While the world at large is still obsessed with bacon, kale and all things avocado, chefs have moved on to fixate on other foods. Here, nine of today's chef obsessions.
Green Szechuan Peppercorns
“Danny Bowien has them at Mission Chinese, but I don’t know where he gets them,” says chef Daniel Wright of Cincinnati’s Senate Pub and Abigail Street. “I can’t find them. I’ve been trying to find them ever since I ate there. He made a dish called Tingly Chicken. For some reason, it stings your tongue and makes you think you’re having this allergic reaction. You’re almost scared while you’re eating—but you can’t stop. If you drink, it makes it worse, so the only way to get your tongue to stop tingling is to eat more.”
Locally Sourced Salt
“I’ve been talking to a woman behind a new company called J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works, out near Charleston, West Virginia, who just sent me an email out of the blue saying she was working on solar-brined salts,” says chef Spike Gjerde of Baltimore’s Woodberry Kitchen. “I jumped in the car the next day to see what she was doing. She’s in the next town over from outside of Charleston. Believe it or not, the town’s called Malden, spelled with an E, not an O. Starting in the early 1800s, it was a big salt-producing region. They had salt brine wells at 4.2 percent salinity—much salter than seawater. In the old days, they would boil it and evaporate it, put the salt on the river and send it downstream to Cincinnati and Nashville. By the early 1900s, it was dying out. Her family still owns the land, and she decided to bring it back. She’s doing it with solar evaporation, basically in a greenhouse, not cutting down whole forests like they used to.”