In order to be a good chef, you need to be able to cook well with more common ingredients. In order to be a great chef, you need to be able to cook well with unexpectedly tasty flavor combinations. Rather than combining like flavors, it is much more interesting to cook something up that is sweet and salty, sweet and bitter, nutty and salty, et cetera.
Throughout past experiences I have gathered what I believe to be some surprisingly delicious combinations, foods that are so different you would not expect them to work well together, but actually do, and have listed them below. I highly suggest keeping the list in mind next time you cook for a group of people. They would be happy if presented with expectedly good food, but would be impressed if you made good food that they did not expect to taste good.
While you may prefer to explore your own uniquely creative flavor combinations outside of this list, either way, doing so will take your cooking to the next level. So, be a little more risky with your cooking, and you will be on your way to becoming a more adventurous chef.
(Note: numbers 1 and 2 inspired by what I sampled at the IFT dinner, see more here)
Although not used often enough, salad toppers are a great way to mix up a salad that may only consist of fruits, veggies, and protein. Because they are usually an afterthought in salads, to take a salad to the next level and really make it stand out flavorful toppers that add texture are an absolute necessity. Below are some recommendations and reviews of my favorite salad toppers to incorporate.
Social media is seeing a major trend in desserts right now, and the special feature has nothing to do with the taste itself. Surprisingly, now we can perceive from the media that people are deciding to focus more on the visual element. Some people are actually using food as a media to create artwork, which has been most likely making your Instagram feed very satisfying to scroll through:) Below are pictures of some of the top desserts I discovered that truly look too pretty to eat.
Everyone knows what blenders, pans, and cookie sheets are and what they are used for, but some companies have gotten pretty creative with products they provide to manipulate ingredients in weird ways. Between apple corers, selfie spoons, and carrot sharpeners, some pretty wacky things have been created, some being genius and others being close to useless. Below are, in my opinion, the top 8 most unique food inventions that almost no one has heard of before.
8. Keyboard Waffle Iron
Apparently, with this you can have your waffle and type with it to! Although it may seem ridiculous and impractical, I think this is actually a good idea. In my opinion, the best part of waffles is being able to pour the exact right amount of maple syrup in every hole, and the differently sized holes in this waffle can allow someone to experience with their favorite ingredients to waffle ratio.
7. Oven Pull
I wish I had known about this so much sooner! Everyone knows pulling hot trays or bowls out of the oven is more of a pain than it should be, those mitts that are supposed to protect your hands can be slippery, and personally I have dropped many things wearing those. This is truly a dish-saver and a time saver, I know for sure I'm buying one of these next time I go to the store!
6. The "Roll N Pour"
Have you ever wished you could have avoided spilling that juice, from your hands slipping when tipping some into your cup? Well, the "Roll N Pour" helps avoid that! The fact that it gets rid of the sharp edge you have to balance when tipping a container makes it more spill-proof. Clumsy people like me, we finally have something that will limit our seemingly limitless spilling abilities!
5. The Dipr
When you were younger, how often did you drop your cookie in your milk as you were dunking it? Probably almost never, but kids are clumsy, and this product is for those with slippery fingers. The thing is though, dunking cookies in milk isn't really that hard, but better be safe than sorry I guess.
4. Spaghetti-Twirling Fork
Honestly? This looks a lot more time-consuming and confusing to figure out than twirling the pasta yourself. I mean, twirling pasta isn't difficult, you just stick your fork into the pasta and turn it! Although, my pasta- eating method of choice is shoving fistfuls into my mouth (well, it probably was when I was three, but it isn't considered very polite when you're older, unfortunately, as I'm sure we'd all love to do this :(
3. Carrot Sharpener
Unless you plan on using your carrots as weapons, this gadget probably has zero practical use. Do you ever feel the need to sharpen your carrots? Yeah... neither do I, but it's probably entertaining, and I'm always up for playing with my food as often as eating it.
2. Selfie Spoon
Imagine this- you're eating your cereal and you suddenly want to snap a selfie of you eating it. Can you see yourself doing this? Probably not, but this invention certainly must be fun to play with! It brings multitasking to a level we may never have thought it could ever reach, but hey, it looks interesting.
1. Finger Spoons
If you thought selfie spoons were bad enough, then these finger spoons seem really useless. I mean, when does anyone say that they're too tired to hold a spoon and wish they could just hold it with their finger? It seems really difficult to have to use your finger to shovel food into your mouth, I feel like the spoon would slide off every time you have to take a bite. But hey, enough criticism, on the bright side they seem really cute and fun to eat with. Final analysis... Practical? Not in a million years. Hilariously entertaining? You bet!
Recently, I attended a dinner held by the Chicago Section Institute of Food Technologists (CSIFT) that featured the company Bell Flavors and Fragrances, which talked about recent food trends we can perceive from social media. The event began with a cocktail hour, then was followed by a dinner where college students and members of the food technology community could mingle and make connections. Immediately afterwards, the interactive presentation on flavor trends took place, making the event as a whole 3 hours of endless interesting information and delicious food.
According to the presentation by Bell and the booklet those in the audience were gifted to follow along with, there currently are six major food trends that can be gathered from social media; Mediterranean, healthy-ish, longitude and latitude, unexpected, outdoor social, and Chinese. Along with the presentation there were interactive portions, where the guests could sample foods having to do with each topic.
I sampled the Za'atar chip, a chip with thyme and other spices after hearing about the Mediterranean trend and the surprisingly good pineapple cilantro lemonade with turmeric came after learning of the healthy-ish one. Also I tried the cassia and Chinese cinnamon gummies to go along with latitude and longitude, miso caramel corn with unexpected, and there was a bacon cheddar spread for outdoor social. No matter what I tasted, one thing was certain- Bell had done their research, and had created unique, high-quality samplers to supplement it. If the presentation wasn't interesting enough, this interactive element really put this section of the event over the top.
In conclusion, attending this event was a very unique experience, and one that I highly recommend. If dinners like these aren't your thing, CSIFT holds numerous golf outings, and a few major food conventions throughout the year. Visit their website at www.chicagoift.org/, and if you want to learn more about Bell Flavors and Fragrances visit www.bellff.com/.
A high schooler with a love of food. See the My Story page to find out more.