Get the scoop on what’s in and what’s out.
All things sundried tomato. Balsamic everything. Molten chocolate cake. No fat anything. Hollowed-out bread bowl stuffed with spinach dip. Blackened everything. Atkins diet. Dessert nachos. Remember these popular foods of yesteryear? Foods trend just like music or fashion. The old isn’t necessarily bad, but sometimes can be a bit overdone and needs to make way for new ideas. That’s where these modern food trends come into play.
Charter chefs share their food trend preferences
Charter chefs aboard the finest yachts during 2023 Newport Charter Yacht Show weighed in on the trends they’re happy to see depart, and the modern food trends they’re embracing.
Chef Ranada Riley of M/Y Lexington is no stranger to food trends. A veteran of Food Network competitions, Riley ran several restaurants in Lexington, Kentucky, before embarking upon her yachting career.
America’s Native Foods
Fresh from the show’s chef’s competition (she placed first in 2022, and won special honors in 2023), Riley has a lot to say about food trends. “What’s out? How about a sprig of curly parsley and a wedge of lemon for garnish,” she jokes, before declaring that traditional is out. “Right now, people aren’t afraid to play. Everything used to be so traditional.” She emphasizes traditional with a wee scowl. “Now it’s more of a twist. And to me, I think that’s super-important. I love the new emphasis on so much creativity and just trying different things.”
She opens her arms to the galley. “There is so much available to us today, so many recipes, techniques, and ingredients from all over the world.”
If traditional food is off the table, so the speak, what’s being served now?
The four food groups aren’t a thing anymore. Riley laughs, “People are eating less red meat. Vegetables are on the rise. So many more guests [both aboard yachts and in her restaurants] are cutting way back on meat.” Vegetarian food, she explains, has emerged from the dark ages of dense lentil loaf, grilled portabellas with hummus, and a bowl of iceberg lettuce.
Chef Maya Vogt of S/Y Kaori agrees. “Vegetables are now the star of the show,” she says.
Vogt, an architect and yoga teacher from Poland, found her way into superyacht chefdom four years ago. She’s excited to embrace fresher menus. “What’s appreciated now is healthy,” she says. “People are enjoying a huge variety of grains, salads, veggies, and all the seeds and superfoods. They like it colorful, light, healthy, and pretty.
“What I’ve found is that no one wants a big, heavy lunch, especially if you’re on the water and don’t want to spend your afternoon feeling full and lazy,” she adds.
The evolution of the salad
Vogt talks about salad evolving from a bowl of pale green lettuce to its current heyday. “I add a lot of roasted nuts and some grains. People are always surprised that this healthy and light thing can be so tasty,” she says. “Salad doesn’t have to be boring. Each time is different depending on what you add.”
What does one add to a salad to make it a meal? “Almost anything,” she grins. It doesn’t always have to be raw, any roasted veg will do: mushrooms, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, squash. Leftover veggies. Leftover anything. There are so many salad and vegetable-based cookbooks available right now. Her absolute favorite is anything by Yotam Ottolenghi (Yotam’s Instagram).
“He makes vegetables the center of a meal, but there is still room for a little meat,” she says.
The Best Food to Eat in the North
Does meat depart from modern food trends?
Uzane Pohl, chef aboard M/Y Shadowl, insists there will always be room for a meat. While Pohl rounds out the consensus that vegetables have been given a glow-up, meat will always be on the menu. He points out that, yes, veggies are no longer an afterthought. Instead of busting open a bag of baby carrots, boiling them, and tossing in some butter, now, farmers market-fresh carrots are roasted until they’re just tender, tossed with brown butter and toasted nuts, then served on a little cloud of herbed yogurt.
The other half of his sentiment insists that people will always want meat. “It appears though,” he adds, “just not as much as they used to.”
