Top 10 Food Trends for 2015

At The Last Parsnip we take pride in our position at the vanguard of modern cooking. In many ways what succeeds within these four walls sets the agenda for the rest of the high-end of the ultra-premium restaurant market as a whole.

It’s therefore through this lens of personal creativity and reinvention that I present my Top 10 Food Trends for 2015.

1. Molybdenum:

Often overlooked in the kitchen, molybdenum is making quite a comeback in select higher end kitchens. Respected for both its relative inertness as well as its pleasant sheen, the metal has been used to strengthen devices as varied as poaching tongs and meat cleavers. We have employed it extensively in our own high-end food truck experience, The Fast Parsnip.

2Triplet Servings:

Traditionally restaurants serve a dish as a single item, or occasionally as a duo. This year is seeing the rise of identical triplet servings – in dishes as varied as beet sticks, soups and even pheasants (served spread-eagled across a wide-angled serving platter). Chefs are embracing the challenge of preparing three identical servings, while customers appreciate the improved symmetry of their dishes.

IMG_0620

A trio of beet sticks, in a linear presentation.

3. Sub-Bite Desserts:

The move towards ever-diminishing dessert sizes is picking up momentum, with an explosion in “sub-bite” offerings. These intensely challenging morsels should only be presented in parallel up to five at a time, allowing exquisite combinations of flavors to build up in the mouth. Best consumed swiftly with precision tongs.

4. Fission Cuisine:

Fusion cuisine appeared to run out of steam in 2014, replaced by the runaway success of fission cooking. Requiring a much more challenging balance of flavors, fission cuisine presents a multi–layered dining experience that is unlike any other. Dishes are typically served warm. Cold fission dishes have so far proved elusive.

5. Right-Handed Helix:

The right-handed helix (single or double) has surged back into popularity, particularly with restaurants in the Northern Hemisphere. Chefs have embraced its design simplicity, and slightly-superior taste, in dishes such as “Il Duomo“, parsnip rings and cocktail garnishes.

WP_000280

6. Welsh Cuisine:

Often forgotten, or just ignored, high-end Welsh cuisine has been making a strong comeback. Dishes such as Welsh Eggs, haggish and Welsh Coffee are proving most successful. Rarebit remains deeply unpopular.

7. Inverted Slicing:

The growth in inverted slicing techniques shows no signs of slowing. Rather than pushing with the knife down onto soft foods the process is inverted vertically. The knife is held firmly on the counter, and the foods are pushed down through the blade. This provides much finer control, and improves aeration in more sensitive foods such as avocado and suet.

img_7799

The perfect placement for deep-slicing tripe.

8. Spheroidal Ice:

Often avoided as a space-saving nightmare, spheroidal ice has made quite a splash in the high-end cocktail scene in 2014. When prepared in-situ, using high-precision cutting equipment, it delivers a more predictable melting coefficient, and reduces splashing when lowered into the glass. Its price, at over $25 per preparation, can prove challenging.

Spheroidal Ice

9. Thirteen Degree Slices:

After much experimentation, we’ve narrowed down our preferred cheese slicing requirements to thirteen degrees. This is now widely recognized as maintaining the optimal balance of taste preservation, stacking efficiency, and internal strength. Several other world-renowned chefs have questioned publicly why they ever thought of slicing their cheeses differently.

Humbrian Poacher, prepared with the perfect thirteen degree slice.

10. Dark Dining:

Dark dining, already a regular favorite at the Last Parsnip, has seen amazing growth in popularity. This approach not only enhances the taste sensation for diners, but it also helps to preserve photo-sensitive foods during the entire dinner experience. Embrace this opportunity wherever it is presented.

Advertisements

How To Enjoy A High-End Restaurant

As the owner of one of the Pacific Northwest’s most exclusive restaurants I’m often asked how you should prepare for an evening of fine dining. It’s obviously in everyone’s best interests for the experience to go well. The last thing I want is to interrupt your dinner with a harsh word in your ear. Or, if things get out of hand, to have to forcibly eject you from the restaurant through a side entrance.

The advice I give applies equally well to any high-end dining experience – it all comes down to these five simple rules:

1. Be Punctual and Patient

Running a tight ship at a busy, high-end restaurant takes incredible operational skills and flexibility. The most important thing you, as a guest, can do is turn up on time. If you know you’re running more than three minutes late then let the restaurant know immediately so that they can try to accommodate your abject tardiness.

After you arrive you should appreciate that things can still go wrong on the other side of the maître d’. Even the slightest perturbations in the preparation of individual dishes can have an utterly unpredictable effect on the restaurant’s overall dining schedule. I’ve written about this so-called Butter Fry Effect elsewhere. Suffice it to say – you need to stay patient until seated.

2. Dress Safely and Appropriately

If the restaurant has strict guidelines for attire, as we do at The Last Parsnip, then you should study them carefully and abide by them at all costs. Seemingly minor requirements can mean a lot to a given establishment. For example, appropriately starched shirt collars may seem like a trifling detail to you, but to me it is a critical component of our overall ambience.

When a restaurant declines to offer a specific dress code then it is best to plan ahead. Gain whatever intelligence you can before arriving – by carefully scrutinizing photos of the restaurant online or by quizzing previous guests. The following are generally helpful recommendations:

  • Avoid discordant colors that are at odds with the restaurant’s décor. Color clashes, when extreme, can produce spectacularly unfortunate reactions from other diners.
  • Avoid materials that generate high static charge in a typical restaurant environment (reference the Tribolectric Series). At all costs never wear rabbit fur with plastic seating – the results can be catastrophic.

3. Study The Menu Beforehand

Take time to study the menu online before arriving – and commit as much to memory as possible. The benefits of such preparatory homework are twofold:

  • As the guest, you will feel more confident about your evening, and will be comfortable in your menu selection ahead of time. Dismissing the menu as an unnecessary encumbrance with a casual flick of the wrist is a guaranteed way to impress your waiter.
  • For the restaurant, better-educated guests mean more efficient dining. Also, better preparation reduces the risks of an ignorant guest claiming that the dish “just wasn’t what I expected”. With a smartphone in hand there simply is no excuse for confusing bucatini with perciatelli.

4. Prepare Adequate Conversational Gambits

Any elite restaurant lives and breathes by the ambience that it creates – with a healthy susurrus of conversation being a critical component.

As a guest you should invest carefully in the following:

  • Take time to research the members of your party. What are their likes and dislikes? Personal weaknesses or failings? Do they have “missing time” on their resumes?
  • Prepare notecards to act as aide memoires throughout dinner. Consult them discretely as needed.
  • Use incendiary remarks sparingly but effectively. Almost all successful evenings require at least one.

A top flight restaurant will generally abhor the vacuum of conversational silence. At The Last Parsnip we constantly monitor the overall noise level in our dining area. When it dips too low we introduce background chatter of a suitable conversational quality through our in-wall speaker system.

5. Eat Correctly

My last piece of advice concerns eating etiquette. Remember, exquisite food should be consumed with exquisite care. The last thing you want is a faux pas with your foie gras.

These are just some of the essential techniques to consider:

  • Always angle a soup bowl away from you when spooning the food, and never aspirate for more than two seconds.
  • Stir your coffee clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, never more than twelve times.
  • Capture spaghetti with a fork in your right hand and a medium-grade spoon in your left. Maintain a counter-clockwise rotation of the fork when inserting it into your mouth to avoid unwanted drips.

 

I hope these simple but effective tips help you when approaching your next night of fine dining. Remember, it’s all down to preparation. If things go horribly wrong and you’re asked to leave then you’ve most likely only got yourself to blame. Enjoy.