We’ve successfully completed the first month of 2021 and it’s safe to say we’re way past Dalgona coffee and banana bread. Last year taught us the importance of home-cooked meals and healthy food more than ever. We saw a major change in the food industry with restaurants shifting towards home deliveries, takeouts and curated at-home dining experiences due to the global pandemic. There was a rise of independent chefs at home and the focus on healthy, clean and holistic eating with the use of local ingredients has gained momentum. The happenings of 2020 have certainly impacted the food trends this year. We caught up with five chefs to know what they think will be big in the culinary world in 2021. Read on to find out.
1. Thomas Catley, Chef, TORI
According to Thomas Catley, the chef at the Latin Asian restaurant, TORI, the concept of dark kitchens (also known as a cloud/ghost/remote kitchen is a professional kitchen that only produces food for delivery and can be consumed elsewhere) will see further growth. They are ideal for delivery-only food businesses, for use as a startup kitchen or as a central production unit. “I think the biggest trend due to the climate that we’re in, deliveries will continue to boom. People are still not so comfortable going out and have to work from home. But they can’t choose home-cooked meals every time so they’ll rely on restaurants, take-outs or dark kitchens, which will definitely be a trend. Dark kitchens have been there for the last five years but are still coming on the scene and in the last year, it’s popping up everywhere. So people will be ordering from more takeouts.
2. Chef Ranveer Brar
Who doesn’t love watching Ranveer Brar’s tutorials on Instagram? They’re fun and super easy to follow. When we asked him what he believes will be big in the gastronomic world, here’s what he said, “Weekend cooking will translate into more in-house parties, outdoor dining. Urban gardening is going to be a big trend as people have realised the joy, sense of independence and gratification that it gives, especially in a situation like last year. Also, spices. It has always been the next big thing. But more than just being a pantry staple, its therapeutic value came through in the lockdown. I foresee that this year is going to be the year of the spices.”
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3. Prateek Sadhu, Chef And Co-founder, Masque
“This year, I think we’ll see a larger embrace of zero-waste cooking,” says Prateek. “The last year especially has stressed the importance of cooking and eating prudently, and that includes treating our produce with more care. The by-products of our ‘mains’ will be seen in a new light, with the potential to yield new and different flavours. On that note, I think we’ll also continue to see an uptick in methods of preservation, whether that entails salting, dehydrating, pickling, or fermenting, both in restaurants and home kitchens. Across the board, I think there will be a rising focus on vegetarian dishes. Menus will offer more greens and veggie-forward plates as consumers begin to tend towards “cleaner” eating, whether due to diet, environment, or both,” he added.
Prateek also sees a change in restaurants’ approaches to their menus. “There will be a shift towards running daily menus and specials rather than extensive, a la carte ones. Besides being a driver for quality ingredients, at a point where the industry is struggling still, this may make more financial sense for businesses,” he shared.
4. Bhakti Mehta, Chef and Founder, The Little Food Co, Little Food Daily And Tapped Flight
Bhakti Mehta believes private dining and chef tables will be huge this year. Elaborating on this theme, she explains, “2021 could see a potential rise of intimate private dining experiences as smaller groups of people instead of large parties would gather – leaving the space open for private, intimate ‘curated’ affairs. Also, the spending power would be higher, with travelling being blocked. So restaurants/hotels that can offer this in their venues, as well as private chefs and gourmet caterers can look at hosting in unique venues or clients’ homes.”
Other than that, the chef also said that unique home delivery experiences will be huge. “Home delivery became the go-to in 2020. In 2021, the same will be on the rise, but a fresh upgrade is expected ahead with 7-course meal experiences, DIY cocktail kits, unique packaging of fresh food and grazing platter boxes. Food experiences gifting will be big as well. And also the rise of new home bakers and home chefs servicing authentic regional home-cooked food will again see a comeback. Even 5-star hotels, bars & restaurants will up the game on home delivery menus, packaging, experiences,” Bhakti shares.
5. Amitesh Virdi, Executive Chef, JW Marriot Mussoorie
Local ingredients and food that heals you are some of the trends that Chef Amitesh foresees for this year. “People are trying their hand at growing their kitchen gardens. They are also venturing out to visit the unexplored territories of India to understand local food habits and what they can gain from them. Locally grown grains, pulses and vegetables are becoming a priority amongst everyone. Healing the body, mind and soul is of prime importance and will stay for the complete year. There is an increase in demand towards gut-healthy, immune-boosting and healing foods. Veganism, Ayurveda, High Fiber Diets, Ketogenic diets, Gluten-free, etc – are being studied extensively and people are trying to become more aware of their bodies. The trend is also parting away from burgers, fries, or other American foods, and instead of making a strong connection with authentic Mediterranean and Asian foods that are deeply rooted into their traditional recipes, just like Indian Cuisine is. Everything is aimed at coexisting with nature in a mutually beneficial manner,” shared Virdi.