Food Trends During 2018

By Sharmila Chand

From organic and sustainable food to local and regional delicacies, 2018 has been a huge year for food trends in India’s food service industry.

Millets and grandma recipes has taken centre stage this year as Chefs showcased their love for traditional, and tried to revive the forgotten grains of India.
The focus has been definitely on sourcing local ingredients and preparing seasonal specials, as Chefs worked on experimenting with the season’s best ingredients that may not be available the year round.

Here we talk to some industry experts who gave their views on what are the top food trends of 2018, in the context of India’s food service industry. They also aired what they do not wish to see in the year ahead.
Happening Food Trends
“Quite a few food trends have made a beeline during the year but among them going local is my personal favourite. Going local or ‘go local’ is all about sourcing local ingredients from local farmers and food suppliers, and staying close to the source.
The trend also allows one to explore micro-cuisines within a given cuisine structure, for eg. Konaseema or Rayalseema food within the broader Andhra cuisine structure or Mapala cuisine within Kerala cuisine,” averred Marissa D’Rozario, Food & Beverage Manager, Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park.

“Additionally, exploring local home cooks, who cooks rustic local favourites, handed down by their families, has been quite a prominent trend this year. Exploring rustic buffet wares and service wares for a quintessential rustic yet avant-garde look and feel to the buffet and food presentations has been in vogue,” she added. 

“This trend in 2018 has been all about showcasing and bringing back the forgotten cuisines. It is also about the nostalgia of reminding us that we have moved away from roots and need to come back to understand and explore it better,” she analysed further. 

“Food trends range from new culinary philosophies and innovative approaches to mere fads. As a professional Chef, while one must be cognizant of new F&B trends, the overall potential of such trends must also be gauged and assessed holistically by him/her. I always keep a close watch on innovative ingredients and techniques that could be of practical use to me,” asserted Atul Upadhyay, Executive Sous Chef, Taj Palace, New Delhi. 
“2018 has seen the influx of locally sourced ingredients in professional kitchens. Comfort food, healthy bowls and soulful cuisine have been also very popular this year. Also, with social media ruling our lives, Instagram-worthy food has become popular this year,” he opined. 

“In all our efforts to ensure minimal food wastage, root-to-stem cooking will surely be the next big thing. Secondly, regional cuisine has gained much momentum of late. Unknown flavours, lost recipes, age-old ingredients will soon take centre stage,” Atul proffered.

“In my opinion, the biggest food trend of 2018 in India’s food service industry is going organic.  People have become more conscious about their food habits, which has brought about a big mind shift in terms of food trends. Much emphasis went into choosing the type of farms from which to source the food from.” aired Daniel Koshy, Executive Chef, JW Marriott Hotel Bengaluru.

“More and more people have realised the harmful effects of pesticides; how they penetrate the food chain and the dangers they pose to human lives,” he added.

“This year has seen lots of innovation in terms of concepts, experimentation, food pairings, ingredients sourced, food techniques used and presentation. India’s food and beverage industry has also taken its game a notch higher to meet the expectations of evolving consumers; people who are well travelled with discerning palates,” affirmed Swaminandan, Executive Chef, Crowne Plaza Today New Delhi Okhla. 

“Locavore movement and seasonal produce have seen a huge surge in popularity during 2018 and so has the advent of the global movement towards zero waste and sustainable produce,” expressed Deepanker Khosla, Executive Chef/Co-Owner at Karma Kismet, New Delhi. 

“Organic food has become one of the most sought after food trends of the year, in India’s food service industry. A lot of focus has been given to in-house produce. For instance, at ChaoBella, our Italian and Chinese restaurant, the pasta that we roll or tofu that we prepare is made from the scratch. Gut- friendly food which includes probiotics such as kimchi, miso and kefir, and prebiotics such as onions, garlic and other alliums, has been a key trend in the industry,” elaborated Swaminandan.

