From the rise of regional cuisine to sustainability and veganism - a look at the movements and trends transforming F&B segment

Plant-based proteins and meat alternatives have been on chefs’ radars for some time, but this year they’ll take off in response to increased consumer demand

F&B trends 2020, Veganism trend, Regional cuisine, Food trends 2020, Indian regional cuisine, Food Sustainability

At the beginning of every year there is an avalanche of food and drink predictions that offer not just food trends but also an anthropological window on how chefs, and ultimately people, are rethinking what they eat. Regional cuisines are on the rise and so are concepts of sustainability. The focus is on mining lost recipes of India and local ingredients. Did you know that India has a total of 60,000 varieties of rice species cultivated even today, from the red to the black rice, for instance?

Vandana Shiva, food activist and the founder of an extensive seed bank, calls these rice varieties, dating back almost 5,000 years, repositories of ancient food wisdom that reveal what Indians ate before processed food entered our lives. Did you know that India has several varieties of morels or wild mushrooms, each as delicious as the other? And on top of this morel pie, according to chefs, are the ones from Kashmir. The larger goal is to dig through centuries-old traditions of food — in terms of ingredients and techniques — and adapt the unearthed treasures for the modern palate. India, with its vast regional diversity and landscape, is rich in indigenous vegetables. In fact, the country’s list of native ingredients would put any other such list, from every other country, to shame. Several of these native ingredients are no longer part of modern-day cooking. Many are over a century-old and no one cooks them anymore, at least not in urban homes. The growing interest in the ingredients has led chefs to dig through India’s culinary history for recipes that are lost to time.

Veganism is increasingly finding an audience and wellness food is not just another word. Plant-based proteins and meat alternatives have been on chefs’ radars for some time, but this year they’ll take off in response to increased consumer demand. How food is cooked (charcoalgrilled, sous vide, fermented) is as crucial as the fact that the ingredients are sourced not just locally (and this isn’t just farm-to-table; it is also sourcing out native varieties of rice and millets), but also sustainably. We get some of India’s best chefs from top notch hotels to spill the beans on how, and what, we will eat.

Satbir Bakshi, Executive Chef, at The Oberoi, Mumbai

Top F&B trends

Regional cuisine: Ziya has always been regarded as a celebration restaurant. In a significant initiative, we scour local markets and small towns in search of key ingredients and recipes quintessential to a region and season. The all-new menu features the three elements of our existence — the bounty of Earth, Sea — from bay to plate, and Land, highlighted in exquisite cuts and exotic marinades from the Aravallis to the Nilgiris, put together by Michelin star chef Vineet Bhatia, who is a pioneer in bringing to fore the finer nuances of regional Indian cuisine with contemporary flair. For the ‘Spice Trail’, a specialised offering, we identify key markets to which our guests can be taken. The experience includes a detailed guide to the spices available; their unique culinary and medicinal properties; where these spices can be sourced from; and their use in handpicked traditional Indian recipes.

The all-day diner at Fenix, in The Oberoi, Mumbai, delves deep into the complexity of ingredients and has developed a pioneering menu of healthy dishes, like this Sesame-crusted Lamb Loin.

Innovative use of ingredients: At our all-day diner, Fenix, we have explored recipes and delved deep into the complexity of ingredients to develop a pioneering menu of healthy alternatives that do not compromise on portion size, flavours or cuisine. The key focus has been in selecting the right ingredients and employing cooking techniques such as stir-frying, grilling and liberal use of the tandoor. New varieties of superfoods, quinoa and couscous also feature on the menu. I enjoy Indian cuisine and believe that one should always cook with seasonal and local ingredients.

Wellness food: Gluten-free menu including croissants, burgers, pizzas, puffs and pancakes will be the next big trend. Exclusive culinary experiences: At Vetro, we invite Michelin-starred chefs to present and showcase their finest dinners, thus enabling The Oberoi, Mumbai to be a culinary and lifestyle destination. Among the chefs we have hosted, are three Michelin-starred Chef Georges Blanc from Gastronomique Georges BLANC-France, Chef Alain Passard and twice Michelin-starred Chef Francesco Apreda from Hassler Roma, to name a few.

