Food trends 2017

At the beginning of each year, journalists and bloggers gaze into their crystal balls to predict what will be the next big food trend. We’ve picked out the common themes from all the articles and asked our Operations and Development Chef, Adam Bateman for his thoughts.

Food trends 2017

Vibrant vegetables – more than just rabbit food

Yottam Ottolenghi has done wonders for vegetables over the last few years and it’s turning even the most carnivorous of us into major veggie fans. Flexitarianism is on the rise – essentially a flexible type of vegetarianism, popularised by the #MeatFreeMonday campaign (you might only eat meat at weekends for example) – plus many of us are adding more vegetarian meals to our diet (whether purely because of taste, or also for the health benefits).

Vegetables are also starting to make their way into our desserts (with chocolate beetroot cake being a mainstay of many a café), and coconut water is clearly here to stay (birch and maple waters are starting to creep into the market, but our money’s on watermelon water, which certainly has the edge in flavour terms).

Adam agrees: “vegetables are definitely taking centre stage – who would have thought that a few years ago? They’re not just a side dish now and chefs are being much more creative with them such as Bruno Loubet at Grain Store. Being a vegetarian or vegan means you’re not just getting the least interesting option on the menu anymore.”

Waste not, want not

Food waste is a hot topic, with restaurants throwing out a huge amount of food every year. Pop ups such as The Real Junk Food Project in Manchester are putting together meals out of food that would have otherwise been destined for the bin – some of which has been rejected because of cosmetic reasons (although we’re now seeing wonky veg boxes popping up in supermarkets), the produce could have gone past its best-before-date (yet not its use-by-date), or has been processed by food companies or restaurants, but not eaten. Michelin-starred Chef Dan Barber brings his wastED pop up over from New York to the rooftop of Selfridges in London this spring, cooking alongside top chefs such as Pierre Koffmann, Tom Kerridge and Jason Atherton, using produce that may have been wasted to create fine dining-style dishes.

As well as a crackdown on waste, restaurants are also starting to get smart about sustainability too. The Marine Conservation Society and Fish2Fork recently assessed 11 high street chains, finding that eight met the minimum Fish2Fork standards when it came to responsibly sourcing fish (although more needs to be done to get this message across to guests). Paying a fair price to farmers and producers is becoming more of an issue for consumers – dairy farmers have been hit particularly hard in the last few years, but we’re starting to turn a corner with more companies putting new, fairer contracts in place.

Breakfast 2.0

There’s been a breakfast boom in the last few years, but it looks as though the most important meal of the day is about to get bigger and better. Brunch is becoming a regular weekend activity and with groups like The Breakfast Club offering breakfast dishes all day long, we’re sure to be seeing even more avocado toast on our Instagram feeds.

Global influences are also starting to appear on our breakfast and brunch menus, especially dishes with a touch of heat such as shakshuka, Colombian eggs and even breakfast tacos. Plus, with our lives becoming busier, we’re seeing a surge in grab and go options too.

“The other big trend for me this year is healthier eating and not just for the sake of being healthy” says Adam. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be the low fat/no sugar/no fun option. If we look at influences from East Asia and Polynesia, it’s all about getting the maximum flavour from ingredients, use of different textures and colours.”