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Food trends of the past decade: How we cook

High-end chocolate enjoyed a high-profile decade.

High-end chocolate enjoyed a high-profile decade. Credit: NEWSDAY/Jiro Ose

The '00s were a decade of contradiction, when home cooks availed themselves of the latest technology while striving to eat like 19th century farmers - except for spending $20 a pound on shade-grown coffee beans.

Second-most important culinary appliance:  television

The Food Network achieved food-world dominance. Rachael Ray's "30-Minute Meals" debuted in 2001 and within a few years Ray was a best-selling author, talk-show host and magazine publisher. Along with celebrity restaurant chefs, Food Network personalities - Bobby Flay, Paula Deen, Ina Garten - dominated the cookbook market. And cooking shows on other networks, such as Bravo's "Top Chef" and Gordon Ramsay's "Kitchen Nightmares" on Fox, became bona fide pop-cultural phenomena.

Most important culinary appliance:  the laptop

With the spread of high-speed Internet connections and the explosion of culinary Web sites, not only could viewers follow their favorite TV stars with online recipes and behind-the-scenes blogs, but the Internet became the tool for culinary research. No need for cookbooks when you can go to Or simply Google "pot roast."

Allergies hit the mainstream

The Internet also helped knit far-flung communities of allergy sufferers. All of a sudden it was possible to hook up with other gluten-intolerant and peanut-averse consumers. New markets were born, new products sprang up to satisfy them and online shopping provided a seamless link.

The rise of the super-duper market

Allergy-friendly products, organics and "gourmet" items became the mainstays of the modern specialty supermarket. Fairway opened in Plainview in 2001, Whole Foods took over Fresh Fields in Manhasset and opened a huge store in Jericho in 2005, Uncle Giuseppe's opened its Smithtown flagship in 2006, while Iavarone Brothers and Trader Joe's continued to expand and consolidate power.

The rise of the Asian supermarket

As Asian families moved East from Queens, supermarkets followed, as did non-Asians seeking live fish, Ataulfo mangoes and snow-pea leaves. V&T opened in Hempstead in 2002, followed by H Marts in Williston Park and Great Neck, Patel Brothers and H&Y in Hicksville.

Organic, sustainable and local

Even in "regular" supermarkets, organic produce became commonplace while grass-fed meat and pasture-raised chickens made small inroads. Consumers looking to forge a closer connection to their food flocked to farm stands and Long Island's 18 weekly farmers' markets.

Not leaving well enough alone

At the other end of the natural spectrum, manufacturers messed with God's creations by adding vitamins to water, omega-3 oils to eggs, calcium to orange juice and probiotics to yogurt.


Atkins and South Beach informed everyone that it was carbs that were making them fat. The country dutifully gave up pasta and bread for steak and bacon . . .

Whole-grain mania

. . . until cooler heads prevailed and said that the culprit wasn't all carbohydrates, but just the refined ones found in sugar and white flour that were the problem. Cue the whole-wheat pasta, whole-spelt bread and raw sugar.

Chocolate soars to new heights

High-end chocolate proliferated, with companies vying to see who could produce the most artisanal, organic, fair-trade, handmade, summa cum laude bar with the highest percentage of cocoa solids. Mass-market giants Hershey's and Nestle entered the fray with, respectively, Cacao Reserve and Chocolatier brands.

Restaurant kitchens slide into home

Commercial ranges and industrial espresso machines become de rigeur in home kitchens while restaurant chefs' cookbooks largely eclipsed those by civilian food writers.

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