- The rise of the vegetables
Vegetables have become the stars of the show, with meat or fish becoming less of a focal point of dishes listed on many menus. This is not about restaurants offering more veggie options – they are starting to showcase the veg in the same way that they might showcase a good cut of meat – targeting meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. Expect to see chargrilled broccoli or roasted fennel highlighted as the lead ingredient (along with some lardo or mackerel to go with it) on a menu near you soon.
Simply cooking something is no longer enough – it has to be blistered, burnt, scorched or ember roasted.
This Hawaiian style of eating raw fish - similar to ceviche - has taken London by storm. Poke is chunks of raw fish, dressed in soy sauce, chilli, onions, seeds and occasionally nuts – a dish which came from fishermen eating the off cuts from their catch. Today it’s becoming a food phenomenon.
- …but Filipino and Mexican street food also vying for attention
Filipino and Mexican street food are also vying to be the next big thing. We’re not talking tacos and burritos here, we’re now getting a more developed sense of what these culinary traditions have to offer – from siopao (steamed buns filled with pork or tofu) from the Philippines to corn tanales (potato-based dough steamed in a corn husk or banana leaf) from Mexico.
- Pizza – it’s all about the base
Who cares about pizza toppings – in 2016 it’s all about the base. Thin and crispy is so over – a thicker, doughier Neapolitan sourdough is what the punters want
- You’re no one if you don’t brunch
Forget meeting for lunch – brunch is where it’s at these days. You just can’t compete in the restaurant market now if you don’t serve it. The most important part of a lazy weekend, it’s also getting more popular in the week too. Customer appetite for smashed avocado on toast with a poached egg looks insatiable – for now!
In the mood for great food but don’t want to go out? This year take-out has gone gastro – high end restaurants have jumped on the home delivery bandwagon in a big way. Scooter-guy is no longer just bringing pizza – today you can get lobster and chips or chateauxbriand to your door no problem.
- …and fast food goes upmarket
Demand for upmarket “dirty” food appears unstoppable. Kebabs are the latest fast food to get a gastronomic makeover - the humble donner is being overtaken by 16 hour slow braised pork shoulder cooked over a charcoal grill with cauliflower couscous and sourdough flat bread. Buttermilk fried chicken, gourmet burgers and hot dogs have already had the treatment. Both of these beg the question: is fine dining dead?
- Seaweed –the trend that didn’t make it
There were high hopes for seaweed - but it hasn’t really cut the mustard I’m afraid…
One thing’s for sure: the Great British public is becoming ever more adventurous and more demanding when it comes to food. That doesn’t mean that newer is necessarily better, but there is often an expectation of interest and excitement as well as quality and flavour. Some of these trends may be here to stay, others will lose their momentum and be replaced by something newer, cooler, more “now”. Let’s see where our culinary adventures will take us next…
Bruce Wilson is a Chef Consultant at BAW Consulting Ltd, which specialises in advising food, catering & hospitality businesses on concept development, pre-planning, site launch, and on-going management.