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Top food trends for 2018

Top food trends for 2018

by Great British Chefs 18 December 2017

We take a look at the year ahead and pinpoint the six hottest trends that’ll be changing the foodie landscape over the next twelve months.

In the world of food (and, quite frankly, in every aspect of daily life), 2017 has been a year of ups and downs. While the unstoppable rise of Instagram has resulted in questionable fads such as unicorn food and coffee served in avocados, we’ve also become more conscious of food waste, embraced regional Italian cuisine (which is certainly going to keep on growing), experienced a huge rise in veganism and seen chefs cook exciting, one-off dinners at each others’ restaurants. Our predictions for 2017 successfully identified the rise of authentic Mexican cuisine, the dawn of upmarket food halls and pickling becoming the calling card of trendy chefs – three things we think have survived the ‘flash in the pan’ stage and are here to stay. Here’s what we think 2018 has in store for the average foodie.

The rise of food tech

Whether it’s ordering a takeaway from your favourite restaurant via an app, getting recipe boxes delivered to your home, using a voice-operated home assistant to read aloud recipes as you cook, buying a lab-grown vegan burger that bleeds ‘plant blood’ or designing automated robots to grow and harvest vegetables, the worlds of technology and food have never been closer. There are hundreds of start-up companies all over the world trying to disrupt the food chain, change the way we produce ingredients or offer new ways to dine out, be it for pure profit or a more ethical, sustainable cause. While Star Trek-style food replicators aren’t coming anytime soon, global companies such as Barilla are already experimenting with 3D printers to create new shapes of pasta specifically designed to hold sauce in certain ways. The future is now.

Africa in the spotlight

Every year the UK fixates on a few particular international cuisines and sees a slew of upmarket, authentic restaurants specialising in the food of a particular country. In recent years we’ve done Korea, Peru and Mexico – so what will 2018 bring? Portuguese is certainly being given the attention it deserves, but even more exciting is the rise of African – specifically West African – cuisine. For the world’s second largest continent, Africa has never been thrust into the culinary spotlight like it’s about to be, thanks to people like Zoe Adjonyoh of Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen and the team at Ikoyi; a ground-breaking restaurant that’s bringing West African flavours into the fine dining sphere. Expect suya (West African barbecue), millet, okra and plantain to become much more popular in the coming months.

Beyond vegan

Last year veganism seemed to finally leap from the niche to the mainstream, and with it came a new outlook on cooking vegetables. 2018 will see this movement continue to grow, with more high-end restaurants offering full vegan tasting menus, TV chefs showing the public how to give vegetables the attention they deserve and countless new vegan-friendly products in the shops. On top of all this, we’re also looking at waste when it comes to fruit and veg, with chefs adopting a ‘root to stem’ ethos that means things like cauliflower stalks, sprout tops and potato peelings are saved from the bin and turned into delicious, environmentally-aware dishes. Keep an eye out for lacto-fermentation, too – we think it's going to be as popular as pickling next year, thanks to the incredible flavour it brings to vegetables.

The next generation

There’s a wave of young chefs currently shaking up the traditional restaurant scene in the UK, and we couldn’t be more excited. It started with Michelin-starred cooks ditching the tablecloths and reinventing their restaurants as more casual establishments, but the young guns of the food world are going one step further, cutting their teeth in the country’s top restaurants before setting out on their own. These new restaurants combine expert technique with relaxed, social surroundings – often at a lower price than their starred counterparts. It’s clear the chefs in charge are cooking the food they love, be that a style of food they picked up on their travels (see Ben Chapman of Kiln and Smoking Goat or the guys at Breddos Tacos) or focusing on a particular food and making it great (Max Halley of Max’s Sandwich Shop has turned the humble sandwich into a thing of true beauty).

Empire state of mind

It seems one restaurant just doesn’t cut it anymore, as more and more of the UK’s most popular chefs are creating their own mini restaurant empires off the success of their flagship establishments. The fantastic Andrew Wong is opening a more casual offshoot in the new year; Francesco Mazzei opened both Radici and Fiume in 2017 and the Galvin brothers have an incredible ten restaurants under their command. Next year, it’ll be easier than ever to get a table at your favourite places to eat.

Cocktails grow up

The pre-dinner drink has become something much more than a simple glass of wine, a non-descript G&T or an unpleasantly sweet cocktail. When dining out we now have a whole menu of drinks meticulously developed by specialist bartenders to peruse. If you still want a classic gin and tonic then you have hundreds of gins, dozens of tonics and countless garnishes to mix and match, but in the world of cocktails mixologists have started to think like chefs in terms of their flavour combinations and ingredients. Next year we’ll see more homemade syrups, smoked spirits, whiskies washed in beef fat and beeswax-infused Manhattans behind the bar; your average tipple is about to get a lot more complex. There’s good news for non-drinkers too – as we become more health-conscious, bars are beginning to look at their non-alcoholic offering as well, utilising trendy drinks like kombucha to create delicious libations without the hangover.

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