It’s a year that seems set to favour a less is more approach to animal products, menu items and operating times, while delivering big and bold flavours from Latin America, celebrating SA cuisine, quaffing rosé and experimenting with CBD-infused eats. Wanted’s resident food writer, Steve Steinfeld, rounds up what he expects to see with some input from industry experts.
While the past few years have seen the rise of vegetarianism and veganism, 2022 seems set to be the year of the reducetarian. “What in the name of millennial madness is this,” I’m sure you’re asking yourself.
Well, it’s the relatively new term that describes someone who eats consciously, cutting down the amount of animal protein — meat, dairy and eggs — in their diets. Whereas vegetarians and vegans eliminate these products from their diets entirely, reducetarians make an active choice to reduce the quantity they consume.
As more people are becoming aware of the human, environmental and ethical affect of industrial animal agriculture, as well as the benefits associated with a more plant-focused diet, it’s no surprise that more and more people are opting to embrace reducetarianism.
Smaller menus and reduced days
As we grapple to piece together a shattered industry, we can expect a slow, steady return to normality. With it will come a move to smaller, concise menus (requiring less stock on hand) in addition to less days of service.
The latter not only consolidates guests to the busier nights but also comes as a response to the increased mental-health awareness within the industry, giving chefs adequate time off to recoup, rejuvenate and properly care for their health.
The world over has seen countries embrace their indigenous and local cuisines, ingredients and flavours and SA is no different, with a host of chefs revisiting, reviving and reinventing local favourites.
From beef tongue and bobotie to chicken feet and chakalaka, expect to see versions of our diverse, expansive and uniquely SA dishes gracing more and more menus. It’s all about food that connects people not only to their roots but to those of the country as whole.
Chef Mmabatho Molefe whose restaurant Emazulwini, which has been met with critical acclaim for its modern take on Zulu cuisine, agrees.
“The Covid-19 pandemic was definitely one of the worst things the hospitality industry has had to experience. However, I think it gave me an opportunity to pause and revaluate, which is something you don’t get to do when you are busy at work. Being at home for so long was almost like a Throwback Thursday loop for me. Spending time with family and cooking every single day made me reappreciate food that once seemed mundane to me, and I think that’s what people are looking for at the moment. People want to eat food that resonates and connects them to who they are.”
Since the legalisation of low-dose CBD products in SA in 2019, the use of cannabidiol in food and beverages has been rising rapidly.
While still perhaps on the periphery of the mainstream, this year promises to see a massive leap in the popularity of CBD products. Expect to see the hemp-derived ingredient in or on everything from infused gins, seltzers and honeys to pizzas, ice creams and chocolates.
Latin American cuisine
Latin American ingredients and flavours are set to lead the way when it comes to global influences — chefs will be exploring, experimenting and playing with all the region has to offer.
Whether it be the likes of Peruvian ceviche and tiraditos, Chilean empanadas de queso or Mexican aguachile or churros, it’s a style of cooking that offers bold, punchy and flavour-forward dishes.
Chef David Higgs’s latest venture, Zioux, draws heavily on both flavours and ingredients of the region. He explains why he thinks it’s a trend we can expect to see more of in SA. “[Latin American] food lends itself to a more relaxed environment, it’s experiential while offering big flavours and is well suited to small plate dining. Those vibrant flavours in small amounts really pack a punch. It’s food that goes well with wine, it goes well with cocktails, and it can pretty much stand up to anything (making it super versatile). Especially for us here in SA, we love those tangy, spicy, sweet profiles and the cuisine offers them all.”
When it comes to wine there’s no doubt rosé is on the rise. Where bottles of blush were once one dimensional and a last thought for winemakers, now it’s something being taken super seriously.
Winemakers are now planting, growing and harvesting grapes purely for use in rosé production and they’re doing a mighty fine job of it too, bottling multifaceted, refined and elegant expressions of the wine.
WineCellar.co.za CEO James Pietersen concurs. “Rosé continues its rise. This year, look out for rosé wines made in Provençal style — with a light, summery bouquet and dry, refreshing palate. Just perfect for summer sipping by the pool.”