In The News

Veggie-Forward Dishes Become Trendy

James Beard award nominee Eric Gabrynowicz, who is executive chef and co-owner of Restaurant North in Armonk, NY, embodies the new attitude. “Vegetables are now the stars of the plate more than ever. I get excited about the first Brussels sprouts after the first frost almost as much as I get excited about a whole heritage pig that graces the kitchen doors.”

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What does it mean to be vegetable-forward on the menu? Kori Tuggle, vice president, Church Brothers Farms, Salinas, CA, notes vegetable-forward can take many forms, including “adding vegetables to classic dishes to increase their health factor and take advantage of the vegetable ‘health halo,’ reducing or replacing proteins with vegetables, or making the vegetable serving equal to the protein in an entrée.”

“We’re not just talking about adding lettuce and vegetables to burgers and sandwiches,” says Maeve Webster, president, Menu Matters, Arlington, VT. “Adding produce bulks up a dish to create greater volume, greater value, better eye appeal, and more flavor.”

Today’s produce-forward plate differs, however, from plant-based vegetarianism or popular movements such as Meatless Monday. “Chefs are ideating new menu items and treating fresh produce with the same regard as meat-based protein, but not entirely replacing meat with vegetables,” observes Gerry Ludwig, corporate consulting chef, Gordon Food Service, Grand Rapids, MI.

No longer content with soggy, drab-colored, boiled vegetables, chefs are applying traditional meat cooking methods to vegetables. Chef Chris Koetke, vice president, School of Culinary Arts, Kendall College, Chicago, acknowledges vegetables lend themselves to a multitude of classic cooking methods, including grilling, smoking, braising, and spicing, that coax a larger and more complex flavor profile out of the vegetables.





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