Jeremy's World: The case for simple goodness
Last month’s look at how chefs should focus on the basics got me thinking about the upcoming IFSA and WTCE events, what we might expect, and who is tapping into what the food writers call “trends” (or what I call “nonsense-that-never-lasts-and-are-designed-to-get-social-media-attention”). Are any of these likely to be in the air as passenger fare? So, let’s take a look at some recent fads taking off and see, literally, what might fly.
A 2017 buzzword in food was “unicorn.” This consists of taking conventional food and blasting it with chemical-enriched, brightly colored stuff of various sizes, shapes and textures. Usually restricted to dessert service, there was an attempt by one U.S. sauce maker to launch a “Unicorn Ranch” dressing; I think it was purple. I predict that if not already passé then it soon will be and unlikely to make any airline menu, given the time it takes to filter from concept to reality. But if you are at any time presented with a chicken burrito that looks like a Las Vegas hotel lobby, that my friends is “unicorn” food.
In 2018, a new techno-eco-hipster health fad is upon us – “air fried” stuff. Now this sounds a bit more like it – or so I thought, until you investigate it further. One trend reporter from TheHuffington Postexplains: “They work by circulating hot air around the food.” If memory serves me correctly, when I was at Hotel School, we called those things an “oven.” But apparently if you remodel it, give it a fancy name and get some InstaFace tweets out there, it is a whole new thing.
I am glad to report, however, that this time around we in the airline catering world are ahead of the game. You just have to take a look at some recent Mercury Award successes, like Monty’s Bakehouse’s Chinese BBQ Pastry, Green Gourmet’s Sweet Potato Fries (2016), Str-Eats Street Food Pastries or the Taco Slider from The Bake Factory (2018) to see that this isn’t new. What wins it for these examples isn’t the “trend,” it’s the presentation, the taste and the technical ability to get the product into an aircraft and in front of passengers. That is a skill. Re-naming the oven just isn’t.
For the sake of the airline catering industry and all those we feed, frankly I suggest we forget all about 99% of trends. Stop pandering to the “Flexitarian” (people who go vegan after 6 p.m., or a vegetarian adding turkey to a vegetable sandwich – this is called “eating”) or serving lattes in an avocado, sushi as a cake or mushroom coffee, (unless you like coffee that tastes like dirt) and just focus on doing simple good food right.
No doubt there is a quick buck to be made in a lot of these fads – in fact, I am working on one now. It’s an amazingly simple healthy snack called the “Avian-Ovo-Aqua snack.”
Basically, you get an egg … and boil it.