Q&A with Amancio dos Santos, chef de cuisine, Drake Mini Bar


F&H: Looking back at 2018, what evolving trends did you see dominate the food landscape?

Amancio dos Santos: The trends of this season are plant-based foods as well as more vegetarian-forward menus and temperance cocktails.

F&H: What ingredients did you see gain popularity in 2018?

AD: The popular ingredients for this year are still the ones we were into last year, but delving deeper into them. For example, hemp seeds, chia, alfalfa and black garlic have all been popular again this year but chefs are using them for something more than the traditional or commonly used applications. International ingredients such as zaatar, huitlacoche, tahini — which have always been around — are starting to come to trend this year.

F&H: Conversely, did you notice any trends or ingredients lose momentum in 2018?

AD: Trends that are losing momentum are the whole “deconstructed plates” concept, as well as “molecular technology.” They aren’t seen as trendy anymore, but as another tool or style of cooking that is integrated into the repertoire of chefs in 2018. It’s hard to pick an ingredient because when I think of all the menu changes and restaurant openings in the last year, a lot of ingredients and styles are still on the table.

F&H: Looking ahead to 2019, do you anticipate any interesting themes or trending ingredients in the food landscape?

AD: Hyper seasonal, nano-batch and super sustainable but international are going to be the next big things.

F&H: How can chefs incorporate these trending ingredients and themes into their menus?

AD: In Ontario, we’re blessed with a veritable smorgasbord of ingredients throughout the year, with many of our farmers producing strawberries, tomatoes, 100 types of apples — and trying to do tropical fruit and other ingredients that are in demand by local chefs. That means there’s a small window for a small batch of product that will be up for grabs for the most discerning customers and restaurants. We will actively seize on these small windows.

With the global economy and trade booming in Canada, having specialty fish, meat or even produce flown in from across the world is becoming a viable option now, as everyone is looking for an edge for their menus as new restaurants keep popping up all over the city at an exponential rate.

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