The new year inevitably brings new food fads and trends that give the catering industry a much needed early year boost. Whilst not every year brings truly original ideas, there are often a few twists on old classics and new takes on established practices. 2016 was the year of cauliflower rice, freak shakes, avocado toast and gin - but what will this year bring? Let’s look at some predictions.
The death of pasta - vegetable alternatives
In the early months of a new year, it’s usually a safe bet that there will be a new carb alternative to satisfy the health-conscious mood after the excesses of Christmas. This year is no different with a whole roster of pasta replacement products, such as courgetti, edamame noodles, butternut squash lasagne sheets and beetroot rice. It’s great news for dieters and those wanting to inject extra fibre into their meals out.
Vegetable-led dishes are becoming much more en vogue, partly in thanks to political unrest of 2016 and the resulting belt tightening of the consumer and restaurateur. 2017 is set to continue this penny pinching trend, as the cost of running a restaurant due to post-Brexit exchange rates increases. Dishes where vegetables are the main event means savings for both end user and restaurant owner.
This is a technique to really elevate your dessert offering. Traditionally confined to the realms of a classic marble cake or steak chosen for it’s wonderful fat content, consumers are now trying to create the effect at home. Making unicorn bark using marbling techniques is a popular instagram-friendly activity that many are getting involved in. Why not engage your customers by bringing it onto your dessert menu? Marbling sauces and coulis make a beautiful feature on the plate, or why not serve homemade marbled chocolate shards with coffee?
Known as ‘the fifth taste’ along with sweet, sour, salt and bitter, umami is the latest taste craze to invade our taste buds. It’s difficult to define, but some say it’s the reason some of us adore flavours like marmite, anchovy, parmesan and miso. With an intense savoury flavour, umami recipes contain that delicious salty taste that is most commonly found in MSG (Mono Sodium Glutamate). However umami foods such as green tea and nooch (deactivated yeast flakes) are relatively guilt free, proving popular with many diners.
Not just for Grandma, sherry is set to replace gin as the drink of choice in 2017. The Spanish fortified wine is both complex and versatile, and has many uses other than soaking a sponge in for a classic trifle. Famed for its recognisable dryness and low alcohol levels, it’s now being used in pubs and cocktail bars alike to create unique flavour combinations. Try the Menta Fina: a combination of sherry, dark rum and lime juice, finished with fresh mint.
Turmeric tea, turmeric juice, turmeric lattes - it seems the future really is orange. This brightly hued member of the ginger family has a multitude of health benefits and is cropping up in cafes and restaurants already. It’s been available in tablet form as a health supplement for many years, and it’s very well established in Indian recipes. But it’s now making its way into previously unexplored areas, such as hot and cold drinks. It’s basically the new matcha powder. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, it increases the body’s capacity to absorb antioxidants, lowers the risk of heart disease and has been shown to improve brain function. All compelling reasons to make it a feature of your menu.
Gourmet nostalgia - comfort food
The revival of old school comfort food is something we all need in the long wait for Spring (stodgy school dinners are perhaps best left in the past!). Evoking nostalgia is a fantastic way to get customers to engage with your food on a more sensory level. And because such food is so approachable and familiar, you can customise them with new modern flavours, like a pimped macaroni and cheese with bacon and truffles. Think hearty stews, meatloaf and the 80s favourite: fish goujons served in a basket.
What are your predictions for the year ahead? Tweet us @williamsref to let us know your thoughts