It's that time of year again, where we throw our hat into the ring and try to predict the food, drink and restaurant trends we expect to see over the coming months.
This year we've highlighted all manner of flavors, ideas, styles, innovations and new technology that will impact what we eat in 2019.
Food Trends 2019
The alternative protein market is bubbling with innovation at the moment, meatless alternatives like Impossible Foods and their vegetarian burger that bleeds has been gaining traction since its launch in 2011 and the next protein replacement to watch for is actually coming from pea. It’s made by grinding dried peas and it’s perfect for those on a vegan or vegetarian diet. Pea Protein right now is being used a lot in the fitness sector, a way to add healthy protein to the diet, expect this to develop further as companies start to use the bto-avaibale pea protein in their products. We’re talking yogurts made with pea protein, mayo, a pea milk and even ice cream - Ben & Jerry’s recently launched a non-dairy frozen dessert made with, you guessed it, pea protein.
New Ways of Work
From new ways of operating, new systems of hierarchy, to new work schedules - restaurants are undergoing a serious shift in an attempt to make the kitchen job more attractive and more sustainable. This is being driven by a chef shortage and because of a whole new generation of chefs questioning the old, military-like systems in place: we're talking about kitchens models where chefs don't work more than eight-hour shifts, restaurants testing four-day-weeks to give chefs better holiday, better pay, partnership structures and flattened hierarchies - there will also be a much stronger focus on addressing the mental and psychical burnout associated with kitchen work. It's been a long time coming, but 2019 will be the year where the balance of chef sustainability focused on a lot.
The rise of the delivery market has pushed all manner of innovation within the restaurant industry, one interesting development being driven by this is the idea of delivery-only restaurants. No-face places that are built as kitchens to cook and cater for delivery only. Take a look at your local restaurant delivery app and it shouldn't take too long to find a place that doesn't have a traditional bricks and mortar operation. This will lead to some interesting delivery only concepts and perhaps even some chefs will step into sector to apply their technique in a fast-casual manner.
Blockchain technology, developed with the rise of crypto currency, is essentially a growing record of transactions, of sales, timestamps and every movement of currency within the blockchain. It is designed to be very accurate and transparent - a simple way to monitor movement. Blockchain and technology based on the same idea will start to be widely adopted within the food world, ways to see the exact journey a product has taken to the supermarket shelf, farms to monitor production and disease within crops before it hits. Transparency is a growing demand of conscious consumers and this coupled with new technology is going to lead to a whole new layer of traceability.
It’s nothing new, we get it, we hear your cries, but bear with us. We’re not talking BBQ, we’re not talking about huge smokers out in the back, we’re talking about the subtle use of smoke as a flavor alongside sweet, sour, salty, spice, spicy and bitter. We’ve noticed this more and more throughout 2018: a beetroot made much sweeter and less earthy thanks to a wonderful hit of smoke, an amazing smokey ceviche thanks to charred bok choy blended into the sauce. Subtle smoke is one of the most underrated and underused flavors around - perhaps because it’s just so easy to go too far. Expect more chefs to start to control and elevate this much underused flavor.
Butters Are Back
Butter seems to come and go with the tides of fad diets and just how vilified fat is at the moment. We’re personally noticing a new focus on butter, homemade butter and interesting varieties of butter to be used as ingredients in the kitchen rather than a side accompaniment for bread. Herb butters, fermented butter, brown butter, miso butter, nut butter - using this very fatty, very flavorful hits to cooks ingredients like vegetables or to add new depth to stews or soups is something we expect to continue.
We know, such an easy choice - every year since 1993 has been the year of the vegetable, but let us explain why 2019 really is veggue time. More and more people are opting for veg-free days, whether it’s for Meatless Monday, for health benefits or because people are realizing the impact meat has on the planet. Perhaps it’s because of what Annenberg University called the 25% Tipping Point in one of their recent studies: the idea that the minority of people who choose vegetarian diets is now getting large enough to effect the choices of the majority. Restaurants are certainly playing the game - Alain Ducasse went full vegetarian a while back, more and more veg tasting menus are appearing with beetroots, celeriac, salsify, artichokes and fennel all having a resurgence on menus.
