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?