By Emma Betty
Last week I headed to BBC Sussex to talk food trends. From 'real' bread to Yorkshire pudding day, I joined Oli Hyde, owner of Flour Pot Bakery and Phil Mesquitta, Head Chef at the seafront's Old Ship Hotel to talk trends. I spoke to some of our Brighton based clients about the year ahead. Here's what they had to say...
Smaller plates, more flavours
Waste not, want not
The team at Isaac At work hard to avoid food waste, using as much of every ingredient as they can. “We work with Trevor from Westdene Butchers to ensure we’re not wasting any meat. It encourages us to be creative with all cuts and also introduces people to new flavours and parts of meat they may not have tried before. For us it’s about minimising food waste, so for example an event I’m doing with the students at Brighton Met in January, I will be using a whole deer and educating them about the different cuts and then showcasing how to cook them for the best flavours and ideally ending up with a bit of every cut on the plate for guests.”
It’s not just waste at source that people are more conscious of now, with many choosing to cook at home less to avoid ending up with a fridge full of wasted food. Minesh Agnihotri, who founded the award-winning restaurant Indian Summer, has been working on an exciting project called the Kari Club, launching in Spring 2018. Minesh says “One of the biggest issues with cooking a real Indian meal from scratch is the amount of spices used. I have often seen customers throwing away spices and ingredients that they cannot use again as they cook their favourite Indian meal only once in a while. The spices lose their freshness being stuck in the back of a cupboard. TheKariClub.com is heavily focused on reducing consumer waste by providing all the ingredients and spices in a box, delivered to your door just for the amount you need. A meal for one, two or four we have just the amounts suitable for you. All the ingredients are carefully weighed and provided with minimum wastage in mind.”
Local online food guide, Restaurants Brighton reported a 700% increase in visits to their vegan page in 2017, showing how the demand for plant-based dining continues to rise. Restaurants will continue to see an increasing need to offer a wider range of plant-based dishes on their menu, with consumers becoming a lot more conscious of their food choices and the effect it has on both their health and the environment. Isaac At pride themselves on developing their tasting menu with vegetarian and vegan alternatives at the forefront of their mind. “A lot of the dishes we create work well with meat or vegetable at the heart of them. We really enjoy experimenting with new ingredients to add interesting vegan dishes to our menu, so that our customers don’t feel like they are missing out or an afterthought. The demand for vegan alternatives is only going to continue in 2018, so having reliable local plant producers is even more important.”
Going big on British wines
So, where does this leave the industry on drinks? Restaurant Manager and Sommelier at Isaac At, Alex Preston, says; “Plates might be getting smaller, but the reputation of English wine has grown massively over the last year and 2018 is only going to see things go even crazier for it. We’ve always championed English wine with our Sussex wine list and 2017 has been a great year for award wins for the likes of Ridgeview and Nyetimber, who are both only up the road.
Ditchling based sparkling wine producers, Ridgeview, saw another record year for sales in 2017. “It’s been amazing to hit our highest ever sales year. We are now planning our third phase in production growth in order to keep up with demand. Our hope is to reach the production of 450,000 bottles a year by 2020. We’re excited about our new winery that’s being built in 2018, as this will help increase this production. And it’s not just the Brits that are learning to love English wine though, as Ridgeview’s biggest export markets include Ontario and British Colombia in Canada, Taiwan and they now have national distribution in the USA.
The craft movement is set to continue with wine in 2018 too, as consumers want to know where their products come from and how they are made. Mardi Roberts of Ridgeview says “Consumers now see the need for authenticity and stories related to produce, which is fantastic for Ridgeview and developing brand ambassadors. The increasing importance of being sustainable as a producer is a trend we fully support and anticipate will continue to gain momentum in all drinks categories.”
You can hear the panel talking trends on BBC Sussex here. We're on from 2.00pm.