Fusion cuisineisa style of cookingthat combines elements of different culinary traditions into one innovative, creative, often daring dish. The variations of fusion food are basically limited only by a chef’s imagination. California cuisineis considered a fusion culture, taking inspiration particularly fromItaly,France,Mexico, along with the culinary ideas of the Europeandelicatessen, easternAsia, and creating traditional dishes from these cultures with non-traditional ingredients - such asCalifornia pizza. Tex-Mex, possibly one of the first recognized fusion foods, combinesSouthwesternUnited StatesandMexican cuisines. Asian fusion combines foods and flavors from various Asian countries.
The concept of fusion food is hardly a novel idea. It has existed for centuries. A classic example of very early fusion is Italian spaghetti, which would have never existed without Italy’s exposure to the Chinese noodle. In theUnited Kingdom,fish and chipsis considered an early fusion dish due to the marrying of ingredients stemming fromJewish,French,and Belgiancuisines. Taco Pizza has been a thing since the early 1970s. Modern fusion cuisine is often traced back to the 1980s, when chefs like Roy Yamaguchi and Wolfgang Puck began to intentionally combine flavors from different cultures.
America has always been a veritable melting pot. Countries with high degrees of ethnic diversity naturally tend to favor fusion cuisine. Southwest Louisiana chefs are following the trend and offering their own creative menu mash-ups. Blue Dog Café serves a crawfish enchilada with maque choux and dirty dog rice. Tia Juanita’s Fish Camp features a boudin quesadilla. When Brett Stutes, along with his wife Amanda and brother Derek, recently opened Sloppy’s Downtown, after growing a dedicated following with their Sloppy Taco brand, they took fusion cuisine in the lake area to a whole new level.
Stutes believes most all food is fusion food, in some way. For example, Cajun Creole combines elements of Spanish, African, South American, and Puerto Rican. When planning the menu for Sloppy’s Downtown, Stutes didn’t set out to be labeled a fusion restaurant. He says, "That’s just how I cook. And everyone wants something different.”
That culinary mindset was evident from the beginning, when the trio opened their Sloppy Taco food truck in 2015. "We took Asian and Japanese styles and flavors and put it on a tortilla,” says Stutes.
Sloppy’s Downtown provides an outlet for Stutes to take the fusion concept even further. He appreciates the freedom this style of cooking allows. "We can do whatever we want. We’re not bound to any one type of food. Our Ramen has a whole bunch of flavors going on -- Japanese, Puerto Rican, Tex-Mex, and Creole all blended together.”
Stutes says the fact that fusion food is currently fashionable is a bonus for his business. "It’s trendy right now. It sounds cool. When people come into Sloppy’s Downtown, they expect something different and hip – something they can’t get anywhere else.”