From EUJacksonville: When it comes to food, some trends go beyond being just “trendy.” These so-called trends actually develop and expand the fabric of our food scene into something better. Written by Jennifer Earnest AND Christopher Irvin.
Image Courtesy of Moxie Kitchen and Cocktails
Local, Local, Local: Growing Social Responsibility & Healthier Food
Focusing on local and sustainable dining is a perfect example of a trend that has stood the test of time. Many feel that it is really no longer a trend, but a way of life--cooking, creating, and living responsibly. As Chef Tom Gray of Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails says, “It’s just simply a better way to eat, and when you are looking for nutrition, flavor and sustainability, it is the only way to go.”
What we are seeing is a shift in the extent to which restaurateurs are allowing this local and sustainable mindset to inspire the process. It is evolving to every aspect of the restaurant, not just the kitchen. Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails and Black Sheep Restaurant are perfect examples of incorporating sustainability into restaurant design. Many aspects of their buildings were made from repurposed materials and local creators. In New York, Jean Georges’ ABC kitchen uses local and sustainable philosophies in practically every detail of the experience, which is something we have yet to see here at home. From the plates on which guests dine, to the uniforms the staff wears, the commitment to locality is always displayed.
Image Courtesy of Maple Street Biscuit Company
The focus on farm-fresh ingredients has not only led to more flavorful ingredients, but to a more healthful approach to cooking in general. Vegan and gluten free menu items are no longer being marginalized to menu afterthoughts, but are becoming menu features, to be enjoyed by everyone. We’ve seen this first hand at The Cafe at The Cummer Museum with the Black Bean and Quinoa Stuffed Roasted Portobello with Romesco sauce, which is not only vegan, but naturally gluten free. Menu items like this become top-selling items for omnivores and herbivores alike.
Article Written By
Jennifer Earnest: aka “Gutsy Girl Jen” is an active member of our local food community. She is co-owner of The Chef’s Garden Catering & Event and The Café at The Cummer and co-founder of the2GutsyGirls food blog.
Christopher Irvin: Chris started washing dishes at an Italian restaurant at 15, to save some money to buy a car. Little did he know, he would discover his passion for food and hospitality working these jobs. After college, he decided to make a career out of food and enrolled in culinary school. He has been with The Chef’s Garden since 2010 and is now the Executive Sous Chef and is a creative collaborator for the company. His food philosophy has always been about simple food with big flavors. He loves food and travel.