Sustainability in the kitchen

It is imperative to give opportunities to first-generation entrepreneurs and innovative small farms, who are not driven by the commercial trappings. We source 70% of our ingredients locally, working with farmers who supply us with indigenous ingredients such as coloured baby carrots, baby beetroots, etc.The Oberoi, Mumbai was amongst the first luxury hotels to introduce the rare Kadaknath chicken, which is high on protein, low in fats and one of the rarest poultry breeds native to Madhya Pradesh’s Jhabua district. Fresh seafood is flown in daily from vendors in port cities of Cochin, Vizag, Chennai, West Bengal, Gujarat and the Andaman and Nicobar islands. Our chefs visit facilities to examine the soil, seeds and growing practices. We endeavour to ensure that the farms and orchards protect and restore natural systems through effective management practices, that are well-suited for their local growing conditions, minimising the use of synthetic pesticides and avoiding the use of groundwater for irrigation. Food wastage is controlled with quality checks right from the time of receiving the ingredients, following recipe cards, and optimal use of ingredients and resource along with apt portion control.

Chef Sharad Dewan, Regional Director - Food Production, THE Park Kolkata

Top F&B trends

Regional cuisine and hyperlocal ingredients: Super regional food, such as tribal food, is one of the biggest trends. You will also see a rise in vegetarian regional cuisine. At THE Park, we have insisted that most of the ingredients are locally sourced from farmers or producers directly. We often invite residents, housewives and grandmothers to our kitchens to cook with us, to ensure authenticity of the food. In Kolkata, all our consultants for Bengali food promotions have been home cooks from East or West Bengal.

Mood food: Internationally, there has been a rise of mood food, but in India, we have always associated food with emotion, like ‘Maa kay haath ka khana’ or a cake baked at home for a special occasion, or the ‘mood’ to feast on chaat or desserts. We are commercialising and packaging this phenomenon for the current generation, which travels more and eats lesser meals at home. This trend touches the emotional quotient of the rising nuclear families.

Broccoli pine nut and feta cheese tikkis at THE Park, Kolkata is made of ingredients produced organically, on smaller farms.

Wellness: We will be exploring several new initiatives such as creating more sustainable and smaller menus, with use of lost local ingredients, menu changes at least four times a year, a strong culinary story, more pop-ups, experiential dining, and a huge focus on alternative ingredients. The demand for vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free and Keto diet has increased by almost 200%. We are looking at incorporating Ayurvedic food studies, current trends and food needs as a subject in our kitchen management training programs.

Sustainability in the kitchen: This is a very vast and deep subject and will take years to achieve. We are starting small by providing a platform to farmers, incorporating locally sourced ingredients in our menus and creating zero-waste kitchens. We are looking at specialists to include design elements that will support zero wastage.

Shahrom Oshtori, General Manager, The Park Mumbai

Top F&B trends

Keto/Veganism: In the increasingly popular ketogenic diet, you swap carbohydrates for proteins and fats for an effective weight loss. Vegan diet, on the other hand, excludes all animal products. While this makes it more difficult to eat low-carb, with careful planning, vegans can reap the potential benefits of a ketogenic diet.

Regional cuisine: Given India's diversity range, regional cuisines vary substantially and use locally available spices, herbs, vegetables and fruits. Our menu incorporates several lesser-known regional dishes such as Ambemohar (local rice from the western region) and Tangara noodles (local street food delicacy from Kolkata). We also serve lotus root with sweet potato and pumpkin, both underrated vegetables and a Turmeric Miso soup, infused with fresh local turmeric.

Organic and wellness cuisine: The push toward organic farming methods — fewer chemicals, low on preservatives, and better soil management — began early, although now we have better equipment, streamlined supply chains, and the benefit of modern marketing. Organic produce is often (but not always) produced on smaller farms nearer to the place where it is sold.

Sustainability in the kitchen: We are using several concepts such as a compost machine, zero wastage, promoting local ingredients and herbs from our herb garden in our bid to become more sustainable. We also believe in portion control as a means to implement zero wastage.

ROIs from F&B: In the first year of operations, our focus has primarily been on getting the product right and being authentic in line with our brand standards. ROIs, today, are being calculated on recall value and revenue generated, which is very healthy considering our restaurants and bars opened hardly six months ago. As we are yet to launch our Rooftop Bar — FLYT, we expect the hotel revenue to be driven mainly through its F&B.

Hardik Shah, Director – F&B, Four Seasons Hotel Bengaluru

Top F&B trends

Curated culinary events: Intimate and curated events have been a part of our ongoing endeavour to shine the light on our special offerings at the property. Seasonal ingredients can be showcased beautifully, along with our team’s inventive streak. Food gourmands and critics, wine appreciators and whisky aficionados are usually the key invitees for such events. We have hosted intimate wine dinners, such as a wine dinner with Brindco Fine wines in June last year, where they brought in their finest wines from Barossa Valley in sunny South Australia and the choicest vineyards of Mendoza in Argentina.

