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Top Chefs Talk Trends - 2011

"Top Chefs Talk Trends" originally published in The Gourmet Retailer Magazine, January 2011

Jesse Cool has published seven books, including "Your Organic Kitchen," "Toast: Sixty Ways To Butter Your Toast & More," "The Honest to Goodness One Pot Cookbook" and "Simply Organic." She also has written numerous magazine articles and appeared on the "Today Show" and Food Network. Cool is very active in her local community and taught cooking classes at Draeger's Culinary Center for 10 years. She also has been an instructor at Sur La Table, A Southern Season and the Second Harvest Food Bank. For more than 30 years, Cool has been working with local farmers, fisheries and ranchers, running restaurants and speaking out.

What are some notable trends you have noticed at the restaurant level?

Having had restaurants for 35 years and still buying from some of the farms from near beginning, appreciation, care, respect for where our ingredients come from and how they are produced is not radical fringe, but accepted mainstream with the young and old.

From a flavor perspective, what's popular now?

Simple, ingredient-driven, yet bold, full-spectrum excitement from variety, and eclectic.

In 2011, what changes will you make to your business? How do you plan to stay competitive?

Always adjusting, always looking for new connections and support on deep levels of those inspired to produce food in a connected and genuinely personal way. Our philosophy is The Customer Comes Last ... so to continue to nurture our farmers/staff so they pass that along to our customers.

What trends do you predict will carry over to the home chef?

Cooking at home, simple, not being afraid, going to the farmer's market or growing a little garden and feeling the joy of cooking for oneself or others.

What advice would you offer gourmet retail stores?

Support anyone in your community first ... then move out into the country and world, and find producers who care about food, people and where it comes from.

How are you working with retailers and/or local farmers?

Very closely. They have always been our rock stars!

How do you use social media?

Still working on that ... turning it over to the young who will help me stay current!

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