• Matt Manning, chef and owner of Grub & Vine, Culture Wine Bar, the Chef’s Studio and the Blue Room shares some of the food trends we can expect to see over the next few months.


    Less Fine Dining, More Refined Dining

    Three years may have passed since the pandemic, but some of the behaviours it catalysed have far-reaching tentacles, and one of these is a move away from fine dining.

    Following the pandemic, fine dining establishments were hardest hit, for two main reasons: 1) tourism took a knock and 2) people were more cash-conscious and preferred reconnecting in a more relaxed setting. They didn’t need a 18-course menu to feel the experience was special – simply being able to hang out with a loved one was enough of a novelty, after months in lockdown.

    Fast forward three years, and we have seen some of SA’s most popular fine dining establishments shut while at the same time, there has been a rise in the number of relaxed dining eateries, such as bistros and brasseries, which have opened.

    READ MORE: Culture Wine Bar introduces the Wine Library members’ club

    This does not mean people don’t want beautiful, well-sourced quality ingredients and seasonal menus, or incredible dining experiences – they absolutely do. But there is less fanfare and pretentiousness, and more emphasis on good, honest cooking and understated elegance in their dining.

    Dining experiences

    While fine dining might be dying, dining experiences, on the other hand, are booming in popularity!

    Photo: Supplied

    Think themed dinners, cooking lesson-and-dinner hybrid events, private kitchens, table-side theatre and chef’s tables and more – we all want to get up close and personal with our food – and each other – in an interactive, fun and memorable setting.

    Everything Green

    There’s a global movement towards sustainability, and food is no different. Expect regenerative agriculture, waterless cooking methods, organic and sustainability to become big buzzwords in 2023.

    Menus will include the weird and wonderful – from organ meats and other cuts that were typically overlooked (and many of which are now gaining popularity as awareness grows around these being nutritional powerhouses) – to insects, while cooking methods will shift to accommodate a new awareness around energy consumption (especially as loadshedding doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon!)

    Elevation of the Wine List

    Food and wine have always been a match made in heaven, which is why so many establishments offer paired menus. But in a restaurant environment, wine has typically come second to the food, and mass wine producers (that can afford the steep listing fees) dominate the wine lists.

    Chef Matt Manning profile
    Photo: Supplied

    This has left patrons (particularly international diners) with a limited view of what SA – one of the world’s heavyweight wine regions – has to offer. But this is changing.

    Restaurant owners are waking up to the importance of partnering beautiful food with beautiful wine as consumer demand grows, and we expect to see far more representation in wine style, variety and region in our restaurant lists, as well as more fantastical pairing options – made possible by the power of the Coravin!

    READ MORE: Award-winning Culture Wine Bar is a go-to weekend spot

    Grub & Vine, for example, offers an ‘SA vs the World’ pairing, which features two wines paired with each course; one local, and one international, with the aim of demonstrating how well SA’s wines stack up against some of the finest wines from around the world.

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    Issued by Mimik

    Feature image: Supplied