Bakers Journal

Buzzwords for 2012

January 2, 2012
By Lois Abraham/The Canadian Press

January 2, 2012, Toronto – Fresh, local and sustainable continue to be
buzzwords in the food biz, with more Canadians expressing a desire to
know where the food on their plate has come from.

January 2, 2012, Toronto – Fresh, local and sustainable continue to be
buzzwords in the food biz, with more Canadians expressing a desire to
know where the food on their plate has come from.

As well, manufacturers are putting gluten-free labels on a huge array of
products in which the wheat has been replaced by alternative
ingredients that can be digested by people with celiac disease, and a
slew of cookbooks also tout recipes that are free of gluten, a key
protein in wheat.

Consumers can also expect to see more products that are low-sodium,
organic or with an Asian influence, with statistics indicating growing
preferences for rice, seafood and pork, and more prepared ethnic foods
on grocery shelves.

"I think that getting to know your food, where it came from, the
farmers, agriculture tours" is increasingly important to consumers, says
food consultant Korey Kealey.

"Definitely on restaurant menus there's a lot of description around the
meats, how they were raised, the cuts. Basically each experience is an
artisan experience when you look at the menu," she said in an interview
from Ottawa.

"I think people are turning the clock back and going back to simple good
food that's not complicated," says Jeremy Charles, chef of Raymonds
Restaurant in St. John's, N.L.

"That's my motto of food and again even more so now – just keep it
simple and obviously the whole local thing. We use a lot of fairly wild
ingredients, too, here in Newfoundland and source as much as we can."

In the fall, Charles, 34, was featuring moose pasta and rabbit ravioli
along with seafood and other wild game on the menu at Raymonds, which
was recently named the top new restaurant in Canada by Air Canada's
enRoute magazine.

"People are more health-conscious. I notice that with my regulars; they
want smaller portions," says Marco Ormonde, 36, chef and owner of The
North Restaurant in Barrie, Ont.

He uses fresh herbs for flavour and as a way to cut down on salt. Many
of his items are gluten-free and he also finds that people don't
want to consume a lot of carbohydrates when they're dining out.

Grocery stores are catering to cooks who want to have the homemade
experience with chef-prepared products, such as soups, sauces, pestos
and entrees.

"It looks like you made it yourself and it's really desirable to buy. A
lot of the private-label lines are starting to go with that look of the
mason jars for their sauces and things that make them look very
authentic and homemade," says Kealey, 42, founder of the recipe and
product developer

Some companies have revamped their products to make them healthier,
notes Kealey. McCain Foods has removed artificial colours, flavours,
preservatives and trans fat-containing oils from such products as its
pizza, while Schneiders has a line of products that includes hot dogs
made with natural ingredients.

"Low-fat, I think, is out as well," says Kealey. "That's done. People
are realizing that just because it's low-fat it was filled with starches
and carbs and sugars and gum and things to make it up. It may have been
low-fat, but it had all these other unappealing things in it."

Instead, there seems to be a shift back to "what Grandma made," like
tourtiere, stews, pies and puddings, partly for economic reasons and
partly for comfort and simplicity, but with smaller portions.

With the "ebb and flow of the economy, people are a little more aware of
their budget, so using their slow cooker, finding ways to use
leftovers. … We're getting back into a little bit of home economics,
so the way our grandparents probably cooked – not to waste, use what you
have," says Kealey.

When it comes to sweets, small decadent indulgences are big. Coffee
chains like Starbucks have been promoting cake pops – small treats on a
stick – and smaller sizes of many of their pastries. Restaurants are
also creating desserts that are two or three bites for those who want to
indulge but don't want too many extra calories at the end of a meal.

"I think people are looking for really, really decadent, delicious, but
not too large. Large, big, huge portion sizes with poor quality are out.
I think really high-quality, decadent small bites are in," says Kealey.

Baking guru Anna Olson, who has tantalized taste buds with cooking shows
"Fresh with Anna Olson" and "Sugar" on Food Network Canada, thinks
classics like macaroons, tortes, petits-fours, tea-time treats and grand
desserts "are coming back big time." But portion sizes are reduced. In
her new cookbook, "Back to Baking: 200 Timeless Recipes to Bake, Share
and Enjoy" (Whitecap), recipes for squares that once might have
instructed bakers to cut them into 16 pieces now call for cutting into

In keeping with more requests over the last few years for desserts to
satisfy special dietary needs, Olson has included a selection of items
that don't contain gluten, dairy or eggs in her new cookbook.

Ryan Jennings, author of "Entertaining With Booze" and "Cooking With
Booze" (Whitecap) with David Steele, says Canadians are being influenced
by cuisines from other countries.

"You look to your neighbours. We live in this global world now where the
borders are very permeable, so you end up discovering different
things," the Toronto-based Jennings, 35, said in an interview from
Vietnam, where he was travelling.

"I think that looking at the ingredients that we grow at home in a
different way is maybe a trend that's coming, like cooked cucumbers, for
instance. It's really delicious and very unusual and it's something
that makes you go 'what?' But what I've experienced here in southeast
Asia is that it's delicious in a stir-fry because it's still refreshing
and cool, but it becomes … this juicy fruit-like vegetable."

He also points to Southern U.S. cooking as gaining ground in Canada.
"Shrimp and grits are popping up on several menus in Toronto and
Vancouver. … That relates to the comfort food movement that we've seen
in the last few years because in the south that's comfort food – grits
and biscuits and dumplings. It's like the mini burgers and fries trend
that's been going on for the last number of years."

Social media will continue to be huge into 2012, with thousands of people blogging about their food experiences.

People are using websites such as Epicurious as a resource, while "video
cooking is very big, with people being able to get the how-to right
away," says Kealey. "You can almost be a self-taught chef now with all
the excellent instruction videos online. Twitter is a really fun way to
share information, searching out anything you need across the world."

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