Less sugar, more flavour
1. We have vegetable lift off!
2016 is definitely the year of the vegetable, although the “roots” go quite a bit further back. At the beginning of 2015, Alain Ducasse took meat entirely off the menu at his famous Plaza Athénée restaurant. It usually takes at least a year for a trend to gain momentum, but no one could have missed the fact that courgette and aubergine have suddenly become acceptable pasta substitutes. With vegetables on the menu and everyone looking to eat more healthily, we predict the next go-to foods in this category will be cauliflower and kohlrabi.
From an events perspective this is excellent news. Highly nutritious and full of slow-release carbohydrates, vegetables can offer conference-goers complex and delicate flavours without the ‘crash’ that comes with more traditional food choices.
2. Meet the new meat
Vegetables might be ‘in’ but meat is certainly not out; 2016 is bringing a wave of conscientious carnivores to the table. Buying meat from local suppliers is nothing new of course, but the renewed emphasis on our own carbon footprints means that the mileage accrued on meat products is set to become more important than ever.
This trend will definitely impact the events industry. It’s clear that seasonal menus will remain important, but organisers will increasingly turn to sourcing-conscious specialists for event provisioning.
3. The new(ish) contenders
Of three cuisines worth looking out for this year, only one is particularly novel. Smoking (food, not cigarettes) is already something of a staple, with restaurants like Pitt Cue Co having secured a reasonable following. Korean-style BBQ is a similar deal - kimchi and the ubiquitous spicy red gochujang are already enjoyed by many. That being said, 2016’s new kid on the block is Scandinavian. The success of rye bread, Skyr and the Nordic Bakery all suggest that a more substantial trend is in the offing.
“Consider your flavours” is the take-away from this. Conference attendees are likely to enjoy the variety offered by smoky or sweet-spicy canapés. In terms of dessert, yogurt with nuts and fresh berries makes for a delightfully light, palate-cleansing finish.
4. Less sugar, more flavour
Refined sugar isn’t dead, but it may have gone AWOL this year. The health-conscious have started cutting it wherever possible and it seems that bitter flavours are in for a boost too. When it comes to naturally sweet desserts, like doughnuts or ice-cream, there is a growing trend towards savoury pairings.
Admittedly, bacon doughnuts for breakfast might be a bit much unless your morning event is literally a marathon. It may, however, be well-worth experimenting with low or reduced sugar options.
5. No need to chicken out
It’s lean, it’s extremely versatile and it tastes great, fried or otherwise. High protein diets are spreading from across the pond and as far as meats go, this one is pretty healthy. Chicken has never been sufficiently absent from our plates to call 2016 a ‘resurgence’, but this year its popularity is likely to soar.
As an event food, chicken is a smart choice. Easy to serve in a variety of forms and never out of style, this meat is a perfect base to showcase more complex and interesting flavours to guests.