New food trends for 2016: The view from the experts

With every New Year, there is the anticipation of new trends and the bidding of farewells to old trends in the food world. From the rise of food trucks and unique drink pairing menus to the downfall of the overused truffle oil in every dish, we speak to industry experts to find out what they think we have to look forward to in 2016, and what they will gladly say goodbye to from 2015.

Christian Bauer, Executive Chef and Director of Troika Sky Dining, KL

Chef Chris Bauer is well known for his unique take on flavour and progressive dining concepts with the range of restaurants he oversees under Troika Sky Dining. Cantaloupe is known for fine dining with a twist, while Fuego boasts bold Latin flavours and Strato showcases comforting Italian food.

What do you think will be the new food trends in 2016?

Fine dining is becoming more playful and less serious. Molecular cuisine techniques are now incorporated seamlessly into the dish rather than being the showcase and focal point. Simplicity is now the focus - preparations, knowledge, techniques remain elaborate but the dish, overall, is very simple. Latin American food will be the big trend in terms of cuisine. And finally the big trend across all cuisines will be sharing-style plates.

What are trends you’ll be happy to see disappear?

Anything with truffle oil, because truffle oil is a real cop out -- it’s inexpensive and not made of real truffles. I’ll also be happy to see the concept of ‘superfoods’ disappear - it’s all a marketing gimmick. The real way to healthy living is eating what you like in moderation - a varied diet is far more important than limiting yourself to just superfoods.

Ed Cotton, Executive Chef at Sotto13, New York

If you watch the popular Top Chef series the name Ed Cotton will ring a bell. He was the runner up in Season 7 in which the finale took place in Singapore. He now helms the popular Sotto13 in Manhattan’s West Village.

What do you think will be the new food trends in 2016?

I think it’s already heading that way but the use of local, organic and non-GMO foods will be on the rise as diners get more knowledgeable about what they put into their bodies. There will also be the use of more interesting blends of spices like North African and Middle Eastern in modern dining preparations.

What are trends you’ll be happy to see disappear?

Drinks that take 20-minutes to make because the bartender thinks he or she is saving the world by slowly making them because of their mixologist status and bottomless brunch menus. I will be elated to see those go away.

Tunku Khairil Ibrahim, Owner of Ril’s and Alang’s Rawa Resort, Kuala Lumpur

If there’s one person who knows good food it’s Tunku Khairil Ibrahim. His steakhouse Ril’s is one of the best in town offering succulent meat seared to perfection. His new venture set to launch in January 2016 in Desa Sri Hartamas is a place that will serve bistro style steak frites and roast chicken, known as The Cow & Chicken.

What do you think will be the new food trends in 2016?

I believe the major trend we’ll see in 2016 is higher end restaurants moving towards uncomplicated yet well thought out food, plated smartly and served in more casual settings; moving away from the traditional, more formal, fine dining experience. I also see a rise in the use of wood and charcoal cooking methods in restaurants that take pride in sourcing their produce. And of course, ever increasing in popularity ‘health conscious establishments’ such as salad bars will continue to grow in number. Food trucks, pop ups and unique catering and food delivery businesses will take advantage of high Internet penetration. With easy access to a larger market at the click of a button, passionate, creative food loving individuals have the opportunity to move away from conventional jobs to start up their own inspired food businesses. Not forgetting the added benefit of lower overheads as compared to a traditional restaurant set up.

What are trends you’ll be happy to see disappear?

I would like to see the end of mediocre Italian restaurants and for that matter, bad restaurants in general. Too many people go into the food business either not having any experience or without any real idea of what they’re offering and who they are selling it to. As a food-loving nation we have moved past the point of being served sub par food.

Monica Tindall, Editor of The Yum List, Kuala Lumpur

Recently named the Best Food Blog of 2015 by, The Yum List is one of the most comprehensive regional guides when it comes to dining and travel. Monica Tindall is the go-to person when it comes to recommendations as she’s tried almost everything noteworthy in the region.

What do you think will be the new food trends in 2016?

I see a rise in specialty concepts. From bars to eateries, entrepreneurs are recognising the value of having a clear focus. I predict more cocktail, wine and specialty liquor bars, as well as cafes and restaurants with more concise distinct menus.

What are trends you’ll be happy to see disappear?

I hope to see the reduction of international chains and more value given to local independent businesses. As people become more knowledgeable about where their food comes from and the impact this has on our health, community and the environment, I predict more sustainable businesses and those that have a number of measures of success that are not based purely on financial profits.

Honey Ahmad, Co-Founder of Friedchillies, Malaysia’s first Food Network

As the Co-Founder of Friedchillies, Malaysia’s first Food Network, Honey Ahmad has made food her entire life. Whether it’s producing food shows, writing food content or creating food events, you’ll find that she’s in the know with the latest happenings in food.

What do you think will be the new food trends in 2016?

Well to be honest the biggest trend this year and definitely going into next year is food trucks. We just did the first Asean Young Food Entrepreneur Conference (AYFE) in November this year and the main focus was Food Trucks. 80% of people who came wanted to open a food truck.

I also think the way people view food content is also going by the way of really short videos like those on Buzzfeed food and Tasty. Most content is now viewed on mobile so people are going to watch short videos while shopping for ingredients. I expect a lot more videos like that to go viral next year.

What are trends you’ll be happy to see disappear?

2015 has been the year of food events. Everyone wants to jump on the food event bandwagon and yes I think it's great. However I don't enjoy food events that are thrown together for the sake of making money. I appreciate well-curated ones. So I don't care for more food events next year if it’s going to be sloppily handled. But I reckon there will be tons next year so I am hoping that food event organisers get better at curating it and think about giving a better experience overall.

Dinesh Kumar, Maitre de Maison & Chief Sommelier at 8 Lido, Johor Bahru

As someone who has been in the food industry for over 15years, Dinesh Kumar is a man of many opinions when it comes to the direction of where food is going in the region.

What do you think will be the new food trends in 2016?

I think more restaurants are going with the farm-to-table movement. Some of them are even building their own backyard greenhouses and hydroponic farms as well as working with local suppliers and produce. We will also see more food delivery services, cleaner healthier menus and a unique take on cuisines such as Filipino food.

What are trends you’ll be happy to see disappear?

I’ll be happy to see fake copycat restaurants go, and restaurants that serve terrible food with horrendous service standards. It is almost impossible to find a place that has great service and food. It’s usually only one or the other. I’d be happy with outlets doing away with artificial seasonings and tinned or boxed ingredients when they could be using fresh ingredients instead.

Christian Bauer Ed Cotton Monica Tindall