Eating Trends for 2017 from Jamie Oliver, Ottolenghi + Friends
January is a month for looking forward. Whilst I set gentle intentions, I have been thinking more generally about the food that will be gracing our tables in the year to come.
Our food appetites, like fashions and seasons, are always changing. Every year I look forward, not so much the faddish in-vogue ingredients, but to the shifts in our collective consciousness, which are more gradual and less headline worthy but much more important.
More and more of my friends want to put vegetables at the centre of their plates – this is not a fad, but, I hope, more to do with an increased interest in where our food is coming from and what it is doing to our bodies. And when I asked some friends and colleagues from across the industry for what their predictions of what the nation will be eating this year, there was a general consensus amongst them that seasonality, plant-based dishes, and provenance are continuing themes.
From rainbow chard, to exotic citrus, veganism to romanesco, I hope you enjoy reading these predictions as much as I did. It seems that 2017 is the year of the vegetable, and I think there are many more to come.
YOTTAM OTTOLENGHI, chef and author of Nopi
70s food. Maybe the presence of all this 70s food on menus is something to do with the nostalgia of chefs who were born in the 60s. In the 70s, all these chefs were just little 9 or 10 year olds, peering through the banister railings watching their parents hosting ‘grown-up’ parties, serving all sorts of impossibly exotic things like vol au vents.
ANN DUNNE, Head of Product Development at Harrods
Inquisitive eaters. People’s inquisitive nature about the food and drink they consume is driving a continued trend for seasonality and provenance, with lots of alternative equipment and techniques being used to punch up flavour and create interest.
Wellness is taking on a new meaning, it’s not simply concerning what you eat, but how you live and feel. Gut health, veganism and nootropics are all hot.
Seashore vegetables also find a firm place on menus, such as Sea Buckthorn and Sea Pursulane.
BEE WILSON, author of This is Not a Diet Book
Interesting citrus. I bought some pink-fleshed ‘Tiger’ lemons this week from M & S. I’m hoping it heralds more unusual citrus varieties arriving in the UK. Last year I was in California and fell in love with the range of citrus – things like Meyer lemons and blood limes which we ever see here. I’m also hugely looking forward to Catherine Phipps’s new citrus cookbook.
Indian food reborn. I get the impression that Britain is falling in love with Indian food all over again, but in a fresher, more vegetable-based form. I’m a fan of the cookbook Fresh India by Meera Sodha, which contains some of the most delicious Indian vegetarian recipes I’ve ever tasted – it’s worth getting just for the walnut and mushroom samosas.
An end to clean eating and a return to food sanity. I see signs that we are finally seeing a backlash against the gurus who encourage readers to cutout entire food groups such as carbohydrates for no good reason. I’d love to see a more sane and balanced approach to eating. Demonising foods never made anyone eat better.
LOUISE HAINES, Head of Non-Fiction at Fourth Estate
Flexitarians. The trend towards more and more people eating vegetables only on more days of the week or being ‘flexitarian’ will only continue to rise. People will dive into different diets like veganism for just short periods of time or on certain days of the week.
Food prices will continue to rise this year so there will be more Instagrammers and books on saving food and meal costs, many of which don’t really work without compromising on the quality of what you eat – unless you can cut down on food waste, which does work. Maybe shopping little and often will come back.
Britain will eat more pulses, bearing in mind both of the above, because it is cheap protein.
More doctors will be writing books on diet and health.
Off beat ingredients. I published a book last year that had a jackfruit recipe in it and queried how easily you can buy it in the UK but it is apparently becoming more available this year.
JAMIE OLIVER, chef and author of Everyday Superfood
People will continue to want more healthy and comfort food choices, in restaurants, vending machines, supermarkets.
Clean eating will continue to grow and annoy people, so ‘dirty’ eating will grow too, meaning more nutty extreme dishes
Fermented foods will continue to gain popularity
Great whisky is the new gin, cachaça is the new tequila
Emotionally driven culinary stories will be lapped up
Macha powder will go up a gear, and sugar will go down a gear
Good nutrition sources will become more important and being powered by vegetables will only continue to grow
ED SMITH, author of Rocket & Squash and a new cookbook, On the Side, published this May
Interesting vegetables. An increasing number of interesting, quality, sustainably farmed and flavourful vegetables that are easily available to all. In the last few years things like heritage colour carrots, rainbow chard, radicchios and Romanesco broccoli have appeared in supermarkets. Punchy black and watermelon radishes, a bigger variety of organic roots and more eye catching veg will follow soon. Certainly, if we buy these things, their shelf presence will increase and the ‘good stuff’ will become as common place as iceberg lettuce.
