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  • Four food trends taking Australia by storm and how you can stay on top of them

Four food trends taking Australia by storm and how you can stay on top of them

The Australian dining scene is particularly sensitive to fads and social tendencies. But food trends are impossible to forecast and can take the hospitality scene by surprise (look at how quickly Kombucha took off). One thing is for certain though; they can be a kitchen’s best friend or its worst enemy if chefs don’t evolve along with the changing tides of consumer behaviour.

Claudine Bordell, owner and executive chef of catering company Cuisine by Claudine in Sydney believes the media is a chef’s biggest resource. “Reading local and international trade publications helps you stay in touch with food trends,” she says. Bordell, who is a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef with 30 years of experience, believes keeping an eye on trends abroad will give you an idea of what might pierce the food scene in months to come.

“The laptop is a great tool for investigating what is new on the block and how to use it to your advantage,” Chef Bordell explains. But, above all, “talking to customers is an enjoyable way to keep in touch with what is happening elsewhere and gives you the opportunity to be challenged by their requests.”

Here are four food trends that are currently moving through the industry and how you can keep on top of them:

1) Gluten intolerance and sensitivities

With recent studies indicating 14 per cent of Australians are living with gluten sensitivities or intolerances, restaurant kitchen staff are finding themselves having to adhere to the requirement by offering a wide array of options to their guests. In the Australian hospitality industry, versatility is not only expected but it’s required; in order for restaurants to flourish in the era of dining out, they must be able to cater for every need.

One way of making sure your desserts are coeliac friendly is by using gluten free alternatives to wheat flour. “I mainly use almond flour in desserts like fudgy chocolate brownies or baked cheesecake,” says Chef Bordell. Almond meal or almond flour works well in desserts that can afford to have a denser consistency as it has less leavening agents than wheat flour.

2) Health food
Image of a dish of healthy foods

The increasing demand for health-conscious food is rising with the growing need to oust the Australian obesity epidemic. With over a third of Australians now considered overweight or obese, restaurants have been given more opportunities to offer a wide array of low-fat, low-sugar meals that are nutrient rich but also flavoursome.

When considering ways to incorporate healthier ingredients into your menu, look for versatile substitutes that are low in saturated fats (dairy, fatty meats and coconut oil) and high in mono and polyunsaturated fats (avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds and fish). Why not opt for avocado chunks to replace cream cheese on smoked salmon bagels or quinoa as a high-fibre alternative to rice in curries, stir-fries and salads? Mango frozen yoghurt is a healthier alternative to full-cream ice-cream and its natural sweetness makes it the perfect accompaniment in smoothies and other frozen treats. Swapping out high-sugar and high-fat ingredients doesn’t have to be difficult; Superior Food Services offer a wide range of health-conscious alternatives to help you keep on top of the food trends. Have a browse of our product line for more inspiration on healthier alternatives.

3) Slow-cooked meat

On the other hand, low and slow cooked meat seems to be making a comeback, particularly as we gear up for the winter season. Only in the last few years have slow-cooked meats such as brisket, pork shoulder and ribs weaved their way through the Australian restaurant dining scene. Texan barbecuing and cooking with fire and coals has also transcended into Brazilian Churrasco style cuisine, where cuts like rump cap and chuck are becoming even more popular.

“Depending on the actual cut of meat you’re working with, low and slow-cooked meat dishes work well with fatty cuts of beef,” says Chef Bordell. Searing rump cap, T-bone steaks and Osso Bucco shanks in a pan before slow cooking it for a couple of hours helps to bring out the flavour of the meat. This process is commonly referred to as the Maillard reaction, whereby the amino acids and reduced sugar content of meat caramelise the surface when a certain temperature is reached, giving it a nicely charred outer layer and caramel-like internal flavour.

When looking for ways to experiment with rich cuts of meat, try searing and slow-cooking beef brisket in red wine. “Marinated brisket that’s been grilled on high heat is perfect for fajitas and stir-fries,” Chef Bordell explains. Superior Food Services offers a long list of meats to assist you in keeping on top of the slow-cooking trend.

4) Local Produce
Photo is of local produce on a board

To meet the growing consumer demand for locally sourced fruit, vegetables and animal products, chefs are having to mould their menus to accentuate Australian grown or sourced ingredients. More and more consumers are wanting to support local farmers and business owners and enjoy a higher level of transparency than if they were to buy from offshore suppliers. In addition to this, food that travels the shortest distance tends to be less chemically treated and are allowed more time to ripen on the vine before picking, giving fruit and vegetables a more intense flavour.

Chef Bordell says she “prefers to use local produce as it is normally easier to get hold of and is available at its freshest best.” She explains “it’s picked when it’s fresh and in season, thereby retaining more nutrients, as it doesn’t have far to travel to the plate.” It also gives chefs the opportunity to grow their network within the farming community. “Being able to build relationships with suppliers is easier when they are nearby as it allows you to discuss how to use their products to your advantage,” Chef Bordell gloats.

In answer to the growing trend for local produce, Superior Food Services offers a wide range of locally sourced fruit, vegetables and meat for their customers to choose from. Riverina Dairy is a 100 per cent Australian owned and operated dairy farm, situated in Albury, New South Wales, with a stock selection of local fetta, halloumi and yoghurt. For jams, condiments and sauces, look to Beerenberg; a premium manufacturer that uses the best quality locally grown produce from Australian soil. You can find an extensive selection of their chutneys, honey and jams from their large repertoire here.

The Australian hospitality industry is highly competitive and consumer patterns are constantly evolving. For restaurants to make it to the top tier of innovative and modern restaurants and stay there, industry professionals must adapt and evolve with inherent trends or else risk falling behind.

Is your restaurant keeping up with the current food trends?

Faux meat, fancy water, low-FODMAP – these are just a few of the food trends defining the Australian hospitality scene of today and that list is only growing. Food trends have an integral role in the evolution of consumer behaviour; some come and go in the blink of an eye and others dig their heels in and demand permanency on restaurant menus.
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