The Six Biggest Food Trends of 2017

2017 has come and gone like monsoon season. While our eyes and ears have been focused primarily on national, world, or political news (fake or otherwise), there have been a multitude of sweeping changes across the food industry. Here are six of the biggest food trends that we’ve seen in the past year.

6. Cauliflower is Now Cool

Okay, maybe not “cool” but it certainly is popular. The blander sibling of broccoli packs a boat-load of nutrients, making it incredibly versatile in recipes. Chefs are foregoing the traditional steam or boiled versions of cauliflower and instead choose to deep-fry, roast, sautée, mash, and butter the cruciferous vegetable. Cauliflower now takes the form of steaks, rice, soups, casserole, and more. The demand for this veggie stems from carbo-adverse eaters’ desire for a healthy alternative to white rice and gluten-filled grains. This new trend may be part of a larger movement where chefs aim to make vegetables the centerpiece of meals.

5. Legalized Edibles

Considered by many to be the source of the next big economic boom, legalized marijuana has slowly creeped up across the country. Currently with eight states that now offer the legal sale and possession of marijuana, the topic of the sticky plant has never been more covered and controversial. One of the most popular methods of ingesting pot is through the form of edible, bite-sized refreshments; companies and chefs are working to improve the taste and experience of edible marijuana snacks. Don’t expect anything nutritious as most of these ganja goodies take the form of sugary confections with CBD gummies and chocolates skyrocketing in popularity.

NOTE: Classic Cooking Academy does not support the edible consumption of marijuana.

4. Dipping Sauce Pandemonium

Whether it’s French fries, onion rings, or fried zucchini sticks, you’ll most likely be dipping your finger food of choice into a certain sauce. Yet, one dipping sauce claimed the condiment crown this year as the most overhyped fast food menu item: McDonald’s Szechuan Dipping Sauce. Originally released in 1998 for Disney’s Mulan promotions, this teriyaki-flavored dipping sauce gained momentous traction after being mentioned in the immensely popular cartoon Rick and Morty. For a limited time only, Mickey-Ds brought back the sauce on October 7th. Man-children formed lines, cops kept the peace, and riots nearly broke out as cartoon enthusiasts demanded – rather vehemently – to be served the sauce.

3. The Keto Diet

In terms of diets, there has been a major shift from those who have adopted the previously popular paleo diet (involving the consumption of foods that were only available during the Paleolithic era) to the new and upcoming ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet – or “keto” for short – involves drastically reducing your carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. The main idea of the keto diet is to limit the amount of glucose in the body as much as possible in order to create a fat-burning machine. With health benefits such as weight loss, controlled blood sugar, higher mental focus, increased energy, and reduced acne, the keto diet has found popularity amongst fitness nuts and Silicon Valley biohackers. Like many other diets, keto boasts a difficult one-to-two week adjustment phase known as the “keto flu.”

2. Edible Charcoal

If 2016 had rainbow-colored bagels, then 2017 had activated charcoal. Used both as a hygienic and nutritional product, activated charcoal gives off a deep, black hue to foods ranging from ice cream, breads, and even lemonade. As a potent detoxifier, activated charcoal has been used in hospitals to prevent poisons and lethal overdoses of drugs from being absorbed by the body. Though these properties make it good at adsorption (soaking up all the molecules in its path), activated charcoal is actually pretty bad at picking out what’s toxic and what isn’t. For example, if you eat activated charcoal in ice cream, the charcoal would suck up the calcium, potassium, and other vitamins, preventing your stomach lining from absorbing those nutrients and instead discarding them as waste alongside the charcoal.

1. The War on Sugar

Finally – finally – America is starting to come around on what truly causes many of our health issues. Not only is it a leading cause of obesity but according to Gary Taubes’ best-seller The Case Against Sugar, the sweet-tasting carbohydrate may also have a central role in Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and many common cancers. Even though global sugar consumption of sugar is up, US consumption has faltered, supported by companies who have dialed down the sugar content in processed foods, evidenced by major soda brands introducing sugarless sodas like Coca-Cola Zero Sugar (the new substitute for Coke Zero). However, there’s always a tradeoff: the lower the sugar content, the higher the faux sweetener content which may lead to side effects such as upset stomachs, blood sugar control issues, and increased risk of some types of cancer.


Dan Boman – Pastry Chef Extraordinaire

Cooking is a science. It combines the thermodynamics of physics, the anatomy of biology, and the reactions of chemistry to create hundreds of thousands of different foods to eat. In the category of pastries, every ingredient, technique, and concept must be measured, applied, and understood to their optimum capacity. Of all the culinary innovators in town, there’s no better pastry professor than Dan Boman.

Graduating at the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, Boman set off to make his mark on the world. He then kick-started his career in Atlantic City working for various hotels and organizations such as Tropicana, Trump, Four Seasons, and Hilton to name a few. Moving to Arizona, Chef Boman decided to tweak his career path to focus more on cooking education; as a result, he joined the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Phoenix and our very own establishment as a pastry instructor. Throughout his 25-year career, he competed in various local and national pastry competitions to both prove his talent and improve his skills.

