Struggling to stay one step ahead as diners become more informed, chefs are searching high and low for new ideas
LIKE it or not kale is here to stay.
That’s the opinion of some of our local chefs and they know what we are ordering in restaurants and buying at the farmers’ markets.
Food trends have come and gone ever since man discovered how to roast over a fire.
There was a time not long ago when we couldn’t get enough pesto. It appeared consistently on menus all over the western world. Pesto has endured – and now comes in many forms other than the traditional basil (even kale pesto) but it doesn’t enjoy the popularity it did a decade ago.
And remember just a short time ago when only a few people had heard of quinoa? And even fewer knew how to pronounce it? Now it is part of our culinary verbiage.
How about coconut water? Who would have thought we’d be buying it so readily in cans on our supermarket shelves?
Vegan food was once something mysterious to us, and as for Paleo, and raw food…who knew? Now we are comfortable with all three.
Sunshine Coast chefs tend to make their own trends with so much beautiful produce available from the land and sea.
However, looking at this year’s predictions we see that food “bowls’’ will be seen everywhere, seaweed will appear in dishes as a vegetable as well as a garnish, the heat will be turned up as more chilli is used, foraging is all the go, fat is back (mostly butter and avocado) and soup will be the new juice.
Chef Matt Golinski has never followed trends, but he knows what is going on in every culinary corner of the country.
“People are wanting more information about where their food comes from, where the produce is grown and who produced it,” he said. “Farmers’ markets are popping up everywhere, people’s interest is increasing,”
Food wastage and the prevention of it is going to be a big trend this year, according to Matt.
“Chefs are becoming more aware and wanting to be more involved in (stopping) food waste. People like Oz-Harvest are doing an amazing job at collecting food at different sources and distributing it to people who need it.”
Aquaculture or farming fish will also be a growth industry, according to Matt.
“Big (fish) farms are all over the place now,” he said. “Hiromasa king fish is being farmed in South Australia, barramundi is being farmed everywhere as wild stock becomes scarcer and more expensive.”
Spicers Group executive chef Cameron Matthews is a man way ahead of any trends, having experimented with techniques and unusual produce in his kitchen at The Long Apron at Montville for many years.
“Provenance is going to be huge,” he said. “People want to know the story behind, say, the sweet potato, know about the lady who grew it in (say) her backyard in Palmwoods.”
Cameron says he is moving towards more vegetable-based dishes on all Spicers menus, making vegetables the hero rather than the protein.
“We are using smaller amounts of protein, making it an accompaniment rather than the other way around,” he said. “It is better from a health point of view and an exciting point of view. It makes you creative working with vegetables. We did a dish of braised heirloom carrots with cured and dried grated ox heart over the top and with a bay leaf cream. If you closed your eyes you would have thought you were eating meat.”
Ben Walsh, the owner-operator of Miss Moneypenny, agrees that diners are becoming more and more food savvy and restaurateurs have to keep up with and respect that.
“With all the television shows people are more and more informed,” he said. “Seventy percent of people who walk in the door are highly educated on food. You can tell they know what they are talking about. They want to eat healthier as well. Foraging is becoming very big.”
Foraging involves just that…poking and foraging about in local parks and sea shores searching for anything that might be edible.
“We’ve been using succulents,” Ben said. “They are found around the coastline. It’s a vegetation that grows around rock pools, green with a lot of moisture inside. They add a lot of flavour to the dish. We serve them with fish.”
Even cocktails now have ingredients that most of us have not heard of before.
“We are using Japanese fruits, yuzo and umeboshi plums in cocktails, the flavours work really well,” Ben said. “Umeboshi plums are pickled, very sour and a little bit salty. The best way to enjoy them is in a straight-up martini instead of olives.”
This thirst for provenance is reflected all over the Coast, none more so than at the Spirit House Cooking Classes in Yandina.
Guests book out the classes many months ahead, anxious to obtain a place and keen to spend an entire morning learning by cooking hands-on.
Guests also quickly book out the many food tours Spirit
House chefs take to Asia.
When Spirit House owner Helen Brierty put the word out that they had chartered a ketch to visit the spice islands frequented by yesteryear’s traders in Asia, it was booked out within hours.
Food trends will always come and go – and that can only be a good thing.
We are using smaller amounts of protein, making it an accompaniment rather than the other way around
Seventy percent of people who walk in the door are highly educated on food. You can tell they know what they are talking about.
Food bowls are the big trend for 2017.