Fusion cuisine. Born from the knives of Wolfgang Puck and Roy Yamaguchi, fusion cuisine morphed from an 80’s culinary innovation to a menu standard to “con-fusion” as ingredients were forced to play nice together even when they shouldn’t. By the mid-90’s, consumers appeared weary of fusion and their heads quickly turned to experimenting with exotic cuisines from their travels or those seen on food TV.
Fast forward to today where fusion has been replaced by “global mashup.” Re-popularized most notably by the Cronut, global mashups reflect the consumer’s quest for bold flavors in healthy applications, permissive indulgence, adventurous palates and handheld convenience. Today’s consumer is 66% more likely to eat a wider variety of foods than they were 5 years ago, a statistic that has expanded fridges and pantries for manufacturers, operators and chefs alike.1 A perfect example is ramen which has evolved beyond the college study staple. Seen at Chef Chris Jaekle’s NYC Italian eatery, all’onda, ramen makes more than one menu appearance, like one boasting a Parmesan dashi mashup.
In addition to merging ingredients from two different cuisines, global mashup can also refer to applying one cuisine’s cooking technique to another’s traditional dish. A perfect example of this is Wildbrine fermented salsas. The brand takes advantage of consumers’ newfound health-driven appreciation for fermentation and applies it to traditional Mexican salsas loaded with tomatoes, cabbage and fiery spices. Another great possibility is the experimentation that is being done with shio koji, the Japanese fermented rice mold ingredient that is being looked at to make convenience store foods healthy and flavorful in that country. Here in the U.S., chefs like Sarah Gavigan and Alon Shaya are playing with shio koji as meat tenderizers or as unique flavor enhancers in Middle East mashups like tahini and pickled shrimp with snow peas.
Here are a few bites we’ve spotted and tested to inspire some mashup product development of your own:
Pie Five’s Thai-RRIFIC pizza (limited offering)
Recipe for Seaweed Matcha Butter recently seen in Food and Wine
Ratatouille Empanadas at Chicago’s 5411 Empanada, a food truck offshoot
Tanta (Chicago) : This Peruvian hot spot’s Niguiris Nikei is a twist on sushi with Peruvian influence. The skirt steak, quail egg, chalaca, ponzu gel is unbelievable.
Revel (Seattle): Pork belly pancake with kimchi, Green curry, sour-apple chutney and coconut crème fraiche.
For some global mashup advice and inspiration, contact us. We are a melting pot of ingredient technical tips and trends. And we like to share.
- National Restaurant Association What’s Hot Survey, 2015.