If 2015 was all about sriracha, quinoa, chipotle, gluten-free dishes and of course, kale, what does 2016 bring? I cut through the tsunami of food punditry to bring to you the big food prediction for 2016.
Make it my way
Customisation hasn’t slowed down but the year 2016 will see customers demand more control over portion size, toppings, burrito contents, and how many pumps in their latte. Effort to be healthier, gluten intolerance and food allergies will become more discussed on the menu in an effort to draw in new customers and keep old ones coming back.
Takeaways and meal kits
While the take-away trend will continue to rule 2016 it’s the pre-measured meal-kits that will steal the show. The fact that someone else has developed the recipe, procured all the ingredients in the correct proportions, no less and delivered to your door steps complete with detailed instructions and yet still left you with the feeling that you have cooked something special is very appealing.
Bitter gets better
Bitter could well be the flavour of 2016. As customers develop a taste for bitter flavours, restaurants are only too happy to dish out deeper chocolates, hoppier beers and darker coffees.
Seems like nothing new here, since tapas took the country by storm last year. Now, customers can expect other aspects of the menu to go small too – starters, mains and even shorter menus.
Asia on the rise
In the past, when you heard ‘Asian food,’ it was primarily Japanese sushi or Chinese food. In 2016, look for Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino food and upscale ramen to take over mainstream menus.
Think Glocal go local
Everyone is going local but 2016 will be ‘super local’. That means everything from house breads, cheese, regional seafood to locally brewed beers. The trend for farm to fork with a direct link to the producers and growers seems to be going from strength to strength. Some chefs are even setting up their own gardens to supply their restaurants with the ‘X factor’ that many traditional suppliers are not delivering.
Rise of street food
Chefs will be serenading your streetwise palate with inspiration from countries with well established street food culture like China and Mexico. Items such as pork belly wrapped in buns, otherwise known as the ‘Chinese hamburger’, and Korean ‘bibimbap’ popular Korean dish that translates as simply ‘mixed rice’ will see their day in mainstream menus.
Everything is better with a little whiff of smoke. Menus will be on fire in more ways than one in 2016 with restaurants incorporating smoky flavours into everything from meats to desserts. Smoked and charred preparations like smoky syrups and charred veggies are going to be a hot favourite (literally) in 2016.
The next Sriracha is Harissa
The next sauce to experience a sriracha-like rise is harissa, a spread of dried chillies, garlic, tomatoes, paprika, coriander and olive oil that’s as common as ketchup in Tunisia. It’s still largely unknown, but given the Indian palate for spice all the elements are in place for harissa to soar. Like sriracha, harissa is also versatile and can work in a wide variety of applications.
Eat and tweet
Restaurants realize the power of the customer in generating social media buzz in real time. As dinners become a ‘staged event that imparts bragging rights,’ chefs will unleash meals created with Instagram and Twitter in mind. While flavour will be at the core of innovation, the dishes will be boldly colourful and artfully constructed worthy of social media posts.
NIVEDITA JAYARAM PAWAR