We make way for new spices, bold flavours, more environmentally conscious eating habits and an even bigger focus on plant-based cooking. Of course, autumn always will, as it should, include a bountiful harvest of seasonal produce like apples, earthy squash varieties, root vegetables, Brussels sprouts, beans and pomegranates. But how can your restaurant stand out amongst discerning diners while staying true to your roots? Chefs across the country went out on the hunt for inspiring trends and dishes as the leaves begin to change colour. Read on to see what caught our eye.
50 Shades of Orange
Some fall trends never get old, and we’re totally okay with that. We’re seeing classic ingredients reimagined into playful flavour combinations, brightly coloured dishes and new style comforts.
- Seared Duck Breast (Palate Party, Ft. Lauderdale, FL): raisin compote, pearl onions, gingersnap cookie sauce.
- Polenta “Bosciaola” (Mora Italian, Phoenix, AZ): seasonal mushrooms (trumpet, oyster, maitake), truffles, bacon.
- Cider Brined Frenched Pork Chop (West Row Café and Bar, Newburyport, MA): Brown butter sweet potato hash with shaved Brussels sprouts and bacon, pickled shallots and cider jus.
- Coq au Cider (Food and Lifestyle Blogger @botanicaandbloom, Ontario, Canada): With butternut squash, apples, carrots and warm spices like fresh ginger, allspice and cardamom. A twist on classic White Coq au Vin, instead of using white wine, apple cider is used for a fall comfort flair.
- Pumpkin Butter Puff (Food and Lifestyle Blogger @botanicaandbloom, Ontario, Canada): Pumpkin puff pastry with an apple cranberry filling. Classic fall flavours come together for a sweet treat.
Modern Middle Eastern Cuisine
As we know, diners are more adventurous than ever and are looking for new, exciting flavours. While hummus bowls and kebabs are already mainstream for Gen Z, other diners are looking for new flavour experiences as well. Modern Israeli, Mediterranean and Lebanese spots are popping up, dishing out new takes on classic traditions. Look for labneh, a strained yogurt, and bold spices like za’atar, harissa and sumac.
- Smoked Eggplant Carpaccio (NUR, NYC): Fire roasted eggplant with feta, raw tahini, dates, pistachios and rose water.
- Kawarma (Suraya, Philadelphia, PA): Baharat rubbed lamb, grilled and slow roasted with pomegranate cucumber salad & dill yogurt.
- Tahina Hot Chocolate (Suraya, Philadelphia, PA): Hot chocolate served with a spiced tahini foam.
- Kanafeh (Suraya, Philadelphia, PA): Traditional Lebanese dessert of melted fresh cheese curd with an outer layer of semolina and crispy kataifi. With added rose blossom syrup and crushed pistachios, it’s a dessert that blends savory, sweet flavours with crispy and chewy textures.
Filipino foods have been discussed as an emerging trend with expectations that it is going to continue to develop momentum. At the flavour Experience in November in Southern California, it was listed as one of the top ten trends in food for 2019. With multiple layers of flavour and complexity, it’s no surprise this flavourful cuisine is finding its way into the spotlight.
- Igado (Lina’s Filipino Marketplace, outside Chicago, IL): A slightly sweet, savory stew made from pork, pork liver, vinegar, pineapple juice, carrots, red bell peppers, green peas, raisins, onion and garlic.
- Pork Sisig (Lina’s Filipino Marketplace, outside Chicago, IL): this is an appetizer that can be served hot or cold. It is made of finely chopped fried pork belly (and many times grilled head meats), Onions, Green onions, Red and Green Bell peppers, Thai bird Chilis and Calamansi Juice (Filipino Limes).
- Fried Pork Belly and Scrambled Egg Fried Rice (Amelia’s 1931, Miami, FL): scallions, fried egg, fried garlic and onions, and avocado.
Fermented and Pickled
Generally low in food cost but high in value, fermented and pickled foods and condiments can take a dish to a new level. The salty, savory flavour in these foods appeal to that sought after fifth taste- umami. Pairing this flavour with often heavier, more comforting fall foods gives an exciting tangy contrast. Plus, with gut health on the forefront of many people’s minds, it’s a win-win for all.
