Bell Flavors & Fragrances hosted its Spark Ignites 2019 event on Friday, May 17th at the Chopping Block in Chicago inside the Merchandise Mart. Spark Ignites is a gathering of Bell’s R&D, marketing specialists, industry chefs and customers, to educate and communicate new technologies and future flavor concepts.
Each year, Spark Ignites brings the latest flavors and technology trends together that are inspired by Bell’s Spark® trends program. In addition, industry-renowned chefs compete in a chef challenge called Chef Ignite, creating innovative dishes utilizing flavors inspired from Bell’s Spark® trends.
Bell’s Spark® program is the insider resource for up-and-coming consumer trends and flavor inspirations that contain the power to ignite the creativity for customers. Bell’s unique trend process uncovers “sparks” that inspire new flavor creations that will develop into consumer-winning concepts. This year, Spark Ignites featured Bell’s five Spark® trends which include Roots of America, Expanse of Eastern Europe, Along African Lines, Crossroads of South America, and Shared Banchan.
Roots of America revisited culinary periods of America’s past and explored the building blocks of early American cuisines and cooking styles with a savory taste of Rabbit Confit Foraged Green Salad with Whiskey Grain Crumb and Madeira Brown Butter Vinaigrette, a sweet dish of Rice Flour Waffle topped with Madeira Dandelion Root Ice Cream, finished with Sorghum Molasses and Boysenberry sauce. The beverage choice for Roots of America was a delicious Sorghum Molasses Sumac-Ade.
Another table took customers across the expanse of Eastern Europe, exploring the seasonalities and gatherings of friends and family at the heart of every meal. This table featured a savory dish of Rye Toast with Gherkin and Fennel Frond Cream Cheese Ukrainian Smoked Salmon and Pink Peppercorn Pickled Fennel; a sweet serving of Rye Toast with Apricot and Clove Preserves topped with Whipped Cream; and a thirst-quenching Stone Fruit Smoothie.
Then, customers took a journey along African lines and explored the culinary jewels of the continent of Africa. The savory dish featured was Grilled Beef Suya Skewers, inspired by the Braai grilling culture of South Africa; a sweet Soursop Custard; and a Baobab Papaya flavored Rooibos Tea.
Guest also explored the Crossroads of South America, where the culture of sharing and cooking with fresh local goods is seen everywhere and the culinary spotlight is turning toward these methodologies and ingredients for inspiration. Bell featured a savory Peruvian Yucca Tot Nacho Bite as well as a sweet Cocadas Ice Cream topped with Pepita Dulce de Leche sauce and Dulce de Leche Alfajores Crumble, followed by a Caipirihna flavored beverage to complete the Crossroads of South America.
Bell’s Shared Banchan trend takes us on an experience that extends beyond taste and aroma with the connection between Korean food and wellness, which drives a deeper exploration. The thoughtful tradition of banchan displays the spirit of the cuisine by bringing people together through mouth-watering shared dishes. These shared dishes include savory Ssam Butter Glazed Crispy Rice Cakes; sweet Hotteok topped with Aged Balsamic and Korean Soy Drizzle; and a Banana flavored Carbonated Milk beverage which hits the spot.
Chef Christopher Warsow, Director of Culinary Applications & Corporate Executive Chef at Bell, comments on the event. “Bell’s innovative flavors that were presented this year were extensively researched by our Culinary Team to ensure authenticity and superior taste. Our team searches the globe for extraordinary gold standard recipes to create and then analyze. It is a great methodology to generate exciting flavors in collaboration with our talented Flavor Chemists.”
Guests gathered into the adjoining room for the Chef Ignite Competition, whichprovided even more delicious items using Bell’s flavors and technologies. Industry chef teams were challenged to create innovative and tasty offerings from cuisines that span the globe. Each team is tasked with the same 12 Bell flavors and is judged based on creativity, use of flavors, and showmanship by attendees.
Coming in first place in the Chef Ignite Competition was the Griffith Foods team featuring Korean Frito Skewers with Korean bbq duck prosciutto, duck puya chicharrones , Korean pancake hushpuppies, and bibimbap sauce; Ahi Furikake with Mexican Risotto featuring seared furikake tuna , Mexican risotto (cotija cheese, shrimp, skate wing, shitake, lime, poblano, crema), and green Korean chile salsa; and Shishito Togarashi Tres Leches Cake featuring Shishito vanilla cake with Sake and condensed milk, Japanese whiskey cajeta and butter frosting, and togarashi sprinkle on top.
The runner-up Midas team worked around the theme “Once Upon a Thyme… A Fairytale of Food”, showing dishes that circled around their culinary magic. The Magic Potion is a honey melon and ginger sparkling sour mix with vodka, seltzer, edible glitter, and a perilla leaf sugared rim, served in a silver-rimmed chalice. Goldie Lox and the Three Pears featured a charred garlic and pastrami-cured salmon lox rolled with everything seasoning and Chenin blanc cream cheese shmear, served with sauerkraut pickled pears. golden beets, and tallow toasted rye bread crumbs, served on a magic mirror with a fork; The Ugly Duckling showcased Korean soy sauce and gochugaru chili infused seared breast of duck served atop sweet potato and rosemary black rice with kimchi mostarda and fig balsamic jus topped with a garnish of gochugaru chili threads and served in a witch’s cauldron. The Poison Apple is a poached apple with grains of paradise white chocolate mousse, chokeberry cherry glaze, and gingerbread man crunch, served in a glass slipper with a demitasse spoon. For the sweet tooth guest, Magic Beans were given out – spicy pumpkin pie flavored hard candies served in a mini burlap bag.
The Vienna Beef team cooked around a Chicago-style Menu, serving up a Vienna Beef Pastramen on Rye which featured Navel pastrami, ramen noodles in a savory charred garlic and caraway broth with sauerkraut-chi; a Pickleback Bar which highlights Chicago’s very own Malört (Jameson was provided for those less adventurous); and followed up with Frangaux Mint Brownies, paying homage to Marshall Field’s legacy confection.
Team Waffle Waffle served up a Droopy Unicorn Nipple with Scotch, Chokeberry pearl shaved orange, and bitters; Tuna Nigiri with fig wasabi and fermented soy glaze; and Poached Pudding for dessert with Honey Melon meringue, prosciutto, tallow, and charred garlic sponge, drizzled with a chili berry sauce on top.
“Bell’s Spark Ignites event has evolved into an iconic trend and culinary event to ignite flavor creativity to inspire the senses. Bell’s Spark trends were showcased through innovative applications for all attendees to taste and evaluate unique flavors for new product applications while our chef teams competed in the Chef Ignites challenge,” said Kelli Heinz, Vice President of Marketing.
Bell Flavors & Fragrances is a family-run business, growing on an ever-expanding global scale and providing superior quality and excellent customer service. This remains to be the heart and soul of the company, and is the “Bell Way” of doing business. With over 100 years of industry experience, Bell’s deep passion is to create products that captivate the world’s taste buds and stimulate the senses. This passion was instilled by Bell’s founder William M. Bell, and continues today. Bell is proud to call over 800 employees its family and is opening more doors for new career opportunities.