Sustainability. Wagyu. Small Plates. If these are some buzzwords that you have repeatedly heard in 2021 then you are no stranger to food trends. As per our biannual forecast, we analyse what has been happening with global gastronomy and make some predictions on what is taking the food world by storm. From the elevation of middle eastern fine dining to the appearance of carte blanche menus, let’s see what’s on the plate.
Globalisation has already seen the rise of cuisines such as Peruvian and Mexican cuisines, with an increase demand for variety from Asia. As international movement becomes more restricted, restaurants and patrons have shifted their demand to a more local menus, ones that are able to honour and respect ingredients from around us, instead of just the over fanning the flame of luxury. With eyes set on the Middle East and Africa, these cuisines will see an increasing demand in the following years.
TRENDS WE THINK WE WILL SEE
For the longest time the world has shifted toward being more sustainable, and many kitchens have followed suite. However, sustainability has become more of a buzzword rather than actual practices. We predict we will start to see more of true sustainability. This is where whole parts of the animals are used and used well in respect. Perhaps more restaurants will buy directly from their local markets or directly from farmers, ensuring a closed loop sustainable chain. Also perhaps more pickling and fermentation for discarded parts as well.
When we talk about microseasonality what we mean is that ingredients which are used are based on a very small timeframe, that could be anything from one week to one month. This is where ingredients are used where they are at their most optimal, not underripe or overripe, essentially in its perfect state. Some of this could be based on biodynamic farming such as the Farmer’s Almanac, both the western and Chinese traditions. Tomatoes picked at the perfect time. Seasonal greens at their optimal. This ensures that the quality delivered on a plate does not need much dressing up.
Plant Based Fine Dining
As more and more people are switching to a plant-based diet, meaning that the majority of the meal is plant based and does not necessarily cuts meat out but reduces its amount, we will start to see greener fine dining menus. A great example is like the Gardener’s Lunch at Arpège in Paris. Dishes that can stand on their own, surpassing the plates with meat.
The flip side of this is that there will also be an increase in the consumption of offal, and this is because of two reasons. Firstly, by consuming all the edible parts of an animal there is little to no waste, and secondly, these parts are very delicious and full of flavour. Parts such as hearts, kidneys, livers, sweetbread and tripe are all wonderful ingredients. Hopefully in more interpretations than the expected Japanese kushiyaki style. Duck heart skewers with a laksa leaf pesto? Braised pork liver in red wine a la meurette? Deep fried sweetbread morsels with an ancho chile salsa? Bold ingredients require bold flavours.
We think the next step in culinary is going to be in the form of small plates. Chefs have been moving away from the pomp and circumstance of fine dining, evolving into a more casual setting. This is seen in restaurants across the UK such as BRAT which focuses on seafood and meats, as well as Septime in France, which still focuses on classic fine dining techniques, but without the pomp and circumstance. Smokestak in the UK focuses on hot iron to produce intense meat plates while Blacklock sees the use of aged meats even for their Sunday roast. The art form here is putting ingredients on a plate in the best way you can honour that ingredient.
TRENDS WE THINK WE WILL SEE IN 2 YEARS
Middle Eastern Fine Dining
Although we have already started seeing this rise in cities like London with Coal Office, we predict it will take time before it reaches an international scene. Middle eastern cuisine has been a commonplace in many countries, but in its traditional form. We think we will start seeing a global application to its flavours, rather than form. Use of harissa but wisely, dollops of tahini as contrast, rather than base, and also the marrying of these flavours with local produce. One of the dishes from Coal Office uses British lamb with coffee and rose water as its base, one of the best you will come across.
African Fine Dining
When we talk about African, we really mean African inspired. Flavours and ingredients used in the vast cuisines of Africa will start to be appreciated, and Ikoyi in London is at the forefront of this. The use of bene (sesame seeds) as a flavour for milk and uda, a spice with a coffee like aroma, are just examples of how African flavours and ingredients will show up. As African cuisine is vastly different, we will also see more borrowings from regional cuisines such as Ethiopian in the east to Ghanaian in the west.
Carte Blanche Tasting Menus
We think we will start seeing carte blanche tasting menus, where you make booking for restaurants based on menu that can change daily. Restaurants will evolve to create menus based on what’s freshest from the markets on the day itself, hence you will never know. This however, will happen more with restaurants and chefs with a proven track record, in which you can trust them to serve you what’s best, a somewhat adaptation of the Japanese omakase approach.
Ex-Dairy Cows, Offcuts
We also predict that the use of older animals and offcuts will start becoming common, as the demand for flavour over fat changes. This also goes in line with sustainable practices where older animals are used for its meat such as dairy cows that no longer milk. The key to making them desirable is its treatment of its meat, and this is where ageing comes in. This is key to making offcuts more edible.
TRENDS WE WANT TO SEE
Capons are cockerels that have been neutered, which results in the meat having less testosterone, resulting in a sweeter less gamey. These meats actually are considered the tastiest form of chicken you can experience.
Sustainable Game Meats
While chicken is the most common bird, we would like to see the use of pheasants, rabbit, and deer more. These meats have more flavour to them, and when done right, can be extremely rewarding. Rabbit kidneys and deer livers have become common place at some restaurants in London such as Fallow and Lyle’s.
The culinary name of the thymus gland or pancreas of the calf or lamb, this part of the animal is underutilised in Asian cuisine. This cut of the animal can be gamey if not cooked right, but when done properly is a divine cut of meat. Some iterations we’ve seen are skewered and grilled with chimichurri as in Flor in London or pan-fried and served with a vol au vent as in Café des Ministères in Paris.
Cocktail Pairing 2.0
As cocktail pairings have become increasingly common, we predict there will be an elevation to this. Currently many restaurants have attempted to do cocktail pairings but lack that refinement which is required. Full portion cocktails are never a good idea. Perhaps we will see more thought-out progressions with volume as well as flavours, from sweet to sour to bitter.
TRENDS WE WANT TO SEE RETIRE
Obsession With Wagyu
Don’t get us wrong, wagyu is one of the best quality of cuts you can get, but all that full fat can get too much. We would suggest to let the palate rest from the fat and go for more flavourful cuts.
Sustainability is very important for the planet, but gimmicky sustainability works in adverse. Don’t jump on the bandwagon just because it’s in vogue, but truly do it in a way that is beneficial for the environment and your business. It’s not just about not using plastic straws or using scraps, it’s about using scraps meaningfully.
So there you have it, our take on food trend predictions for 2022. We will check back agin in 2 years to see if any of our predictions make the cut.
For our biannual food trends articles, see Food Trends.