Chef consultant gives her top 10 UAE menu trends for 2020

Tamara Malhis is the founder of Vous

Zero-waste cooking – sustainability had a huge impact on the restaurant industry in 2019, and its influence is only set to grow. Restaurants will start to embrace the zero waste approach, meaning reducing the amount of ingredients they buy, as well as utilising items that would otherwise be discarded in creative ways for as little waste as possible
Zero-waste cooking – sustainability had a huge impact on the restaurant industry in 2019, and its influence is only set to grow. Restaurants will start to embrace the zero waste approach, meaning reducing the amount of ingredients they buy, as well as utilising items that would otherwise be discarded in creative ways for as little waste as possible

Tamara Malhis, chef consultant and founder of Vous events management, has given us her opinion on what the next big 10 UAE menu trends will be for 2020.

Here’s what she thinks you’ll be cooking, and how.

1) Zero-waste cooking – sustainability had a huge impact on the restaurant industry in 2019, and its influence is only set to grow. Restaurants will start to embrace the zero waste approach, meaning reducing the amount of ingredients they buy, as well as utilising items that would otherwise be discarded in creative ways for as little waste as possible.

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2) More prominence for plant-based foods – this year has been called “The Year of the Vegan” due to the massive rise in people turning to veganism, vegetarianism, and even flexitarianism. Restaurants are responding to demand, and instead of scouring the menu for meat and dairy-free options, plant-based sections are going to be highlighted as a major USP.

3) Less is more – gone are the days of the multi-page menu; it’s all about sticking to your specialties and keeping it concise. Smaller menus usually mean better quality because the chefs are more focused on ingredient choice and perfecting a selection of dishes, while customers enjoy a simpler ordering process. Diners are also more likely to remember why they enjoy a particular venue and stay loyal.

4) Super casualisation – formal dining is being replaced by casual-style eateries around the world, and even in a market like the UAE where fine dining will always have a place, the emphasis will be on interacting, sharing, and socialising. This also taps into the need for restaurateurs to make dining out more affordable across the board as people are looking for better value and more memorable experiences.

5) Health-focused desserts – healthy treats and sugar substitutes are nothing new and the category is still evolving. We’ll see syrups made from things like dates, pomegranates, coconut and even sweet potato. And, when it comes to flour, look out for banana flour and coconut flour, resulting in more natural tasting desserts.

6) Mood foods – the phrase ‘we are what we eat’ has come a long way; millennials want food that makes them feel good and supports their health. Fresh, natural, and organic are a must and restaurants will take it even further with ingredients chosen for their specific properties e.g. salmon and spinach for a serotonin high, lentils to boost iron levels, and beetroot to promote blood flow and circulation.

7) Elevated children’s menus – eating out with children can be a tricky one, and the challenge of finding something healthy that they want to eat is even harder with unimaginative kids’ menus. Chefs are recognising that children’s tastes have evolved, especially in such a culturally diverse community such as the UAE. Plus, as parents make more conscious choices, they want better taste and quality for their little ones too. Kids’ menus will be broader, healthier, more creative, and combine different cuisines to elevate the old classics.

8) Meat/plant blends – even the die-hard meat eaters among us are getting influenced by climate change messages that encourage less meat consumption. Plus, there’s no doubt that vegetables contain less fat and calories. With that in mind, we’ll see dishes that are meat-based but combined with veg for lighter, nutrient-rich, eco-friendly options. Kale and chicken sausages anyone?

9) Flavoured spreads – traditional dairy butter is getting a makeover and being fused with flavours, such as truffle, herbs, and lemon, to give an extra bite to your bread. At the same time, non-dairy nut and seed butter ranges are expanding as well. Watermelon, chickpea, and macadamia butters are all on next year’s hotlist.

10) Non-alcoholic drinks choice – it’s no longer up to bartenders to use their imagination and create appetising mocktails, there’s a lot more choice available from drinks brands too. Premium, zero-proof mixed beverages and innovations such as alcohol-free gin are a big hit. What’s more, rather than relying on sugar for taste, many of them are infused with plants and herbs for a waist-friendly treat.

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