Aaahh, comfort food. The mere mention of childhood or family favourites such as macaroni and cheese, Shepherd’s pie or Grandma’s meatloaf brings mouthwatering anticipation to even the most jaded foodie. No wonder, then, that chefs and restaurant operators across North America have been turning these classic homey mainstays into revitalized culinary creations, thanks to inspired ingredients from food companies like Kraft.
While many food trends seem to come and go, comfort foods are always sure to be popular with guests and chefs alike. Each culture and region has its own favourites, from poutine in Quebec to pierogies in Manitoba, and today’s chefs are finding new and delicious ways to put a new spin on these comforting classics.
“Comfort food is all about creating grown-up versions of childhood favorites — one part comfort, one part kitsch,” says Juriaan Snellen, Corporate Chef at Kraft Heinz. “Today’s comfort food revolution turns homestyle favorites into hipster fare. By using upscale ingredients and using new flavour profiles, craveable dishes become contemporary cuisine. Traditional meatloaf is downsized to a cupcake format, the ground beef is being replaced with turkey which is brushed with Kraft Original BBQ sauce and topped with cheesy habanero mashed potatoes.”
Say cheese, please
One of the go-to items in any chef’s pantry when it comes to adding pizzazz to traditional comfort food recipes is, of course, cheese. Recent trends indicate that consumers love the wide choice of new varieties and flavours now being offered and are excited to see chefs pushing the creative envelope on how and when to use this ever-popular staple.
“Just like any other category in the foodservice world, artisanal and locally sourced cheese are top of the line,” says Snellen. “This, in combination with the consumer’s desire to try new and innovative cheese, allows for manufacturers to push the boundaries on cheese. Different textures or non-melting cheeses like halloumi and paneer are perfect for grilling on the BBQ or as an interesting topping on your ethnic inspired pizza. Smoking continues to be a major trend in food preparation and is certainly transferable to the cheese industry where we are seeing a full line up of different smoked cheese varieties.”