And It’s A WrAp
IUSUALLY END each year or begin the follow ing one by listing all the food trends I have observed over the last 12 months. This year, for reasons too tedious to recount, I neglected to do such a piece. But here – either many months after I should have w ritten it or a few months before – is the annual trends round-up! The End of Courses: In the West they like dividing food into three or four courses – starter, main, pudding and possibly one other (soup? cheese?). That idea first came under attack w ith the Tasting Menu w hich w as supposed to be a line-up of the chef ’s greatest hits spread over many (sometimes, too many) courses. Then came the w hole Small Plates and Big Plates thing.
Young Chefs/Outliers: There w ill alw ays be the big-name chefs. But all over the w orld, a new generation of chefs has appeared, seemingly out of now here, and caught the public imagination. In the UK, for example, the big boys still keep their stars but the attention is on people like Isaac McHale (w hose Clove Kitchen has some of the best food in London) or James Low e of Lyle’s.
It’s the same in India. The era of the hotel chefs is passing. Manish Mehrotra w as the first to break the hierarchy but all the hot chefs now are non-hotel chefs: Gresham Fernandes, Julia Desa, Jatin Malick, Prateek Sadhu, Manu Chandra, Sourabh Udinia, Jaydeep Mukherjee and Anahita Dhondy. Usually they are people w ho don’t have PR departments to promote them, but their talent shines through anyw ay.
Cloning: It is now an article of faith that any restaurant, no matter how off-beat and individualistic it may seem, w ill be cloned. Zuma started as a single-restaurant operation in London; it now has branches all over the w orld. It follow ed the lead of Nobu w hich w as just one New York restaurant ow ned by Robert DeNiro, Drew Nieporent and the eponymous Nobu before it became a global empire. For years and years, Le Petit Maison w as a Riviera restaurant, popular only w ith people w ho could afford to pay high prices for simple food. Now the London and Dubai versions are so successful that few of the patrons even realise that there is a Nice original.
When outliers take a city by storm as David Chang did many years ago w ith Momofuku in New York, nobody realises that the Momofuku empire w ill eventually straddle many countries or that the chef w ill become a TV star. But nothing breeds excess as much as success.
India has follow ed the cloning trend. AD Singh, India’s original restaurant pioneer, has many kinds of Olives in many cities. Manu Chandra, w ho is part of AD’s group, has Monkey Bars and Fatty Baos all over India. And AD’s Soda Bottle Openerw alla (helmed by Mohit Balachandran w ith Anahita Dhody in the kitchen) has taken India by storm. Zoraw ar Kalra now
A r oun d- up ofthem ost in ter estin g foodtr en ds of20 16