A Taste Of Things To Come In 2017

Digest

February 24, 2017 | BY Cheryl Tiu

From a more conscious way of cooking to a redefinition of “authentic” cuisines, we explore restaurant trends, notable destinations and the culinary movements that will define our dining experiences in 2017.


Flavour

Acid High
Natural cooking methods, fermentation and preservation will dominate in 2017. “Few chefs know about fermentation, so it will continue to grow and evolve, and slowly become more mainstream,” predicts André Chiang of Restaurant André. “Most people want to have and use natural ingredients and techniques, making preservation very important,” adds Virgilio Martinez of the acclaimed restaurant Central in Peru. Both agree that sourness and acidity will be predominant flavours. “Preservation gives a sense of sourness. Acidity will be higher; [flavours] will be less savoury, less salty, less sweet,” continues Martinez, while Chiang adds, “Natural acidity from vegetables and fruits will become more common in seasoning.”


Restaurants


Where Simplicity Reigns
GREAT SERVICE, back-to-basics cooking AND accessible menus WILL DEFINE SUCCESS. “With globalisation, we are starting to see more cross-pollination of cultures and cuisines, and a proliferation of good food in every shape and form,” says Wee Teng Wen of The Lo & Behold Group. “It will be increasingly difficult for restaurateurs to find their niche by food offerings alone. People will continue to dine at restaurants, but their experiences and the hospitality of the staff will become increasingly critical as to whether or not they will return.” Hong Kong-based Yenn Wong of JIA Group thinks a return to simplicity is another key element. “While fine dining will still occupy a revered space in the gastronomic scene, I think chefs will look at scaled-down simplicity and dining experiences to create more accessible menus. Restaurants offering the comfort of simple food—such as burgers or a bowl of comforting noodles—that evoke memories will become more popular with urban diners.”


Drink


Reinventing Reputations
It’s the year of apple AND agave-based spirits, Irish whiskey and Japanese sake. “Irish whiskey, especially single-pot-still variants, are definitely on the rise,” says bartender Jillian Vose of New York City’s The Dead Rabbit, currently ranked No. 1 on The World’s 50 Best Bars list. “People are realising that Irish whiskey is not just for St Patrick’s Day, but also for making interesting cocktails with depth.” She also adds that apple-based spirits and liqueurs (aged apple liqueurs and unaged apple eaux-de-vie) are gaining traction. Bartender Philip Bischoff of the Manhattan Bar in Singapore says, “A category that grows every year is agave-based drinks, specifically tequila and mezcal. There are so many smaller distilleries in Mexico that help reform the ‘doubtful experience’ many of us have with the drink, usually using impure (not 100%) agave distillate.” Lisa Perrotti-Brown, editor-in-chief and reviewer for Robert Parker Wine Advocate, says that sake continues to be dominant and consumption has become more sophisticated. “Sake is becoming very popular in New York, London and Hong Kong—so much so that we will increase our coverage of sake next year, expanding on the range of styles and adding to the educational element.”


Destinations

Cultural Ties
The Philippines and Mexico will be countries of focus. “All of us in the industry have built momentum in bringing Filipino cuisine to the global stage—the best is yet to come,” says Manila-based Margarita Forés, Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant’s Best Female Chef 2016.Hong Kong-based food writer Janice Leung-Hayes adds, “Reflective of a unique history and diverse geography—and hence, agricultural environments—the world is finally waking up to the diversity of Filipino cuisine, as well as the nation’s love of and pride in food.” The third edition of Madrid Fusion Manila, a gastronomy festival held in April, is the best venue to discover the cuisine for those with a growing interest. Restaurateur and hotelier Loh Lik Peng thinks Mexico will continue to be a destination for food lovers given that René Redzepi is moving Noma there for the year. “I think people would be curious to see what Redzepi will be doing in Mexico. This means a lot of hidden gems will be uncovered, and ingredients that are available in Mexico and Central America will gain prominence.”


Movement


Making a Statement
Tackling Waste will be the battle cry of top chefs—as well as a move away from “authenticity.” “We’re increasingly seeing chefs creating things not just from the perspective of taste, techniques or personal narratives, but also through the lens of environmental and socio-economic issues,” says Cathy Chon, founder of CatchOn, a PR and branding firm that just published a Future of Food study. “When you see high-profile chefs like Massimo Bottura becoming advocates and activists, you can expect that will have an effect on what and how we eat.” Leung-Hayes points out another important movement: going beyond the idea of ethnic “authenticity”. “The ‘A’ word is becoming a pet peeve of many. While visitors to a certain city will proclaim that a restaurant back home isn’t ‘authentic’ enough, the industry is moving towards the understanding that authenticity in that sense is completely relative; it depends on the time, the place and the eater, and can never be an objective truth. Coming to terms with this idea is essential for a cuisine, in particular those perceived as ‘ethnic’, to have the freedom to move forward. After all, cuisines are constantly changing—just as people and societies are.”


Singapore Tatler Dining will be distributed with the March issue of Singapore Tatler. Follow Singapore Tatler Dining on Facebook and Instagram @sgtatlerdining

Artwork by Matilda Au