Where there’s fire, there’s smoke, and as we all know there is a heat trend that has gripped consumers. But, it appears smoke isn’t far behind—at least on the foodservice side.
With an ability to bring out different profiles from our traditional vegetables and fruits, chefs are getting back to traditional barbecuing. From smoke-centered restaurants in San Francisco, to grill master challenges on the hit show Chopped, smoking looks to be the next key way to prepare fresh produce.
While meat still accounts for the majority of the grill plate, vegetables seem to be earning their own spotlight, with fruit coming up as a good dessert option. Smoked peaches anyone?
Interestingly enough, similar to preparing the more detailed sushi dishes, it seems the challenging preparation in smoking might have been the catalyst for the trend. Those in foodservice compare smoking’s balancing act to that of any other flavoring technique in the kitchen, but with the added benefit of a tease to the palate as distinct as bitterness, sweetness, or savory.
Freshness also presents a challenge in high temperatures, necessitating lower temperatures to keep produce raw and smoky, instead of cooked.
I’ll be the first to admit, there is a unique trigger for my taste buds when it comes to seeing a smoked veggie, but it looks like we could just be scratching the surface of what this niche has to offer.
And then there are the varying methods that can make the smoke as distinctive as the item being smoked. Wood, metal, cinder block, stone… when it comes to this flavor the materials matter as much as the method, it seems. Chefs in restaurants with wood-burning or even wood-constructed pits tout another level from the consumer’s backyard barbecue, and on the industrial manufacturing side the smoky flavor is generated by burning sawdust from specific woods themselves. There are smokers, commercial contraptions, and traditional grills… for every way we can think our industry can offer it, a chef or grill master can give a different method to smoke it.