Gourmet Carrots

November 7, 2012: Gourmet Carrots

As I was looking through my Trendcast files trying to decide what hot topic to feature this week, I was munching on a raw carrot-so I couldn’t resist when I saw this from The New York Times: Apparently restaurants all over the country are taking the lowly carrot and elevating it to gourmet status. From flambĂ©ed entrees to a side dish served with pizza to carrot tacos, The Times says carrots “have suddenly become an engine driving restaurant menus. Chefs across the country are showcasing handsome, meaty specimens in a rainbow of colors, dressed and garnished without a sliver of meat or fish. Well, maybe a touch of bacon.”

If the ascension of the humble carrot surprises you, The Times explains that Americans are eating healthier, making vegetables in general a popular menu item. “Carrots,” says the newspaper, “have the added advantages of being familiar, attractive, versatile and available just about everywhere.”

Carrots’ popularity ties in with the “farm-fresh” or “locavore” movement which has been growing in popularity for the last three or so years. If your restaurant already grows its own veggies, think about adding carrots to your garden. If not, The Times recommends you “prowl” your local farmers’ markets in search of the right variety. (As restaurant owners, you might know that carrots aren’t only orange, but also come in shades of white, yellow, red and purple.

The ubiquitous vegetable is now finding itself represented in all courses of a meal-including desserts. Yes, we all know about carrot cake. But the newspaper reports some restaurants nationwide are offering carrot cotton candy (really?) and carrot ice cream.

Will this be a long-lived trend? Who knows? Last year, apparently, Brussels sprouts were hot (I must have missed that one-thankfully). But for the foreseeable future, if you want your restaurant to reflect current food trends, you should add carrots to your menus.