These food trends will set your dining agenda for 2022

Dubai - What will be on the plates in the coming year? Nothing but the best – local produce, homegrown concepts, street food galore, unique dining concepts and more



healhty vegan lunch bowl with ingredients. Avocado, quinoa, sweet potato, tomato, spinach and chickpeas vegetables salad. Top view
healhty vegan lunch bowl with ingredients. Avocado, quinoa, sweet potato, tomato, spinach and chickpeas vegetables salad. Top view
by

Purva Grover

Published: Wed 29 Dec 2021, 2:40 PM

It’s that time of the year when we overindulge in festive food and at the same get excited about what lies ahead. Whilst we look forward to detox diet after the NYE celebrations, we remain equally keen for our taste buds to explore the new and innovative. The pandemic cast its shadow on our most beloved activity of sharing a meal with loved ones, just as it introduced us to ghost kitchens! On the last weekend of 2021, we speak to the food gurus in the city to understand the food trends of 2022. They say in unison, “Guests who ordered in or stepped out (sparingly) became pickier when it came to the quality of food, type of cuisine, experience, et al, which led the industry to grow for the better.” So yes, in 2022, expect nothing but the best. Here’s a lowdown.

Health-conscious: Plus vegan and vegetarian options

Wassim Zouein, managing director and partner, Addmind, is convinced that there will be a move towards more health-conscious food trends, especially brain-boosting, healthy foods. “The Middle East is a little behind Western food trends in terms of offering adequate vegan and vegetarian options. I believe that we will be moving towards menus having a larger representation of dishes (if not sections) that are plant-based,” he adds. Addmind’s portfolio includes Iris, Iris Summerhouse, Iris Expo and Bar Du Port. Bachir Rahal, executive chef, Seven Sisters Dubai, too is convinced that one of the biggest trends that will become big again would be that of chasing a healthy lifestyle. “It’s something that we saw three-four years ago, with individuals adding value to the lifestyles that followed. People will return to taking care of themselves more both in their lifestyles and in their cooking, returning to some old, healthy cooking styles.”

Go global: Focus on Dubai’s homegrown concepts and local produce

The pandemic strengthened the local market in Dubai, a very cosmopolitan city that usually sees its residents frequently travelling. “Travel restrictions created a stable local market that started depending on residents and locals rather than tourism. A sense of community grew stronger between establishments and their regular guests,” opines Zouein. He also believes that local ingredients and produce will become more popular, in not only reducing costs but using what is locally fresh and readily available. Michele Johnson, co-founder, Pitfire Pizza, is confident that we’ll continue to see the growth of the “home-grown” restaurant, with many new players offering different cuisines laying plans to open in 2022, some through cloud kitchen concepts and some opening their first bricks and mortar. “Q2 and Q3 of 2021 has seen the migration of several ‘Dubai home-grown concepts’ expanding to other parts of the GCC and even London. I expect more of that in 2022 and into 2023 as other markets in the GCC mature their F&B scene.”

Unique Food Concepts: New formats and celebrity ventures

Hassan Ballout, co-founder, Social Distrikt, believes that there will be an increasing demand for new and innovative food concepts, such as smart food halls and new formats for dining in. “In 2022, we predict an increased number of content creators venturing into the food industry alongside celebrities. Additionally, food chains will consider climate friendliness, environmental friendliness, and sustainability,” he adds. Faisal Naser, chef and owner, LENTO, predicts menus and suggests branding will be minimalistic. “Fine dining will be reinvented, minimalistic and simple. Think more vegetables and local produce being showcased. We will see more street food — Japanese specifically — katsu sandos, ramen joints and yakitori. More New York and Napoli-style pizzerias, especially in Dubai.” Agrees Johnson, “In 2021, we saw a huge influx of new burger and pizza concepts. And the ‘food hall’ gained a firm footing. I expect food halls will continue to flourish in 2022.”

Rahal suggests that the industry would focus more on fusion cuisine and combine techniques from various trending cuisines like the Mediterranean, Asian or South American to build a style that will please the largest percentage of their clients.” He sums it up well when he adds, “So, which kind of food is going to be a trend? The type that makes you feel good and comforts and pleases you at the same time.”

No to wastage and focus on safety: Dominant motivators

Zouein predicts that the restaurants will start to simplify their menus and create smaller menus. “With higher produce prices, supply chain challenges and staffing challenges, there will be greater focus on minimising costs and reducing food waste, making the most out of ingredients.” Naser does predict that we will see more restaurants close one-two days a week due to staff shortages but also to ensure a healthy environment for staff.

purva@khaleejtimes.com


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