Every January, the lists of trends in décor, fashion and food fill the airwaves. In a Canadian Grocer article, the following were cited as food trends to watch in 2013; below each I offer a brief comment on how I see Ottawa fitting in to the predictions. It would appear that our chefs have been all over some of these trends for a while.
1) Trickle-up effect: Dining trends will start in street markets, not restaurants.
The City of Ottawa will issue twenty new food truck licenses in 2013. Along with some of the existing players - TacoLot, Suzy Q Doughnuts, Bite This, Trailer Pork Boys, Stone Soup Foodworks, Relish and the Flatbread Pizza Co., to name but a few - Ottawa's street eats are likely to be a big food story this year.
2) "Pure" food: Consumers are looking for transparency about the foods they eat.
John Taylor at Domus was likely the first chef to identify his suppliers; it's now a constant on many of Ottawa's best menus which sing the praises of mushrooms from Christophe, charcuterie from Seed to Sausage or greens from Crazy Dave. Couple this with a trend towards less-fussy preparations, often with five ingredients or less, it seems Ottawa chefs are all about transparency and local sourcing.
3) Don't forget the kids: Foods will be healthy and affordable, appealing to both parents and children.
Cooking at home is important for teaching kids about healthy eating, but they also need to learn how to navigate in restaurants. Pint-size dining companions shouldn't limit you to fast-food joints; many local establishments want to appeal to diners of all ages - all you have to do is ask! Call ahead and have a discussion about how to accommodate your child's tastes within the confines of the menu. Many of Ottawa's hottest chefs have young kids themselves, so they really get it.
4) Canning is cool again:
Many local chefs do a bang-up job of canning the freshest of ingredients for use in their winter menus. For example, Ben Baird of the Urban Pear (and the soon-to-be-launched Ottawa Streat Gourmet food truck) is an avid canner, as are Mark Lepine of Atelier and Chris Deraiche at the Wellington Gastropub. I hope their efforts will inspire more people to try home preserving. It's a wonderful way to eat local all year round!
5) Veggies take centre plate:
We are blessed with over 1200 farms within the City of Ottawa so it's no wonder our local chefs have such a great relationship with vegetable suppliers. With our flourishing farmers' markets, not to mention Just Food Ottawa's thriving Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) program which lets you ‘subscribe' for a season's worth of farm-fresh bounty, it is easier than ever to get more veggies on your plates.