Life Style

Food traits that dominated 2017, and a sit up for 2018, Food News & Top Stories

Food wastage struck a chord with cooks and restaurateurs as the largest meals and beverage pattern this 12 months.

After all, the common Singapore family throws away about $170 price of meals and beverage a 12 months, in response to a survey launched in October that was commissioned by equipment maker Electrolux Singapore.

The whole quantity of meals waste generated in Singapore in a 12 months rose from 542,700 tonnes in 2006 to greater than 790,000 tonnes final 12 months – equal to 2 bowls of rice an individual a day. Only 14 per cent of this meals waste is recycled.

And in response to a research by the National Environment Agency, meals waste accounts for about half of the waste thrown away by every Singapore family on daily basis.

Rice, noodles and bread are probably the most generally wasted meals gadgets.

Other traits which can be prone to proceed into the brand new 12 months embody the thrill over pure wine, the rise of merchandising machines as a hip meals choice and, hopefully, the scrapping of service cost to encourage higher service.

As traits come and go, the cooks, together with The Sunday Times meals staff, additionally picked those who they need to see the final of.

Enough unhealthy meals and relentless queues already.

•Follow Eunice Quek on Twitter @STEuniceQ

2017 traits – the nice, the unhealthy and the doubtful


Food waste in Singapore is a perennial downside which has elevated by about 40 per cent during the last 10 years. The quantity of meals wasted final 12 months is equal to the burden of greater than three,500 MRT trains, mentioned the National Environment Agency in a news release earlier this month.

But the meals and beverage trade is stepping up efforts to minimise meals wastage.

This is bolstered by the transfer in direction of supporting sustainability, says Morsels’ chef-owner Petrina Loh, the place cooks are introducing responsibly sourced substances to the menu.

Chef Julien Royer of French fine-dining restaurant Odette on the National Gallery Singapore says: “Whether it’s over-ordering at restaurants or buying too many groceries, I’d love to see more ways that people can conveniently donate their excess food.”


Wild Rocket’s chef-owner Willin Low is inspired by extra folks pursuing the culinary arts, but in addition hopes they keep “rooted in tradition”.

He cites the examples of chef Malcolm Lee of the one-Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant Candlenut in Dempsey, in addition to chef-owner Sharon Low of kueh model Peranakan Khek in Cavan Road.

And not solely ought to younger cooks excel in Singapore, however abroad too, says the Prive Group’s chairman Yuan Oeij, 48. He provides: “I would love to see more budding Singaporean chefs take steps to enrich themselves further through learning experiences locally or abroad, so that in the near future, they are able to shine and contribute to the Singapore culinary scene.”


Hot meals merchandising machines are one of many greatest trendsetters for this 12 months. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

One of the largest trendsetters for this 12 months, which could be very prone to develop subsequent 12 months, is the merchandising machine revolution in Singapore, says Mr Ricky Ng, 45, managing director of Blue Lotus Concepts International.

Having ready-to-eat meals from a merchandising machine immediately turned hip, the results of enticing packaging and all kinds of meals selections.

One can now get from merchandising machines pastries from bakery chain Polar Puffs & Cakes; chilli crab from House Of Seafood; and salad and granola by Shake Salad.

And the Chef-In-Box VendCafe chain has ventured into purchasing malls and has plans to go abroad.

Acknowledging the expertise behind the pattern – which permits meals to remain recent longer – chef Willin Low says: “Ideally, I’d like my food to be prepared fresh, but sometimes that’s not possible. The tide is turning and we have to embrace technology.”


The unstated rule now’s that cell phones “eat first” when meals or a elaborate drink is positioned on the desk. And something significantly Instagramable – equivalent to oozy cheese or molten chocolate – is certain to get loads of likes.

Yet, what Prive Group’s chairman Yuan Oeij, 48, is especially aware about is meals made for social media, however “at the expense of common sense”.

He offers the examples of the flaming rooster – the place an entire roast rooster is dropped at the desk skewered upright and will get a splash of alcohol earlier than it’s set alight – in addition to “over-the-top toppings” on milkshakes.

He says of those fads: “Presentation takes priority over function and taste sensibilities.”


Mr Yoshiaki Sato makes Sato Wines, a pure wine, in New Zealand. PHOTO: ST FILE

Natural wine has develop into fairly a buzzword within the world of wine. It is made with out chemical substances and there may be minimal technological intervention within the wine-making course of.

Mr Henry Hariyono, 46, basic supervisor of Artisan Cellars, which imports and distributes advantageous wine, champagne and sake, says: “The finest examples of pure wine showcase what winemaking with out components can do and all types of pure wines tout drinkability as their fundamental advantage.

“That their label designs are often catchy and tongue-in-cheek only increase their allure for consumers.”

He provides that pure wine is an “easy, non-intimidating option” for beginner wine drinkers and likewise pairs nicely with meals.

He carries pure wine from France, Australia, Austria, the United States and New Zealand.

Mr Wee Teng Wen, 37, managing accomplice of The Lo & Behold Group, provides: “The shift towards natural wine is truly exciting because it helps to democratise an industry previously dominated by inflexible winemaking guidelines and encourages consumers to discover new and experimental wines.”

He enjoys the wines from the Sato label, run by a Japanese winemaker based mostly in New Zealand.