Wellness cuisine: Our live Salad Bar is a testimony to the rising demand for wellness food. Guests want fresh flavours that are honest and appealing. The star attraction in CUR8, our all-day dining, is the supersized, custom-built, Spanish-style parrillada or grill, from which food can be had straight off. Our older guests love our liberal use of aromatic herbs or the longtime boiling stews. We have seen a huge number of guests opt for gluten-free dishes and the use of soy and almond milk.

Hyperlocal ingredients: Bengaluru is known for its temperate climate and rich fertile soil, which can be seen in the produce found not far from the city. We source from local farms and apiaries; a lot of our coffee comes from Coorg plantations. Chef Stephane (the  Chef) and his team work closely with local producers like First Agro, Ivory Root and Green Farmers. He personally sourced seeds during his riding expeditions in Northern Thailand and gave them to the growers for organic produce. We put fresh marinades on the table and incorporate the flavour of charcoal in the live cooking at the grill. Guests increasingly ask for rustic, simple and authentic food, peppered with an up-close-and-personal chat with chefs. Even our beverages use local ingredients. For instance, Instagramworthy Jamun Lemonade serve up a concoction of homemade Jamun (black plum) syrup, fresh lime juice and fizz as a perfect sweet and sour accompaniment.

Four Seasons Hotel Bengaluru offers coffee that comes directly from Coorg plantations.

Interesting F&B offerings: Locavores are on the rise. You will find a Karnataka Banana Cake vying for attention in The Lobby Lounge & Terrace or a Coorg Kaapi Opera Cake, which is one of the star attractions in the Afternoon Tea. Our coffee comes from Goa-based gourmet and speciality coffee brand company, Devi Coffee Roasters, who roast their coffee in special drum roasters. Mysore Nuggets Arabica has a luxurious richness of texture and hints of chocolate and vanilla; Old rum barrel is a unique coffee for which beans are aged in rum barrels and then roasted to yield a mellow cup with a sweet hint of rum. Spice mixes such as Kashmiri Red Chilly, Degi Mirch, Cumin, Coriander, Green Cardamom, Gun Powder, Sambar, Podi, Black Cardamom, Garam Masala, Kebab Masala, etc. use Executive Sous Chef Dirham Haque’s spice mix recipes. We have an in-house chaat chef who makes fresh chaat dishes.

Sustainability in the kitchen: Being a locavore has many benefits for the consumer, grower and the community. When grown locally, the crops are picked at the right time of ripeness. When factoring in shipment time for crops to reach far and wide, they are harvested early. Local food has a shorter span between harvest and the table. Their nutrient values are more likely to have been retained. With the Executive Chef’s guidance, the team looks into all the minute details: even our malai paneer is delivered in its original cheesecloth and has not been processed in the common but unsustainable plastic vacuum packaging. Beyond what we serve, we have an in-house garbage-disposal system and enzyme compost in the recycle room that is used for fertilising the multiple green spaces we have on the hotel grounds.

Himanshu Taneja, Director of Culinary, South Asia – Marriott International

Wellness: Most conversations in the F&B space will increasingly revolve around wellness cuisine: dairy vs non-dairy, vegan vs meat. The use of tofu in a lot of dishes will become rather common. We are looking to launch a big vegan programme. We source a lot of organic ingredients and vegetables, such as avocado from farms in Hyderabad, Bangalore and Maharashtra. At Marriott Group hotels, we use cage-free eggs across all the properties.

Alcohol-free cocktails: We are working on developing non-alcoholic cocktails as 'no-alcohol' is a big trend. We are using a lot of herbs that infuse flavours of whisky, rum and brandy to the concoction.

Hyperlocal ingredients: We are working with farmers to develop a few crops for our restaurants. We have just opened a restaurant called Madras Kitchen Company, where the food is completely local. We served unusual butters such as watermelon made inhouse. The focus is on specialised cuisines from Lucknow, Awadh and Kashmir.

Alternative food sources and techniques: The trend is veering towards cooking food on different kinds of wood, such as mango and cherry wood, which imparts an unusual flavour to the cuisine. Also, more chefs are experimenting with mock meat.

Community dining: As more people travel solo, hotels will make space for community dining. Our new opening, Sheraton Grand Chennai has a restaurant called C Salt, which is dedicated to community dining and cooking. You can mingle with other guests and speak to the chef.