This year, Boman finally took home the gold. In early July, he competed against his regional counterparts during the ACF’s National Convention and Show in Orlando, Florida. To stand out from the crowd, Chef Boman created deliciously delicate centerpieces using the film series Pirates of the Caribbean as inspiration. With only 2½ hours and the help of an Art Institute student, he crafted the following in order to win the title:

Rum Runner Isle Cheesecake: Mojito key lime sorbet, vanilla chiffon sponge, strawberry-thyme gelée, macadamia almond crunch, strawberry tartar, caramel sauce, and strawberry foam

Jack Sparrow “Pieces of Eight Coin” Cookies: Peanut butter bar with milk chocolate graham cracker sandwiched between peanut butter cookies

Davy Jones “Release the Kraken” Chocolate and Pastillage Showpiece

Dan Boman

Chef Boman’s “Release the Kraken” Chocolate & Pastillage Showpiece

As a result, the ACF named him Pastry Chef of the Year, recognizing his status as a pastry chef who displays a passion for the craft, has an accomplished reputation in the pastry field, and has helped educate others by sharing skills and knowledge.

Boman now hopes to continue mentoring students, encouraging them to take part in ACF events, and participating in national pastry competitions. He is currently preparing for Classic Cooking Academy’s upcoming Pastry and Advanced Pastry series. Despite his prestige and talent, his down-to-earth attitude and humor have made him a favorite amongst his students. Like his creations, Chef Boman is one-of-a-kind.


The Hidden Problem with Gluten

In the current food industry, there is one big word that both chefs and customers throw around with a whole lot of gravitas: gluten. Since we are part of a cooking school, of course we have an obligation to say something informative. Let’s start off by copying and pasting the first paragraph from the “Gluten” page on Wikipedia:

“Gluten (from Latin gluten, ‘glue’) is a composite of storage proteins termed prolamins and glutelines found in wheat and related grains, including barley, rye, oat, and all their species and hybrids (such as spelt, khorasan, emmer, einkorn, triticale, etc.)…It gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture.”

THAT is gluten. The next time you are at a cocktail party, double date, or whatever applicable event, you should try busting out the above text to the best of your ability; the impression you make on the people you talk to will be more important than just saying, “WELL, I don’t know about gluten and could care less.”

Then what’s the issue with gluten? Well, there really isn’t one – not unless you have celiac disease. People with this genetic disorder follow a strict gluten-free diet, because if not, they might suffer from one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal bloating/pain
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Delayed growth/puberty
  • Irritability and behavioral issues
  • Vomiting
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool (yeah, we saved the best for last)

So there is a difference between the customers who say, “I’m a celiac. Do you happen to have any gluten-free food,” and the ones who blurt out, “I CANNOT HAVE GLUTEN AND I CANNOT GIVE YOU AN ACCURATE REASON WHY.” For the latter, their motivations aren’t too foreign – cutting down on gluten-based foods (mainly breads and pastas) does lead to increased weight-loss. However, as a cooking school, when we encounter people who order gluten-free food without knowing what they will be putting in their mouths, we tend to crack a smile.

With all that said, there is a hidden problem with gluten. If a person does not have celiac disease then they SHOULD DO NOT GO ENTIRELY GLUTEN FREE. A study in the BMJ states that going gluten-free means a person reduces their intake of whole grains (which are known to have cardiovascular-health benefits). So, if you decide to undertake a “gluten-free diet,” know that you will actually increase the risk of heart problems.

There is a silver lining to all of this (especially to the reader who has done a gluten-free diet). The BMJ study saw no noteworthy association between . In other words, if you’ve cut out gluten in your foods, you’ll feel more instances of heartburns, not heart attacks.

So go ahead, non-celiacs: eat as much (or as little) gluten to your heart’s content! We just hope that you’ll remember this little piece of trivia as you do so.


Poem – Ode to Asparagus

Asparagus, asparagus, let me sing thy praise.
Your reign as “Food of Kings” will endure to the end of days.

That Louis Quatorze of France, he loved you so dear
That he had greenhouse built especially to grow you throughout the year.

Yes, he was but one of many in a long line of fans,
Dating back to the Greeks, The Romans, even the ancient Egyptians.

You delight us in springtime, when all is anew,
Pleasing our palates as only you can do.

In your generosity you offer us a choice of green or white.
But we cannot declare one superior to the other, for that would not be right.

It has come to be that we Yanks favor your bright green spears,
While those on the continent have preferred white through the years.

We can certainly all agree that in the kitchen none can compare
To all that you have to offer, all that with us you do share.

For on any menu of worth we find you filling many roles, gracefully omnipresent –
As an appetizer, a refreshing salad, or perchance, as an accompaniment to pheasant.

You allow our culinary creativity to take flight and flourish,
As we ponder just exactly how best to prepare you for that unique and stellar dish.

Will we blanch you?  Steam you?  Saute you?  Or will we cook you not at all?
Since in your natural, raw state you also offer much and do us ever enthrall.

To peel, or not to peel, there are those who would debate the merits,
Since it is not as straightforward a matter as it would be with, say, some carrots.

However, that debate may be settled, we vow to cook you with the greatest finesse,
Mindful of not overcooking your spears or gentle tips, leaving you a mushy mess!

No, we would never disgrace you in such fashion, behaving with reckless abandon.
We would first get out of the kitchen and deservedly hang up our apron.

In gratitude for your many gifts to us, we make you this solemn vow,
And may our words ring true each spring, as they do in the here and now.

Written by Sarah Schuler
Former Student of Pascal Dionot