Next Big Food Trends To Watch Out For
Microgreens, organic food, artisanal products, home chefs, food pop-ups – these are just some of the trends that are rocking the Indian food space today. But trends are fickle, here today gone tomorrow. This is a puzzle that every food and restaurant specialist in the country has been trying to crack. We reached out to 10 stalwarts in the industry to help us understand which direction we are heading in. The general consensus is that the consumer holds all the power. Success or lack thereof of a new concept depends on how well we take to it. Manu Chandra, executive chef and partner of Monkey Bar explains, “There have been so many valiant efforts in the last decade that have fallen flat, not because the ideas weren’t great but because it didn’t sit well with the consumers. There has to be the ability to understand and gauge what the tastes and comforts are.”
RIYAAZ AMLANI Managing Director & CEO, Impresario Handmade Restaurants Focus shall be a lot more on international ingredients and presentations. But at the same, Indian indigenous and exotic ingredients will also hit the limelight together with a better repertoire of sea food. MANISH MEHROTRA Corporate Chef, Indian Accent More casual dining spaces which are concept driven will open up. They won’t necessarily be big but small and concise providing a very specific experience. Anything and everything in the food space that is done well will be a success. AD SINGH Managing Director, Olive Bar & Kitchen
Make in India For the longest time, we have been emulating western trends but over the last few years food community has introspection looking for inspirations from the motherland. Even though regional cuisine restaurants always existed, whether it be Sarvanna Bhawan or Oh Calcutta, they were not part of the entire ‘trendy’ circuit; suddenly all that changed. The progress has been immense and heartening – from the generic ‘south’ Indian to more focused Kerala or Chettinad style – and something which will continue.
Regional cuisine is giving way to indigenous produce and cooking styles which will ensure continued presence of ethnicity on a food lover’s mind. Interesting here, will be bringing variety of styles together, think of how Manish Mehrotra,corporate chef at Delhi’s Indian Accent does a Khandvi Ravioli or Chandra’s Kheema Bao. This just goes to prove that provided, styles and flavors are brought together intelligently with focus, care and expertise this amalgamation can do wonders and not be a disaster of what was and is known as ‘fusion’ – that’s what Pankil Shah, partner, Neighbourhood Hospitality the company behind Woodside Inn and The Pantry in Mumbai, believes and we have to agree. This adaptability is also what is bringing modern Indian cuisine under a spotlight globally. Despite India’s not so great performance in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, two restaurants Gaggan (No 10) and Indian Accent (No 77) did manage to find their place. Both these restaurants specialize in confluence of styles, ingredients and techniques which makes Indian cuisine more global. Chefs Mehrotra, Ajay Chopra and even Gaggan Anand are already looking to take this new vision of Indian food international; all three are said to be working on restaurant projects in New York.
India has such a vast coast line but no one has thought of utilizing sea weeds and sea plants. They are a great vegetarian option, all one has to do is promote it well. VICKY RATNANI Chef Consultant; Author, Vicky Goes Veg; culinary director, F&B Asia Ventures In terms of desserts menus will be tighter and more focused. I also see a rise in health food and healthy desserts in India. A lot of ‘super foods’ are already hitting the Indian scene, kale and goji berries for example are already in the market. Internationally, matcha or green tea powder is the ‘next big thing’. POOJA DHINGRA Founder, Le 15 Patisserie & Studio Fifteen; Author, The Big Book of Treats Modern Indian food is only going to grow bigger internationally. QSRs will go through a complete overhaul; malls are not seeing enough footfalls and therefore are more open to newer concepts – savory pancakes, creperies, grills instead of just burgers, even meals in a jar are somethings that have potential to grow. AJAY CHOPRA Founder, Burgundy Box; Consultant Chef; TV Presenter India is one of the few places on the planet where people want to bring together aspirations, appetite and lifestyle all at the same time. Big and bold flavors works so well for India, something that the world is waking upto now and that is the trend to watch out for. MANU CHANDRA Executive Chef & Partner, Monkey Bar
Back to Basics Innovation is the mother of all inventions, a saying which is apt for the food sector. Driven by the downturn 7 years ago, cost cuts and efficiency required chefs and restaurateurs to think differently. But things have improved now, economy is on a rebound, profitability is improving and hence there is the opportunity to bring back some of the old school classic opulence, as Vicky Ratnani puts it. “Gueridon service, flambe at the table will come back and so will old school baking,” he adds. Ratnani apart from being an author also heads F&B Ventures Asia, a part of private equity firm Everstone Capital Partners. As consumerism takes control of India, cooking at home which has been an intrinsic part of culture, is taking a back seat. But that doesn’t mean we don’t like eating well, whether it be a hearty home cooked meal or a gourmet experience. This is something that a lot of entrepreneurs have started paying heed to. “Web and smart phone app based ordering/delivery model is one area which shows good prospects. The other is reaching out to consumers with fresh kits for gourmet international options but also homely Indian food. These will work for all those food enthusiasts who want to create a meal on their own but don’t have the time or energy to do the prep work,” explains Ajay Chopra, chef and TV presenter. An extension of this will also be high quality packaged ready-to-eat segment.
Food won’t be about single style or cuisine, it will be a mix and match of flavors, ingredients, styles and techniques. Indian ingredients and flavors will continue to trend and grow, mostly because availability and access to international and imported ingredients will become more and more difficult. PANKIL SHAH Partner, Neighbourhood HospitalityDiners will witness a lot of innovation, modernity, use of locally produced, high quality ingredients and fresh organic produce. On the dining experience front, though it has already started, we will see restaurants laying more emphasis on holistic dining experiences and personalization than ever before. ZORAWAR KALRA Founder & Managing Director, Massive Restaurants Restaurants across will focus on ethical cuisine which would include food miles, organic food, in depth study of cuisines and authenticity. Regional tastes and flavors, experiential cuisine which will try and exploit the memory bank of consumers. Wholesome alternatives, organic vegetables, farm reared meat, wild fish, specialty herbs and spices from the orient will hit the lime light soon. ANIRUDHYA ROY Executive Chef, Taj Lands End Mumbai
International Inspirations Our love for the oriental will continue as we explore new regions of Asia – ramen from Japan, banh mi from Vietnam, laksa from Singapore, teppan style grills from Korea. Ethical, organic, farm-to-table, food miles sensitive, slow food will gather more momentum, not just because we want to be more healthy and environmentally friendly but simply because it makes more business sense and sustainable; not to mention FSSAI approved. Exciting times, indeed!