- Grilled Red Rainbow Trout (MIA Kitchen & Bar, Delray Beach, FL): pickled beet tagliatelle, basil oil, paddlefish caviar, beet powder, hazelnut beurre blanc.
- Crunchy Octopus Taco (Talavera Cocina Mexicana, Coral Gables, FL): pickled cactus, pico de gallo, fresh herbs.
- Chonut (Kimchi Smoke, Westwood NJ): Smoked brisket, kimchi, melted cheese, bacon, scallions and bourbon-chipotle sauce on a glazed donut.
- Beers: Forget stouts and ciders this fall, be on the lookout for spontaneous fermented beers. The process never involves adding yeast cultures to the brew, and they are fermented and matured in oak casks. These unfiltered, unpasteurized and unsweetened beers offer greater acidity and complexity. The fall offers ideal temperatures to brew Lambic style beers and the fruits of the harvest can highlight the sense of place in Saisons. To really turn up the taste of terroir, try pairing the beer with a bacony epoisses and some crusty bread. For some serious inspiration check out what the folks at NJ’s The Referend Bier Blendery are brewing up this fall.
Consider reinstating that smoking section. What used to be reserved for wood-grilled meats and bacon is now being applied to almost all foods imaginable. From vegetables and sauces to chocolate desserts and cocktails, smoking and charring add a multi-dimensional element and mouthwatering aroma to all types of dishes.
- Charred Chili Prawn Ramen Noodle with Smoked Broth (Ramen Tatsu-Ya, Houston and Austin, TX).
- Glass Fruit with Grilled Grapefruit served with Smoked Vanilla Sauce and Yellow Corn Microgreens (Restaurant Gwendolyn, San Antonio, Texas).
- Fire Roasted Squash (Mora Italian, Phoenix, AZ): Smoked yogurt, feta, neonata (an Italian condiment that is made from Icefish and Calabrian peppers), crispy shallots.
- Toasted Tea Marinated Duck (West Row Café and Bar, Newburyport, MA): Smoked butternut squash puree, black rice, braised cabbage, black pepper sherry gastrique.
They don’t just look pretty, they taste good too. While edible flowers may have seemed like a whimsical Michelin-starred garnish, they are now being used to bring interesting floral flavours and of course, beautiful colours to various foods. Anise hyssop with its bright purple buds brings a licorice flavour to sauces or even pasta doughs, and you can thank hibiscus for that hot pink iced tea. Peppery nasturtium flowers are the perfect complement to sweet squash soups.
- Gorgonzola Dolce Crostini (Laboratorio Kitchen, Montclair, NJ): Gorgonzola dolce with caramelized figs, roasted walnuts, aged balsamic, local honey and micro orchids.
- BBQ Shrimp Toast (Willa Jean, New Orleans, LA): Gulf shrimp, grilled sourdough, burrata, NOLA style BBQ sauce, edible flowers.
- Crispy Hen Egg (The Roundhouse, Beacon, NY): Crisp fried hen egg with local baby vegetables and edible violet and borage flowers.
Plant Based Root-to-Stem Cooking
What originally started as nose-to-tail cooking has more recently transformed into root-to-stem plant based cooking, where every part of the produce is used. It only makes sense, with the increasing costs of food and the environmental footprint we’re leaving behind. It also supports the plant based eating that many diners are seeking. A recent study from NPD said that 35% of Millennial guests are looking for more vegetarian options on menus. So roast your squash seeds, make a vibrant beet green pesto and candy your citrus peels.
- Poached Carrot (The Roundhouse, Beacon NY): Poached and ember roasted carrot, compressed cucumber, carrot ash paint, micro chervil.
- Chanterelle Risotto (Fascino, Montclair NJ): carrot-coconut puree, cayenne dusted sweet potato chips. The butter and cheese that the risotto is normally finished with have been replaced with coconut milk and nutritional yeast for a vegan dish.
- Loaded Honeynut Squash Recipe.