What’s New in Barbecue

Barbecue has been a staple in man’s diet since early man discovered fire and used it to cook.  While the general sentiment of barbecue will always reflect natural flavors and outdoor gatherings, backyard kitchens aren’t immune from trends.

Image sourced from trifectapdx.com

Every year on his website, Barbecue Bible, Steven Raichlen predicts trends in barbecue cooking for the year ahead.  For 2015, he is expecting some major changes to the classic staples of cooking with fire.

  • Wood-burning grills will reign supreme.  High-end restaurants are taking notice of this traditionally casual dining experience and heightening it with wood-fired grills.  The results are not only delectable down-home dining, but also easy entertainment in restaurants where the kitchen is visible.  With recent consumer concerns about all things environmentally-friendly and non-toxic, it’s no wonder this trend is on the rise.
  • The ethical treatment of animals takes top priority among chefs and diners alike.  Selecting meats that come from animals who are raised humanely, by local farmers, and without hormones or antibiotics is likely to become the rule rather than the exception.  Grass-fed beef, organic chicken, wild salmon, and local shrimp with heads intact are entrees you should expect to see on a wide range of menus.
  • Side dishes get a much needed makeover.  Those dinner rolls straight from the bag might give you flashbacks of childhood cookouts and barbecue joints of days gone by, but they won’t likely be making it to the plate in 2015.  Many chefs are looking to create more inspired and tasty side dishes that elevate the meats rather than stand as an aside.  Homemade breads, locally harvested salads, and inspired baked bean dishes are popping up on barbecue menus all over the country.
  • Who needs a tailgate when you’ve got an outdoor kitchen?  Home-gating is in full-upswing as people opt for a simpler version of the classic game day atmosphere.  People are taking over their own backyards and turning it into everyday livable space.  Today’s outdoor kitchens and dining rooms outperform the indoor spaces for many Americans.
  • Smoking is here to stay.  Over the years we have seen this trend pick up speed and take off beyond just meats.  Smoked cocktails, eggs, salads, and even desserts can be found in droves on barbecue menus.

Trend predictions are fun, but what does this mean in a practical sense for restaurant owners?  Maybe you want to jump right in and add a wood-burning grill to your kitchen.  If you’re not that adventurous, the simple answer is that consumers are craving updated classics and barbecue fare offers a great way to get started.  Jazz up those old side dishes or invest in some great smoking equipment.  Make friends with your local farmers and incorporate fresh meats and produce into your barbecue menu.  Be sure to keep the backyard grilling atmosphere by donning the traditional apron, or one with a twist like these Urban Bib Aprons.

The culinary world is a constantly changing environment where chefs and consumers are dying to see what new concoctions can arise.  Take a few minutes to review your barbecue choices and maybe take them up a notch to attract consumer’s attention.

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