Food with “roots” (heritage cooking)
Baum + Whiteman cites “heritage cooking” as a top trend for the year. SmartBrief reports that there are more and more social media searches for “authentic” and “heritage” recipes, and Pinterest sees increased interest in “ancestral eats.” Pinterest adds, “Simmer down, experimental chefs — we’re going back to basics.”
One manifestation of this trend to watch for: chefs who have been cooking avant-garde (or French, or American) cuisine taking their culinary training and applying it to dishes from their own ethnic backgrounds.
This wealthy and food-mad Southeast Asian city-state is famous for its blend of Chinese, Malaysian, and Indian cuisines, and above all for Peranakan (or Nyonya) cuisine, the cooking of the descendents of Chinese who immigrated to the region as much as 500 years ago. Carbonate food services agency calls the spicy Peranakan noodle dish laksa “the hottest dish of the year.” The National Restaurant Association also named Southeast Asian (including Singaporean) as its top global food trend for 2022. The late Anthony Bourdain planned to open a food court in New York City inspired by Singapore’s famous “hawker centers.”
The project unfortunately never came to fruition, but in the past few years, Singaporean restaurants have been appearing in New York and vicinity and elsewhere around the country, and Americans are being introduced not just to laksa but also to chili crab, chicken rice, bak kut teh (pork ribs in an herbal broth), and other Singaporean specialties.
Rethought room service
Room service can be problematic for hotels. It costs money, requiring additional facilities and staff (especially costly in high-wage cities) as well as investment in additional trays, napery, and dishware (since these items often remain in guest rooms for hours). Anyway, its use is in decline.
Some chains, like Hilton, are considering no-frills models, where meals are delivered in disposable containers or guests pick up their food in the lobby. Digital ordering and even robotic delivery are being introduced in some places. And some hotels are cutting to the chase and eliminating in-house room service altogether. The newly opened $4.3 billion Resorts World luxury resort, mall, and casino complex in Las Vegas, for instance, has handed its room service over to Grubhub, giving guests a choice of numerous restaurants in the area to order from.
The persistence of fine dining
The death of fine dining — fancy restaurants, tasting menus, overly complex food — has been declared many times, especially since the onset of COVID-19. British food writer Tim Hayward wrote a story in the wine and spirits publication Club Oenologique back in June of 2020, for instance, headed “Coronavirus will kill off fine dining. It’s about time…” — though he ultimately proposed that the pandemic wouldn’t be the only cause of its demise, because “‘Gastronomy’ would always, eventually, have died of its pre-existing conditions — absurdity and irrelevance.”
Not so, says Baum + Whiteman. There’ll always be a clientele for upscale establishments, and while some prominent ones may have closed lately, “proportionately fewer … collapsed than restaurants lower down on the price scale….” Developers of high-end buildings will continue to finance them and the “five-percenters [and] business travelers spending someone else’s money” will always be there to pay the check — at least for now.
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