Dogfish Head’s Milton distillery is part of the surge in craft spirits. (Photo: Staff Photo by Megan Raymond)
One of the greatest parts of cooking for SoDel Concepts Corporate Chef Ronnie Burkle?
“I never met my great great grandfather, but when I eat a certain dish, it’s the same dish he was eating,” he said. “You can only do that with food.”
While that Italian sauce — and the fruits of good cooking — has stayed much the same, food and drink evolve every year with new techniques, focuses, ingredients and discoveries. That’s why the National Restaurant Association surveys hundreds of professional chefs annually on food and beverage trends around the country.
The 2019 What’s Hot Culinary survey, produced with American Culinary Federation, revealed that guests are looking for healthy, sustainable foods that taste really good. Simple, right? Here’s a breakdown on what was found after reading the responses of 650 chefs.
It’s in the (house-made, locally sourced) details
As more and more Americans want to know where their food comes from and how it is prepared, many chefs on the Delmarva Peninsula are growing closer to the produce and meats they utilize.
More than 60 percent of chefs surveyed by the National Restaurant Association said locally sourced meats and seafood would be a top trend.
For Burkle, knowing who the restaurant group’s farmers are is as important for SoDel as it is for guests.
And at Heirloom in Lewes, the menu is mouth-watering not only because of ingredients like brown butter raisins, shaved cippolini onions and roasted cauliflower. It’s letting guests know those components are stuffed in a delicata squash born on Baywater Farms, a Salisbury produce wholesaler.
More restaurants are also focusing on house-made items like pickles and condiments. The Pines, a new opened restaurant in Rehoboth Beach, makes its own ketchup and mustard.
Craft, local and artisan beverages
Nearly 65 percent of chefs said craft, artisan, and locally produced spirits is the No. 1 alcoholic beverage trend for 2019. Be on the lookout for onsite barrel-aged drinks like punches, pre-batched rye Manhattans and Negronis.
Locally produced spirits, wine and beer are big trends already live and well in an area brimming with breweries (and distilleries) like Dogfish Head, Dewey Beer Co., Revelation Craft Brewing, Mispillion, 3rd Wave.
Breakfast from around the world
Expect to chow down on what folks from other countries start their morning with.
Yes, bacon and waffles are delicious. So is shakshuka, a Tunisian/Israeli breakfast favorite of eggs poached on a chili pepper, onion and tomato sauce with spices like cumin and paprika. It is easy enough to make at home and great for dinner as well. Hint: Don’t forget the crusty bread.
Other options are Mexico-based chilaquiles, fried tortilla strips swimming in red or green salsa, and ful medames, an Ethiopian staple of fava beans simmered with cumin, garlic, parsley, chili and lemon.
Some vegans and vegetarian still want to bite into a juicy, meaty burger. They just don’t want it coming from an animal. Companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are answering that dilemma with plant-based burgers and sausages that resemble meat — in taste, bite and mouthfeel (as in, not a mushy black bean burger).
Over 60 percent of surveyed chefs told the National Restaurant Organization sustainable, vegan meats will be popular this year.
Find the Beyond Meat burger at The Cottage Cafe in Bethany Beach, Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats in Rehoboth, and Dewey Beer Co., which also serves the Beyond Meat sausage.
Subbing veggies for carbs
In a bid to eat less calories and be healthier overall, veggies are (sometimes) taking the place of the traditional carb side. Blitzed cauliflower acts as rice and noodles made from beets, zucchini and squash are swirly alternatives to the traditional wheat-based option.
Chefs surveyed said these substitutes will be popular with restaurant guests this year because they are nutritious, flavorful and less starchy.