Charcoal ice cream, bacon in your Bloody Mary, or dessert piled on top of dessert, piled on top of dessert, piled on top of dessert. There have been plenty of trendy food items the Chopped judges want to forget ever existed, especially as more and more foodies share their overindulgent finds on Instagram and other social media platforms.

“It’s bacon abuse. Bacon doesn’t belong everywhere,” notes Alex Guarnaschelli of the saltiest food trend. “Cupcakes and doughnuts with bacon on it? Why. I’m going to eat scrambled eggs and bacon and then I’m going to have a cupcake. All separately.”

“The food trend word itself is so annoying,” adds Maneet Chauhan. “Food is about nourishment, it’s about enjoyment. Having the word ‘trend’ beside it is annoying.”

To be fair, we wouldn’t expect our panel of classically trained judges to feel much differently about these gawker dishes being doled out at carnivals, food trucks and pop-up shops. But that doesn’t mean they’re against all food trends. Here are five surprising culinary movements the Chopped judges are totally getting behind.

1. Fermentation


At its core, the idea of using natural bacteria to feed on starch and sugar in order to preserve and extend a food’s shelf life is a bit weird to list as a trend. But given a chef’s ability to label preserved food as both additive-free and healthy, it’s something that’s definitely been gaining traction in 2018. And the Chopped judges love it.

“There has been a departure from high-end ingredients. We’re always going to have truffles and caviar and foie gras, but now you see places using a lot more fermentation and they’re bringing more interesting flavours,” says Marc Murphy. “You know what caviar tastes like. If you have good caviar it’s always going to taste the same. But with fermentation it’s like, ‘Holy cow. It’s hitting the palate in so many awesome and different ways.’”

2. Milling


“I was just in San Francisco so I’m obsessed with everything sour dough. Sour dough bread, long fermentation breads,” reveals Amanda Freitag. “Everyone makes their own breads and is growing and milling their own grains now. Like, chefs in California that are baking, or pastry chefs, they wouldn’t even think of buying flour anymore. They are all milling their own flour. Think about our upbringing in kitchens — we just ordered it in bulk! They would never do that anymore.”

“Grains are such a big product, and growing up in Scandinavia, that’s one of the things we had a lot, like seven-grain bread, multigrain bread,” adds Marcus Samuelsson.

3. Return to Basics

It’s not just fermentation and milling that has the judges impressed with where the industry is going. It’s the entire movement of taking things back to basics that has them hopeful for the next wave of culinary superstars.

“Even ethnic food is becoming more mainstream with things like fermentation,” Chauhan says. “That’s one of the amazing things being done, is going back to the basis. Things that we were doing for generations, going back to that. That’s the amazing trend.”

4. Shrubs

If you’ve noticed a surplus of vinegar in your cocktails lately, know that it’s no accident. “Shrubs” are an increasingly popular way to reimagine old flavours, and Guarnaschelli is all over them.

“Making fruit juices mixed with vinegar, which is sort of on the savoury side for cocktails, is called shrubs,” she explains. “And now we’re seeing them on dishes where fruit, which is usually sweet, is thought of in a more vinegary, acidic context.”

5. Plant-Based Eating

So the idea of eating a more plant-based diet isn’t exactly a surprising trend; it’s one that’s been boiling up for a while now thanks to certain documentaries and an overall appeal for better health. Still, as the movement plows forward, these judges are all for it.

“Vegetarian and vegan dishes are becoming stars on the menu now, and not just things you have to have on the menu,” says Chris Santos.

Sounds pretty delicious to us.

Watch an all-new season of Chopped premiering Tuesday, August 28th at 10 E/P!