Trends are essentially the quest for happiness – looking for that “it” product that will satisfy today’s consumer who have adopted a policy of rebalancing, what philosopher Gilles Lipeovetsky describes as hybridisation, reconciliation and no longer systematically breaking with the past. The world thrives on innovation, especially in the field of fine cuisine. Product developers are kept on the hop to create options that allow chefs to wow and intrigue their diner’s palates. During a visit to SIAL 2014 in Paris, Gill Hyslop found some of the more exotic products that will soon be wowing chefs around the world.

Sea-ing the benefits

Winner of the Grand Prix SIAL Innovation is Spaghetti d’algues et eau de mer, a seaweed spaghetti sold in a bucket of seawater. Appealing to a variety of senses, algae adds pop to stocks, soups, fish, shellfish, salads, white meats or chopped in pasta. Marketed by Globe Export, based in southern France, the seaweed from Brittany is known for its remarkable flavour and nutritional value, while the packaging is convenient and easy to use: in one quick rinse, it’s ready to use.

Don’t pass the salt!

Developed more than 1 000 years ago as a medicinal remedy in Korea, bamboo salt is now making its entrance onto the food scene for its unique taste. Sea salt is packed into bamboo trunks that are sealed with yellow clay; then roasted in a pinewood furnace for many days to eliminate impurities and increase the fusion of minerals from the bamboo and clay into the sea salt. Permeated with more than 70 minerals, this unique salt adds a new taste dimension when used in cooking or as a table salt.

24 carrot life

Carotao is a sugar-free chocolate cream, ready for application for cakes, bakes and desserts. The sweet chocolate confectionery has a high natural vitamin content, as sugar has been replaced with a carrot concentrate and nut paste. Created by Italian concern Aureli in collaboration with its maitre chocolatier, it’s produced using sophisticated technology to preserve organoleptic and nutritional characteristics of the fresh carrots.

The power of powder

Using very sophisticated technology, an authentic Italian pesto sauce (made from Genoa basil, 24 month aged Parmigiano Reggiano, Fiore Sardo cheese, pine nuts and garlic) has been reduced to a powder for convenience and a splash of sophistication on the plate. Created by Tartuflangh, the pesto powder keeps the ubiquitous freshness and aroma of the fresh paste and can be reconstituted by adding extra virgin olive oil. Selected as one of the most innovative products in the world by the Commission of the SIAL Paris 2014, ring the changes and use it as a flourish of spice on a Caprese salad or gourmet pizza.

Back to roots

Perhaps more suitable for home use than in a high pax restaurant, two products that wowed the judges present fun and ecological ways to grow oyster mushrooms. Both companies – Eco Gumelo from Portugal and Paris-based Prêt à Pousser – supply a complete kit to grow the organically certified mushrooms in recycled sawdust or spent coffee grounds. After 10 days, a harvest will yield around 300g of mushrooms. Prêt à Pousser has gone one step further to supply three natural varieties: grey – with a slight sweet scent and velvety texture (good in salads); yellow – with hints of hazel and chestnut (excellent in velouté); and pink – fleshy and with a distinctive woody scent (delicious in risottos).

Salting the meat

French Cooker has also produced a range of oiled cooking salts that are excellent for cooking a variety of meats. Thanks to a film of oil, these salts add seasoning without extracting the juices and keep their crunch throughout the cooking process, allowing for a refined presentation. Only salt sourced from Guerande in France is used in these products, which come infused with other ingredients including five dried berries; Provence herbs; Espelette red pepper; garlic; and red capsicum. A great idea is to use them with crudité. The oil allows the salt to stick on the vegetables, adding a flash of flavour.

Pop of taste

A flake of vinegar (not a splash of liquid) is the latest way to add an unforgettable taste sensation to food, along with a soft crunch. Developed by French Cooker, the product comes in a variety of flavours, including wine vinegar with shallots; tomato vinegar; and three made with white Balsamic vinegar of Modena (infused with honey, black truffle, and raspberry). Use the tomato julienne vinegar sprinkled on goat’s cheese spread on a grilled country bread; the shallot vinegar with oysters; or the black truffle vinegar julienne on a sea bass Carpaccio, drizzled with olive oil.

Dare to sweeten

Grape syrup has long been used in vinification, and now has been developed for use in gastronomy and by catering professions. Containing fructose and glucose, one litre of EXOse liquid grape sugar has the sweetening power of 1kg of caster sugar. It can replace all sugars, as well as honey and maple syrup, and has been successfully tested in seasonings, sorbets, toppings and cocktails. According to its creator, distiller Xavier Latreuille, chefs like to use it to reduce excess acidity and add a note of natural flavour.

Drinking in the beauty

Innovation extends to beverages, too – and what could be better than drinking yourself beautiful? Voda Naturalna is a producer of the first Polish premium spring water, Voda Naturalna, and now, Voda Collagen, with a hint of superfruit pomegranate. The secret of this product lies in its precious collagen molecules, often called “the elixir of youth”. Collagen supplementation helps to slow down the processes of ageing. Additionally, Voda Collagen has been additionally enriched with vitamin C for the extra boost needed to stay vibrant and fit. The hydrolysed bovine collagen used doesn’t cause allergies; and is often used in liquid form as it’s easily absorbed. So, offer Voda Collagen and tell your patrons that the more they visit, the younger they’ll become!

Confit the new

Tsukudani was inspired by the Japanese tradition of slowly simmering Kombu seaweed in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar and sugar. What makes this product stand out is that Royal Kombu, a seaweed harvested in Brittany in France, is used. Its Latin name – Saccharina latissima – is derived from the fact that sugars naturally crystallise on its surface when it dries. When the confit is made, the kelp’s strong seafood flavours bring it deep notes and a scent of liquorice. Especially moorish when used to accompany grilled red meats, shellfish, soft cheeses (goat, faisselle and ricotta); with a poached egg; or for an added depth with foie gras.