Since it feels like summer just ended, it’s hard to believe that the new year is only two months away. Just like last year, I’ve prepared a list of the top 15 food and drinks trends of 2019.
We have refined our palate more than ever before in history. Food and food history books are populating bookstore shelves more than ever before. We watch shows about cooking, famous chefs and impressive restaurants. Social media has provided us with easy access to recipes, ideas and inspiration. And our supermarket shelves offer a range of international products, wider than ever before. This creates new opportunities for restaurants to design better dining experiences.
Every year new food trends arise, led by chefs looking to constantly innovate. And often because their sphere of influence is vast, they turn practices into patterns, and then trends. This is a list of patterns I have observed throughout social media, restaurants’ menus, cookbook releases and cooking magazines. Enjoy!
Simplicity and minimalism
2018 was the year of Nordic food and unlike food in most other places around the world, chefs from Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland create complex flavours through simple, clean, minimalist plating. So, instead of following the old school fine dining techniques, the Nordic style of cooking and plating will give you more time to focus on getting the best ingredients and making the most out of them. Together with simplicity, you will be seeing more plates with toned down, earthy colour contrasts, fewer elements and a whole lot of white space.
Back to the roots
Since farm to table and root to stem have become so popular, chefs’ focus has shifted from creating complex flavour combinations to celebrating great, simple produce. 2019 will be all about recreating traditional dishes without using unnecessary garnishes and complex cooking techniques. Less is more, isn’t it?
Georgia (the country) has become a very trendy travel destination, and its cuisine is about to take on new heights. Based around the use of nuts, herbs, vegetables and low intervention cooking, Georgian food can appeal to and please everyone. It is not only healthy and diverse, but it is affordable, quick and easy to prepare. And if you’ve already heard of their famous cheese bread – khachapuri, get ready to discover plenty of other fabulous dishes like their soups, walnut pastes and soup dumplings.
The new vegetarian
With his famous celeriac shawarma, René Redzepi has started a new culinary era. If once vegetarian dishes were the least appetising dishes in the menu, they will now become a highlight. Additionally, more restaurants looking to improve their sustainability efforts will turn towards catering to flexitarians. Slowly, chefs will replace meat based dishes with vegetables that are prepared in a similar way.
The mighty fruit has had a debatable cycle of popularity. Once the staple of ‘hipster food’, then an overrated breakfast ingredient, the avocado is about to get a remake. Chefs are starting to give the avocado a whole new and very different purpose, as a central ingredient to high end, fine dining dishes.
Pop art plating
Pop art will have a comeback in 2019, but this time in the art of plating. Be prepared to take your cameras out when you receive dishes that look like an Andy Warhol print or use pop culture icons. 2018’s colourful food is about to take on a whole new dimension!
The increased popularity of micro-gardens and foraging will unlock a whole new world of herbs, rarely used in the past by chefs. Masterfully paired and celebrated, hyssop, lemon verbena, pineapple sage, chocolate mint and others will make their way to the table.
The last time I asked for orange wine, the shopkeeper smirked judgmentally at me, probably wondering why anyone would ever want to drink orange flavoured wine. No, that’s not what orange wine is at all. It is a type of white wine produced by fermenting the grape juice with the skin, just like red wines. It ranges in colour, from pale orange to dark amber, based on how long the skin contact took place. Orange wines are usually medium to full bodied, oxidative and relatively high in tannins (due to the skin contact). Some have such a complex body that they can pair well even with red meats and game.
Thankfully, restaurants will start replacing the mighty avocado toast with more exciting options, inspired by this year’s trendsetters – the Nordic countries. More than that, the classic open sandwich will become a complex dish, bringing together all main macronutrients, as well as diverse and complex flavours and beautiful plating.
Cured egg yolk
Dethroning 2018’s black garlic and oven roasted tomatoes, cured egg yolk is becoming the star of umami ingredients in 2019. Either used instead of bottarga or cheese, or even as the main ingredient of a dish, cured egg yolks are easy to prepare and will populate more and more restaurant menus in the new year.
Just like Ottolenghi’s new restaurant Rovi, which serves a scrumptious smoked apricot ketchup with fried corn ‘ribs’, the old-school classic will get a revamp in 2019. Artisanal producers, as well as chefs, will focus on creating exciting new sauces to accompany not only your fries, but also your grilled sandwiches, burgers, eggs and vegetables.
As proof that René Redzepi is the ultimate trendsetter with his new book The Art of Fermentation, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles and kefir will gain popularity in 2019. Pickling and fermenting will go beyond its popularity as a source of vitamin C and probiotics and will become a common practice in every kitchen and bar.
Latin American influences
Using a mix of local ingredients and exotic recipes, Central and South American influences will make their way onto restaurant menus in Europe. Properly prepared tacos, ceviche, anticuchos and empanadas will replace their infamous Americanised brothers, creating exciting opportunities to develop a whole new hybrid cuisine.
Creative ice creams
Who said that ice creams have to be sweet? And who said ice creams have to be vanilla, chocolate and pistachio? 2019 will be the year when ice cream makers will start experimenting with new ingredients, such as herbs, seeds and perhaps even whole dishes that they will recreate as the lovely, cold treat everyone anticipates the summer for.
As the culinary universe is becoming more popular among scientists, great restaurants will start to offer not just good food, good drinks and a good service, but create unique experiences for their customers. In 2019 restaurants will increasingly use technology and the latest research in gastrophysics to influence consumers’ perceptions. From the careful choice of music, shape and weight of the plate and cutlery, to the colours of the dish and the textures of the tablecloth, dining will become a theatrical experience and influence how a dish tastes.
Over the past years, the restaurant industry has been heading in a new direction. The next couple of years are likely to be a challenging transition time. Cooking innovation, science based dining and sustainability will become the focus of restaurants around the world. Are you as excited as I am?