Long gone are the days when you could get away with serving soggy sprouts, dry turkey and lumpy bread sauce at Christmas events. Kerry Nutrition reports that 41% of UK consumers are looking to discover something new this December, with 25% sharing photos of their food and drinks online.
With such valuable promotional opportunities that social sharing can offer your brand, it’s crucial that you’re creating opportunities and unforgettable food experiences that your guests are inspired by, and most importantly, will want to share.
Here are the top food and flavour trends hitting our plates and impacting the foodservice industry this festive season.
1. Gingerbread Stuffing
Originally designed as a cheap way to bulk out the meat on the Christmas plate, stuffing has become a key part of Christmas dinner. With a plethora of different flavour combinations to choose from gingerbread flavours are topping the trend this Winter.
2. Fermented Foods
It’s all been about gut-friendly ingredients this year and this trend is continuing into the festive season. Expect to see a smorgasbord of pickles and cabbage from Canapes to the main event this Christmas.
3. Poke Bowls
Served as an appetiser or a main in Hawaii Poke Bowls are currently one of the hottest food trends. Diced raw sushi-grade salmon or tuna sits on a base, typically rice, with Asian toppings like soy sauce and seaweed. A perfect light dish to balance a heavy traditional Christmas lunch.
4. Edible Flowers
Flowers have moved from the garden to the plate in a big way this year, with restaurants even growing their own on site. Edible flowers make the perfect impact for food photos for the Instagram generation.
5. Booze free premium spirits
The increasing demand for non-alcoholic alternatives has seen a rise in inspired non-alcoholic spirits as people turn away from the traditional sugar packed fizzy drinks. Seedlip were one of the first to disrupt the soft drinks industry with their cleverly crafted sugar-free blends.
6. Timut Pepper
A zesty, grapefruit-like spice hailing from Nepal, this on-trend ingredient adds something different to desserts and the traditional gin and tonic.
7. Pulled Jackfruit
A basis of Southeast Asian curries for centuries, jackfruit has already been hailed as pulled pork for vegetarians thanks to its meaty texture. The UK has gone jackfruit crazy. Rich in potassium and dietary fibre with a fibrous texture it’s an ideal meat alternative.
8. Smoky Charred Vegetables
Burnt veggies are the latest thing. Burnt ingredients used to be the mark of a distracted cook or an unfortunate mistake. This year the blackened and blistered, smoky and singed are bang on trend (perfect for those who aren’t the best cooks!).
9. Arancini Balls
Deep fried Italian stuffed rice balls, Arancini are said to have been introduced into Sicily in the tenth century by the Arabs. At this time they were simply known as rice balls. Usually filled with ragù, mozzarella, and peas, there’s a number of regional variants that make them a great canape or starter.
10. Bubble and Squeak
This season will see even more environmentally aware chefs reducing food waste and using surplus ingredients. It’s already happening in hip eco-restaurants which are striving for zero waste. This is the perfect opportunity to revitalise some old classics like bread and butter pudding and Bubble and Squeak.
11. Nostalgia and comfort foods
Shaken by natural disasters, unpredictable politicians and uncertain economy consumers are taking solace in comfort food as a way to escape from reality.
Vegan food has finally gone mainstream, and this new wave is ushering in no-compromise, great-tasting, meat-free junk food. The vegan movement also has a hip new ambassador in Cardiff blogger and YouTube star Gaz Oakley (@avantgardevegan) whose Vegan 100 book is published early this year.
13. Hyperlocal Food
As one of the newest trends, hyper-local sourcing is taking the food service industry by storm. Local food restaurants are taking the idea of buying nearby, sustainably-sourced foods to the next level by growing produce right in their own backyards or restaurant gardens.
14. Spiced Chai
Full of warm, spicy flavours Chai is the perfect winter beverage. Chai is also appearing to be a huge trend in the beer industry along with other tea flavours like Matcha.
15. Purple Potatoes
Full of antioxidants, fibre and great for endurance, Purple Potatoes will be perfect for those long days during the Christmas break pretending you love the Christmas jumper your Nan knitted you.
Add a pinch of pine. Chef John Williams encouraging readers in the newly released Ritz London: The Cookbook to use their Christmas trees for their “fragrant and spicy” needles. He says they lend a zesty kick to dishes such as his douglas fir and lemon verbena cream, and salt-baked celeriac with douglas fir sprigs.
A favourite in Australia at Christmas, Meringue makes a lighter dessert choice, but by adding flavours, you can give them a seasonal twist. For example, try chocolate orange, peppermint chocolate, whisky or even Christmas pudding flavours.
Spices and pastes like za’atar, sumac, dukkah, spicy harissa are becoming increasingly popular. Sumac is an oriental spice with a taste reminiscent of lemon or vinegar. Its bright red colour, its particular taste and its composition rich in vitamins and minerals make it a spice to discover absolutely.
Kokumi is, in fact, a potential flavour enhancer. Many of you will already be of the different types of taste: salt, sweet, sour and bitter and umami. Kokumi being hailed as the 6th taste. Expect to see Kokumi topping the trends well into 2019.
Mexican food has been having its ‘moment’ for a few years now, but in 2017 we saw the rise of regional Mexican cuisine and, as a consequence, we also saw more of cactus. When cooked, prickly pear cactus pads have the texture and taste of peppers, with a hint of green bean.