When I travel for work or leisure, the culinary scene is always part of the experience. I love good food and creative dishes. So when the top dining trends for 2015 were announced, as noticed by Benchmark Hospitality’s executive chefs and culinary experts at the company’s 40 luxury hotels, resorts and restaurants, including Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs, they caught my attention!
Small Plates – Served any time of day and through expo-style cooking, including show kitchens, action stations, EVO grilling and mobile kitchens. Slow cooked brisket, braised pork shoulder and ceviche-style seafood are hot. I love small plates for the smaller portions and the chance to sample a variety of dishes.
Roll & Go – Bun-less creations that are rolled in plain or flavored tortillas instead of presented as traditional sandwiches. I get bored with traditional sandwiches so anything to make them different is good with me!
Lose the Fat-Infuse - Increased awareness over the past years of the downside of fat, as well as the emphasis on gluten free and vegan foods, has forever altered cooking styles. Instead of fat, chefs are changing to beer braising, cider poaching and quick pickling. Big flavor with little fat is a win-win!
Back To The Future - Come-back items on the menu today include family favorites like meatloaf, liver and onions, shepherd’s pie and pan-fried chicken. Classics like Shrimp Louie and Oysters Rockefellers are shoving Chicken Caesar and Spinach Dip off the menu. My mom made all of these except shepherd’s pie, which I love. Sorry mom, still no liver and onions for me!
Grab-n-Go - Grab and go favorites include wilted spinach, maple seared salmon brioche and golden jewel-grained edamame guacamole. Hallelujah! It’s about time that there are more options for quick, healthy foods.
Curacao Cocktails - As travel and exploring the world becomes second nature to nearly everyone, when back home, travelers want to relive their experiences while away. Entertaining guests with an Irish Whiskey Sampler brings Dublin home, while Ghirardelli chocolate martini brings San Francisco Bay to the back yard or terrace. Fun idea. Or how about celebrating all the places your company or client has offices?
Raging Ramen - Ramen is storming the world right now. Once thought to be a food for cash-starved college students, ramen is now breaking into a “low end = high end” street food scenario. We are seeing this in Colorado with the fairly new Double Black Noodle Bar at Holiday Inn Express Snowmass Village (previously Wildwood Snowmass) and the brand new Tokio in Denver.
Tea Mixology - This is the creation of tantalizing flavors for simple teas by choosing from a variety of herbs and spices and then infusing. The use of rose hips, lavender and basil not only create an aromatic scent but also provide a soothing, calming beverage any time or day or night. For those of us who drink tea and not coffee, seeing more focus on tea lately is welcome!
Slow Ride, Cook It Easy - Many customers are now on the slow food bandwagon at home, willing to pay for slow foods and interested in the process. Many restaurants are putting the process right in the dining room with charcuterie drying, cheese caves, vinegar barrels, etc. I am a fan! I also love seeing infusions in process at unique bars and tasting rooms such as Montanya Distillers and The Dogwood Cocktail Cabin where I live in Crested Butte.
Branding The Chef - Bottling items, like a signature lemon curd ale and BBQ or chipotle bourbon sauces straight off the chef’s house menu are replacing traditional store-bought items in customers’ pantries. These can make great gift items for groups and clients as well!