Pohl suspects there have been fad diets since humans moved away from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. “I think there was a grapefruit diet way back in like the fifties or sixties,” he says. “Then there was the fat-free diet, followed by the Atkins diet which was pretty much all fat. Now Keto and paleo and no carb—there is so much to keep up with. I don’t trust any diet that tells you fruits and veggies are bad.”
The shift that Pohl sees is still meat, but less of it. “I’d call it intentional, or quality vs. quantity,” he says. People don’t want a burger for lunch every day. Instead, one really great burger once a week, maybe steak just one night for dinner.
What about what’s out?
Vogt doesn’t hesitate before answering, “Fried food. Convenience food.” She talks about COVID’s impact on home cooking. “People started to cook more, they started to explore. A lot of people started to bake their own bread.” So many people, she continues, had an opportunity to see how easy it is to make their own food, like salad dressing. They realized how easy it is and how much better it tastes.
“Who feels good after eating greasy fried food or food filled with lots of preservatives?” she asks.
Pohl is happy to pack his tweezers away. “That whole molecular gastronomy thing was cool, but enough of the foams and gelees,” he says. “When I want to eat or a serve a tomato, I’d prefer to find the ripest one I can, slice it, serve it with a little bit of salt, and let it be its best tomato self. It doesn’t need to be juiced, then reduced, then reconstructed, then dehydrated, then ground into a powder before finally being shaped back into a tomato.”
While he loves a beautiful plate presentation, he likes to let the ingredients shine for themselves. He says the key is finding that sweet spot between a plate presentation that requires tweezers to place every microgreen sprig in place and the idea of a “square meal” or meat and three sides. “I just want my food to be food,” he says.
But without a sprig of parsley on the side.
-by Rubi McGrory
Some Modern Food Trend Recipe Examples
Perfect Tomato Sandwich
⊲ 1 loaf white bread or milk bread (not the fancy kind, the softer and squishier the better)
⊲ 2 really ripe tomatoes, perfect summer tomatoes
⊲ ½ cup mayonnaise
⊲ 1 tsp. seasoned salt (plus more to taste)
Using a round cookie cutter roughly the size of your tomato (2-3 inches), cut one circle out of each slice of bread. Discard/compost the rest.
Peel each tomato, then cut into 1/4-inch slices. Sandwich the tomato slices between paper towels and let them rest in the refrigerator overnight.
Combined mayonnaise and seasoned salt, adding more to taste—it should be a little salty and light pink. Generously spread the mayo mixture on one side of each bread circle. Place one tomato slice in each sandwich.
Roasted Carrots with Herbed Yogurt
⊲ 2 lbs. carrots
⊲ 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
⊲ 1½ Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
⊲ Kosher salt
⊲ Freshly ground black pepper
⊲ 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
⊲ ½ cups Greek yogurt (0%, 2%, or 5%)
⊲ Flaky sea salt
⊲ ½ cup finely chopped cilantro (or other soft herbs, basil, flat parsley, dill, tarragon, etc.) plus more for garnish
Set oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel and trim the carrots. If they are smaller than 1 inch in diameter, leave them whole. Cut larger carrots in half lengthwise. Place on a rimmed baking sheet; set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Continue cooking, keeping an eye on the pan, swirling it occasionally until the butter is toasty brown and smells nutty, between 3 and 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add a half teaspoon of salt and the lemon juice very carefully, as it is likely to splatter. Using a silicone spatula, stir, being sure to scrape up the brown toasty bits at the bottom.
Drizzle half of the browned butter over the carrots. Toss thoroughly with a few turns of cracked pepper and a half teaspoon of salt. Spread evenly in a single layer. Roast for about 15 minutes, turn carrots over, and roast another 15 or 20 minutes until carrots are tender and edges are starting to brown.
Meanwhile, combine the yogurt and the herbs with a half teaspoon of salt. Swirl the yogurt over a large serving platter and pile the roasted carrots on top. Drizzle the rest of the browned butter over the carrots and yogurt, sprinkle with additional cilantro, toasted almonds, and flaky sea salt.
Enjoy your delicious modern food trend meals!