Food trends are not simply a hype of individual ingredients or dishes. Rather, they are new concepts of nutrition, production or preparation of food. And these are the four big trends that will accompany us for more than one season and change the way we eat at home and outside in the long term.
All you can eat: The true omnivores
People are supposed to have two legs, carrots one. And if they do have two, which is not at all uncommon, then they are sorted out and not brought to the shops for sale. At least that's how it was until recently: numerous start-ups like Misfit Market and Ugly Fruits have specialised in the sale of so-called Ugly Foods.
The Swiss supermarket chain COOP also occasionally sells ugly food under the much more appealing sounding label UNIQUE, i.e. vegetables and fruit that may look odd because of their size and shape and blemishes on the skin. However, taste and nutritional value are not affected. So you eat the same thing, only it looks a little different.
And that, however, paves the way for something else. What we haven't eaten before is also very trendy. Mosses, lichens, insects and much more that until recently were not considered food. Markus Stöckle from Rosi in Zurich, for example, puts freshwater mussels from Lake Zurich on his plates - after all, there are more than enough of them, not to say too many. So they are well eaten. Those who have tasted them ask themselves: why only now? And for those who don't like insects: there are also people who don't eat raw tomatoes.
Vegan Fine Dining
The time when children were pitied because they had celery instead of candy canes at their birthday party is over. Just like the time when giving up meat was equated with giving up even the highest culinary pleasures.
"Then we'll just leave that out" - vegan and vegetarian dishes are no longer created in such an incidental way today. Creative minds have made plant-based cuisine one of the most exciting places in gastronomy: New ingredients, new combinations and above all: passion for these products. Even bestsellers like Yotam Ottolenghi's books now do without meat recipes.
In cities like Berlin, Frankfurt, London, New York and Zurich, fine dining restaurants like Cookies Cream, Marktküche, Seven Swans, Gauthier Soho and, yes, Eleven Madison Park have cooked their way into the hearts of critics and diners with vegetarian and vegan menus. Even in France, Ona, a vegan restaurant, has already been awarded a Michelin star.
Along with the culinary awards, interest, recognition and the demands of guests have also risen. And the number of people on vegan diets is also rising again, by 20 per cent in Germany in 2019 and 2020 alone.
If you think highly of your cuisine and don't want to miss out on the growing number of environmentally and health-conscious guests, you have to excel in vegan and vegetarian dishes as well.
Think global, grow local
With "brutally local", the Nobelhart und Schmutzig in Berlin has started a trend. The only food on the plate is really from the region, which means no olive oil.
But the local offer is constantly being expanded: from vegetable cultivation to fish farming, more and more often they manage to grow plants and animals from other areas in excellent quality, the so-called local exotics.
Sturgeon and sea fish from the Alps, prawns, mango and papaya, algae and quinoa from Germany, olives, rice, lemons and Kobe beef from Austria, and almost no surprise in German-speaking countries: chilli, ginger, lemongrass, figs, kiwi, melons, Asian mushrooms, ostrich and so on.
Cultivation is often ecologically sustainable, for example, when waste heat from local industry is used for the tropical greenhouses. In an unexpected way, regionality and global taste, sustainability and availability are combined here. Probably the least controversial trend for guests and restaurateurs.
Food production: From the land to the laboratory
Up to now, our food has consisted of plants and animals. Depending on who you believe, that will be over sooner or later. With the exception of fruit and vegetables - as of today - our food will then consist mainly of cultivated and precisely fermented bacteria.
Fermenting is the trend anyway
Already today, reports are doing the rounds about lab-grown meat. According to the think tank RethinkX, what is still precious today should be 10 times cheaper than farmed meat in the next few decades - and, according to the futurists, healthier for people and the planet.
The reason: the precise production of nutrients. During production in the laboratory, it is possible to determine exactly what is in it and what is not, unlike when, for example, we eat a cow that is complex from a nutritional point of view and eat it as it is. Not without consequences for the planet.
Genetic engineering: risk and opportunity
Only the cow is no longer always what it always was. And this is not only due to selective breeding and crossing, but also to genetic modification or manipulation.
According to the World Health Organisation, this means "organisms (i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms) whose genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally through mating and/or natural recombination".
Genetic modification is considered the central technique for food from the laboratory. Today, the aim is to increase resistance to both diseases and chemical "pesticides" or medicines on the one hand, and nutritional value, e.g. higher levels of vitamins, minerals or protein, on the other. In future, the aim will be to modify bacteria and cell cultures, for example, so that they do exactly what is expected of them: produce a certain substance with the desired properties.
However, genetic modification is no longer a dream of the future, but reality. From cereals to livestock, the use of genetically modified organisms is rapidly increasing worldwide. In the USA, over 90 percent of the maize, rapeseed, soya and sugar beet grown are already genetically modified. And salmon 2.0 is already on the shelves.
The developments are admittedly controversial, because both risks and opportunities are well-founded assertions, but not proven. However, this also applies to all other positions, e.g. to renounce the use of genetically modified food or food from the laboratory.
Whatever one's opinion, more and more food is coming from the laboratory, and this applies not only to meat, but especially to meat substitutes such as plant-based chicken and egg imitations, which have long been available in supermarkets and restaurants, e.g. from Beyond Meat.
Trends - up or down?
Trends are long-term developments. Whether they are good or bad, predominantly good or predominantly bad, is a question of viewpoint, criteria and timing. This applies to food just as much as to digitalisation in gastronomy.
Very controversial is the trend towards lab food, but less so is the trend towards first-class vegan and vegetarian cuisine, or the trend towards real omnivores. Finally, the vegan wave poses less risk than the other trends. But the opportunities are also likely to be smaller compared to the latest food technologies, the global problems of climate change, soil erosion and pollution, displacement of nature by agricultural land etc.
In any case, the same should apply to the gastronomy sector: When it comes to business - assuming excellent quality and enjoyment - then currently very controversial trends are likely to scare away more guests than they attract. However, if you stand out from the crowd, reach a lot of people with your marketing and have more reservation requests than seats, you can take a chance and explore the potential of extraordinary culinary trends.
And how do you handle that?
Vote here and see how other restaurateurs deal with the issue of genetically modified ingredients.
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