Culinary tourism is a huge trend in travel, with a recent study by the United Nations World Tourism Organization finding that food events are the single most popular tourism product, followed by cooking workshops and classes, then food fairs featuring local food products. Social media is playing a big role in sharing the delights of world cuisine to eager audiences, many of whom are hopping on the foodie bandwagon and heading to countries famed for seducing the palate with an experience that is off the beaten track. In this post, we highlight a handful of fascinating concepts that are delighting diners across the globe.
An intense focus on health
Farm & Craft’s Ryan Hibbert knew he was on to a good thing when his two Arizona restaurants began featuring prominently on social media and in recommendations by international food critics. Farm & Craft serves ‘wellness-inspired’ cuisine that hones in on three new trends: probiotics, antioxidants, and anti-stress foods. While this restaurant isn’t the first to highlight the connection between food and good health, it certainly is one of the first to bravely tackle three important health issues (digestive health, aging, and stress), offering diners a delicious way to maximize health through diet.
Food and virtual reality
Michelin-starred restaurant Etxanobe in Bilbao, in the north of Spain, is famed for its ‘emotional’ approach to food. Chef Fernando Canales has taken it a step further through virtual reality, which guests can experience when they order the dessert called ‘Violets’. Diners don a VR headset and ‘float’ over a field full of violets while they tuck into a dessert inspired by this delicate flower.
Vegetarian fried chicken
The global rise in vegan and plant-based eating is far more than a fad, with Just Eat recently naming veganism a ‘Top Consumer Trend in 2018’ owing to a 94% increase in orders of this type of cuisine. KFC is the first restaurant chain to jump on the vegetarian fried chicken bandwagon; the company recently revealed to the Mirror that it is planning on serving a vegetarian chicken that contains all of its 11 famous herbs and spices.
Insects are high in protein, calcium, and iron and they are increasingly becoming part of mainstream fare in countries such as Cambodia, where fried tarantulas are all the rage. Closer to home, you can try cricket tacos at Toloache in NYC. In London, meanwhile, Wahaca has been delighting guests with grasshoppers served on top of mozzarella and cheddar, while Harvey Nichols served daring diners Chinese scorpions in sweets, toffee, and chocolate.
Stimulating the senses
Vespertine in LA is determined to take care of every single detail, so that pampering the senses becomes as important as serving guests good food. Guests are required to take an active part in the dining experience by lifting leaves or flowers to find succulent meat dishes beath. They are also invited to enjoy the organic feel of volcanic crockery, and to feast their eyes on the beauty around them; the Chef’s aprons are woven on a loom, the staff is dressed in black from head to toe, and art is the inspiration rather than mere adornment.
Beauty, technology, and science are more alive than they ever were in trending food concepts, despite Heston Blumenthal’s announcement that molecular cuisine is dead. Chefs like Dani García (Marbella, Spain) are continuing to experiment with new gases and chemicals to create even more artistic creations, while in other parts of the globe, chefs are focusing on reinventing simple regional cuisine. Emerging food concepts are proving that culinary magic is still very much an individual concept; as original and personal as the works of any great artist or chef.
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