Executive Head Chef, Jens Nisson, shares his thoughts about the year ahead…
What trends are coming up in 2016?
Clients are much more adventurous in their menu selections – even for large scale events -requesting experiential events rather than just food as sustenance. We’re turning up the volume on our food using all the senses. Specially created scents, soundscapes, wind machines, visual triggers and textured serving vessels all add to the experience.
For receptions we offer canapes such as “Truffle hunting” whereby the guest forages in autumn leaves for a smoked ham truffle whilst listening to the sound of snorting pigs on headphones. It is delicious, but most importantly it’s fun and makes everyone laugh! We also have the Fish & chip station which is complete with salt & vinegar vapour, seaside sounds and a mini fillet of seabass on aerated potatoes with tartare on edible newspaper.
In terms of world cuisines, we are having fun with Korean influences – we’re particularly fond of our Gochujang duck slider.
What unusual ingredients are making an appearance menus?
With our bespoke and creative approach, we’re always finding exciting ingredients and developing new menus. We have an amuse-bouche called “Umami bomb” which features a tiny edible menu (we supply magnifying glasses!) and a Brazilian flower bud known as an ‘electric button’. With the other ingredients, it has a subtle cooling effect which adds another dimension. At tastings, after the meal, we often invite our guests to sample one flower bud on its own so that they can experience the true effect – which feels a little like the numbing sensation you can have with hot chillis, but without the pain!
Other ingredients we are working a lot with at the moment are sea urchin, octopus, scarlet shrimps, king crabs, sturgeon caviar, edible flowers, tapioca and horny melon on our iced fruit tables.
Is anything making a comeback?
There seems to have been a return to more luxury dining after the stripped back approach that has been popular over the last few years. Bold plating and stark colours are making a comeback. We are combining art and humour with opulent ingredients.
Which dishes continue to be popular?
In terms of canapes, we still love our Mango discs (dehydrated mango with Monte Enebro, red onion and micro salad) and over the last year have added alternatives such as Apple discs with smoked cheddar, Beetroot discs with Gorgonzola, red onion and micro rocket, and our popular breakfast treat, Coffee discs with donut cream.
Another favourite has to be our Smoked artichoke profiteroles which are often presented under their own individual cloches. Guests are always very interested to see what they are and they are even popular with people who confess to not liking artichokes! Our Smoke house sea trout with wasabi is a fantastic alternative and is presented in a miniature Japanese garden.
For dining, we find that vegetarian starters are selected most often, and our Burrata with truffle caviar has become a classic Bubble starter, along with “Squashed tomato” (Slipcote cheese in a tomato gazpacho shell). For mains, it can be hard to beat our Slow roast beef fillet, violet potato and beef cheek dumpling with crystallised cabbage, confit carrot, red cabbage ketchup and black garlic aioli.
Dessert lovers are not left out either with “Eggs benedict” (mango, passion fruit and almond on a brioche pudding) with Hot espresso chocolate mousse, or the eye-candy option of Crème brulee bubble with strawberry bubblegum foam.
What food trend/ingredient/dish is on its way out?
Hipster cafe culture is on the wane. Fermenting leaf mould is off the menu. Clued-up diners have tried that and moved on, more adventurous but looking for deliciousness overall. Wild food is here to stay but it needs to earn its place on the plate with great flavour. Hand-thrown bowls made of wattle and daub and barely-edible foraged swamp herbs are giving way to more exuberant food and presentation – which is great news for our adventurous chefs!
For further information, please see our recent contribution to Event Magazine’s article Top catering trends to watch out for in 2016