The restaurant scene of today is a dynamic and everchanging environment. Fads come and go regularly; one more avocado on toast done someway and it’s safe to assume that we’ve entered some sort of avo-induced apocalypse. There are, however, trends that we believe will not go out of fashion: forever trends.
Sustainability, for one, is here to stay. The planet is becoming increasingly crowded, and food stores are not endless. It is now commonplace for dining venues to have systems in place that deal with reducing waste and recycling and composting responsibly. While it is ‘trendy’ to be clean and green, we believe that moving into the future it will be the only way to operate. Think about some of the most significant announcements of the last six months—no more takeaway plastic bags, or the host of schemes designed to reduce single-use coffee cup waste, for example. Although they may seem novel now, the way of the future certainly doesn’t come wrapped up in plastic or is available in a non-recyclable takeaway cup.
Sustainability ties in closely with the next forever trend. Diners are moving towards provenance, and our industry should be ready to cater to that. This is not to say that bigger national suppliers are likely to be overrun by hordes of niche operators anytime soon—the matter of affordability and production still remain at large. How could smaller niche producers match the price and production levels of the more substantial food conglomerates? But the fact remains that people want to know where their food is coming from, and the journey it’s taken from paddock or farm to plate. Again, if we look at the movements in the egg industry, for example, who are moving away from battery hens, and have begun stamping their eggs, we see interest in the provenance of food. There is a lot more wrapped up in this idea, as well, like animal ethics and eating responsibly sourced food, but for now, we will talk about provenance as the branching term for food that arrives on the plate purposefully, without harming anyone involved in its production. Transparency is important, and venues that can accurately showcase where and how they source food from will open the provenance conversation for the industry, and lead the way in directing us down that path.
A taste for the exotic has been around forever, and that isn’t going away. It’s human nature to desire something we can’t have. In the culinary world, this is not different. Some of the world’s most expensive ingredients are meals are this way because they are extremely hard to come by. Saffron, for instance, is estimated to take around 80,000 crocus flowers which must be grown, cared for and hand-harvested, to produce just 500 grams of saffron. Many other speciality items including, truffles, bird’s nest soup, and foie gras are expensive for similar reasons—labour intensive, and/or rare. Yet in each respective culinary culture, they are delicacies. If history is anything to go by, then the exotic is a forever trend.
The last thing that we don’t see dropping popularity is good service. Although clichéd, service can impact a dining experience significantly. The best food in the world may not be able to account for terrible service. While everyone has slightly different views on exceptional service (some people like chatty servers and some people do not), common sense applies—welcoming, informative, and willing to go the extra mile for the customer are traits of good servers. Additionally, encased in the idea of good service is an interactive dining experience that couples décor, food quality and exceptional service.
A few other honourable mentions include convenience and affordability—although money may not be so much of an issue for some people, feeling like you have received adequate service and food for what you’ve paid for does influence a meal. Healthy/whole food is also something that will always hold a place amongst dining trends. People want to eat food that makes them feel good, so there will always be a market for someone who can provide this.