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Immersed in the New York food scene at McCormick’s Culinary Summit 2018


Written by Ian Craddock – Senior Research Chef, EMEA Culinary Team

Occasionally I have to pinch myself to check that this is really my job and last month was one such time. I, along with other members of the EMEA Culinary Team, travelled to McCormick HQ in Hunt Valley for our largest Culinary Summit yet. Driven by innovation, the Culinary Summit is a chance for McCormick chefs and culinarians from all over the world to come together and share their skills, processes and ideas for closer collaboration with global customers.

Kicking off with McCormick’s recently acquired Frank’s® RedHot® and French’s®, chef Trip Kadey ran us through a tasting of the products while also carrying out comparison exercises. Trip enthused “Frank's unique flavour is owing largely to its first ingredient; aged cayenne peppers” as opposed to lower-quality products using vinegar as their primary ingredient. This advantage was also apparent with French’s Classic Yellow Mustard®, with its unique flavour and colour a result of #1 grade mustard seeds while lower-quality options use lesser grades. Trip had prepared a number of incredible dishes with both products, although the classic combination of Frank's RedHot with melted butter over crispy chicken wings still gets my vote.

Product tasting complete, the group descended on New York City to explore the local food scene and experience the latest trends the Big Apple had to offer.

irst up, dinner at Filipino Gastropub, Jeepney. Jeepney specialises in Kamayan dining, which translates to ‘eat with your hands’ and dinner was like nothing I’d ever experienced. The restaurant staff prepared the tables with layers of banana leaves before topping with freshly cooked rice, bok choi, Filipino banana ketchup (a key ingredient featured on our 2016 Flavour Forecast), marinated ribs, slow cooked meats and prawns. There was also fried fish, assorted vegetables and suckling pig for us to devour. The experience enhanced the already delicious food, heightened by the sense of interaction and group participation of eating without plates or cutlery.


The next morning started with a cold brew coffee from Stumptown Coffee Co before launching our food safari of the East Side. Coffee culture is taking on a new level in New York City, with cold brews morphing into Nitro Cold Brews. For a Nitro Cold Brew, nitrogen gas is passed through the coffee resulting in a beverage that has a rich, creamy and smooth quality similar to Guinness – but with a caffeine hit!

For breakfast, we moved on to busy Café Mogador for a Moroccan-inspired breakfast including smoked paprika and cumin shakshuka, hummus with a zaatar coated warm pitta, rich and flavourful spiced Merguez sausage and meze with a fiery skhug sauce. These dishes were all reminiscent of many themes from our 2017 Flavour Forecast, proving that we have truly moved on from a bowl of cornflakes or bacon and eggs for breakfast.


Next up was Tompkins Square Bagels, where we found freshly made bagels with an assortment of homemade cream cheese fillings including cookie dough, birthday cake and espresso flavours.

On we went to Essex Street Market with its array of artisan producers and food vendors. Stand outs included NI Japanese Delicacies with its freshly prepared modern take on Japanese bites and Puebla Mexican Food, both of which give a nod to trends from this year’s McCormick Flavour Forecast. Leaving, we passed by one of the grocery stalls with its wall of chilli sauces – Frank's RedHot taking pride of place in the centre.

Our incredible lunch venue was Le Turtle to experience its hip NYC take on French cuisine. Simple plates such as farmhouse cheese topped with colourful dehydrated beetroot powder and crunchy toasted sunflower seeds, highlight how seasonings and crunchy toppers can be used to lift an otherwise simple ingredient to another level. Executive Chef, Victor Amarilla, explained how the chicken in my favourite dish, Sasso Poulet 69, had undergone a 4-day process, including brining and cooking at different temperatures to ensure the flesh was moist and flavoursome whilst the skin remained perfectly crispy. The chicken was presented to the table surrounded by burning hay to add a subtle smoky note to the dish.


Our food tour ended with a visit to 10Below Ice cream. 10Below specialises in Thai ‘rolled ice cream’, a process where the ice cream ‘custard’ base is frozen in front of your eyes on a cold plate, then scraped off and rolled. The theory is, the quicker the freeze, the smaller the ice crystals that form and ultimately the smoother the ice cream texture. The theatrics weren’t the only draw here, so too were the unusual flavours such as avocado and Himalayan salt.

I headed back to the train feeling full but energised with ideas for concepts to work up in the McCormick kitchen for the next range of street food inspired seasonings. Ultimately this trip highlighted how food is moving in an increasingly engaging and interactive direction. Diving in and eating dishes with your hands, supercharging your coffee, trying new and vibrant spicy food or hearing the story behind a dish, can all help to give a greater appreciation of the flavour of the food and drink we are eating.