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“Just don’t call it healthy,” said Maria Speck. “I want to send you all home to never say ‘healthy whole grains’ again.”
Speck (at left, above), the award-winning author of Simply Ancient Grains and Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, set the tone for the main theme of our recent Whole Grains Away From Home conference, as she waxed passionate about the ﬂavor, texture and color of a wide variety of whole grains – and shared mouth-watering pictures of whole grain dishes she’s created.
Her view was repeated time and again by other speakers, all of whom agreed that emphasizing ﬂavor over health is the key to getting restaurants to serve more whole grains.
Greg Wade, one of Chicago’s best-loved bakers, says Publican Quality Bread, where he works “really just wants the grains to show through.” Suddenly, the fuller, nuttier ﬂavor of whole grains is a plus in bread, not a drawback. Wade (second from left, above) credits his practice of fermenting dough for sixty hours, with developing the full ﬂavor of the whole grains he uses. “America’s in a bread renaissance that’s whole grain focused,” concluded Wade in his conference message.
Steve Jones, a wheat breeder who runs The Bread Lab at Washington State University, is helping supply bakers like Greg Wade with more ﬂavorful varieties of wheat. Traditionally, he explained, wheat has been bred to maximize yield and pest-resistance, with little thought for ﬂavor. Jones (shown third from left, above) is on a mission to change all that, by developing new strains of wheat high in ﬂavor (and also high-yielding). As he explains, “We started to appreciate that there could be a ﬂavor, a terroir, to wheat.” His Bread Lab specializes in ﬁnding just the right wheat, with just the right ﬂavor, for a speciﬁc product – with great results. “The 100% whole wheat croissant was our Holy Grail. Once people eat them, they never want a white one again.”
Tony Rosenfeld (at right, above), chef and co-founder of East Coast fast-casual chain b.good, told conference-goers that he and his partners set out to “take everything that’s traditional about fast food and make it real.” Real grains are whole grains, so they started by making whole grain buns for their burgers. To create a bun with cravability, they worked with four regional bakeries to combine whole wheat, buckwheat, millet, rye and oats for optimum ﬂavor.
Now that they’ve grown to 45 locations, Rosenfeld says that b.good has moved beyond the bun and is in the next stage of “our journey to whole grain enlightendom,” focusing on using grains in more visible ways. “We wanted to keep doubling down on whole grains,” said Rosenfeld. b.good’s Spicy Avocado & Lime Bowl – with a base of red and white quinoa or a base of supergrains – is the concept’s top seller, and half their burger customers choose a grain-ﬁlled veggie burger over a beef burger. Rosenfeld made it clear that his customers are motivated by the ﬂavor of his food, and he doesn’t use the “H” word.
Life is too short – and good food too enjoyable – to eat anything just for its health beneﬁts. And there’s no reason to do so, when expert chefs and passionate home cooks can create delicious, crave-worthy whole grain dishes… that just happen to have the added, behind-the-scenes beneﬁt of being healthy. (Cynthia)
Presentations and media stories from our conference are now available, and we’ll be posting videos of conference sessions by October 15. Details here.