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Chaos Cooking Trend Taking Over Local Restaurants and TGI Fridays

  • Fusion cooking has been around for years in restaurants.
  • But now restaurants and TikTok are elevating food mashups to a level dubbed chaos cooking.
  • Ambitious culinary concoctions range from Big Mac pizzas to curry-fajitas sold at TGI Fridays. 

In the pre-Internet days, fusion cooking was a mashup of classic international cuisines. It was a thoughtful blend of epicurean cultures. 

Today the cooking trend has been elevated for the sensational-seeking masses. Indie restaurants and chains are unleashing ambitious and improbable culinary concoctions, from Big Mac pizzas at a Washington DC restaurant to curry fajitas at TGI Fridays. Restaurant blog Eater defined chaos cooking as “part neo-fusion, part middle finger” and “a new, brash food style” that is changing the face of restaurants. 

A Japanese-Mexican fusion restaurant by Alex Watanabe and Marcelo Baez, set to open this month in Lower Manhattan, is reportedly selling birria ramen, al pastor sushi rolls, sashimi tostadas, and shrimp teriyaki tacos.  Nacheaux, a restaurant in Portland, is serving Mexican and Southern fusion dishes like nachos topped with Cajun beef, red beans and dirty rice. Pijja Palace in Los Angeles is serving tandoori spaghetti and masala mac & cheese


A post shared by Pijja Palace (@pijjapalace)


The FRIjitas dish, sold this summer at TGI Fridays, was billed as a revamped globally-inspired version of fajitas. The chain sold three versions: tandoori chicken skewers, dynamite shrimp, and whiskey-glaze blaze Tex Mex. 

“Sales of the Tandoori FRIjitas outpaced similar menu offerings,” TGI Fridays Chief Marketing Officer, Brandon Coleman. “We believe there is a lot of room for Fridays to continue its menu innovation by introducing new global flavors into more familiar, more approachable menu options.”

Some dishes are a novelty play, recreating fast-food flavors with fine dining ingredients. 

Washington DC’s Boogy and Peel, for example, sells a $22 pie called the Harambe Loved Big Macs. It is made with seasoned ground beef, special sauce, American cheese, shredded iceberg, sliced onions, and housemade dill pickle chips

On Instagram and TikTok, chaos cooking is showing up in different forms: a pizza slathered with refried beans, zucchini fettuccine, and a vegan peppermint pattie cake. Sometimes the cooking is just chaotic in style. The Washington Post defined chaotic cooking as on that “openly subverts mainstream rules for how to cook and what tastes or looks good in a way that’s both playful and intelligent.” The article asked: Is chaos cooking a pathway to inner peace? 


In July, TGI Fridays added FRIjitas to the menu: Tandoori Chicken Skewers, Dynamite Shrimp, and Whiskey-Glaze Blaze

TGI Fridays

However it’s defined, chaotic cooking is expected to get a boost from social media as restaurants become more social savvy. 

“In 2023, restaurants that never had Instagram accounts will get them; restaurants that never thought about TikTok will download it to see what the buzz is about,” according to a 2023 restaurant trends survey released by the food-tech startup BentoBox.

Other food trends born from viral social media posts have become restaurant staples, including avocado toast, espresso drinks served with latte art, and freakshakes (milkshakes blended with other desserts like cake or doughnuts).

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