals a couple times a week might be ok, but every night is not working.  Look to see many restaurants begin showing calorie counts on menus, and promoting vegetarian options with unique whole grains.  People want delicious, flavorful food, but don’t want to feel like a sloth afterwards.

4. Chicken Breast – With the drought this summer affecting feed crops, the beef and pork industries are telling us there will be a big price hike on these proteins through half of 2014.  People who are looking to save some cash and enjoy some lean protein will have to look no further than the chicken breast.  Keep an eye out to see how creative chefs class up this everyday staple.

5. Kale – From baby kale in salads, so the new snacking craze, kale chips, you will find this leafy, green super food everywhere.  It may be hiding under your pork tenderloin, or floating in your soup.  You may even see it next to the queso dip at your friend’s Super Bowl party.  Everywhere you look people will be kale crazy.

6. Game Meat – In response to the rising price of beef and pork, game meats will be the alternative for people that want to enjoy meat but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for it.  Look for venison loin, elk burgers, and bison to be affordable and interesting alternatives to the more common proteins.

7. Home Fermentation – Making beer, wine, pickles, and vinegars are becoming a popular hobby for many foodies.  As this interest in home fermentation grows, expect to see many restaurants doing the same.  Chefs will be fermenting anything they can get their hands on, and diners will be all over it.

8. Snacking – As people are recovering from the slow economy, diners are still looking on ways to keep checks low, but feel like they are getting high value.  Many people are sharing plates, and looking for small plates and good happy hour deals.  This allows people to still go out with their friends but not break the bank.  This also allows people to go out more often.  Expect to see more restaurants extending happy hours and expanding their appetizer and small plate menus.

9. Greek Yogurt – Every major yogurt producer is now selling Greek yogurt, and a few of the smaller Greek yogurt makers are now dairy powerhouses.  This Greek yogurt craze is not slowing down.  Expect to see many products touting Greek yogurt and its health benefits on their labels.  From low fat onion dip to frozen treats you will see Greek yogurt all over the grocery store.

10. Allergy Conscious – As more people are being diagnosed with allergies and intolerances to certain foods, food manufacturers are coming up with ways to give those people the foods they crave, but cannot have.  Whether it is because someone cannot have gluten or they are looking to cut back, people are looking for alternatives to traditional foods for many different reasons.

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The Arc of Flavor

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.

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Keep it Simple

By: Chef Eric White, Culinary Development Chef

In an interview Gordon Ramsay said keep it simple.  Start with the freshest, highest quality ingredients available and let the flavors of five or six ingredients shine through.  There is no need to place three garnishes on a gastronomic masterpiece that already has 20 components.  I started shuffling through my rolodex of restaurant experiences; I believe he is right.

Going back to culinary school, aspiring chefs are given the tools to coax as much flavor as possible out of everything that is prepared in the kitchen.  Developing proper cooking techniques is what separates the cook from the chef.  Properly smoking beef brisket with a simple dry rub rarely needs a mop or to be slathered with sauce at the table.  Pan searing sea bass needs nothing more than salt, pepper and a light white wine reduction with grilled asparagus or fresh fava beans to accompany the sea bass.

Keeping it simple, I will end by encouraging everyone to go back to the basics.  Make a risotto, not including squash blossoms or any other vegetables, but a simple old school risotto made with a flavorful stock, a bit of aged parmesan and finished with a splash of cream; add a veal chop seasoned with salt and pepper cooked to medium rare and enjoy!

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