Food trends to watch, plus the year that was

By
Hannah Koelmeyer
Added
15 January, 2015

We talk to chefs, food writers, restaurateurs and other food industry experts on the trends to watch in 2015, and what was big in 2014.

Asking around, there were some pretty diverse ideas about what we should be expecting in the year to come. However, I was struck by the prevailing sense of a hunger for more conscientious consumption, through a greater knowledge of food provenance, a fast-growing interest in native ingredients, a continued move away from processed foods and a desire for more regional specificity. 

In the drinks world, we are once again besotted with the aperitif, with vermouth the tipple on everyone's lips, along with fino sherry and the Aperol spritz. Fermentation is going to be a big thing this year and we have clearly not yet sated our appetite for all things American. The trend I was most happy to see in 2014 was the rise of more specialised restaurants with small menus, which I hope to see continue this year, and I look forward to seeing Australians embracing Scandinavian cuisines (and not just for the purported health benefits). Also, doughnuts are definitely the new Cronut.

2014 was the year of …

The fermented foods and beverages revival taking off in a major way in Australia, helped in part by fermentation guru Sandor Katz visiting our shores back in February and the trickle-down effect of chefs increasingly embracing kimchi, pickled vegetables, cured meats and sourdough with cultured butter. Kombucha, kefir and fermented brown rice, once the province of macrobiotic hippies and GOOP lifestyle acolytes, started crossing over into the mainstream. Fermentation may seem like a trend – but it's one that has been around for thousands of years, in every traditional culture's diet.

– Claire Davie, Melbourne Gastronome

2014 was the year of …

I think there was definitely a move towards knowing where food comes from. There is a rising interest in how food is made and the impact people have on our world, which has been driven by some restaurants and genius forward-thinking people like Joost Bakker at Silo/Brothl.

 – Rohan Anderson, A Whole Larder Love

Rohan Anderson

2014 was the year of …

The meatification and Americanisation of everything edible, which seems counter to a greater awareness of health and environmental sustainability, but it just didn’t quit all 2014.

And in 2015 …

My first parentally-endorsed alcoholic beverage, vermouth, is back in favour in classic, historic and artisan blends and occasionally on tap like the Spanish ‘de grifo’. I also look forward to seeing urban wineries appearing in the cities and suburbs of Australia with wine made and served on the premises.

– Michelle Matthews, publisher, Deck of Secrets

2014 was the year of …

American flavours with BBQ, smokehouse and fried chicken places opening in rapid fire as well as big pan-Asian party eateries. There has also been a fair push into more native Australian ingredients especially in the high end of the market. In the back of house there has notably been more chefs from European countries joining our lines from places like Italy, Spain and France maybe due to tough times back home. When Yotam Ottolenghi came to Melbourne this year it almost caused pandemonium, which I think is terrific and pushed vegetables into the forefront of a lot of great home-cooks' minds.

And in 2015 …

I foresee vermouth being a big drink in the hotter months of the year like I’ve noticed in Barcelona, Paris and London. I think we will see a few more casual restaurants and wine bars still with emphasis on local wine makers and producers. In the kitchens, I think we will see more of a push towards cooking on coal and wood rather then sous vide and the like. I also predict we will keep seeing more ferments on menus. I hope to see more chefs recycling and composting in 2015.

– Jesse Gerner, chef and owner, Añada, Bomba and Green Park

2014 was the year of …

The wholefoods blow up and a shift away from processed foods. You couldn’t walk into a cafe without seeing quinoa and kale on the menu! People started to pay more attention to, not only where they sourced their ingredients and the quality, but how what they were cooking and eating affected their health. It was the start of a more conscious health movement, which was so much bigger than just quitting sugar.

– Kate Bradley, Kenko Kitchen

2014 was the year of …

Delving deeper into Thai regional eating. Aussies are getting so clued on about Thai food that the basics like Pad Thai and Som Tum are becoming part of the local vernacular. Thus, the natural progression is a more adventurous attitude in menu selection: ingredients like offal, insects and fermented foods are approached with great curiosity rather than an outright 'no, thank you!'. It's a subtle but undeniable cultural shift towards eating whole and natural foods that has always been ingrained in Thai and other traditional cuisines which we embrace whole heartedly. 

And in 2015 …

As 2015 is the International year of Soils, we feel that there will only be more popular awareness of consuming conscientiously. We hope to introduce more varieties of Asian vegetables and fruits into our menu.

– Palisa Anderson, director, Chat Thai 

2014 was the year of …

Turmeric. This little yellow root spice has mostly been used for adding yellow colour to food, but during 2014 all health nuts (like ourselves) started appreciating its anti-inflammatory capacities and interesting flavour. We add it to both cold and warm drinks and even breakfast muffins. Buy it fresh if you can find it (looks similar to ginger) or as a ground powder.

– David Frenkiel & Luise Andersen, bloggers and authors of The Green Kitchen and Green Kitchen Travels

David Frenkiel's immune boosting turmeric lassi 

2014 was the year of …

The burger and fantastic street food offerings. There was also a great focus on cleaner eating – paleo, raw foods and a huge interest in juicing detoxes. 

