Well-Known Chefs From India Bring Us Closer To The Top Food Trends Of 2018
A trend is a thing that gets us all going, doesn’t it? This is what gives the F&B, music and the fashion industry an itch every year. In a way it good, because through them we get to see how much of creative juice does our industry have. And since everyone is connected to food one way or another, we were curious about the food trends of 2018.
Where 2017 was more about owner-driven spaces, no-waste cooking, molecular gastronomy on the rise, and a great time for breweries, this year might see a shift as far as food is concerned. Now, this is where we shut up and let the experts (we mean chefs) do the talking.
Chef Vikas Seth, Culinary Director at Embassy Leisure, Sanchez, and Sriracha
There are several trends that are already making their way to restaurants, and the top few trends Seth sees picking up momentum in 2018 are:
Localisation of ingredients
Several restaurants are looking towards sourcing local ingredients and produce to make foreign cuisine(s). While earlier, restaurants would import most of their ingredients especially, exotic fruits and vegetables, there are more and more chefs who are obtaining their requirements locally. “For instance, at Sanchez, we use local avocados for our guacamole; we also use local white corn instead of importing it,” he quips.
New wave cuisines and dishes
Over the last few years, there has been a proliferation of new cuisines from the world over owing to interest from well-travelled customers. This trend will continue and the exploration of novel cuisines and dishes that offer a slice of heritage and culture will make it to bucket lists. At Sanchez, people are intrigued by dishes like the Tamale, Pole and the Pozole in our Christmas menu was a big hit,” recalls Seth.
Interactions between the chef and the customer is a trend that is swiftly catching up. Chefs are no longer relegated to just kitchens and are making their way to tables to offer an interactive dining experience for customers. Several dishes are now made live at the table and the concept of the Chef’s Table is also becoming popular. Menus are also customised in a way that enables the chef to meet his customers. Diners these days can also customise dishes according to their fancy. “At Sanchez we make the Guacamole live at the table and the Som Tam salad at Sriracha,” he adds with a smile.
Interest in local food
“There is an increasing interest in food made by the locals at home. We have seen this trend where tourists visit local’s homes for meals. This interest in local cuisine will also give rise to an era of homebred chefs whose home cooked food will see a lot of traction,” Seth explains.
Local produce or veggies, considered to be unglamorous previously are making their way to restaurant menus. There is a great scope this year for lesser known or unglamorous produce to shine. “In Karnataka, we will see a resurgence of millets,” ends Seth.
Sudhir Nair, Executive Chef, Courtyard by Marriott and Fairfield by Marriott
“It is impractical to believe that just because you un-wrapped a new calendar and you change your planner pages, there will be a sea of change in the way food or any other trend shall change. Trends do not make or break the scene in a day or a week, especially with regards to food and culinary trends. In spite of all that in today’s time of instant gratification and Instagram, we as chefs are challenged every day to prepare new dishes. We have to create plates that look good, taste good, and are different each time,” enthuses Nair. With that ardent statement, here are a few key trends he sees will hit the spot in 2018.
“The changing trends we have seen in the last 10 years are much more than the changes taken place in last 50 years before that. Guests are more travelled, are so much more receptive to trying new concepts. They are certainly more knowledgeable and give open, direct feedback. The world feels much smaller and closer; technology and its acceptance have made it so,” states Nair. Adding, “A large part of food trend depends on the consistent availability of ingredients at the right price. While online portals are popular and have a substantial market share in retail, I believe this year there will be a quantum shift in the way food and ingredients are being procured by institutions and large catering units. Newer websites and applications with detailed pricing and delivery promise shall simplify the procurement and improve quality of ingredients. The direct interface between the Chef and the farmer will help us plan better menus and produce better food. Tech companies will team up with local farmers and producers who until now were operating in ghettos. This would have a twofold impact in terms of low wastage of crops and less cost of transportation. While it shall help us chefs understand local produce and availability, it shall also help us compare what is available locally to what’s being used worldwide. It’s often said ‘knowledge is power’, but I believe knowledge of the appropriate thing at the opportune time is the power to change.”
“As the world goes healthy, fad diets and pseudo diets keep trending. But one such trend seems to have made a visible impact. It is a trend here to stay not just for 2018, but a lot many years ahead. It’s the inclusion of raw and uncooked food in the daily intake. Almost every diet plan includes a substantial portion of fruit, lettuce, raw vegetables, nuts, seeds as an essential part of the meal plan. Processed or packaged food is completely forbidden. The ingredient should ideally not be heated above 46 Celsius because it is believed that a lot of essential enzymes and vitamins get damaged. Though, raw foodism may vary based on the concept followed. Some diets may include non-pasteurised cheese, brined chicken or seafood but the most common concept is where the food is vegan, only plant sourced. It could be practiced as a part of the daily meals or entirely. It is supposed to be extremely beneficial for the body and mind. It sure seems like a trend catching up fast in the urban parts and looks like it’s here to stay,” reflects Nair.
Rise of the home cooks
“It is common knowledge that in a lot of progressive Asian cities like Tokyo and Singapore there are no kitchens in residential apartments. Considering the way the population and crowding in Indian cities are going, while the rentals keep soaring, this is a reality we shall have to live with. This situation has created a demand for eating out and restaurants in the respective localities. But we Indians are not coded that way, after a few days of eating out we crave home cooked food. It is this gap which shall be filled by ‘home cooks going professional’. Established catering companies are now on the lookout for cooks who have an expertise in cooking light home-style food. While they don’t work as employees, their job is to make a few dishes every day in the comfort of their homes based on the request from these companies, which gets collected and distributed as tiffins or packed food for the consumer. There are a few phone applications which the home cook can use to get orders from the customer directly. It’s an excellent way of using the in-house talent of our mothers and wives to make some money and earn appreciation,” explains Nair.
Executive Chef Manpreet Malik, The InterContinental Chennai Mahabalipuram Resort
“2018 will be the year of crudités in India There’s something nostalgic about a big plate of veggies, with an upsurge of the Farm to Table concept dining, crudités will feel more like a farmer’s market tapestry of gorgeous and colourful produce. I see ‘vegetables will be both an opening act and a headliner’ and not just that, accompanying dips will also make the experience,” Malik starts off.
Ashes and powders
“No not the instant cocoa, powdered sugar or even powdered green tea. I am talking about the dehydrated substances from the molecular gastronomy movement that will be splashed decoratively onto plates—some even contribute flavor to the dish. Just to quote we are re-engineering menu at Tao of Peng and are trying out this impressive technique—for a unique dessert (Reconstructed Date Pancake) using Dehydrated Sesame Air to provide texture to a dish, but more importantly a boost of intense flavour,” explains Malik.
You will get to see (and experience) a glimpse of these trends (most of them) at the respective spaces, so please do visit them to get a deeper understanding of these trends.
What do you think of these food trends? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.