Some things do not go out of style. Much as it holds true for the food industry and the consumerism attached to it, inventiveness is still very vital. Chefs and restaurateurs either strive to keep up with the trends or take the courageous act of starting something new. As 2012 brought forth many exciting dining cultures, the people in action are relentless in defining (or re-defining) food trends of 2013.
It may be an awakening of eco-consciousness or realising the need to nourish our bodies with the multi-nutrients of colourful vegetables. Diners are increasingly opting forsalads or more vegetables on the table, prompting chefs to present them beyond the traditional dressing, grilled or stir-fried. Salads will become more interesting with contrasting textures and flavours as diners also continue to welcome vegetables in the center of their plate, instead of being traditionally relegated to the side. The rising cost for proteins is also a factor for the vegetable uprising.
Over this part of the world, good old rice has always been at the forefront of grains but with the advent of consciousness about starch content and some bad carbohydrate rep, other forms of grains are gaining ground. Packed with protein and with wonderful ability to soak up all kinds of flavours, the trend is inching towards couscous, bulgur, and polenta. Also, watch out for more exotic offerings like wild rice, millet, amaranth and quinoa which are friendly to gluten-intolerant individuals.
The burgeoning popularity of snacking continues with people eating round-the-clock or grazing from one spot to another, pushing snack options towards healthier items and cooking methods. Operators look towards pop-up stalls or trucks whilst existing restaurants are diversifying the menu to offer patrons looking to eat light with tapas, mezze and funky creations for bar counter snacking. Even fast food proprietors join in the fun with mini sized items. Also, one snack item long only ubiquitous with cinemas, popcorn, will make appearances in restaurants as appetisers of the year. Why should it not have its time? The humble corn kernel is lightweight, neutral in taste and presents a creative outlet for chefs to create all kinds of flavours.
Looking East continues within the food circle as pounds and pounds of noodles are consumed by all nations. Ramen has been increasingly chic over the past year with reasonable debates on which shop gets it right. It is projected that noodles will grow on people with more choices like udon, soba, rice noodles joining the fray, not only in noodle-centric restaurants but in diversified menus as well. The comfort of a bowl of hot soup and al dante bites hardly lets anyone down.
Instead of using fruits and vegetables as they are, chefs are finding ways to manipulate them in order to take flavours and textures to a different realm by fermenting, pickling, dehydrating, salting, drying, frying or baking which opens more possibilities for pairing purposes.
THIRSTING FOR TWISTS
Beverages are often good revenue makers for any outlet and discerning drinkers are looking to try new mixes of cocktails, pushing flavour researchers to come up with new syrups to match alcohol. Local brews are also gaining favour amongst drinkers due to better economic sense and brings more options to the bar. Non alcohol drinks are not left out either, juices has become quite a phenomenon as people start to live well and find the convenience in juice bars for instant energy, paving the way for juice shops that also concoct a range of energy drinks, some good enough as a meal in itself.
As the dining scene shifts, consumers are also becoming savvier and taking more interest to begin experimenting in their kitchens. Food halls are perfect places for home cooks and chefs alike where ingredients, whether local or imported are made much more accessible.
SHRINKING PORTIONS, MORE OPTIONS
Food appreciation is growing and diners are seeking new experiences, willingly spending time to eat a multi-course meal. In light of that, tasting menus are coming to the forefront, providing diners sample sized portions, for example, three entrée choices. Diners are introduced and exposed to a multitude of cuisines, dwelling in an unhurried environment – a short escapism.
• “Cutting-Edge Dining Trends 2013” by Sterling-Rice Group
• Food industry trend-tracking insights from Technomic, Inc.
• “17 Hottest Food & Dining Trends for Restaurants & Hotels 2013” by Baum + Whiteman