Will your culinary 2023 be all about chowing down on squirrel or ube?
Probably neither if the truth be told but the more unusual predictions are always the most fun part of compiling a blog on future food trends. More sober forecasts that artificial intelligence could soon make restaurant managers redundant are potential game changers in the hospitality industry. However, at least to the general public, they are not as interesting as the idea that, say, clubstaurants will be more of a thing in 2023.
For those of you who have not waded through a dozen or so reports, articles and blogs on imminent food trends, ube are a type of purple yam which is popular in the Philippines while eating invasive species – such as grey squirrel – is being touted as an eco-friendly way to get some protein. Clubstaurants are extravagantly decorated restaurants that double up as clubs, bars and late night lounges. The main pic shows MNKY HSE, a clubstaurant with branches in London and Manchester as well as Doha and, perhaps surprisingly, Riyadh.
Side of medicinal mushrooms?
Other eye-catching predictions being made for 2023’s dining habits include the rise of gourmet kids’ menus; non-alcoholic drinks that mimic some of the effects of drinking alcohol and increased culinary interest in munching medicinal mushrooms.
The last three are already happening although any parent who has struggled to get their little darlings to swallow anything that isn’t nugget-based might scoff at the idea of a kids’ tasting menu. They might also baulk at paying £40 for it. On the same trip, medicinal mushrooms sound like something the police might take an interest in while the ‘functional’ non-alcoholic drinks – look up Sentia Spirits – could well be a hit. Or at least they could be as long as they mimic only the more desirable effects of alcohol such as feeling relaxed and convivial rather than headachy and wracked with hangxiety.
As has been the case for about the last decade, it is widely forecast that increasing numbers of us will be eating less meat in the next twelve months. Obviously, the rise in vegetarianism and variations on the theme are not going to go away any time soon. However some of the more extravagant claims about, say, Beyond Meat’s plant-based burgers replacing beef burgers have fallen to earth. Much like Beyond Meat’s share price. Riding high at just under $235 in 2019, it currently sits at a less appetising $12 or so.
If consumers have not gone hook, line and sinker on heavily-processed false meats this doesn’t mean that research into lab-grown synthetic meat has gone off the boil. There are still lots of companies racing to create a realistic facsimile of prime animal muscle. Whether or not such a product would achieve mainstream public acceptance remains to be seen.
Catch a gig at a food hall
Moving away from the science lab, we have already seen food halls become an established part of retail centres. Thanks to online delivery, shopping on its own is not enough to entice consumers to shuffle off the sofa and into the mall. We all want a side order of noodles, sushi or a smoothie with our new trainers, bedside lamp or 96 inch flat screen. Many are predicting that entertainment will be increasingly added to the mix with food halls expanding into live music, sports screens or clubbing spaces. Not a million miles from the clubstaurant concept mentioned at the top of this piece.
Will any of this take off? Who knows? We’re hedging our bets and opening a clubstaurant in a shopping mall that only serves fried squirrel and a mood-altering mocktail list. Of course, there will be a six course tasting menu for children that showcases eighteen different ways of preparing ube.
Feature image credit: MNKY HSE image from Facebook.