Sustainability in the kitchen:  This is 2020's big trend. Hotels like ours have in-house water plants to purify water and use them across the property, instead of plastic bottles. At JW Marriott Delhi, we have got rid of over a million plastic bottles in a year. There are machines and software that can measure how much food is going into the bin and the cost attached to it. We have reduced our buffet portions into half at our coffee shops by putting out
smaller plates. We are now working on reducing waste from the banquets. The coffee shop and in-room dining menus have been reduced in size; they will be upgraded every three to five months. We work with local communities to send out any leftovers.

Chef Nitin Bajaj, Executive Chef, The Roseate New Delhi

Top F&B trends: Individual plating: At big events, individually plated starters wiill be served to avoid food wastage in the banqueting. We served lamb fillet on a flat plate at an event of 120 guests and it was a big hit.

Procurring locally: We are looking at using local lamb for a well-done  braised lamb shank instead of the New Zealand lamb. We also do the gardening at many of our hotels, from where we source herbs and raw ingredients such as red radish, baby carrots, and other ingredients for the salad.

The Roseate New Delhi is attempting to revive a few lost Indian recipes.

Regional cuisine: We are trying to revive some lost Indian recipes. Among them, a Bajra and bathua dish from Haryana and Zameen Ghosht, in which meat is cooked in a slow process under the earth. One of our dishes is Fermented and Burnt Ash Chicken Tikka, in which the ash lends a nice crust on the chicken tikka. Increasingly, our focus is on ancient grains such as jowar, sorghum and other millets. We are looking at hosting a Purani Dilli pop-up, for which we will be travelling across Old Delhi to ferret out lost recipes and pick up ingredients that can be used in innovative dishes.

Sustainability in the kitchen: Sustainability spans not just about the ingredients being used and how we cook, but extends to animal welfare, protection of public health and the fair wages paid to our employees. We are very concerned about food wastage and work with local communities and NGOs to ensure that leftover food never goes waste.

ROIs from F&B: Almost 40 to 45% of revenues are contributed by the restaurants, banquets and in-room dining.

Chef Paul Kinny, Director of Culinary, The St Regis Mumbai

Top F&B trends : Redefined offerings: 'Redefined Wellness' tops the list. Patrons choose to eat well, consciously depending on their adaptability. They know their body and preferences and have become extremely conscious about their food choices.

Fermented food: At The St. Regis Mumbai, we have played with the bacteria content of the food to help increase metabolism. Chef Xiang Bin Li has brought in new techniques of fermentation with his style of cooking Asian food at By The Mekong, the award-winning Asian restaurant.

Seacuterie: Charcuterie has always been in trend, but 2020 will see seacuterie as the emerging trend. This version of charcuterie offers a chance to serve highly-priced seafood such as salmon salami and octopus salami at affordable prices.

Chef Xiang Bin Li has brought in new techniques of fermentation with his style of cooking Asian food at By The Mekong, the award-winning Asian restaurant in The St. Regis Mumbai.

Regional cuisine: A big focus is on highlighting hyper-local and regional foods. We hosted the Naga Food Festival with Karen Yepthomi of the Dzouka Tribal Kitchen. We plan to bring to life multiple such experiences in 2020, starting with the Bohri Food Festival in February. Last year, at The Sahib Room & Kipling Bar we had a menu 'From The Earth', offering a limited edition of a small plates menu dedicated to the rare, uncommon and forgotten produce and vegetables of our country. It featured dishes such as Panifal Ka Shorba with Masala Rajghira Chikki, Kathal Gilawat on Ragi Roti, Kela Phool Vindaloo with Savoury Ghewar, Black Rice Jhal Moori and Ghosale Calicut Curry served with Red Rice etc.

Mood food: We had collaborated with Vinesh Johny to produce and retail 'Mood-Pills', which consisted of a collection of chocolate pills dedicated to the various moods such as a love pill, chill pill, etc. I will be toying a lot more with 'mood food' this year.

Sustainability in the kitchen: To a large extent, we aim to reduce the negative environmental and social impact of our business by focusingon sustainable, responsible and  local sourcing. We do not have endangered fish species such as Alaskan Salmon, Black Cod or Bluefin Tuna in our menus. We use limited plastic in our kitchens, reuse the vegetables in some form before being disposed of and have a proper waste management system in place.

Amit Chowdhury, Executive Chef, The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai

Top F&B trends : Alternative food sources: Chefs will be exploring Keto, glutenfree, dairy-free and vegan cuisine. I expect to see the use of plantbased protein and meat substitutes. We will also see cultural fusion such as Japanese with South America, Cantonese with Peruvian. I expect chefs to introduce vegan pate and plant-based -burgers and sausages on their menus, besides alternative spreads and nut butters, such as watermelon seeds or pumpkin butter.

