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Culinary World Embracing Hot, Spicy Flavors

ROCKVILLE, Md.—Today’s restaurant chefs and domestic cooks are seeking out hot and spicy flavors to create full-flavored food, often based on authentic regional recipes that are budget-friendly and healthful, according to a “Heat & Spice: Culinary Trend Mapping Report" from the Center for Culinary Development (CCD) and market research publisher Packaged Facts.

“Now more than ever heat and spice can play an upfront strategic role to differentiate familiar products or to attract specific consumer segments and demographics, said Kimberly Egan, CEO of CCD Innovation. “There are endless ways for restaurant operators and food manufacturers to mix and match flavorful ingredients to enhance the consumer experience and drive powerful innovation."

Using CCD Innovation’s proprietary five-stage trend mapping, the report examines the following hot and spicy flavor trends:

Stage 1: Smoke in New Places. At the root of the bacon craze that has swept the nation is a deep smoky flavor that drives people wild. Familiar smoked foods have all moved to the forefront of our menu choices; now it’s time for smoke flavor to move on to new, creative venues like drinks and desserts.

Stage 1: Aleppo Pepper & Co. A moderately hot pepper, the Aleppo is named after the largest city in Syria. As consumers seek more sources of heat and spicy flavor, Aleppo has come onto the scene in a variety of places. The use and acceptance of Aleppo pepper and other Middle Eastern flavors is a sign of the continuing globalization of our pantry.

Stage 2: Hatch Chiles. Hatch doesn’t refer to one specific pepper but rather a species of cultivated chile peppers that grow in and around Hatch, New Mexico. The Hatch chile trend is about celebrating authentic flavors and highlighting regional specialties in menu and product development.

Stage 2: Gochujang. Korean food has become one of today’s hottest cuisines, and with it the fermented chile-based condiment gochujang. Originally almost exclusively a homemade condiment, packaged gochujang is just now becoming more available, opening up the doors of flavorful possibilities.

Stage 3: Spicy Sips. Big, bold flavors are found in every food category, including a new surge in the beverage sector. Going far beyond the Bloody Mary, new beverage incarnations use ingredients like cayenne, capsaicin, black pepper, ginger and wasabi. Whether it’s flavor driven or health driven or both, spicy beverages are making a mark.

Stage 4: Healthful Spices. Long intrinsic in many global cultures, the notion that spices are an important part of being healthy is taking deeper root in the American marketplace. The key to tapping into this shift is creating opportunities for consumers to incorporate healthy spices more extensively into their diets in a tasteful, natural and fresh way.

Stage 5: Buffalo Flavor. Chicken wings are the classic application, but buffalo flavor and its partner in crime, blue cheese, now seem to go hand in hand across the menu. According to Datassential MenuTrends, buffalo sauce penetration is at about 33% overall in restaurants, with casual leading at 37.7% and fine dining the lowest at 19.8%.

Spices have been used as natural remedies for centuries, and while the FDA does not allow health claims for spices, there is a bevy of supportive research into the health benefits of spices. Check out the Healthy Spices and Seasonings slideshow on Food Product Design to discover the health benefits of many common seasonings and spices.

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