Food is like fashion, with trendsetters in the culinary industry often influencing what consumers will be eating in the coming year. And while we may not all be dedicated followers of foodie fashions, these trends – whether serious shifts (think sustainability or the increase of plant-based eating) or fancy fads (butter boards anyone?) – will have an effect on us as consumers and diners thanks to the retailers and restaurateurs who monitor such things.
The top five food trends on TikTok last year were: cloud bread, with an astonishing 3.4 billion views; baked oats (1.3 billion views); charcuterie boards (1.2 billion views); pasta chips (1.1 billion views) and mug cake (1 billion views). Capsicum Culinary Studio chef lecturers share some of their predications for this year’s biggest food trends and shifts.
Plant-based eating, gut-friendly foods and alternative flours
According to Larozaan van Zyl, people will continue to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diets. This doesn’t mean they are all out vegetarian or vegan, although the demand for these foods continues to increase. Stock up on ingredients such as nuts, seeds and nutritional yeast that lend themselves to easy plant-based meals. Cauliflower has been the ‘it’ vegetable for the past few years – whether roasted, riced, mashed or smothered in dips. There will also be a rise in probiotics and prebiotics (a fuel to help bacteria grow) in pre made smoothies, powders, granolas and so on. From banana and chickpea to almond and coconut, new naturally grain-free flours provide more vitamins and minerals than typical white flour. They can easily be swapped for white flour in many recipes that include breaded fish or chicken, or they can be used as a healthier option.
Air fryers, healthy food and economical eats
Amir Nizam notes that air fryers will continue to rise in popularity because of their affordability, versatility, oil-free options and speed. There is also a growing movement to eat more healthy foods and learn about its nutritional value. This includes more plant-based options and food that is good for a healthy gut. And as food prices continue to rise, people will be on the lookout for cheaper items with which to make hearty dinners, so there will be an increase in the sale of things like tinned fish.
Classical and traditional dishes
Restaurants and hotel chefs will return to classical dishes, reckons Marlon De Freitas, but they will recreate them in a more modern manner, and with the current global economic crisis, they will offer diners more value for money. Chefs are also going to go back to their roots and will look at dishes they grew up eating and explore ingredients from South Africa and the African continent. There are going to be innovative interpretations of African food.
Less meat, raw food, hyper-realistic desserts and artisan breads
Sharon Visagie notes a few different movements. Meat-free Mondays has been growing in popularity, with some restaurants opting for their Monday specials to be plant-based only. Chefs are choosing to use more raw foods and fruits in dishes, especially desserts, and interest in forage-to-table and farm-to-fork concepts has increased, with more chefs producing dishes with local, indigenous products that have less effect on the environment. There is also interest in crafting intricate entremets and desserts to look like whole fruits or other foods. It is a multidimensional experience, as the customer experiences a taste that might not necessarily be associated with the image. And intricately scored sourdoughs are a fast-increasing trend, with more consumers choosing fresh, hand-made products over commercially manufactured ones. Experiments are ongoing with different and sometimes unusual flours and grains when making breads.
Cooking in bulk and African cuisine
Ewan Johnston states that cooking in bulk will increase as it helps cut down on costs and is convenient. Then, African cuisine is starting to make its mark on the global stage, and more and more South African chefs are exploring their heritage and their traditional foods. Middle Eastern herbs and spices (think sumac and za’atar) have caught the imagination of cooks around the world.