The reality, however, rues Khan, “is far from this rosy, even in the business of hospitality, which isn’t as volatile as the restaurants. It is a cauldron that brews an interesting concoction now and then; and yet, there is no way of predicting a trend accurately”. Agrees seasoned F&B consultant and trend-analyst chef Sabyasachi Gorai, “There’s no set way of measuring a trend, no threshold of sales that can determine its long-time effectiveness. That is because food trends, like fashion, trickle down into mainstream ubiquity more than often.”
However, over the last few years, the F&B segment has evolved a good understanding of the method behind this delicious madness, which has enabled the implementation of interesting culinary disruptions that have the potential of significantly impacting how we dine. Like, the rise of regional food, which brought in an understanding of ancient grains and millets, or [the evolution and acceptance of techniques] such as cold pressed and sous vide that are an interpretation of slow-cooking techniques.
What has helped chaff the fads from the trends, is science. Trends, says chef Gorai, “has a resounding presence of three major elements: acceptability of the concept that stems for its presence in some form or other in the past, a reflection of our culinary legacy, and the longevity — which, in modern parlance, is three years of widespread innovation”. Science is the only tool, adds Khan, “which, in the last decade, has enabled the industry to determine with some effectiveness where our dining space is moving or should be moving, with reasonable success.”
So, what are we looking at five years from now? Some of India’s finest minds put a checklist together, based on that very science.
“From millets to indigenous rice and legumes”
Praveen Jayaram Shetty, executive chef, Conrad Bengaluru
“Call it the natural progression of the culinary world’s search for interesting ingredients or the evolution of the interest in ancient grains that began a few years ago and led to the rise of millets in southern India (eventually percolating down to the rest of the country). A trend that is likely to continue — a decade from now even — is the search for interesting ingredients that were more natural to our culinary DNA, or the food our culinary culture was designed around. With the way I see things progressing within the inner circles of F&B, I can safely say that the future will belong to the local ingredients that were a part of our food practices, such as unpolished rice and other pigmented variants, home-made natural cultures for bread, and a visible return of cured, salted meat, especially in the south. Chettinad cuisine, which uses a generous number of sun-dried ingredients, is among the few to use salted meat as well in dishes such as Uppukandam Kuzhambu and Uppukandam Fry.”
“Complex flavours, simple plating”
Chef Abhishek Gupta, executive sous chef, The Leela Ambience Gurugram
“When it comes to trends, plating, since the beginning of hospitality, has played a significant role in deciphering how a generation not just dines, but also perceives food. If you look at the history of food, plates played as important a role in transforming the way we dined as the food itself — a reason for plating to be at the core of any establishment’s menu planning. Plating has undergone a sea change in the past few years: from artistic to Nordic, free-style to classic, landscaping, monochrome and even instagrammable plating, a current favourite. However, with chefs looking for more clean stories to portray in their dishes through clean lines of execution, the forthcoming trend will be of simple, relatable plating, where the theatrics will be through food works — by which I do not mean in terms of spherification or foam, but more of food art and a riveting manipulation of ingredients, using modern science.”
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