FLASHBACK: Food trends in 2000October 17th, 2011 by Susan Reynard | Categories: columnist, food, hotels, industry, restaurants
During the year 2000, Hotel & Restaurant examined various food trends that were new and growing in popularity. Many are now the backbone of the food industry, and some have faded into obscurity. Maybe some will make worthy come-backs as retro cuisine…? Food for thought while reworking menus for the festive season and year ahead.
1) Portion size a big deal. Editor Andrew Moth said: “This problem is at its worst in steakhouses where great slabs of meat are frequently served as a matter of course. Requests by male diners for ladies portions – if the menu offers such variety – are often greeted with sneers by waitrons who see the likelihood of a smaller tip at the end of the meal. One way of checking whether your portions are too big is to look at what comes back from the table. If most of your plates are not being completely cleared by diners then your portions are too big, your foodcost will be too high and your customers unhappy.”
2) Cape Malay cuisine has global appeal. Cass Abrahams expanded her Cape Malay food business and products and starts exporting popular branded ingredients, including spice packs, cooking sauces and curry pastes.
3) Chefs from SA prove among best in the world. South Africa’s national culinary team was awarded one gold medal for the cold kitchen and one silver medal for the hot kitchen at the Salon Culinaire Mondial in Switzerland at the end of 1999.
4) Tiramisu a winner on the dessert menu. Restaurateur Michael Olivier of Parks in Cape Town was on the hunt for the perfect tiramisu. He mused: “This most seriously amusing Italian dessert. Made, they say, by mothers for their hungover sons as a pick-me-up. Tiramisu contains all the most flavoursome of Italian ingredients (as well as mother’s love, I would assume). Espresso and brandy soaked savoiardi, mascarpone, wonderful cocoa-fat rich and dark chocolate, cream.”
5) Buffets evolve to reduce queues and liven up offering. The revamped Grand Palm Hotel Casino Resort in Gaborone, Botswana includes a new take on buffets. “The buffet area in the new Livingstone’s restaurant has been transformed from a room with a single serving station to one with various food stations. With concepts including Mongolian stir-fry, ethnic food, pasta and carvery, the design offers guests easy access to food. Most of the dishes are cooked or reheated in what [then GM Anthony] Bascombe describes as an ‘a la minute’ concept.” He explained: “The problem with buffets is that cooked food degenerates but with action cooking, one can prepare a fresh plate of food.”
6) Japanese cuisine grows in popularity. WagaMama’s in Sandton (name changed later to Kuchikomi) demonstrated the popularity of a “Western/Japanese health cuisine” that included noodles, sushi, sashimi and Western favourites, such as burgers, grilled chicken and seafood. Owner Bradley Michael described the offering as “fusion health food”. The menu included an organic vegetable dishes section and disposable chopsticks made from bamboo.
7) Cheese boards complete the menu. Cheese boards go from a selection of drab items to an exciting mix of flavours, offering local and imported cheeses. Restaurant manager Germain Lehodey, of Le Provencal in Franschhoek, said at the time: “Every restaurateur should consider that by enhancing a meal with cheese, they can increase the bill by roughly 20%. Even if you never make a fortune on cheese you will sell a glass of port, another glass of wine or even another bottle of wine. People will leave the restaurant and say: ‘We’ve had a wonderful meal.’ That’s the aim.”
8) Fast food growth a winner for franchise industry and customers. Key customers include the following categories: in a hurry; tired; treat; healthy; and no other choice.
9) Organic produce in demand. The demand for organic produce and healthy food starts to grow and the restaurant and retail industries, as well as farmers, step up to gives customers what they want.
10) Ice-cream remains the most popular item on dessert menu. Other easy to prepare and tasty desserts reported to do well included those made with fresh fruits, malva pudding, bread-and-butter pudding, crème brûlée, and a range of ready-to-serve frozen and premixed products.
11) Genetically modified crops worry consumers. Debate rages on but the inevitability of ingredients from genetically modified crops making their way onto menus reluctantly accepted by industry. Report noted: “The problem is that many foods contain ingredients that have been genetically modified at some stage.”
12) Finger foods and sandwiches go gourmet. News Café’s reworked menu offered customers’ favourites: prego roll; bruschettas with roasted pepper and feta and tomato, pesto and parmesan; tandoori chicken tramezzini; grilled cheese focaccia with ham and lettuce; and wholewheat tortillas with a variety of fillings.
13) Fusion food is fun but eliminate the confusion. Fusion food, or East-meets-West cuisine, is more of an approach to food – style, preparation, seasonality and freshness – than simply about mixing different influences, explained top chef Garth Stroebel. Fusion also incorporates local and international flavour combinations. SA’s culinary heritage includes African, Malay, Indian, Dutch, French and Portuguese flavours and ingredients.
14) Contract catering industry gains traction with foodcourts offering. Fedics leads the way with the roll-out of branded foodcourts to replace the traditional staff canteens.