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Chef Laura: FIFO that FOMO!

Chefs understand the importance of FIFO – “First In First Out”.  It’s the way we stay on top of our inventory – especially the perishable product – by using up the old stuff before the new stuff.  It’s a food safety basic that helps maintain freshness.

But a new acronym is causing some queasiness among chefs. It has nothing to do with food borne illness, but everything to do with staying fresh.  It’s FOMO, or the “Fear of Missing Out”, and come to think of it, no one is immune.  Due to Instagram, FB, Twitter and so on, we are terribly worried that someone out there is having (gasp!) more fun than we.  YOLO, after all.

Back in the day, chefs could get by with a menu comprised of the token offerings: French onion soup, Caesar salad, tenderloin wrapped in bacon with whipped truffle potatoes, and some variation of chocolate molten lava cake for dessert – is that a squiggle of raspberry coulis I spy?  But when was the last time you saw someone’s food porn posting of grilled salmon on a cedar plank with wild mushroom risotto (yawn)?  If chefs aren’t innovating some fun culinary trend, they’re like a restaurant review in the Rocky Mountain News: Extinct.

Last week, I had a 20-year reunion of sorts with some Johnson & Wales University alums and a Rhode Island School of Design grad turned “foodie” pal.  We’ve been chef friends since the early 1990’s and have seen our share of culinary trends come and go: lamb chop lollipops, everything covered in panko, and who could forget the sheen of aspic atop a terrine?  Being veterans in our industries of art and culinary arts, over a few lemon drop shots – I mentioned it was college reunion, right? – we decided to have a go at predicting the next food trends. 

In the interest of assuaging your FOMO, here’s what we think is next on the food and beverage scene.

Dessert Arancini – Hey Cupcake!  Exit, stage left!  You’ve been hogging the sweet spotlight for far too long.  Whether you grew up in an Italian family or not, you may already be familiar with the traditional cheese stuffed rice ball, breaded, fried, and served with a side of marinara sauce known as Arancini.  Chef Mark Garafalo, owner of Providence-based Fire Works Catering predicts the next evolution of this savory family favorite will be a sweet version.  Think of a rice pudding ball, dredged in sweetened condensed milk, breaded in coconut, fried like a doughnut and served with an array of sauces: cool ‘n’ creamy citrus glaze, smooth peanut butter & spicy Sriracha, tart black cherry sauce, and dark chocolate espresso fondue. 

Beer in your Keurig- We love our one-cup-at-a-time dispensing system.  Coffee came first, followed by tea, then soup, and next up…beer?  Fire up some Fat Tire, pour yourself a pint of Guinness, or brew a homemade Budweiser all from the comfort of your kitchen.  Want to try out some new craft flavors?  Pick up a variety pack of cartridges for your home brewing system.

Streaming Cocktails – Maybe beer’s not your adult beverage of choice (please surrender your Colorado license promptly); let’s turn that Soda Stream of yours into a full blown mixologist at your fingertips.  Just imagine Palcohol and Soda Stream teaming up to create delicious cocktails at the press of a button.  Fizzy mojitos, bubbly mimosas, and ol’ skool wild berry wine coolers (side prediction: Bartles & Jaymes = the next hipster drink) are just a carbonator away.

Meat Sans Heat – Swine has had its time: bacon, pancetta, charcuterie, and all that salami have been monopolizing menus for the last half decade.  Pork belly traders please take a much needed vacation and let some other meats have their moment.  With the emphasis on farm to fork and locally sourced meats, we are more savvy and safe about where our food originates.  Additionally, the cost of protein – especially beef – is at an all-time high.  Instead of ye old 20 oz. Porterhouse tortured to a medium well, raw meats are poised to take over center of the plate. The simplicity of tartare, Carpaccio and ceviche packs all the flavor and satiety without the price tag.

Sardines’ Makeover – Without a clever PR rep, poor sardines have been overlooked for years.  But if kale can go all “white table cloth” we think sardines can, too.  Packed full of calcium, sardines will be served raw bar style with all the fixin’s: horseradish, cocktail sauce, lemon, Tobasco, Saltine crackers and a pucker-inducing mignonette sauce.  Sardines could be the world’s next oyster. 

Poutine Re-launch – Canada has given us two great ones: Wayne Gretsky and Poutine.  Created in Quebec, Poutine is the ultimate bar food.  This app/meal enjoyed a quick blip on the radar with the surge of gastro pubs on every corner of Denver, but Poutine is overdue to deliver a swift hip check to any menu, fancy or frugal.  Haven’t tried it yet?  It’s an unapologetic dish of French fries, gravy and cheese curds.  Faster than you can ask for a prescription for Lipitor, top your order with duck confit: C'est magnifique!

Perhaps at your next social gathering, after offering a sympathetic smile to your FOMO friend who just posted Fakecation photos on Instagram, you stage whisper how you heard sardines are bringing sexy back.   Now you’re first in on the trend and first out on the fear of missing out.  FIFO that FOMO!

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Laura Cook Newman

Laura Cook Newman is a professional Chef and Training Manager for a Fortune 500 food manufacturer. She earned her chops at Johnson & Wales University, has an MBA in Marketing and hosts a blog for behind-the-scenes insights on the food service industry. Contact her at www.ThreeHotsAndaCot.net

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