For many people, the first encounter of this bright purple ingredient is in Filipino desserts, for others it might be bubble tea. In either case, fans love the easy-to-like sweet flavor of this purple yam, and the bright color has definitely propelled this ingredient’s popularity on Instagram with chefs embracing ways to push the color further forward. Your concept doesn’t have to embrace Asian flavors if you treat it as a purple version of a Southern sweet potato.
Pictured are churros made from ube and macapuno, a type of coconut with jelly-like flesh, at Señor Sisig in San Francisco
Baked Alaska — ice cream or other frozen dessert over cake coated in meringue and flambéed — is a dessert that experiences a resurgence every few decades, in large part thanks to tableside theatrics and show-stopping presentation, and it’s back in full force. Modern iterations may be super-sized to share, flamed tableside, or deconstructed. No matter the presentation, it’s hard to go wrong with this dessert, and the show makes it all the more worthwhile.
Pictured is a The Queen of Puddings at Lord’s in New York City, made with a breadcrumb and frozen custard base, jam, and toasted meringue.
Creative chefs looking for meaty alternatives to actual meat have long favored mushrooms, and lately roasted or fried maitakes have been taking the place of yesteryear’s grilled portobellos. Often served roasted or fried, the craggy surface makes for an explosion of texture, while also capturing any bit of flavorful sauce or dressing. It may not taste like meat, and it’s not actually trying to, but it is incredibly satisfying.
Pictured is a dish of maitakes with black garlic aïoli, leeks, Parmesan cheese and chives at High 5ive in Oakland, Calif.
The “new Nordic” culinary movement spearheaded by Noma in Copenhagen helped cement pickling, preserving, and brining in fine dining, bringing the fermented flavors front and center. Koji, a Japanese product traditionally made from fermenting rice, barley, or soybeans — but it can also be made from other ingredients containing both starch and protein — plays a starring role in many of these restaurants. Koji is best known as the starter for miso, but now different flavor bases, ingredients, and approaches are coming into play as more chefs as well as bartenders are taking to the process as an appreciation for the flavors that come from fermentation is spreading across cultures, cuisines, and service categories.
Pictured is a fermented soy dip made with koji and served with raw vegetables at The Charter Oak in St. Helena, Calif.
West African food in general and Nigerian food in particular are attracting a wider audience and gaining prominence and prestige where it was once overlooked and under-represented. Based on the cuisine of hundreds of different ethnic groups, the cuisine is incredibly rich and varied, featuring rice and legumes, soups and stews layered with aromatic spices and chiles. Jollof rice prepared with tomato, onion, and spices, often including Scotch bonnet chile, is perhaps the best known dish. Others include pepper pot soup and suya, or seasoned and grilled meat on skewers.
Pictured is moimoi, a spiced savory pudding of black eyed peas, that was part of Ilé, a Nigerian pop-up in Los Angeles by Tolu “Eros” Erogbogbo and David Olusoga.
Courtesy of Tao Hospitality Group
In the 1980s and ’90s popular cocktails tended toward sweet. In the early aughts bitter was big. Now briny is in style, and we’re not just talking about Dirty Martinis, but the newly branded “coastal” cocktails that embrace oceanic flavors and ingredients, often with an eye-catching edible garnish.
Pictured is An Affair To Remember made with rye vodka, Salers Aperitif, and olive brine garnished with a raw oyster and caviar at Cathedrale in New York City.
Although Avocado is popular in sweet smoothies and other drinks in Southeast Asia, it has only occasionally been used in drinkable items stateside, with the exception of the Avocado Margaritas that have been at Curra’s Grill in Austin, Texas, since 1995.
But now this star of guacamole and avocado toast is appearing with increasing frequency in cocktails, where its creamy mouthfeel adds body, and the fat cuts through alcohol’s heat.
Pictured is the Bravocado, made with aged rum, Cointreau, citrus, fines herbes, and avocado served at Bluestem in San Francisco.
What got started as a precise way to make superior whiskey highballs is now a way that bars can reduce labor and control costs. These machines turn out consistent, super-fizzy, extra chilled whiskey highballs at volume, meaning they’re essentially on draft. They’re time- and labor-saving devices that also control pour cost.
Pictured is a highball machine at work at Nokori, a bar at the Tetra Hotel in Sunnyvale, Calif.