The saying “everything is good for you in moderation” is at the forefront of the latest 2018 trends for event catering. As we saw veganism and vegetarianism on the rise in 2017, we can be fairly certain that this is here to stay as health and ethics become more important than ever when creating menus. The main change is not from those adapting to a vegetarian or vegan diet, but from the rest of the population who want to reduce their meat intake and look towards a more plant‑based diet. Although most people won’t use the term flexitarian or semi‑vegetarian to describe themselves, more restaurants across London have adapted their menus to offer more vegetarian dishes as the demand for meat based dishes decreases. For both ethical and health related reasons, diners are becoming more conscious about what they eat.
More people embracing a plant‑based diet is essentially the outcome of this, with a greater emphasis on where the ingredients are coming from and how we can reduce our intake of processed food and eat more natural ingredients. As event caterers, we know that gluten free and dairy free dietaries are now expected, as people’s digestive wellness is more important than ever. For this reason One Dining have been creating menus that emphasise the naturally gluten free, dairy free, or vegan ingredients that mean our menus are embracing this change rather than substituting items for a dietary specification.
On the flip side of this, we can already see a contender on the street food market for the next big trend – vegan junk food, or the “dirty vegan” trend. You may have heard restaurants recently opening their doors in the UK such as by Chloe, and much loved but small chains such as Cookies & Scream, who essentially cater for those who have made the commitment to veganism, but don’t want to sacrifice the guilty pleasures that come with eating a broader diet, such as a greasy burger or calorific milkshake as a Friday treat. We anticipate that catering for this fast growing community of people following a plant‑based diet will mean that it’s more important than ever to showcase menus that are diverse, full of flavour and don’t rely on meat or dairy products.
On the same train of thought as the switch to a plant‑based diet, we have seen the impact of #TheLastStraw campaign, with more and more companies requesting that plastic straws and single use plastic bottles are only offered on request. You may have read about this in the Evening Standard, where they stated that around two billion straws are thrown away in London alone each year, making London the plastic straw capital of Europe. For this reason, One Dining are proud to have introduced a plastic straw on request policy for all our events, with most of our clients opting to use paper straws instead.
Challenging the traditional
We all know that bowl food or mini meals has taken off in London as an alternative to a seated dinner or food stations, but it is thought that this success is based on the lifestyle shift for Londoners working in the city. Not only does the food we eat fuel our bodies for our careers and busy lifestyles, the ability to access takeaway style food is all the rage in restaurants across London. I’m sure you’ve stumbled across Yorkshire pudding wraps and other techniques to make street food and takeaway food transportable, without the use of plastics.
Another factor is that millennials in general have a faster pace of life and a fast‑casual approach to dining, which is far truer now then with other generations. Standing parties are quickly becoming as popular, if not more so than traditional sit down dinners, and creating menus that ensure guests leave events feeling they’ve had plenty to eat has meant a stunning revamp of One Dining’s grab food, bowl food and food stall menus. Think soft shell crab burgers, wild mushroom Wellingtons and trendy bao buns, which were presented in a variety of pastel shades for a recent event to match the product palate being showcased.
One revelation in particular is our wraps, skewers and salads station to replace the traditional hot buffet at conferences, as we’ve found more and more that conference clients are looking for trendy, easy to eat, delicious food, that does not require guests to load their plates and sit at a table during their lunch breaks. Instead the food is transportable, fresh and healthy – the perfect fuel for a working day.
Finally a top trend for London catering is the global menu. Mexican food is still trending, for its delicious street food style and opportunity for a range of flavours and styles. One Dining have added a hot new veggie option this year which is a Mexican 3 bean chilli to keep you warm at those ‘chilli’ Christmas parties. Brits are some of the biggest global travellers in the world and we can definitely handle our spice, so creating menus that are exciting and evoke memories of travel are a definite winner. Mina Holland calls cuisine “the edible love child of history and geography” and as event caterers One Dining are able to create that edible atlas of cuisine and challenge our clients to offer exciting, innovate and different menus for our events.