Organics heating up menus: Top chefs reveal “hottest” trends for 2010

Organic produce has been tipped as one of the “hottest” fine dining trends for 2010 in a survey of over 1800 professional chefs of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) released yesterday.

The annual “What’s Hot” survey revealed that 73 percent of ACF chefs voted organic produce as a ‘hot’ restaurant menu trend for 2010, while nutrition and sustainable menu items took out the tops spots. Organic coffee was voted the second hottest non-alcoholic beverage and organic beer, wine and spirits were also tipped to be the top alcohol trends of the coming year.

Organics has played a pivotal role in the evolution of the international fine dining scene and Australia has been no exception, with organic culinary creations now a common feature of the country’s most acclaimed and award-winning restaurant menus.

Demand for certified organic produce from some of the country’s most highly awarded chefs has led this trend, with chefs including Kym Machin, Justin North, David Pugh, Dominique Rizzo, and Kylie Kwong all fans of organic.

Holly Vyner, Biological Farmers of Australia General Manager, says the growing interest in certified organic produce from renowned Australian and international chefs confirms the superior quality of organic over conventionally produced food.

“It appears that both chefs and consumers are identifying that organic produce is not only a healthier and more sustainable option but is a superior standard of product in terms of both quality and flavour.”

Last week Brisbane foodies were treated to the much anticipated opening of the newly refurbished Urbane restaurant.

Head chef and co-owner Kym Machin had connoisseurs in a spin with the launch of a brand new menu teeming with epicurean delights – featuring the freshest Australian Certified Organic produce from labels such as Barambah Organics and 2009 Vogue Produce Award Winners – Bauer’s Organic Farm.

The former Courier-Mail Young Chef of the Year has a long standing interest in organics – valuing the nutritional benefits of the produce and the superior taste and quality that he says is a guarantee of the certified organic produce he sources.

“Society is looking for healthy food but one of the main reasons I chose to go organic is because of its superior flavour,” Kym says.

“Organic produce has been around forever but it has been forgotten about and pushed aside. By combining modern techniques with traditionally produced food we can showcase the best of both worlds.”

Justin North, 2009 Sydney Morning Herald Chef of the Year, says that certified organic produce certainly fulfills changing consumer preferences for sustainably produced and nutritious foods but insists it is the quality and flavour of organic that truly sets it apart.

“While restaurant patrons have become undoubtedly more health and ethically conscious, it is still freshness and quality that has driven us to source organic produce,” says Justin, an avid supporter of organic.

Justin is now serving up Australian Certified Organic produce from Bauer’s Organic Farm at his award-winning Sydney restaurants Bécasse and Etch and says he is a firm believer in working closely with the suppliers of the produce he serves in a bid to guarantee quality.

“As a chef, I have the responsibility to choose ingredients carefully. By meeting with the farmers and understanding and supporting the farming practices they use, I can personally guarantee the quality and standard of the food I serve.”

Rob Bauer, owner of the sixth generation Bauer’s Organic Farm, says he has been thrilled that so many of the country’s best chefs have discovered the benefits of organic produce, with Kym Machin and Kylie Kwong both making visits to the farm to witness first hand what it takes to produce the finest quality and tasting produce.

“Australia’s best chefs want the best produce – produce that tastes the best, smells the best and is the best – and they are finding organic produce fits this criterion and is of the highest quality.”

“There is a large number of discerning diners out there going to the places with the best quality and tasting food,” he says. “And as has been the growing trend for a while now, these diners are taking an interest in how and where their food is produced.”