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Food Trends for 2008

The latest fashions to hit the high street…

This should be an interesting year for food, the last two years have all been about kitchen chemistry with chefs creating generally poor imitations of El Bulli and The Fat Duck. I really don’t think this is going to last, there will always be room for the destination restaurants such as the two I mention but I think the craze is begining to wear off.

What is being predicted is a return to basics, this is often touted but I think you will see more of it for a number of reasons. Firstly, the food is good, it’s tried and tested and, importantly, customers understand what is on the menu. Secondly, chefs are feeling the pinch both in food costs and chef avaliability. Food costs are constantly rising so chefs are having to turn to cheaper ingredients whilst using their imagination to make them more appealing. There is a distinct lack of young chefs coming into the industry and those that are, often lack the skills that colleges and restaurants once taught. Pre prepared food is rife in the restaurant trade and it is here to stay.

I would like to see chefs and restauranteers being more honest about where their food comes from. Every man and his dog are saying they only buy local, organic food because they think that’s what people want to hear. Why don’t they admit they buy both nationally and internationally? I do because I want to source the best food I can, if it is local then great but if it isn’t, which is usually the case then I’ll buy elsewhere. I have read interviews where chefs are ’sourcing fresh vegetables from allotments and their own kitchen garden’, rubbish, allotments could never keep up with the demand of a restaurant and apart from Raymond Blanc I don’t know of a restaurant or hotel that has the time/space/staff/money to grow their own.

I would like to see any chef who writes ridiculous dishes which go to great length to satisfy food inspectors and Jamie Oliver shot at dawn. Here’s an example of a local menu I read recently; ‘Fresh Grimsby Salmon’ I have lived in and around the Grimsby area on and off for nearly forty years and I have never seen a salmon swimming in Grimsby’s River Humber. Just say salmon, and if a customer asks, tell them it’s farmed because you can’t afford wild and it comes from a farm in Scotland and Norway. It might not be trendy but it’s honest.

It will be interesting to see how much importance in placed on the food guides in the next couple of years, I think it will matter less and less outside of the major food capitals as customers seek value for money over chefs accolades. I would like to see the ‘celebrity’ taken out of cooking a bit more with chefs spending more time in their respective kitchens than on poor quality television programmes.

Fusion food or ‘East Meets West’ is a thing of the past, ill-thought of food pairings because they sound good will take their resting place alongside nouvelle cuisine, leaving enough room for the test tubes, foams and hot jellies which abound today. What would you like to see from chefs and restaurants in 2008?

 

6 Comments

  1. Rod says:

    Miles
    Some of the things that would appeal to me:

    Dishes devised for the customer rather than the chef or menu

    Information on what I am eating and where it is from

    Quality ! I am prepared to pay for it, I don’t expect 2 lunches for £6

    Taste: I want it to be special, it has to be better than I can make myself or buy from M&S

    Personally I think it wll be difficult for many restaurants this year.
    The top end and the “2 for a fiver” brigade should be fine but I think a lot of the high street restaurants are going to struggle.
    Being in that middle area is where the squeeze will be

    Great write up
    Rod

    January 11, 2008 @ 8:56 am

  2. Elsie Nean says:

    Miles,
    Thank you for such an honest and interesting post. I hope that it finds the readership it deserves.
    I agree with some of the points Rod made. If I go out especially to dine then I expect to eat something better or different than I can produce. If I am travelling or on a day out and want a Pub lunch then I would welcome good and honest food at a reasonable price.
    When out the other day, I had a nice Quiche which was spoiled by an added pile of Coleslaw and Potato Salad thickly covered in Mayonnaise which I was unable to eat. It was a Farm Restaurant that stated as serving only home cooked food and somehow the “Farm” element evoked different food. I thought it expensive for what it was at nearly £14.00. I shall not return.
    I think that Eateries will have to be clear about the customer base they seek to aim at.
    I appreciate that this is a very difficult business to be in and would agree with your thoughts of where it might be going.

    January 11, 2008 @ 10:26 am

  3. miles says:

    Interesting points, thankyou. I also believe the lower end of the quality chain will continue to thrive, it’s ok banging the organic drum but it will still come down to what people can afford and/or consider worth paying for. Much depends on people’s upbringing, attitude and financial status and those restaurants and ready meals which sell in volume should give a clear indicator as to the state of the nation’s pocket if nothing else.
    Miles

    January 11, 2008 @ 3:13 pm

  4. Cid says:

    Miles,

    The food I’ve eaten in various establishments over the past few years has been mediocre at best, subsequently I don’t eat out very much. Thai food is what I’d go for around here, certainly in preference to Chinese. Beyond a five mile radius I’m not up to date with what’s going on so can’t comment. I think this whole subject has a lot to do with culture… abroad, dining out regularly is part of life and whole families get involved. When we look at these people are they affluent… not especially on the whole and probably not eating fancy food either, but well cooked and tasty and fresh. No doubt warmer climes add to the thrill of eating out so people can watch the world go by… and I love all that.

    Cid

    January 11, 2008 @ 8:36 pm

  5. miles says:

    Cid,
    There is a lot of mediocre food to be had wherever you are because unlike other professions/practices there are no stringent exams or rules behind opening up an eaterie. There are basic food hygiene guidelines to adhere to but in terms of food quality standards there isn’t a ‘watchdog’ or ‘regulator’ to sort the wheat from the chaff.
    More’s the pity.
    Miles

    January 11, 2008 @ 11:01 pm

  6. Annie Flinn says:

    I have a very selfish perspective. I suffer from diabetes, and high cholesterol. I would like to see some TASTY choices that don’t send my blood sugar into the stratospehre, and maybe a dessert that isn’t jam packed with sugar. With the sharply rising rates of Type 2 diabetes in Western countries, and an aging population growing, there are many of us who wish to dine out, but need to be mindful of health issues. I know I am asking for things that are probably unfair, and maybe it is not the responsibility of dining establishments to cater to my needs. But a gal can dream.

    January 12, 2008 @ 6:29 pm

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