If you’ve ever called a chef’s plate a fusion dish, you’ve likely had some sort of vulgarity thrown at you. However, there’s many restaurants that purposely brand themselves as fusion kitchens. With both modern cuisine and fusion food being used as synonymous terms, I decided to evaluate the difference between the two and explore the reasons why chefs have such a negative stigma when it comes to the term “fusion”.

Looking back to a time in the 80’s & 90’s where newly-settled immigrants used food to integrate into communities as a means to break down cultural barriers, the word fusion seemed like an appropriate term to gently introduce Canadian palates to the flavours of international cuisine. Growing up in an Indian household within a predominately Middle Eastern neighbourhood, it wasn’t uncommon for me to show up to school with a wrap consisting of pita bread filled with curry from dinner the night before. However, culinary experts don’t have a distaste for people adapting to a changing cultural environment.

The real distance from chefs comes from forced ingredients being curated into something considered new or funky; adaptations of food do not consist of a taco wrapped in a Doritos shell. Fusion foods appear to be the result of a Chefs lazy attempt to make a name for themselves or fast food chains looking for a new sales item.

When Baro’s Executive Chef Steve Gonzalez was asked if some of his plates were fusion dishes, he told the interviewer (which may or may not have been myself) to “never call one of

[his] plates that again. I hate that term”. I asked him why some of his dishes have hints of influence from other cultures and he clarified that accurate representations of modern food often depicts the dishes that people of a certain region are eating based on the influences through migration and geopolitical movements of that time. For example, Steve has a Hamachi-based ceviche on Baro’s menu that is topped off with Nori, an ingredient not usually associated with Latin cuisine.

This comes as more of a reflection of what people in the region are eating NOW rather than what we know to be traditional Latino dishes.  It not only happens in South America, but all over the world; Italian rice balls are adopted from North African migration through Europe, while Vietnamese food often draws parallels from Chinese & French cuisine!

In conclusion, don’t eat fusion. We live in a modern world, so enjoy modern cooking!

 

Jordan Lopez
Marketing Coordinator | Baro Toronto