Image: Supplied Every now and then a food trend comes along that takes the culinary world by storm and trickles down from the top fine dining establishments to humble restaurants, cafes and food trucks all over the world.
From fondue to foams, cauliflower to kale, gels to granitas, “facon” to everything wrapped in bacon, bite-sized nibbles to all-you-can-eat, low carb to deep-fried everything, food fads come and go. Others stick around and make it mainstream. There was a time before even the humble burger was a normal part of existence.
What food trends are on everyone’s lips right now? Chef Norman Heath from Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront says a lot has changed in the world of food in recent years.
Here, Heath shares his five top food trends for 2020:
Sustainability is understandably a major trend this year. People are trying to be better for the planet and one way to do that is to reduce waste. When it comes to food, a lot of waste can be composted, but ideally, it’s best to use as much as possible.
A lot of thought goes into how we can reduce waste in our kitchen. With mushrooms for example, we use the stems that we have cut off to make a mushroom puree. We also have a dish where we put a whole fish on the plate and people love to order that. You cook and eat the entire fish and it creates a conversation.
For too long, many menus have held one lone vegetarian or vegan offering, typically a fairly plain pasta dish or a salad. Now, with the rise of people favouring plant-based eating, restaurants must up their game and offer much more for their guests to not miss out on the experience of dining out.
Image: Supplied Likewise, people who are gluten-free or have other dietary requirements must be catered for. This is a big focus right now. You have to put as much detail and care into it as any other dish on the menu. Healthier, cleaner and fresher is the way people are going.
We are really taking time and effort with these dishes. Whatever you cook for anyone, you should put the same amount of effort into it whether it’s fine dining or a simple gourmet sandwich.
Food as art
Everyone wants to put a picture of what’s on their plate on social media. When people have a spare five minutes, many use that time to scroll through Instagram. More often than not, you’ll come across more than one food post in just that short time.
This demand for beautiful plates of food is making chefs push boundaries to achieve art on the plate. There are some restaurants, more on the fine dining side, that have room to play in this area and they’re really turning things around and doing very interesting things with food ‒ playing with the senses and using sounds and smells to create an impressive overall experience. Pushing the boundaries of what you present on the plate is a big trend right now.
Back to basics
Some of the best dishes I've ever eaten have focused on just a few simple ingredients with knockout flavour. A lot of chefs are going back to simple, uncomplicated food and letting beautiful ingredients speak for themselves.
Image: Supplied It’s about focusing on the textures, colours and flavours throughout the dish and packing in as much flavour as possible. Because that’s really what cooking is all about: the food you’d love to share with your family and friends and blow them away.
I like to tell a story with a dish, where with every bite you take, another little experience happens. Pay attention to all the small details, but there’s no need to overcomplicate things.
Seasonal, local produce
Creating a menu is a different process in summer and in winter. In summer, we focus on light, fresh and bright dishes such as salads and more cold dishe s. While in winter, it’s all about warm, hearty, comforting dishes like curries, soups and roasts.
Image: Supplied At any time of year, we use what’s available. You also have to think outside of the box in terms of what is available to you. For example, we use a lot of ocean greens like samphire and dune spinach on our menu. The trend now is sourcing fresh and seasonal ingredients locally. This not only supports local farmers and communities, but reduces your carbon footprint.
By using what is currently in season, freshness and optimal flavour is guaranteed. Many restaurants are even growing their own seasonal produce to use in the kitchen.