There’s no avoiding the rise of the Cannabis across the food industry and everyone from drinks companies to chefs are looking to the ingredient to infuse their products. What really interests us is the potential Cannabis could offer for a whole host of new herbal flavors in the kitchen. We’re talking about extracting terpenes, natural oils and dried flavors from CBD strains. These strains do not have the psycoactive properties linked with THC in cannabis and could open up a whole new pantry of flavors. Just imagine some of the flavors: Strawberry Banana, Blueberry, Lemon, Orange Bud - new sour, sweet, spicy and peppery notes could be found across the thousands of different varieties of cannabis.
Cooking as a Cause
Social Gastronomy is here to stay. In 2018, Jose Andres was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Massimo Bottura fed thousands of meals with thousands of tonnes of food waste and, perhaps most encouragingly, younger and younger chefs found their calling away from the line. After years of the world's leading chefs taking positions in politics, culture and society - young chefs, more than ever, are attaching cause to their cooking: look at the likes of Dani Giusti, ex Noma head chef who quit to pursue a Brigaid - an crew of chefs dedicated to cooking school meals in America, better school meals than anyone has ever seen before. On top of all this, the idea of food as a movement was also cemented in 2018. Next year we will see this trend continue as chefs transfer their skills towards feeding larger groups of people and starting conversations around how we eat.
We didn't feature them last year and we didn't feature them in 2017, but it seems 2019 is the year insects are going mainstream. The huge supermarket chain Sainsbury's in the UK just started to stick a insect protein snacks, he chefs like Rene Redzepi and Alex Atala have already helped make them more accessible, every single government, UN, NGO or charity indicator is suggesting insects as the perfect protean source for a bustling population, they're delicious - we ate them ourselves during this year's Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants where Edgar Nunez said they are the new protein of the future. At the moment, the EU is a little confused with some countries happy for the sale of insects, some not happy with the sale of whole, and other threatening hefty fines for what are still classed as novel foods - there's a lot of work and lobbying being done at the moment to shift this for a EU wide regulation which would simplify and open the market for new innovators. We think 2019 is the year you might just eat insects as part of a regular day.
Natural probiotics, fermentation and all things functional are going nowhere in 2019 but for us, one of the big ingredients to watch out for on your supermarket shelf is Miso. Sales of Miso have been on the rise in many supermarkets, including Waitrose which saw a 28% rise in Miso sales in 2018. This is not because a lot of people are suddenly making their own ramen iso broths at home, much more because miso is being used as a flavor enhancer to other ingredients: such as glazed parsnips or broccoli. The fermented bean paste is perfect for giving and adding kick of delicious to vegetables and will create depth when used correctly in many sauces.
Seed to Feed
We've seen the farm-to-table movement, we had nose-to-tail and stem-to-root - the next big wave that is exciting us is the idea of Seed-to-Feed: the idea of chefs working directly with plant breeders to produce more healthy, more delicious and more nutritious varieties of fruits and vegetables. This is being driven by the launch of Row7 - a seed company by chef Dan Barber and plant breeder Michael Mazourek- the pair are creating dialogue between chefs and breeders with a hope of prodding news strains such as their 898 Squash. This is truly exciting development in the world of fine dining and we expect more chefs to get involved with the project as it grows. Blue Apron meal box delivery service are already including one of the company's creations.
We're talking about full-on mixology with all the attention of boozy cocktails yet none of the actual booze. Fine Dining restaurants have certainly helped push the trend, a few years ago there was a big rise in non-alcoholic pairing options with many chefs working with interesting fruits, syrups, teas and fermentation to produce unique non-alcoholic pairings. This is now moving over to the bar world, forget 'Mocktail' though - that's so last year. We are talking refreshers, housemade sodas, fresh homemade tonics and teas - get ready for teas, carbonated, sweet, sour, spicy - tea of all manner. This will also be accompanied by newer low-alcho drinks which focus more on flavor than a large ABV. Drinks menus, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, will also start to incorporate new ingredients citrus notes like yuzu, citron, finger lime and bergamot orange.
These are tough times for chefs and restaurant professionals around the world, but there has never been a better time to seek advice and help around a number of topics affecting hospitality workers. Here's a round-up of some of the most useful resources for chefs.