Food is one of those topics where trends don't stay the same for very long. With creative chefs and culinary experts around the world constantly developing new flavours, tastes and experiences, it's an industry that continues to push the boundaries.
This said, at the start of every year, there is usually a list of food trends that will set the tone for the upcoming months. It's important that chefs and hospitality professionals are up to speed as customer knowledge is at an all-time high and consumers expect to be served nothing but the latest and greatest in cuisine.
So, here is our comprehensive summary of the top five food trends for 2017.
1) Low and no-alcohol drinks
Despite what the media portrays, the latest generation actually drinks significantly less alcohol than previous ones. According to the Institute of Alcohol Studies, changing social norms and better parenting among several factors which mean alcohol consumption has dropped over recent years. Therefore, low and no-alcohol drinks are one of the top trends for 2017.
Whether this involves cold-pressed juices, turmeric shots and even charcoal-activated water, there is expected to be an appetite for sweeter and healthier drinks.
At Kenvale College, we have several hospitality courses that touch on the subject of alcohol and serving drinks. In addition to learning about how to responsibly serve, there is an elective where students get experience in preparing and serving non-alcoholic beverages. If you want to be top bartender in today's work environment, a comprehensive repertoire is required.
2) Mexican food
While you could say that Mexican food has never gone out of fashion, it's one of those timeless cuisines that is set for a bumper 2017. Encompassing everything from tacos and tortillas to fajitas and quesadillas, the spicy and smoky flavours are favourites both in Australia and across the globe.
One of the reasons behind the rise of Mexican food as a trend is social media. Instagram is awash with pictures of delicious Mexican-inspired dishes and plates – leading to many restaurants and cafes adding these elements to their own menus.
Another appeal of Mexican cuisine is its accessibility. With so many people time-poor today, the chance to grab a tortilla or taco on the go is very appealing and it certainly seems we can't get enough!
3) Connecting with social causes
Food is a social occasion and allows us to connect with people from around the world. However, this isn't just in restaurant and cafes – it can also be a tool for social causes such as food waste and donating to charities. According to Joan Roca from CNN's top restaurant in 2016, this will be a major trend in 2017 as those in the food industry get in touch with their humanitarian side.
At Kenvale College, we have several special connections with charities and organisations through the medium of food. This includes The Freedom Hub, which works with the victims of sex trafficking, IHG Academy which helps place disadvantaged students into education and work and OzHarvest which collects leftover food and delivers it to charities across the country.
Our students actively participate in these causes which extend a helping hand through cooking and hospitality. At the end of the day, food can be used to bridge societal causes and 2017 will continue this trend.
4) Vegetarian meal options
Although most people enjoy a balanced diet which includes meat, the produce isn't the most sustainable and for this reason, more and more restaurants are taking it off the menu. This is also reflecting the greater number of Australians moving to a vegetarian diet. According to 2016 Roy Morgan statistics, around 2.1 million people is all or almost vegetarian – compared to 1.7 million in 2012.
For the next generation of chefs at Kenvale College, this will see greater diversity in the amount of fresh and raw products used in recipes. Part of being a successful chef is being able to adapt and change to food trends and this is something that we strive to achieve with our students.
5) Sea vegetables
Carrying on from the previous trend, 2017 should also be the introduction of sea vegetables into mainstream cooking. Sea vegetables refers to items such as seaweed and are a mainstay of Asian cuisine.
However, as consumers eat more of these cuisines, this is the opportunity for local chefs to experiment with these ingredients in normal dishes. The elements provide great crunch and a hit of salt to a plate so can be easily used as a garnish or a main ingredient.
Kenvale College students are encouraged to experiment and develop new flavours and sea vegetables could be a great place to start this year!
To learn more about the changing hospitality industry and how you can get involved, speak to our team today for further information – we look forward to hearing from you!