Executive chef, Joyce O’Hagan, considers the latest food fashions and how they may - or may not - be influencing event catering.
Anyone with a passing interest in food is sure to have noticed the shift towards a healthier diet; the rise in popularity of new grains like quinoa and spelt, protein-based snacks, nuts and seeds, veggie as well as fruit smoothies and of course, the kale revolution.
I love this shift towards a tastier – and more nutritious – range of ingredients, but it can be a challenge to bring the world of banqueting and corporate events along on this food journey. However, this year we have seen many clients test out some new flavours and ingredients.
Here’s my top 5 food fashion trends which work in the corporate arena.
Vegetables are pushing their way across the dinner plate and becoming less of the supporting act and more the main event. It looks like Kale may have had its 15 minutes of fame as dandelion greens, carrot tops, Swiss chard, seaweed and samphire step in to deliver texture, interest and (the latest health buzz) minerals. This new veg selection also ticks another food fashion box – reduced food waste.
Our popular “Seared Tuna with Samphire” has been rocking this trend for some years and we are currently working up some seaweed and dandelion sides to give even the most traditional dish a fashion-forward twist.
Smart mixologists are now able to imbue the same depth of flavour and theatre into non-alcoholic cocktails as their alcoholic counterparts. This has met a demand for a non-alcoholic drinks in the private sector which is now trending at corporate receptions and parties. We’re mixing up British classic flavours like Elderflower, Wild Strawberry, Rose and Lavender for our summer mocktails.
Gourmet burgers, hot dogs and wraps continue to prove popular but now consumers are looking for meat-free alternatives. We launched a Food Festival Grab ‘n’ Go menu earlier this year which featured quinoa burgers and quorn-dogs and we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the uptake.
Hooray! Bread is having a major revival (more often in its wholemeal, seed and nut form) and pasta is also back in vogue. We’re well-known for our handmade breads so this is good news for us and we’re currently working on some new stuffed Ravioli starters which combine on-trend ingredients and flavours to make dishes which are not only tasty and healthy but also luxurious and satisfying.
“Warm spicing” is bringing a new flavour to many foods with ginger, horseradish and pepper combining forces to deliver a kick with real depth. Fiery Chilli is still very much in the mix but this new heat is often balanced out with something sweet.
Our “Pulled duck with oriental vegetables” – part of our Food Festival menu – is a great example of this growing demand for Asian food with a more rounded flavour.