THE POWER OF INGREDIENTS: Re-Thinking & Adapting To Food Trends
Covid-19 has, without doubt, initiated a shift in the way we eat that is set to have a far more lasting impact than the virus itself. As the fragility of the human race is brought into sharp focus, we are gaining a growing awareness of the impact our dining habits - not only to our health and well-being, but to our very existence. The link between what is on our plate, the air we breathe and the effective functioning of our immune systems has never been more apparent. As David Mulcahy - Culinary Ambassador (Food Development and Innovation) of Sodexo UK & Ireland said: “In order to be truly fit for the future and to meet the complex needs of our clients and customers from a multitude of sectors, we must ensure our chefs are fully signed up to providing a food experience that supports a better climate and is ultimately beneficial to mankind.”
This means, as chefs, we are no longer simply serving up a plate of culinary entertainment, but we are also responsible for delivering a little slice of our future well-being. Gone are the days of dismissing dietary concerns as the paranoia of a minority. Whether we’re talking about those who are lactose or gluten intolerant, coeliac, plant-based or vegan, these are the needs, desires and rights of an ever-increasing population - and they’re not going anywhere. They may not have been the average customer in the past, but that ‘new normal’ is encompassing a whole lot more than social distancing, face masks and hand sanitizer. In a recent study, 76% of chefs surveyed “have noticed and become aware of the impact that Covid-19 has had on dietary choices in the restaurant environment”.
The key to capitalising successfully on this in the kitchen is to start looking at these dietary needs and desires as working in harmony with, rather than taking away from, the menu. Instead of seeing plant-based requirements as an inconvenience and bringing that mindset to the cooking process, our aim is to create dishes that stand on their own as the finest examples of taste, texture and flavour our particular type of cooking can offer.
Freedom of Choice
Learn and Adapt
Education will be key as the industry goes through this new stage of food evolution. As Rob Howell, head chef of Root in Bristol and author of Root cookbook, says: “I think it’s time for a change in what we learn at school and college cooking levels. It’s great to know classic, but teaching how to cook healthy and nutritious food is of massive importance. This is what will make the difference in years to come.” The bottom line is: whether you’re on the fast food side of the circuit or fine dining is your thing, there’s never been a greater opportunity to deliver excellence without compromising the health and well-being of the planet and all its inhabitants.