2012 Taste the Trends™ Tour
May 5th, 2012, Chicago, IL
Since 1997, Basic American Foods has offered leading foodservice operators a behind-the-scenes look at Chicago’s hottest restaurant concepts and dining establishments. Our popular Taste the Trends™ tour has become a mainstay on many NRA itineraries, turning dozens of past attendees into loyal Taste the Trends™ “tourists”.
Reinvention was the inspiration for this year’s tour. Each of the eateries on the tour have embraced change in some way, looking for inspiration both internally and externally, transforming to stay, or become, relevant to today’s consumers.
Re • in • vent (verb)
- To make as if for the first time something already invented <reinvent the wheel>
- To remake or redo completely
- To bring to use again
A forgotten two-block urban space is transformed into a vibrant indoor market. Offering the same sense of community found in the markets of Europe, Chicago French Market provides a place to gather, socialize and purchase quality goods from local artisans and purveyors. The ideal spot to kick off the 2012 tour, attendees strolled, tasted and visited with friends new and old. Some favorites from the market vendor tasting included RAW’s Raw Ravioli, delicate turnip rounds with gems of fresh cashew cheese served with marinara and parsley relish. The Breakfast Enchiladas from WISMA were filled with scrambled eggs, cilantro, onion and Chihuahua cheese topped with tomatilla salsa. And, at the Lavazza Espression café there was Espesso™, a new mousse-like coffee you eat with a spoon.
A classic French brasserie morphs into a sophisticated urban hot spot, introducing French classics updated for a new generation. Offering approachable French fare in a casual urban setting, Paris Club reinvented their menu in order to appeal to their increasingly younger consumer. The tour tasting included a menu of modern French classics on plates to share. The stars of the tasting included Croque Monsieur Fingers with Madame Dip. The Grand Provencal Vegetable Plate with – butter beans, asparagus, carrots, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and a sweet ending of Alsace Apple Strudel.
A modern Spanish restaurant that offers Barcito, a Spanish stand-and-eat experience in an urban environment. Highlights included Pork Belly Bocadillo Pintxo with apple jam and pickled red onion on a brioche bun. The Croqueta Pica Pica blended unique flavors of fermin iberico ham and saffron aioli. House-made sodas were perfectly paired with the delicious eats.
Chicago’s classic hotel and restaurant re-imagined and transformed into a contemporary urban space. Tourists enjoyed favorites in a relaxed, comfortable, and yet exciting environment. This new contemporary comfort food concept was created by world- renowned chef and 2011 James Beard Award winner Jean Georges Vongerichten. Chicken Liver Toast wowed with toasted house made ciabatta, walnut vinaigrette, fried sage and black pepper. And the Organic Fried Chicken fried crispy on a butter-braised spinach with homemade habanero hot sauce butter, truly exemplified the comfort with a twist trend.
Highly regarded Chef Tony Mantuano moves from fine dining to create a next-generation Italian neighborhood pizzeria. It’s name is a play on Tony Matuana’s name, a chef who is most often recognized as one of the champions on season two of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters. Tour attendees enjoyed the communal dining experience while watching busy chefs prepare the authentic tasting menu. Hand Rolled Mozzarella with San Marzano tomatoes and basil kicked off the menu at Bar Toma. Effy’s Seared Mortadella with house-made giardinera is smoked and cured in house. The frozen mint gelato covered in dark chocolate was a perfect finish to the menu.
The final stop was held at Centered Chef, Chicago’s only 100 percent health-conscious event center fusing culinary arts with nutrition while using only functional ingredients, and catered by Basic American Food’s Executive Chef Mark Graham. Chef Graham, along with Centered Chef, created unique recipes that reinvented traditional product applications and used Basic American Foods’ products in surprising ways. The Final Bites Menu featured Potato Pearls® Natural Mashed Potatoes and Santiago® Red Bean Chili and Black Beans.