And in 2015 …

I'm looking forward to the opening of Easey’s in Collingwood ... it's the perfect marriage of Melbourne's graffiti culture and love-affair with burgers!

– Vicki Valsamis, food stylist

2014 was the year of …

Native foods becoming a natural part of our menu because of their unique flavours, as well as a more creative use of vegetables, pulses and grains, thanks to growing awareness of how important they are to  our diet. 

And in 2015 …

Personally, I’d like to see my fellow chefs move away from fast food – enough, enough!

– Paul Wilson, chef and author of Cantina 

2014 was the year of …

Tasmania and its produce. The lovely Field Guide to Tasmanian Produce was released, highlighting the best of Tasmania's artisan and local produce, while the entire world got a glimpse of what the apple isle has to offer when international chefs like Alice Waters and Heston Blumenthal were invited alongside Australia's favourite chefs to partake in the 4 day gala event Invite the World to Dinner in Hobart – really very much a celebration of Australia's exciting food scene in general too.

– Emiko Davies, blogger

2014 was the year of …

The 'Cronut', a delightfully buttery and sugar-frosted hybrid between a croissant and doughnut, which caused a collective eruption of trembling loins across metropolitan Australia." 

– Katherine Sabbath, high school teacher and dessert creative

Katherine Sabbath

2014 was the year of ...

Mess. A trend I noticed in food styling everywhere was mess. Be it a sprinkling of salt on the table, rings from the wine glass or crumbs on the plate, it was about artfully creating something more real and textural for the photograph. In regards to the food itself, greens, grains and nuts seemed to be everywhere, and in combinations I would have never dreamed of.

– Lauren Bamford, photographer

2014 was the year of …

Lots of baby herbs and spices, along with heirloom vegetables and wild indigenous ingredients.

And in 2015 …

I believe that there will be a big push into bush tucker produce used by top chefs and lots of menus relying on more health-conscious ingredients and cutting down on the protein part of dishes – so in essence, less meat and fish and more interesting vegetables, pulses and grains served with sauces and dressing made of savoury yoghurts and cold-pressed juices. Food and labour in Australia is very expensive, so there will be a swing to smaller restaurants with fewer staff and less choice on the menu.

–  Ian Curley, executive chef, The European Group and Kirk's Wine Bar

2014 was the year of …

The year of all things Southern US – fried chicken with hot sauce, pulled pork, two-tonne smokers, slabs of brisket and barbecue.

And in 2015 …

I think we're going to be seeing more region-specific fare from the South this year with more Louisiana creole and cajun. The flavours of the Caribbean are pegged to be big as well with jerk chicken, already well known, just the tip of the iceberg. Speaking of iceberg, old faithfuls iceberg lettuce and curly parsley will enjoy their time back in the limelight in 2015, too.

– Yasmin Newman, food columnist and author of 7000 Islands

Raph Rashid's fried chicken sandwich

2014 was the year of …

For me, travel, which is when I get most of my food inspiration. It's a hard call to isolate a highlight (eating authentic, regional Mexican and maple-glazed bacon doughnuts in Los Angeles was pretty hard to top!) but I'd have to say returning to Cambodia, and immersing in Khmer food, was really inspirational. I travelled with co-author Antony Suvalko and we fell in love with the Khmer BBQ – every afternoon all the eateries start burning charcoal for grilling their beloved bits of beef, which they eat with a delicious lemongrass, peanut and prahok-laden dip (prahok is a pungent ferment of fish), lots of fresh herbs and lettuce leaves, sour fruits and rice noodles. Just delicious. My favourite thing to eat there was maybe the classic  dish called num banh chok, where fresh rice noodles swim in a coconut -milk based gravy made using a zingy green paste, fish and fish parts….like the stomach. True story. Then there are all the additions that you fling in as the mood seizes you- flower petals called phkar sngor, shreds of banana blossom, cucumber, snake beans, water lily stalks. 

And in 2015 …

Im not sure I can predict what will be "big" in 2015 as I (mercifully) live in a bubble that's pretty impervious to food trends. Paleo … raw … quitting sugar … "clean" eating …super foods … activated anything … hey, if people want to  ferment everything in sight, drink a kale smoothie, make a cricket soufflé, only shop local, sing praises to "ugly" vegetables, give up meat, only eat on wednesdays… all power to them. As for me, I’ve just moved house into a very Chinese part of town and it suits me fine. The Chinese just eat and their food is universally amazing. Within walking distance I now have restaurants serving food from Nanjing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Xi'an, Sichuan, Guangzhou, Taiwan and Beijing and it's my goal to dine my way through all of them. 

– Leanne Kitchen, author of The Real Food of China

2014 was the year of …

The rise of the tall layer cake.

And in 2015 …

As people are becoming more interested in baking, I think we're going to see lots of recipes that use alternative flours like spelt, buckwheat and rye. I'm looking forward to experimenting with them more this year myself.  

– April Carter, author of Decorated

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