Food Trends in the UK

Diccon Wright is a restaurateur and property specialist based in the UK and Spain. He runs his own portfolio of restaurants, and is the consultant brains behind many others. Here he gives his round-up of current and future trends in the UK food scene.

The UK is a very exciting place to be right now when it comes to food. The variety of cuisines, the creativity in the kitchen, and the quality of what’s being served, is all quite astounding. How it’s being served is also of a very high standard – everything from the service to the interior design. I believe the food scene here is only going to get more vibrant, propelled by some key dining trends.

Provenance of ingredients
People want to know where the food you are serving them has come from. They want to know how it was was farmed, whether vegetables were sprayed with pesticides, and if animals led a good life before ending up on their dinner plate.

roast beef from the joint at the carvery

Today’s diner feels responsible for the increasingly dire state of the world’s environment and wants to make a difference by making good food choices. Patrons at my restaurants check before ordering that the fish is sustainably harvested, that the meat we serve is ethically farmed and locally sourced, and that the vegetables and grains are organic. Natural wines, too, are a becoming much more sought-after.

Woe to the restaurant that neglects this shift in thinking as it is only going to get more pervasive.

Local produce
Restaurateurs are focusing more and more on sourcing ingredients from local producers. Staying local supports the community, reduces the carbon footprint of transporting ingredients from afar, and gives chefs better control of what comes into their kitchens as they can visit the farms and work closely with the farmers. Many restaurants are now growing their own produce.

Looking further into the future, as climate change creates unstable weather patterns, and farming technology develops, it’s likely that farms will be even more local and small-scale. Fruit and vegetables will be grown in hydroponic tunnels, protected from the elements. This might mean we lose our sense of seasonality.

Healthy eating
Along with being aware of how our food impacts the planet, diners are increasingly knowledgeable about how what they eat affects their bodies. How meat is reared (use of antibiotics and other chemical supplements) and crops are grown (pesticides on the food) are two obvious concerns, but eating for health is surely going to go much further.

Combining the present trend of “free of” eating – lactose, gluten, sugar, and so on – with advances in genetic technology, the future will likely see more people eating for personal health.

Vegetables and grain become star ingredients
The shift to a more ethical way of eating will make vegetables and grains playing a starring role in the kitchen. We’ve already seen this shift, in which the obligatory one or two, rather dull, vegetarian options on a menu have become a few really inspired and exciting dishes. I see vegetarian and vegan dishes becoming much more popular and prevalent.

Regional food
In London we have restaurants serving food from almost everywhere in the world. This interest in regional foods is only going to expand, both into lesser-known cuisines, such as Filipino and Iranian, as well as into a deeper knowledge of more well-known food, such as Indian. No longer will a restaurant serve ‘an Indian curry’ –now you’ll a Goan vindaloo or a Bombay Parsi sali boti.

More fusion
Globalisation and the deeper knowledge of regional foods will also lead to more experimentation with ingredients from afar in the kitchen. The current playful fusing of Brazilian and Japanese cuisine, and Korean and Italian cooking styles, for example, will continue, with new cuisine combinations. Spices, herbs and other ingredients will make their way into cuisines that have never used them before.

Back to British
Concurrent to the focus on international cuisines, there will be a return to British cuisine. Interest in our own regional food traditions combined with a nostalgia for the tastes of childhood will see diners flocking for high quality renditions of British classics. The Sunday roast with Yorkshire puddings and gravy, hearty pies and summer puddings (all with organic, sustainably sourced ingredients, of course) will give us a sense of our own place in this very globalised world.

strawberry pavlova at the carvery

UK diners today have dining choices that span the globe as well as our own very verdant and creative backyard. How these major trends all develop, overlap and intersect will make the dining scene here ever more interesting.

About Diccon Wright

Christopher Diccon Wright is a restaurateur and property specialist who has established and grown successful operations in the UK and Mediterranean. He has also worked on a consultancy and advisory basis for a wide range of food and property clients.