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What’s cooking up a storm in the kitchen?

At the House of Daniel Thwaites we know a thing or two about food. After all, our kitchens are cooking up tasty meals every day of the year, whether it’s homemade pies at the Lister Arms in Malham or cooking steaks over an open fire at North Lakes Hotel & Spa.

Our food habits are evolving all the time. Last year we saw some of the trends from 2018 emerge – increase in veganism, increase in people searching for artisan options and craft beers, along with an increase in comfort foods.

If you want to know what might be in store this year for dining experiences, then read on. We’re already getting hungry just thinking about it!

We are seeing a rise in people wanting to live a lifestyle that is healthier or that has the future of the planet in mind.

The most obvious aspect of this is the rise in people who want meat free food. It’s not just vegetarians, one in five now describe themselves as flexitarians who make a conscious choice to have meat free days rather than a completely vegetarian diet. As a result, restaurants are putting more vegetarian choices on the menu - at The Toll House, Lancaster, they have hosted successful vegan nights as well as adding more meat free options to their menu.

General Manager Andrew Hollett says Kettering Park Hotel & Spa is one of our properties that is seeing an increase in people looking for meat free food: “We started some more contemporary vegan and vegetarian dishes in the summer which took off. The interest is growing for sure and from people who prefer rather than don’t want animal proteins.”

Along the same lines, fish is also becoming a common choice, as people look for produce that has a more sustainable future. Of course, there are also health benefits to eating fish as it creates healthier mindsets and is easier to digest. As a result of the increase in demand, fish is appearing more on our specials and we are cooking with less traditional fish as diners have become more willing to try them.

Executive Head Chef at Aztec Hotel & Spa, Marc Payne said: “There are more people opting for fish. I think the rise in food programmes is making people more aware and they are really inspired to try different produce. Come the warmer months my plan is to move more fish onto the menu.”

A few years ago gluten free or lactose free tended to be diets led by an intolerance of a particular food but now they are also a lifestyle choice among more people. Almost a quarter of the UK is trying to limit their dairy intake – one reason why our conference cafes have a selection of different milks, including almond milk. People are becoming more conscious of what they are eating and are opting for less processed goods, and more seasonal, natural ingredients. Our restaurants have always used fresh, seasonal produce but this is developing in new directions, such as more game.

If you’ve not heard of traceability before, then you might well find out more this year as it’s becoming more popular in menus with phrases like ‘from farm to plate’ or ‘provenance’. People want to know where things are from and the story behind them. Did you know we can trace our fish back to the trawler boat it was caught on, a meat product to the field where it was raised or fruit and veg to the farm where it was picked and the farmer behind it? We’ve taken traceability seriously for a long time but the public’s interest in it goes beyond the main ingredients, they have a thirst for knowledge about all ingredients – whether it’s to track nutritional value, to be mindful of additives or be aware of how local the produce is. People want to taste the different ingredients, savour the flavour and know where it has come from.

Overlaying all of these trends is a drive to eat without compromise. It doesn’t matter to a diner if they are a vegan or gluten free or opting for a regional menu, they don’t expect to miss out on taste, look, textures or anything else. Anything less than great is not acceptable. And in today’s age of social media, there is an open platform for people to tell the world about their experiences, good or bad.

So what about popular foods? Are we still going to be seeing new uses for beetroot and avocado? We asked our in-house Food Development Manager, Nicola Underwood, what the predictions are for particular foods in the months ahead.

  1. One to watch out for this year is seacuterie which is a predicted trend that will work alongside charcuterie.
  2. Pulses and grains will grow in popularity in line with the rise in veganism.
  3. Pumpkin is the next avocado.