Going forward into the 2020s, there will be an increasing demand for micro dining experience with miniature versions of the food available in all restaurants. The industry will continue to move towards out-of-the-box experiences for everyone with the current year likely to see a ramp up in the use global ingredients like ruby chocolate, choux pastry and fermented foods like kimchi and kombucha.
The just bygone decade was a revolutionary era for India’s foodservices industry. Restaurants came out boldly to experiment with food, drinks, and ambience. The surge in molecular gastronomy became one of the biggest trends of the decade. The past year, in particular, saw a major turning point with the addition of the latest trends and the impact of the change in lifestyle giving rise to detox, organic and vegan food.
The past year, in particular, proved a fascinating one for the restaurant industry. Apart from the many trends that came to the fore, it was great to see gourmands become more conscious about the need to understand what’s on their plate.
As a result, today there is more curiosity about the various kinds of diets and more awareness about ethically sourced meats and organically grown local produce. It’s not uncommon to see more menus that tell you exactly what goes into every dish, down to even where ingredients were sourced from. When the end consumer gets conscious, it is great for the entire supply chain because it inspires everyone to do better.
Personally, there were a lot of new things that I enjoyed observing and indulging in the year gone by. For instance, the process of dry aging fish and fermenting vegetables was immense fun. As more and more people look for experimental beverage options, we went big on that at both our brands – Bayroute and Hitchki.
At Hitchki, we consciously worked hard on our cocktails, experimenting with the unusual – from jalebi, Japanese butterfly pea flower to hajmola – our patrons have lapped it all up in their drinks. There have also been a lot of innovations in regional cuisines from all over the world. Diners and chefs have gone beyond the usual and dabbled in super-specialties. At Bayroute, for instance, we added rare dishes from lesser known cuisines of Jordan, Libya and Saudi Arabia. It greatly enthused our patrons, most of whom tasted it for the very first time. Veganism, as it grows in popularity, continues to push chefs to offer more variety. Keto preparations, too, saw a solid thrust and found themselves a cosy spot in many high-end menus.
Another big food trend has been the growth of the micro dining experience – small portions of a wide variety of food to give a wholesome experience to those who want to sample it all. Restaurants have also become way more conscious of food wastage and recycling over the past year. A lot of us are aspiring to gradually move towards zero wastage and minimising single-use plastic, in a bid to eventually eliminate it.
As far as the foodservices business goes, restaurants have learned over the past year to utilise small spaces well. A lot of specialty places that offer great, niche food have found solid patronage even while operating out of small spaces. Family dining saw a big growth too, with more varied and experiential children’s menus being created the world over, to introduce great food to young ones early on.
I look forward to 2020 with a lot of excitement. The stage has been set over the past few years to finally experience food for the art that it is, going beyond the basics. We are sure to see a significant shift to more plant-based ingredients, as the demand for it is constantly on the rise. There is also an assured experimentation on the cards with the fascinating ruby chocolate, choux pastries and fermented foods such as Kimchi and Kombucha. There’s already immense popularity they enjoy and it’s set to skyrocket in the coming years.
Cuisine wise, there is great interest in the Korean-American fusion and I think that’s only going to rise. Mediterranean food will continue to remain popular. At Bayroute, our Greek innovations have always been greatly loved. As more and more Indians travel to Greece and the Mediterranean region, it’s only set to see more demand. Their cuisine has a lot of vegetarian options and the palate is rather conducive to the Indian one. Expect to hear and see a lot more of Souvalaki, Gryos, Tzatziki and Pastitsio.
There’s also going to be a definite growing trend of desi fusion dishes. At Hitchki, these have been bestsellers since the day we opened doors. Our Naan khol ke sunlo, Mr. India, Ye dhai kilo ka chaat remain favourites and have inspired us to keep innovating with Indian-fusion. Look around and you will already see the rise of dishes like motichoor ice cream, desserts made with choux pastry and addition of classic biscuits like Parle G in desserts. Indians, especially, will experiment more with rarer Indian cuisines.
As diners will continue to demand more variety in Keto, Vegan and Organic dishes, there are sure to be more varieties. We’ve already seen the emergence of Zoodles (zucchini noodles), Baked Cottage Cheese and Eggplant Steaks. Chefs will definitely look local for inspiration, experimenting with fresh vegetables and fruits available in the neighbourhood markets rather than look Westwards. We may also see the rise of Pegan diet – a cross between vegan and paleo diets. This means more keto cheese chips, cashew yoghurt and nut butters.
As a business, I would bet on experiential dining as people will look for something extraordinary at times they decide to step out for meals. Restaurants will have to keep upping their game to beat the comfort of home deliveries. Progressive nostalgia, which we championed at Hitchki, will continue to dominate as people look for the comfort of the old in a new packaging.
We’ve never been in a better place to have variety, no matter what your dietary preference. Chefs are now whipping up delicious food made without sugar, dairy and meat – something few of us would’ve thought possible a decade ago. The coming year and decade are sure to spring more pleasant surprises. To all the gourmands, all I can say is sit back, keep your mind open and be ready to be wowed by the world of amazing food!