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Features

What’s in store for diners?

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Zorawar Kalra sees a comeback of classic dishes instead of the more commercial ones this new year

To thrive in the industry, restaurants and cafes should be constantly updated with the latest food and dining trends, diner’s etiquette, as well as the tips and techniques.

Certainly, that is the key learning 2017.

Now the question is, what are the food trends, habits and formats that are likely to influence diners’ preferences in 2018?

Sea vegetables, Dulse seaweed, Root-to-stalk cooking, shepherd pie, khichdi, waffles, pancakes, dessert parlours, organic vegetables, health food items and organic diets, the options are plenty. So, here is my take on what to expect.

Root-to-stalk

This year was very much about zero wastage and sea vegetables, I see this trend continuing into 2018. Root-to-stalk cooking focuses on sustainability and eliminating wastage of food. This has always been important for us and we will continue to pursue it aggressively. While preparing vegetables or meat, every part of it is used. For example, if we are preparing a lamb’s leg we separate all the meat and use the same to prepare pepper lamb. We then use the bone by boiling it to prepare stock. Similarly, we use all parts of a vegetable, for example — a radish or broccoli leaves, cauliflower stems, which are usually disposed of as waste. Transforming these discards will test c the creativity of a chef, serving up everything from fragile stems, cleaned up roots of vegetables and edible flowers. The coming year will see an increase in healthier options on the menu.

Quality check

Despite new trends, some things do not change. Obviously, the most important defining characteristic of a good restaurant is the quality of food. Increasingly, as the competition hots up, the consistency and quality of food will make all the difference. Often, I get disappointed when I see restaurant owners and chefs treat their work as a purely commercial proposition — they conduct it as only a business. It should come from the heart. The true worth of a restaurant is the quality of its food and service. If you put your heart into it, you serve the most satisfying experience.

The restaurant sector in India, though at a nascent stage, is still among the major contributors to the country’s economy. Compared to businesses internationally, there are a lot of improvements required for seamless operations of restaurants in India. There is a need for the sector to be more organised, have effective cold chain and supply chains, which I feel we are in the process of achieving slowly. Over the years, our patrons have been extremely appreciative of our culinary innovations and we are truly overwhelmed with their response.

Back to classics

We move forward by moving back. In my opinion, in 2018, diners will prefer classic dishes instead of the more commercial one. I see a comeback of the classic dishes such as Shepherd’s pie. In my restaurants, the classic dishes are reinvented with a twist. For instance, I see the humble khichdi making a comeback adorned with various exotic vegetables. In our kitchens, we use more seasonal and locally cproduced vegetables. So, definitely more healthy options will be on menu in 2018.

Organic diet

The trend of organic diets that have low carbs, high proteins, minerals and vitamins will see a surge in 2018. We will continue to bring the regional food of our country paired with the latest developments in terms of techniques and technologies starting from taking orders to billing, serving style and food trends such as sea vegetable, pickling and fermentation, zero waste and tacos.

The perfect blend

Sea vegetables that were usually dismissed as seaweed are now happily recognised as delicious nutrients. They are filled with anti-oxidants and minerals that are generally not found in any ground grown vegetables. Adding a small amount of sea vegetable enhances the flavour of the dish, for instance, Dulse seaweed can be utilised as a salt substitute. There will be a series of additions to the existing menus, along with the new menus that will be diet-specific. Health-conscious diners prefer a low carbohydrates diet or ketogenic diet and we are seeing a growing demand for it.

The dish centric parlour

Beyond just food trends, I think dessert parlours are slated to score big in 2018. They have already begun sprouting up everywhere according to me.

Thus, I foresee ice-cream parlours and waffle centres coming up in a big way. Keeping this in mind, I think that international dessert sections will also come into play.

For instance, dish-centric parlours, which serve a special ice cream with a freshly prepared cone, could catch people’s fancy.

I even see the entire menu revolving around such desserts along with the introduction of new flavours of ice creams and fresh fruit sorbets.

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