What’s next?

What’s next?

Aylin Öney Tan - aylinoneytan@yahoo.com
What’s next

The world of gastronomy has evolved enormously in the past few decades. It has almost become like the fashion world, always looking for the answer to the never-ending question: What’s next? One day something is in, the next day it’s out. From kale to keto-diet, from plant-based dishes to plating styles, there is always some new idea popping up. It has become quite tiring to try to follow the trend and keep up with the food fashions. Many chefs seem more concerned about being trendsetters - or at least following the current waves of fashion – than they are about what actually ends up on their plates. Unfortunately sometimes there is more talk than food itself.

So what’s next? As in fashion, Paris took the lead in bringing the latest trends to Istanbul. Last Thursday, in the royal atmosphere of Palais de France, famous chefs from Le Cordon Bleu Istanbul and Paris has discussed the new culinary trends that will be influencing kitchens worldwide. Along with a number of Turkish chefs, two guest speakers from Paris contributed to the event: Christina Huang, the chef-owner of Taiwanese-French fusion restaurant Zouka, and Pierre Dutaret, a restaurant investment consultant and chef-owner of Farago. Here are some of the new gastronomy trends foreseen for 2018 discussed in the event.

“Super powders” are even more super this year. We see more and more chefs concocting their own powders from roots, vegetables, greens and spices such as beetroots, spinach, kale, zucchini, and turmeric, along with flowers such as rose petals, hibiscus, marigolds to add striking colors to the food and complexity to the taste.

Powdered dried food is the new spice according to Chef Umut Karakuş of Fairmont Quasar. He has established a spice library inspired from the historic Spice Market of Istanbul, and has put on a series of his signature powder spices extending from fragrant floral powders to pungent savory camel sausage powder. His plates are all spice-dusted, giving the dishes a magical touch. Indeed this is a brilliant idea that can make use of normally un-used parts of foods such as roots, stalks, stems, leaves, peels, pits, etc.

Asian food is trendy again in Europe, especially because it appeals to everyone and is believed to be healthy. With more and more Asian chefs becoming global celebrities, new books giving deep insight in food cultures of Asia, and with more contact between the continents, people in the West have realized that Asian food offers more diversity and complexity than their usual cheap take away food.

Christina Huang has experienced this in her own restaurant in Paris, and her popularity indicates the rising interest in Asian food. She stresses that fusion cuisine is here to stay. “With people travelling more than ever and the globalized world, tastes and cultural trends that once were local tend to influence each other more nowadays. Fusion cuisine has been at the forefront of this trend. By mixing ingredients, flavors, ideas and cultures it creates a different sharing experience. After all, cuisine is all about sharing!” Huang says. She believes there will be more hybrid food creations combining culinary skills with creativity.

Food trends are not only about taste and health, of course. Traceability and transparency is a great concern for the consumers. They are the new hot topics. Guests want to eat “clean” food coming through fair trade. They want to know where it is produced, how it is produced, whether it is GDO free, whether there are any trans fats or additives. Food waste is now almost seen as a “crime,” with root-to-stem movement accelerating. Waste reduction and food recovery is important for everyone, with people trying to find ways to reduce, reuse, recycle, and rethink what goes into the kitchen bin.

Waste management in restaurant kitchens is not an easy task. One good idea is the concept of “Carte Blanche.” It is practically a blind menu, almost like a blind date. The customer does not know what will appear on the menu, so the dining experience is open to surprises, triggering the curiosity factor. This concept has countless benefits for the establishment, enabling better time and staff management, reducing waste and unnecessary cost, increasing profitability, and enabling the chef to demonstrate greater creativity, sometimes with the simplest ingredients possible. That is what Nicole’s chef and owner Aylin Yazıcıoğlu stresses, saying we must stand against uncontrollable consumerism and try to find the virtue in the simplest seasonal produce. Her Jerusalem artichoke bite is proof that it can indeed be done with grace and finesse!

Fork of the Week:

The world of fashion is one of the most foresighted trendsetters in the food world in Turkey comes from the fashion world. Fashion designer Gönül Paksoy is famous for the annual celebration table she gives to a number of selected guests, an event that everyone dies to be invited. She graciously hosts her friends with the most unusual dishes, beautifully plated like an artwork, almost too pretty to eat. She had been one of the earliest to recognize the global tendency of growing interest in waste reduction and food recovery and published a book titled “The Zero Waste Kitchen.”

For Paksoy it was actually not a new trend. Her kitchen has always been this way and she barely throws out thrash. Her kitchen bin must be almost empty except a few stalks and pits, I remember eating watermelon rind preserves, braised loquat pits, stuffed eggplant peels, among many other creative uses of otherwise trash food. The unusable parts such as shrimp shells or onion skins turn into the most amazing necklaces. Paksoy’s previous books included “Edible Beads, Flavors and Flowers.” Find her work at the website: https://gonulpaksoy.com/en/shop/

Cork of the Week:

The trend of indigenous grapes is a collective effort of small wineries courageous enough to explore the potential of local varieties. The trend within this trend is to try even more interesting grapes, ones long forgotten or never heard of before. Some wineries like Chamlija in Thrace try new ways with overlooked grapes such as Papaskarası by using whole bunch fermenting; the result is the lusciously fresh yet complex Chamlija Kara Sevda 2016. The winner wines with the most unusual grapes that have hit the scores are from the Taurus mountains, Likya Acıkara 2016 and Likya Merzifon Karası 2016.