The Savory Side of Sweet

My first assignment for Contemporary Issues in the Food Service Industry was to write about a current food trend and how it impacts the food service industry. I went to the library during my break and found the latest issue of Culinary Trends Magazine to arrive at my school, which was, sadly, the Fall 2009 issue. Knowing that you couldn’t just pick up this magazine in any bookstore, I thought I would settle for a slightly older issue.And I was pleasantly surprised to find an article on a subject that I had just spent two hours debating and mulling over with a friend of mine: savory ice creams.

Savory ice cream is rising in popularity throughout the globe. Its presence can be seen in upscale restaurants as far apart as Spain, Japan, and back to our own great country. Savory ice cream is here to stay and is not only found in the most expensive of fine dining establishments. You are just as likely to find it in the freezer section of your local grocery store.

As a pastry chef, staying on top of a trend like savory ice cream is important to my career success. To stay on top of the most up-to-date dessert trends, being able to make a delicious savory ice cream is vital. Turing a ripe avocado, roasted tomato, or piece of thick-cut bacon into the perfect balance of sweet and savory in an ice cream is not an easy feat to perfect.

Today, consumers are showing a demand to return to organic and all natural ingredients. Focusing on the perfection of one single, simple ingredient and how it affects the finished dish is important for chefs. This may be one of the reasons that savory ice creams are becoming widely admired. For example, as consumers’ palates change and evolve, the subtle difference between a freshly prepared sun-ripened tomato and a farm-grown tomato impregnated with chemicals to force it to grow quickly become apparent. The consumer is now willing to pay more for a perfectly prepared meal that is flavorful and unique. What a better way to end your meal then with house-made tomato and basil sorbet?

In the past, most restaurants have looked at pre-made and pre-proportioned desserts to serve in their restaurants. Not only are such options cheaper and quicker, but in the past there was less demand for gourmet a la minute desserts and pastries. With the increasing popularity of shows like "Food Network Challenge" and "Ace of Cakes", the dessert is becoming just as important as the main dish.

For a pastry chef, this means a higher demand and, subsequently, more job openings. This also gives many pastry chefs the chance to shine and truly be creative by getting out of the routine of making creme brulee and apple pies. As a whole, pastry chefs have taken a back seat compared to our savory-cooking counterparts. The dessert, perfect loaf of bread, or beautifully prepared confections, while beautiful and not forgotten, have always been out-shined by the main dishes of some of the finest chefs and restaurants. As the desire for innovative and stunning desserts and pastries grows, the two culinary professions will come to a balance.

Savory ice cream is not just a trend that you may see in big cities or only spoken about on the pages of Food and Wine Magazine but is something that can greatly impact the culinary world. Not only will it help to shape and change the way consumers look at food and what they desire, but it will also affect the way many kitchens are being run. Savory ice cream is only a starting point to more changes to come and will remain a trend for years to come.