Wine, Food & Nutrition

Vegetables Take Center Stage/Plate

corn“The next culinary macro-trend will be ‘veg-centric’ dining,” stated Chef Gerry Ludwig, while speaking at the annual Research Chefs Association’s annual conference. I participated in the concept Wednesday night at Root & Bone, a New York City restaurant revered for its fried chicken, but also serving up some delicious veg-centric dishes. On this particular night, we were focused on sweet corn (a client), which is just coming into peak season in the chef’s home state of Florida. I witnessed this trend taken to an entirely different level at Dirt Candy, where acclaimed chef Amanda Cohen is delivering amazingly flavorful and filling fare to vegetarian crowds, and that rising group of flexitarians embracing going meatless for a meal or day.

Vegetarianism and veganism are on the rise in the U.S. with 1 million of the latter as part of an overall group that totals 8.3 million. This wasn’t exactly what Chef Ludwig was addressing, however. Certainly the number of people abstaining from any animal products has increased, but he was really talking about how vegetables are moving from an interchangeable role player to the protein to a starring role.

Meat isn’t…

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Branding

From Your Cup to the Global Stage: 5 Reasons Why Coffee’s Future is Brighter than Ever

This month, I attended the most buzz-worthy conference of the year. No, it wasn’t SXSW (although the crowd in attendance was probably equally stimulated) – it was the National Coffee Association’s Annual Convention. And, yes, it was just as delicious as it sounds.

Between sipping samples from vendors around the globe, I absorbed a lot about coffee’s past, present and future. My lessons began with the legend of Kaldi the goat herder, who first discovered Coffea Arabica when his flock became unusually frisky after ingesting some bright red berries while grazing in the Ethiopian hills, and progressed to philosophical discussions on the increasingly dynamic, venture capital-backed Third Wave movement.

While coffee’s trajectory thus far is a fascinating one, the key insight I left with is that the industry’s future is exceptionally bright.

Here’s why:

1-      Health Halo in the Making. Coffee has a myriad of health benefits that are backed by sound science, but are not yet widely acknowledged by consumers. Dr. Alan Leviton, of Harvard University Medical School, shared data showing that regular coffee consumption (3-5 cups/day) is associated with decreased risk of Type 2  Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancer or malignancies. Basically, the more coffee people drink…

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Wine, Food & Nutrition

From Styled to Wild: The Shift in Food Photography

Okay, so wild may not be the best word, but 10 years ago, stray herbs or seeds outside a perfectly plated dish would be considered messy. A licked spoon sitting on the rim of a plate would have called for a re-shoot. As a trend I hoped would continue into this year, beautifully imperfect content is here to stay and brands are rethinking how they produce content.

Just look at the two pumpkin tortellini examples below. The first is perfectly styled, but when you look at the next photo by the Berlin-based photographers, Krautkopf, it captures more of narrative. Like a Joseph Cornell box, it calls upon the viewer to spend time with it. One should inspect all the intricacies and subtle accents.

RAVIOLIS

Before, perfectly styled

 

more raviolis

Now, Photo by Krautkopf

 

Luckily, there are a select number of food photographers – true artists – whose blogs are changing the industry. They are even prompting brands to not only reconsider how they shoot their products, but now partner with these bloggers to…

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Wine, Food & Nutrition

Where’s the Beef? It’s Chillin’ with the Pineapple

fruit and proteinThere’s a long culinary history of experimental “you put WHAT in my WHAT?” that has sometimes made food ingredients considered strange bedfellows (or dishfellows) into soulmates.

Dating myself here: does anyone remember the series of 1970s television commercials for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that built 30-second stories around chocolate bars and jars of peanut butter unexpectedly being smashed together, at first being perceived as disaster, and then tasted and pronounced genius? That’s the kind of innovation that was the muse for this post. In particular, I got to thinking about fruits and vegetables, and how putting them with other unexpected foods – sometimes even intentionally hiding them – has informed quite a bit of what we eat in the modern era.

Back in the Middle Ages, European cooks didn’t seem too hung up on the division between sweet foods and savory foods. In fact, they often mashed together all kinds of spices, fruits, nuts and sugar into various dishes – including meats. Somewhere in the ensuing four centuries, we got a little more finicky about the role and order of fruits and veggies in our mealtime progression. Save…

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Branding

How to Honor Independent Research

All things being equal, media and consumers trust studies without corporate or branded backing most. Edelman’s 2015 Trust Barometer confirms that academic experts are twice as credible to consumers as CEOs.

credibility of spokespeopleWe are quick to call out bias, which makes a new report published by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee last week so significant. An independent, government-backed advisory panel announced that drinking more coffee is good for you. It was the first time in 40 years the committee weighed in on coffee consumption and said that up to five cups of Joe a day are A-Okay.  Now, federal endorsement for drinking coffee seems imminent.

If you work in the coffee business, I think you would agree: It doesn’t get much better than this.

One important question remains: How do you leverage positive and independent health research? Everyone agrees independent research ranks highest in credibility. But since you don’t own it, you can’t customize the study to fit your communications needs. Or can you? I spoke to our in-house RD and Manager of Nutrition Communications, Joanne Tehrani to find out.

