Fermentation’s ancient, natural—one of the first meaningful adaptations of the cooking arts, quickly incorporated into the production of things like bread and beer. And for a long time it was rote, a staple or phenomenon of cooking, not a focus. But over the past few years, that’s changed, with chefs across the country and globe have making an art of fermentation. We’ve discussed the perfection of pizza dough and observed one chef’s meticulous scientific approach to kimchi. This year we’ve seen fermentation embraced by an even bigger population, with chefs from Atlanta to Philadelphia to San Francisco embracing the juxtaposition of fresh and fermentation. In San Francisco and Atlanta, we found house-made kimchi incorporated into non-Korean menus. At The Optimist, Adam Evans dresses his charred octopus with candied coriander in a piquant, spicy kimchi sauce. And in San Francisco, Pastry Chef William Werner makes a savory kimchi financier. One of the simplest dishes comes from Local Mission Eatery, where Chef Jacob Des Voignes opposes tartly spicy kimchi against the nuttiness of roasted cauliflower. But it’s more than kimchi. Chef Eli Kulp dresses raw scallops with fermented parsley at Philadelphia’s Fork, and Wade Moises does the same at Rosemary's, using fermented vegetables to add dimensionality.
Charred Octopus, Candied Coriander, Kimchi Sauce, and Herb Salad from Chef Adam Evans of The Optimist – Atlanta, GA