Regional: We have introduced the Bombay Tiffin concept at Masala Kraft, which serves both Maharashtrian and Parsi cuisine in a five-star setting.

The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai has introduced the Bombay tiffin concept at Masala Kraft, which serves both Maharashtrian and Parsi cuisine.

Sustainability in the kitchen: We buy locally grown, seasonal and organic food, which has been grown, processed and packaged nearby. We also buy local fish and seafood. But above all, we various lettuces and microgreens that are grown nearby using vertical agriculture. Our focus is on implementing zero-waste cooking, but that is easier said than done as it requires ingredients which are well-thought of before making a menu. We use smaller plates at buffets and serve smaller portions.

Abhishek Dhyani, Executive Chef, Cidade de Goa

Top F&B trends

Customised meals: Interactive kitchens at a buffet restaurant where the guests can customise their orders with the chefs directly, creating healthy options for the buffet, and offering the catch of the day at BBQ restaurant will be the big trends.

Regional cuisine: Goan food doesn't have to travel far to arrive on your plate, so it contributes to improving our carbon footprint. Rice, seafood, coconut, vegetables, meat and local spices are some of the main ingredients we use. We serve a Saraswat Brahmin thali, which includes a fish curry, vegetables and rice, the staple food of the Saraswat Brahmin community.

Innovative cocktails: Innovative beverages, infused with fresh seasonal ingredients and herbs, will see a rise in demand.

Sustainability in the kitchen: Zero waste kitchens are not just about recycling kitchen waste, we also look at recycling plastic bags, packaging, takeout containers, plastic water bottles, plastic straws and food waste that ends up in our bins.

Rahul Dhavale, Executive Chef, The Westin Mumbai Garden City

Top F&B trends

Regional cuisine: Chefs will deep dive into micro-regional cuisines, like hosting a Maharashtrian food festival that brings to the hotel rarely-spoken-about cuisines from areas such as Khandesh and Marathwada. One of Marriott’s F&B pillars is storytelling through food. Last year, we revived several different thalis from different parts of India. We work with local farmers and purveyors of sea-food, cheese, charcuterie, ice-creams, honey, tea, coffee and spices. We regularly feature offerings from Koli, Bohri, Pathare Prabhu and other native communities of Mumbai. We are hiring craftsmen rather than chefs, who are considered expertise in their native cuisine and cooking style.

The Westin Mumbai Garden City has hosted a Maharashtrian food festival that served rarely spoken about cuisines from the state.

Discovering new global cuisine: Cuisines from Israel and Philippines are trendy and yet to be discovered by Indian patrons and gastronomes.

Sustainability in the kitchen: We are looking at controlling food wastage at three levels. At the receiving stage, we ensure that only fresh and good looking food is received at the purchase level. At the processing and the consumption stage, where often guests leave food. We consciously avoid serving endangered fish species.

Rohit Chadha, Chef de Cuisine, Hyatt Regency Pune & Residences

Zeta at Hyatt Regency Pune & Residences serves BCG, filo-baked brie on a bed of raw papaya relish and kale salad.

Top F&B trends

Regional cuisine: Hotels will rope in home cooks to ensure regional food is authentic. Unpretentious simple food has taken a front seat, rather than intricately garnished dishes. Fine dining as a setup has lost its charm; people prefer dining casually. At the café breakfast, we use ingredients available in the periphery of 10kms. Ragi and jowar flakes have become big contenders in the breakfast cereal race. We use Ambe Mohar rice to partially substitute Arborio for Risottos.

Wellness cuisine: Veganism, food that help to detoxify, and fermentation  will be the wellness trends. The honey bar we serve at breakfast is sourced from a society of farmers who practice sustainable beekeeping. At Zeta, we serve eggs sourced from Kadaknath chicken.

Cooking techniques: Trends like fermentation, micro-regional cuisine, growing our own produce and hyperlocal food are some concepts that we shall delve upon in the months to come.

Sustainability in the kitchen: Hyatt has a policy governing sustainable procurement of fish. We also try and use herbs, chillies and spinach from the garden in Zeta. Hyatt Regency Pune has tied up with Feeding India and other such NGOs to contribute our food reserves to them.

ROIs from F&B: The use of organic produce and ingredients in our food has helped us reposition our F&B offerings and contributed 40% to the total revenue. These initiatives have helped  drive the number of covers and revenue by 8.5% in 2019.

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