I realise I have severely neglected this website, but it’s hard to update stuff and come up with new things to write about when you’re trying to do PR for clients while plotting world pickle domination.
I was recently asked to provide some thoughts on trends in pastry and a few other things, which got the cogs whirring again.
I know some people HATE food trend pieces. Personally, I love them. Food is like fashion – it delights, can inspire and in most cases, it’s an affordable pleasure. So to all those people who feel that food is simply functional and fuel for the body, best look away now, as these are my thoughts on what to look forward to next year and beyond.
A final caveat: these are just my thoughts in no particular ranking of importance. I’m no expert – I just like to eat. Just ask my one pack.
Fire, smoke..but no brimstone.
I don’t know what it is about a roaring fire, but it certainly inspires people to grill and char. We’ve already seen Smoking Goat with their chicken wings and the like, while Black Axe Mangal is doing amazing things with their wood fired oven. Expect to see more use of open flames in cooking, but also smoke as an unexpected flavouring – think smoked ricotta and yoghurts, charred fruits, burnt sugar, smoked salts. The wonderful Halen Mon does an amazing smoked water, and did I mention (blatant plug) that Manfood does a new smoked range?
We’ve had eclairs, macarons..frankly I’d embrace anything that will see off the monster that is the cupcake (yeah, not going to happen). So it is back to France for inspiration. In this case, the Bordeaux region.
Canelé are small pastries that were traditionally baked in copper fluted moulds. This gave them a beautiful sugary crust, while yielding a soft custard like centre.
New York has already gone mad for these sweet treats, which can be found in 16 different bakeries around the city. In London, the front runner is Babelle, which is riffing on the traditional rum flavour and producing a whole range of different flavours, including violet, dulce de leche and pistachio raspberry.
The UK’s obsession with heat doesn’t seem to be abating. Indeed producers such as The Rib Man and Grant Hawthorne are doing a roaring trade with their hot sauces. The next step will not only be the use of chilli and spice in more foods, but also the use of more interesting chilli/ spiced products – sambals, XO sauce, gochujang, advieh and of course Sriracha.
Peel to stem cooking.
Nose to tail dining and cooking has been done to death, so chefs are looking at the next best thing. The wonderful Ottolenghi has already given vegetables hero status, but with food waste a more pressing issue, chefs are looking at ways to use more of the things that they would have traditionally thrown away, so look out for carrot top pesto, cauliflower stem pickles and candied lemon peels as ideas that may be cropping up on menus.
Chef prepared meals at home.
Seven years ago, when I was a buyer at Harrods, I was approached by a company that had purchased a licence from a well known chef, to produce meal kits using his name. At the time, I told them that the price point and concept wouldn’t work, but now we’ve got the likes of Hello Fresh, Diet Chef, not to mention Simon Rogan’s collaboration with Graze..it may be time to eat my words.
While the UK’s obsession with coffee is lagging behind both the USA and Australia, expect to see coffee as more than just a hot drink: cold brew, fizzy coffee (served out of a beer tap), but also as a flavour and ingredient. Think coffee rubs, pastry creams, caramels – the possibilities are endless.
The whole food mash up idea isn’t going away anytime soon, and although savoury desserts sounds strange, who doesn’t like a little salty sweet (I’m looking at you salt caramel)? Chefs are going to want to bring back some decadence and indulgence to their desserts, but in order to cut through the richness (and frankly the calories), they’re going to look at new ingredients to provide a more intense hit of flavour, such as Miso, malt, corn and whey.
Full disclosure, I’m not the first one to mention this. Adam Hyman in his excellent CODE bulletin has mentioned, seen and tasted this before me.
Essentially a raw fish salad, Pokē is the Hawaiian verb for “section” or “to slice or cut”. In America, they’ve been building a lunchtime dish by taking rice, adding marinated raw fish or seafood, then adding additional ingredients, such as soy sauce, sesame seeds, avocado. It’s essentially like a sushi roll in a bowl.
Adult soft drinks.
Companies have been trying to corner this market for years. After all, how much J20 and Ame can you really stomach? But I think we’re now reaching a tipping point, as the market is really trying to embrace a whole new type of drinker who’s looking to have a drink but for whatever reason, they don’t want the alcohol. And the choice is huge, such as drinking gazpacho, kombucha, tonics, artisan sodas.
Being half Malaysian, I’m a huge fan of what I call ‘Real fusion food’. This food isn’t some brain child of a modern day chef, but refers to dishes that have come about as a result of inter marriage, colonisation and immigration. Currently, Sri Lankan food is having it’s moment in London, but what’s next?
Although there is a huge Filipino community in the UK, the food of the Philippines is not widely known or appreciated, which makes it ripe for bursting on the scene.
London’s Luzon restaurant is doing some very interesting dishes, but expect to see more Adobos (vinegar stewed meat or fish), Sisig (Fried and sizzled chopped bits of pig’s head and liver) and Tocino (similar to bacon) coming to a restaurant near you very soon.