Here are three…

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Wine, Food & Nutrition

“Nobody Better Lay a Finger On My Butterfinger!”

NesteCandyBarsEarlier in the week Nestlé USA announced plans to remove all artificial food colors and flavors from its line of chocolate candy by the end of 2015. These additives will be replaced with natural counterparts such as annatto, a seed that gives off a bright red pigment. According to Nestlé’s press release, the revised products will begin appearing on shelves mid-year and will be identified by a “No Artificial Flavors or Colors” claim on the wrapper. This is nothing new for the UK where several food dyes have been banned since 2009 based on findings from scientific studies linking the consumption of these additives to hyperactivity in children.

Several artificial food dyes are approved by the FDA. They are added to foods to make them look attractive and sometimes more appealing to children. There is a body of evidence out there, but the reality is that food dyes have not been proven to adversely affect the behavior of children with ADHD or otherwise. However, many of the food products that contain artificial colorings are extremely high in sugar and therefore they should be eaten in moderation.

Nestlé claims the change is being made…

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Media Relations

The Glaringly Obvious Similarities Between Snowmaggedon and Organic Products

starksnowflakeCongratulations, Everyone. You’ve made it to mid-February and you’re probably still going to the gym and eating incredibly healthy (I said you – not me). With that New Year glow about you, you must be attending the local farmer’s market perusing organic-only cheese and vegetables, right?

If you live anywhere between the Midwest and the East Coast, it’s another story. Plummeting temperatures today in New York are giving us a “Real Feel” of -7. And at this point, we expect meteorologists are having a field day coming up with another snowy term for ice cold weather. Snowmageddon. Polar Vortex. What’s next?

And what do these freezing temperatures have anything to do with your organic sunscreen or makeup? Here are three pieces of evidence:

1. Monopolizing the Media Conversation

You have a winter storm on the way, so what do your TV and newspapers become? Scare tactic-filled devices that force you to run to the supermarket and gas station to fill up on Wonder Bread, in the case that you might be house-bound for days on end.

Sound familiar? Today’s consumer health and food and beverage media have created an anxious consumer who now believes…

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Wine, Food & Nutrition

The Year of Tapas & Small Plates

1Spain has been mastering small plates since the days of old. Take a walk down Logroño’s Calle Laurel to witness the true spirit of Spain’s tapas tradition. Some call it a tapas pilgrimage, others call it a crawl (likely depends on how much wine is consumed). Tourists and locals alike take this journey for a truly authentic Spanish experience hopping from one bar to the next enjoying a different tapas at each stop.

Today, we’re seeing this Spanish-inspired trend move across borders. Many American chefs & restaurants are saying goodbye to big portions and hello to small plates.

For the diners who want it all, small plates are ideal. Offering them the opportunity to broaden their menu selection releases their adventurous side. Can’t decide between the short rib and crab cakes? Why put your diners in a difficult situation when small plates allow your diners to have the best of both worlds!

Chef tasting menus are another way restaurants are showcasing small plates. These pre-set menus are designed to be a journey through the chef’s top dishes or personal favorites.  Chicago’s Alinea serves up an impressive 24-course tasting menu as the “grand tour”…

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Wine, Food & Nutrition

Trends You Need to Know From the Winter Fancy Food Show

The specialty food industry is more robust and innovative than ever before. It is a great time to be in the gourmet foods business, and there is no better place to see the latest and greatest than the Fancy Food Show. Walking the floor with a keen eye, you will uncover the hottest categories, boldest flavors and latest trends shaping the industry’s growth.

Fresh JerkyFresh Jerky: It sounds oxymoronic, but this is not your father’s jerky if you’re thinking of the tough leathery jerky he’d grab while fueling up the car on that road trip. I first discovered this new age of jerky while dining at Country Cat in Portland Ore. The Hand Cut House Beef Jerky was an eye opener that quickly disappeared when passed around the table. Brands are bringing it to retail combining better meats with a more natural process delivering delicious results. Krave has had great success in the category, but it is facing increased competition. Chef’s Cut Real Jerky had a selection of beef, chicken and turkey jerky. Chef Blair even let me have a taste of a pork tenderloin jerky he…

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The Booze Bin

Parker’s Predictions, A Decade Later

saved my points

 

 

 

 

 

It’s January and that can only mean two things. One, I’m trying to figure out whether to eat a sensible dinner or spend my points on a few glasses of wine instead, and, two, the annual ritual of booze trend forecasts are flooding the interwebs.

This is nothing new, but it got me thinking. How many of these predictions actually come true? Foreseeing next year’s trends is a challenge, but what about those from a decade from now? Woo-wee! Who would be bold enough to put themselves on the line like that? Robert Parker, that’s who.

So, let’s see how the “Million-Dollar Nose” fared. Just over a decade ago, Parker put forward a prediction in Food & Wine magazine:

fw200410_120Robert M. Parker, Jr., the world’s foremost wine guru, makes 12 bold predictions about seismic changes that will influence how we’ll shop, what we’ll buy and how much we’ll pay.

TWELVE!? That is so crazy, Bob, it’s Italian television crazy. More importantly, it’s way too long for me to prove or disprove in a single blog post and…

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