From Uber Eats to smart kitchens and gut bacteria, there’s a lot happening in dining this year.
Uber Eats — now available in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth — has joined MenuLog, Foodora and Deliveroo in the race to bring restaurant-quality food into your dining room . . . and 2017 is set to take that to a new level. David Chang’s Ando delivery service has already made a huge splash in the New York dining scene — the idea is a ‘virtual restaurant’ with no tables and chairs, simply a kitchen that ferries its meals to your door through an army of deliverymen — and Melbourne restaurant Endulj is dipping their toe into the Australian market.
Responding to the demands of an increasingly enviro-conscious public, eateries are becoming more eco-friendly: specialty butchers embracing a ‘top to tail’ philosophy, restaurants sourcing fruit and veg locally and cooking with more native ingredients, jams being made of recycled fruit, and the emergence of plastic-free dining — plastic straws and disposable coffee cups are on the way out in favour of metal straws and re-usable coffee cups you see more and more people using on their morning commute.
The sustainability trend doesn’t end there: vegetarian and vegan restaurants are sprouting up all around major cities, and even regular eateries are making more of an effort to accommodate diners who don’t eat animal products. Huge leaps forward in technology have given rise to ‘vegan meat’ (fancy name ‘plant-based protein’) that faithfully mimics the taste, smell and texture of real meat, sold by vegan butchers like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat in the States.
Coffee roasters controlled by your iPad, Samsung’s camera fridge and Wi-Fi connected oven, tea-brewing devices that monitor your sleep to determine how much caffeine to put in your morning cuppa . . . it’s not quite the Jetsons, but we’re not far off. One slightly more realistic device that’ll pop up in kitchens everywhere this year is the sous vide machine — the technique refers to cooking your meat in a temperature-controlled bath of water in a vacuum-sealed bag, offering more control over the cooking process.
‘Super foods’, ‘probiotics’, ‘antioxidants’, and in 2017, prepare to hate another nutrition buzzword: ‘gut health’. The best way to cultivate good bacteria in your gut is fermented vegetables — Kimchi (Korean pickled cabbage), sauerkraut, and Yucatan pickles (Mexican pickled onions), for example — which fight bloating and irritable bowel syndrome. Olives, beans, carrots, legumes, nuts, and fermented condiments like vinegar are all great for gut health, too. Also keep an eye out for sorghum, which is 2017’s trendy new grain, while seaweed will continue its ascent as a superfood du jour, displacing kale.