August 20, 2013
There is no question the culinary scene is Denver is as tasty as it is innovative. Chef Scott McCurdy, a US Foods Food Fanatics Chef and culinary consultant shares the trends we are seeing in the Mile High! Do you have a favorite?
- Street food: Street food is on the rise in Denver and customers craving a variety of ethnic foods such as empanadas, dumplings and gyros have more options than ever. Food trucks offering these delights are plentiful, while sit-down restaurants are offering street food with a twist for those looking to indulge in the trend in a refined atmosphere.
- Farm to table: Consumers’ interest in local, sustainable food is growing and chefs are finding new ways to accommodate this desire. Not only are chefs working closely with local farms, but they are featuring this information on their menus – listing the origins of both produce and protein dishes.
- Ultimate burgers: There’s no question that burgers are an American classic, but this doesn’t mean chefs are content serving fast food-style patties. Instead, they’re creating signature grinds and adding toppings like guacamole, jalapeno bacon, and tarragon as well as incorporating other proteins like pork belly.
- Seeds and grains: Grains, including quinoa and sprouted grains, formerly used as side dishes are taking center stage as entrees, offering a filling meal for those bored with traditional options. Seeds including sunflower, chia and hemp are not just for the birds anymore.
- Breakfast: Chefs are experimenting with traditional breakfast offerings, making their menus more extensive and creative. Bananas foster French toast and maple bacon caramel sauce are just a few of the exciting options available, while the demand for pastries and signature sticky buns has yet to dwindle.
- More creative and better quality kids’ food: Parents who are trying to get their picky eaters out of the PB&J routine are in luck; chefs are giving their kid-friendly meals a makeover. Chefs are sneaking vegetables in grilled cheeses, using whole grain breads in sandwiches, even making “mac and trees” with broccoli.
- Reinventing candy bars: Chefs are reworking classic candy bars we all love, making homemade versions, crafting candy bar-inspired desserts and using creative presentations
- Sandwiches: The Denver area is home to many delis, but chefs are increasingly creative with offerings to keep customers coming back. Sandwiches are getting bigger and including premium ingredients so guests can choose from high-end variations on a tried and true meal, using hummus and red pepper purees instead of mayo and melted brie instead of basic sliced American.
- Super foods: Vegans, vegetarians and other health-conscious customers have more options than ever before; restaurants are offering meals crafted with highly nutritious yet satisfying ingredients. The raw food movement is evident as meals crafted solely with fresh, raw vegetables, fruits and nuts are increasingly common, and lighter entrees are offered for those avoiding the supersized meals.
- Pho: Soup isn’t just for cold, rainy days anymore as pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup, is quickly gaining popularity in the area. There are numerous restaurants in Denver alone offering their own spin on pho, adding ingredients like homemade spice pastes and using shrimp and lobster instead of the traditional beef or chicken.