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Of road warriors and vagabond chefs.

Globalization and our increasingly mobile society will continue to drive the food industry in new directions and at an accelerating pace.

Indeed, at the flashpoint of this cross-cultural convergence are what Art Siemering calls "global roadfoods," recipes and cooking styles intended to tantalize a growing army of international road warriors--business travelers whose customers, employees and suppliers are scattered to the four corners of the globe.

And paving the way are the vagabond chefs of the great international hotel chains (think Hilton, Westin and Peninsula), professionals who ply their trade at one exotic locale, only to pick up and move on to the next with flavorings, spices and techniques in tow. Think of the resulting creations as fusion on a global scale.

According to Siemering, food futurist and editor-in-chief of The Food Channel Trendwire, a consumer intelligence unit of Springfield, Mo.-based Noble & Associates, these foods have a "jazz element in which imaginative chefs play improvisational riffs on specific dishes, menu categories and already familiar ethnic or American cuisines."

So it's little wonder that what Siemering cans Little Wonders--or small globally inspired appetizers--are so popular with adventurous U.S. consumers. In fact, a number of restaurants in major American cities serve little wonders, most notably tapas, or Spanish-style bar snacks.

According to Siemering, "You can [also] find cichetti (the small snacks served in Venetian wine bars), cuchifritos (fried bar snacks of ten referred to as Puerto Rican soul food), kushi (Japanese tidbits grilled shish kebab style), meze (Middle Eastern tapas spelled with one of two z's, depending on what country of what tavern you're in), scuie scuie (Italy's answer to tapas) and zakuski (the Russian counterpart.)"

Here at home, roadfood is making its biggest inroads among the more adventurous twenty and thirty somethings. Small wonder. After all, this is the same generation that connects globally by cell phone, crosses continents as easily as earlier generations crossed streets, and prides itself in its ability to multi-task. Clearly, multi-tasting isn't such a stretch.

Now, how big a stretch is it for food manufacturers?

Diane Toops, News & Trends Editor Tel: 630/467-1300, ext. 321 * Fax: 630/467-1179 * Email:

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Title Annotation:Front Burner
Author:Toops, Diane
Publication:Food Processing
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2004
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