“A special shift has been observed towards alcohol- free drinks owing to the health consciousness among  millennials. Talking about healthy food, the cuisines which have witnessed great amount of popularity are Pan Asian, Japanese and Peruvian. Our humble tea has become the new hot trend of the season. And I am not talking about just basics like a regular masala chai, green or black tea. Nowadays  there are a plethora of wellness tea options to choose from such as hibiscus, turmeric, blue tea, matcha, etc. which are endowed with significant health benefits,” Swaminandan observed.

Ingredients Which Ruled

“As far as ingredients that ruled the food scene in India’s food service industry during 2018 go, I would say this year has been all about going back to the basics. Ingredients like turmeric have caught international attention for its medical and herbal properties,”  Marissa pointed out. 

“And this year, Chefs, mixologists, baristas alike have explored turmeric in unique ways like turmeric lattes/cappuccinos, turmeric flavour risottos and soufflés, etc.,” she expressed. 

“The other ingredient that has gained popularity in India’s food service industry is activated charcoal that has been used extensively in many food items, ranging from ice-creams and sorbets to breads and pastries,” Marissa affirmed.

“The ingredients which have ruled the roost during 2018 are various organic lettuces such as chard, Lolo antonet lettuce, red butter head lettuce, deer tongue lettuce, green oak leaf lettuce,” Daniel averred. 

“The organic wave has witnessed great change in terms of consumption patterns. People have shifted to salad consumption in a big way and that has led to farms cultivating lettuces of different kinds; these lettuces have great textures with varied tastes. Micro greens and baby vegetables have also made their mark this year in a big way,” he elaborated.

“As far as the popular ingredients for 2018 go, I would say avocado has been hot and so has been wagyu,” conveyed Deepanker.

“Avocado, turmeric, Latin American purple potato, timut pepper, aged meat and matcha are among the ingredients which have been very trendy in India’s food service industry during 2018,” aired Swaminandan.

“As far as food ingredients are concerned, our consumers are now looking for ethically sourced produce, which are grown and purchased in responsible and sustainable ways,” he added further.

Ideas Which Failed 

“As far ideas that didn’t work in India’s food service industry during 2018 go, I felt some types of exotic food didn’t went well in our markets as people were looking for a bit of familiarity in what they tried and experienced,” Marissa explained.

“South American and African cuisines have not exactly worked out in India as people are a bit apprehensive to try them, probably due to the unfamiliarity of the ingredients and dishes as such,” she elaborated further.

“Short-term fads never sustain and 2018 has also seen too  many such typical instances across India’s food service industry. The extensive use of ‘trendy’ ingredients such as activated charcoal does not seem to work too well,” disclosed Atul.  

“The trend of micro restaurants has not work well in India’s food service industry during 2018,” Deepanker disclosed. 

“Guests have drastically reduced their meat intake; they have become very selective in meat consumption patterns.  White meats are preferred over red meats during the year, across India’s food service industry,” proffered Daniel.

 “Luxury dining is not the trendiest thing in the market anymore. Not many people are keen to attend the Michelin-starred meals at fancy restaurants or black-tie and tuxedo dinners. Especially the millennials are preferring casual, chic and trendy five course meal at places where they can drink and let their foot loose a bit,” asserted Swaminandan.

Food Trends Which Should Go

“Food trends that involve using a lot of artificial colours and flavouring in food and beverages like the Whole Unicorn or Rainbow trend should be discouraged. It doesn’t project a healthy food image for children and young adults, as it makes normal, healthy, nutritional and tasty food appear bland and undramatic,” asserted Marissa.

“The use of too much edible flowers, without really pairing them with dishes is a trend which I want to go in 2019,”pointed out Deepanker.

“The advent of processed meats is one big trend in India’s food service industry which I don’t wish to see in 2019. It is often very unhealthy in the way it is made, which can lead to lifestyle health problems. High salt content in most of these products result in health issues and people don’t realise that all things which taste good are not necessarily good for health,” lamented Daniel.

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