Food and dietary preferences are constantly evolving. 2014 saw trends toward meals that are healthier and go beyond the ordinary. To find out which of these trends are likely to continue beyond this year, we spoke to Robin Selden, Managing Partner and Executive Chef at Marcia Selden Catering & Event Planning in Stamford.
Marcia Selden Catering & Event Planning
65 Research Drive
Stamford, CT 06906
Marcia Selden’s catering service, which serves Fairfield County and New Haven as well as Westchester County and New York City, has built quite the impressive reputation in its nearly four decades of existence. It won the 2013 Ace Award for Best Caterer in the East and has been featured several times in Martha Stewart Weddings magazine. Robin Selden joined her mother’s business in 1995 after a stint working in advertising, which she studied at Syracuse University. She also sits on the Board of Directors for the International Caterers Association. These are the most promising food trends she observed this past year.
Vegetarian Meals Non-Vegetarians Will Like
Vegetarian diets are becoming an increasingly popular option, but plenty will insist there’s no way they could ever follow one. Selden says you can expect to see more vegetarian dishes that are delicious enough that carnivores won’t even notice there’s no meat. Both groups can then dine together harmoniously. She remembers an event where “we did a zucchini fettuccine and we made little meatballs out of wild mushrooms, and if you roast shiitake it actually tastes like bacon.” None of the non-vegetarians at the party, she recalls, noticed a difference.
Of course, there are always those who will still crave a good hamburger. But more people are demanding burgers that are tastier and more creative than those sold at the most familiar fast food chains. “We’re doing a ton of mix-up mash-ups on mini burgers” Selden says. “All different kinds from Indian versions with raita and cucumber as a bun instead of bread so that it’s gluten-free; we’ve made little ramen buns.” She also notes growing interest in an Asian hamburger alternative called the bao sandwich – a steamed bun that can be filled with pork, chicken, beef or anything else you can think of. Don’t be surprised to find more and more twists on the classic hamburger in an ever more multicultural Connecticut.
As people become more health-conscious, the farm-to-table movement is taking greater hold. Selden says her business is one of the many in the state that is using more fresh ingredients that are locally grown and harvested. For instance, one of its events featured a new-and-improved salad bar. “We took it to another level and we did a food station where we actually got lettuces that were still growing in the dirt…and we were hand-cutting the lettuce and tossing the salads so you couldn’t get a fresher salad if you tried. That was very well-received.”
Smaller Specialty Desserts
“For many of the cocktail parties that we do, we’ll do specialty one- or two-bite desserts.” She also mentions treats she developed this year such as artisanal cannoli with fried sage crumbs or rum-soaked raisins, and strawberry basil eclairs. Those with a sweet tooth are opting for more manageable desserts with unexpected ingredients. “We do all sorts of miniature Devil Dogs and moon pies which have been wildly popular for us,” says Selden. “We also do ice cream sandwiches with weird components like a French macaroon with some kind of interesting gelato or a coconut macaroon with dulce de leche.”
Joshua Palmes is a freelance writer covering all things Connecticut. His work can be found on Examiner.com.