FOOD IN FAST FOR­WARD

Ge­orge Or­well once said: “A hu­man be­ing is pri­mar­ily a bag for putting food into.” If only he could see what a com­plex, in­sa­tiable and in­tel­li­gent pouch we’ve be­come.

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Over the cen­turies, the com­plex­i­ties of our eat­ing habits have been stud­ied and nov­elised greatly - from the ad­vent of agri­cul­ture to our cur­rent neo­teric culi­nary sen­si­bil­i­ties. We take a look at some re­cent food pat­terns and peek into the fore­see­able fu­ture of where the phe­nom­e­non of food is tak­ing us.

THE MOD­ERN CHEF AND THE RESTAU­RANT

Chefs have gone from be­ing un­cel­e­brated in­di­vid­u­als to bona fide stars. Their unas­sail­able in­flu­ence is fu­elled by lus­cious me­dia cov­er­age and un­con­fined by phys­i­cal ge­og­ra­phy. Take for ex­am­ple, Noma ( noma.dk), Rene Redzepi’s restau­rant in Copen­hagen. The two- Miche­lin- starred es­tab­lish­ment has in­spired food en­thu­si­asts from even thou­sands of kilo­me­tres away. True to the var­ied na­ture of the mod­ern restau­rant, Noma held a se­ries of res­i­den­cies in var­i­ous parts of the world. Rang­ing from a few weeks to months at a time, Noma’s pop-up se­ries proves that a restau­rant no longer needs to be con­tained within four walls.

No longer just pur­vey­ors of tasty meals, celebrity chefs are gain­ing a foothold in the are­nas of science, tech­nol­ogy, busi­ness, ed­u­ca­tion and so­cial ac­tivism. And while the glam­or­i­sa­tion of this role wields a dou­bleedged sword, its so­cial virtue ul­ti­mately over­laps all - of­fer­ing greater aware­ness about food and its bind­ing role in so­ci­ety. Not only have pro­fes­sional cook­ing meth­ods such as sous vide per­me­ated home kitchens, many can con­fi­dently pro­claim the win­some at­tributes of kale, chia seeds and co­conut oil as as­suredly as the words to their favourite song. Lead­ing the pack in this mod­ern­day blitzkrieg is David Chang of Mo­mo­fuku ( mo­mo­fuku. com) fame. The chef and en­tre­pre­neur has con­structed a mul­ti­hy­phen­ate food em­pire, with his name at­tached to a bevy of restau­rants and books, as well a mag­a­zine and his own tele­vi­sion se­ries. Cov­er­ing a wide range of food-re­lated top­ics, Chang doc­u­ments some of the most obscure food cul­tures and brazen culi­nary ad­ven­tures in full print and cel­lu­loid glory. On the other side of the pond, Jamie Oliver ( www.jamieo­liver. com) has fa­mously cham­pi­oned bet­ter di­etary habits for years, with a fo­cus on feed­ing chil­dren right. Closer to home, Sin­ga­porean chef, Benny Se Teo ( www.eigh­teenchefs.com), hav­ing emerged from prison to work at Jamie Oliver’s Lon­don restau­rant, Fif­teen, has set

Chefs have gone from be­ing un­cel­e­brated in­di­vid­u­als to bona fide stars.

up his chain of restau­rants that of­fers ex-con­victs jobs.

FOOD MEETS TECH­NOL­OGY

One of the largest game chang­ers in this mod­ern era of food has been brought about by tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances both in and out of the kitchen. From slic­ing down man­power needs to ex­plor­ing sci­en­tific ways of cook­ing, food tech­nol­ogy has crafted new depths for eat­ing and din­ing.

Within kitchens and food labs, food sci­en­tists such as Harold Mcgee have long ex­tolled the cre­ative ro­mance be­tween science and food. Ma­nip­u­lat­ing the struc­ture of food us­ing physics and chem­istry has brought about not just changes in tastes, but also in tex­ture, giv­ing more com­plex­ity to what we eat. Chicago-based chef Grant Achatz ( www.alin­ear­estau­rant. com) has ex­per­i­mented with the wildest and most elab­o­rate of pro­gres­sive gas­tron­omy. Din­ing at his restau­rant is akin to walk­ing through a food phan­tas­mago­ria, where the un­ex­pected is con­ven­tion. Aside from chang­ing the ter­rain of cook­ing, food tech­nol­ogy has also reached new heights of gourmet con­ve­nience for the con­sumer. With apps such as Food Panda, De­liv­eroo and Ubereats, con­sumers are privy to the wide of­fer­ings of restau­rants avail­able right in the com­fort of home.

VEG­ETA­BLES - THE NEW FRON­TIER

As we move away from fac­to­ry­farmed meat, chefs are bring­ing us on a jour­ney of recre­at­ing the flavour in­ten­sity of meat us­ing veg­eta­bles. Alain Pas­sard ( www. alain­pas­sard.com) was one of the pi­o­neers, hav­ing de­nounced cook­ing meat in 2001.

Food tech­nol­ogy has crafted new depths for eat­ing and din­ing.

Pas­sard even­tu­ally brought small doses of meat and fish back into the restau­rant, but has re­tained veg­eta­bles as the main com­po­nents of his cre­ations.

With an in­creas­ing amount of re­search and devel­op­ment ded­i­cated to this bur­geon­ing trend of veg­etable­based meals, com­pa­nies are fi nally dis­cov­er­ing the trick to recre­at­ing the flavour of meat.

Im­pos­si­ble Foods ( www.im­pos­si­ble­foods. com), based in Sil­i­con Val­ley, has cre­ated the Im­pos­si­ble Burger.

Made out of plants, the com­po­si­tion of the patty is so sim­i­lar to that of the real Mccoy that it even bleeds when you cut into it.

WHAT AND HOW WILL WE BE EAT­ING IN 2017?

With less time to cook, cou­pled with the in­creas­ing de­mand for health­ier food, fast and healthy con­cepts have been ap­pear­ing like wild­fire. Es­tab­lish­ments like Aloha Poke ( www. alo­hapoke. com. sg) and The Daily Cut ( thedai­ly­cut.sg) in Sin­ga­pore of­fer ful­fill­ing meals for the busy in­di­vid­ual. Waste-based cook­ing is also on the rise with com­pa­nies util­is­ing byprod­ucts to cre­ate new­fan­gled ed­i­ble items. And as we watch the food in­dus­try race into the fu­ture, we can only ob­serve this more ed­u­cated yet in­creas­ingly iso­lated prospect we are headed to­wards. “

Rene Redzepi (fac­ing page) and his team will be in Tu­lum, Mex­ico from 12 April to 28 May of­fer­ing a menu and bev­er­age pair­ing based on Mex­i­can in­gre­di­ents and tra­di­tions.

From above: seven spice beef brisket ssam from Mo­mo­fuku Ssam Bar; David Chang.

Alain Pas­sard (in­set) brings the tex­tures, flavours and colours of sum­mer to­gether in this Carpac­cio de Legumes.

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