Fine casual restaurants. Even more ‘fast fine casual’ restaurants. Over the last five years or so, London has benefitted from a bunch of great new restaurants offering top food in casual, relatively inexpensive surroundings. They’ve shaken up the restaurant scene and made eating out something everyone can do. Places like Koya, Bao, Hoppers, various ramen and burger shops too. These will keep appearing and spread across Britain too. Inevitably, the cuisine they focus on tends to highlight high impact food, often from a specific (rather than generic) Asian region. That’s fine with me!
Food on Film. More considered food related documentaries on Netflix and Amazon. There’s been a handful of interesting programmes on streaming channels in the last two years (Chef’s Table and Michael Pollen On Food). Fingers crossed for more — the cooking to camera series and Masterchef-style competition formats have run their course.
BRUNO LOUBET, chef and author of Mange Tout
Sweet potatoes. I think people will cook more with sweet potatoes in 2017. I love sweet potato – it’s such a versatile ingredient. Baked, grilled, stewed, pureed, made into gnocchi or soup (or even waffles – as we do at Grain Store!) Any cooking techniques could apply. The lovely creamy flavour and velvety texture, combined with bags of nutrients make it what I call a super food.
FELICITY CLOAKE, Guardian writer and author of The A-Z of Eating: A flavour map for the adventurous cook
Incidentally Vegetarian. I think the focus is going to continue to shift from meat and fish to vegetables, grains and pulses – dishes that are incidentally vegetarian or vegan, rather than marketed as such. I’m hoping that this means tofu is going to go from niche hippy food outside Far Eastern communities to mainstream protein source, and that this is going to result in better quality, freshly made stuff becoming more available – a former tofu denier myself, I’m now in love with the really soft creamy variety, particularly scrambled with spinach and spring onions, or served cold in slabs with a really fiery soy chilli sauce.
Charring. I don’t think we’ve burnt through our love of charred and smoked foods yet either (luckily given I’ve included a whole chapter in my latest book!). My favourite trick from there is to carefully pop a red-hot charcoal (the natural lumpwood briquettes you can get for the barbecue) into a pan of earthy black dal (though it would also work in a biryani or a vegetable curry) then add a knob of ghee on top. Seal the pan tightly, and leave it to infuse for a few minutes. Magic!
Considered consuming. Drinkers and diners are more considered about what they consume now more than ever (despite what the current political scenario reflects) so bars and restaurants will grow to be even more conscientious about their sourcing and offering. This will include an increased focus on sustainable practice but also it will see people champion their producers and suppliers more, with a focus on ethically produced ingredients – including considered the human impact. We’ll also see a movement towards less waste, and a better conversation around our food and drink. This won’t be puritanical though, there’ll be a great wealth of new ingredients coming to the fore as new countries and passionate suppliers start to make their produce more widely available. This will all be done with new creativity and a luxury angle, but with a less damaging impact.
Blurred boundaries. The boundaries between food and drink will continue to blur too. As chefs are exploring different models and different spaces to create, bar spaces will play host to more chef pop-ups without the need for a separate kitchen. And bartenders will collaborate more closely on these projects.
Teas, cachaca and better non-alcoholics will also appear more on menus. I say it every year but 2017 is definitely the year of the banana too.
TOM HUNT, chef and author of The Natural Cook
Artisanal Food and Crafts. The artisanal movement grows in strength year on year, with more and more professionals returning to highly skilled crafts. These artisans produce practical tools and objects for our own homes like Fingal Ferguson’s and his beautiful knives or Ana from Kana London who makes simple and striking ceramics. In 2017 I think we’ll see this movement strengthen further as people start to fill their homes with beautiful and lasting handcrafted ceramics and tools.
Illustration: Jess Lea-WIlson
Photo: Brian W Ferry