What we need to see in 2018


We can purchase the best uni on-line. We have a mind-boggling vary of jamon Iberico accessible right here. Wagyu? Everywhere you look.

We don’t, nonetheless, have good bacon. Yet. Isn’t it about time we cease having to purchase – and reluctantly prepare dinner – flabby, pink strips of goodness-knows-what?



Good staff must be rewarded and unhealthy ones should not.

Which is why I want extra restaurateurs will quit the service cost, which unfairly forces diners to pay equally for good and poor service. Even worse, many eateries don’t go on what they accumulate to the employees.

There is the argument that one ought to pay the 10 per cent cost as a result of one is served, whatever the high quality of the service. But what we see as an alternative is a disincentive for servers to go the additional mile.

So I salute restaurateurs, equivalent to Marco Pierre White, whose The English House opens subsequent month, who say: “Reward good service with a tip instead.” That often is the reply to higher requirements.



Sugar might be evil. We want some, however too typically, we ingest an excessive amount of of it. It’s powerful to cut back one’s sugar consumption when confectioneries, drink stalls and dessert outlets sweeten their choices excessively.

I wish to see extra zero-sugar drinks or ones sweetened with sugar options equivalent to Stevia.

Agave syrup could have extra energy than sugar per serving, however as a result of it’s sweeter, solely a drop is required. It additionally has a low glycemic index.

Perhaps, there may also be extra truffles and confections made with much less sugar or with sugar options for these attempting to make the change to a more healthy life-style.



Many younger cooks who enter the scene find yourself going to Western or fine-dining institutions to forge their careers.

Ask them if they will whip up a superb char kway teow or laksa, and you’re prone to get a sheepish grin.

Veteran cooks lament that conventional dishes and flavours from Singapore’s totally different races and dialect teams are slowly disappearing.

I hope youthful cooks will take up the problem to champion conventional dishes. And let’s not take with no consideration the normal institutions which can be nonetheless round and make it a degree to doc heirloom recipes.


What we don’t need to see in 2018


A profitable eating idea from overseas opens in Singapore and you may simply think about the restaurateur sitting again and smiling smugly, watching the crowds descend and the money register go berserk.

And but, so many of those international imports don’t dwell as much as the hype. The meals is less-than-stellar, as with some new ramen joints; and the ideas are diluted. Sometimes, the dilution is literal.

Recently, I had a Manhattan cocktail at a brand new steakhouse, the offshoot of a New York chain. The fundamental ingredient was melted ice cubes. I despatched it again and solely then did I get a correct Manhattan.

A New York steakhouse that can’t make a good Manhattan on first strive? I’m not darkening these doorways once more.

Singaporeans travel so broadly and are prone to have eaten on the authentic eating places which open offshoots right here. If they don’t discover satisfaction, they stroll. There are loads of different selections.

So restaurateurs, you are taking us with no consideration at your individual peril. No ka-ching for you.



Fermenting meals has caught on not solely with home cooks but in addition restaurant cooks.

It could all appear very fascinating to come up with new flavours and substances, however not every thing seems palatable.

I get pleasure from fermented meals equivalent to kimchi and tempeh, however a number of the funky smells and strange-looking issues I’ve encountered prior to now 12 months at eateries such because the defunct Bistro November appear extra like science experiments than meals. Still, fermented meals is meant to be good on your intestine, so hopefully cooks will make a higher effort to get it to style good too.



Anyone desirous to open one other poke bowl eatery ought to do it nicely with high quality substances – and skip the canned corn. PHOTO: WASHINGTON POST

I really like that grains equivalent to quinoa and farro have develop into mainstays on menus right here.

But whereas there may be now a sizeable variety of more healthy meals choices that embody specialist protein and poke bowl eateries, I detest that lots of them are mediocre at finest.

Don’t get me improper, the poke pattern is nice – there are a few respectable ones – however sufficient already.

So until you are going to serve high quality, well-executed gadgets to go together with the grains, do not trouble. Please, skip the canned corn and chickpeas.

And what’s with the dry rooster breast and fishy, over-cooked salmon?

Give produce the respect it deserves.



A scorching pattern this 12 months that bothered me tremendously is the recognition of fruit teas – these outsized drinks with chunks of fruit which can be all the fashion in Taiwan and China.

It’s fairly good, I assume, to supply bubble tea with fruit floating in it and immediately everyone seems to be having a so-called more healthy drink that prices as much as $6.90.

What I am not eager on is that the slew of latest manufacturers – eight and counting – are promoting the identical outdated bubble tea, with most of the drinks nonetheless too candy.

Some even ask you the extent of sugar you need, which fully goes in opposition to the thought of a more healthy drink.

I might additionally relatively have the employees brew a cup of correct tea in entrance of me, not fill cups with pre-made tea from a dispenser.

With customers extra specific in regards to the type of tea they’re ingesting,this fruit tea pattern is a bubble ready to burst if the manufacturers don’t up their game.


What cooks don’t need to see in 2018


The entrance of the Taiwan-style castella truffles resulted in snaking queues. Social media additionally went loopy with movies of the jiggly truffles which can be usually baked and sliced in full view of shoppers.

While the hype has died down considerably, it was revived this month with the opening of Grand Castella Cake from Taiwan at nex and Raffles City malls.

The obsession baffles Wild Rocket restaurant’s chef-owner Willin Low, 45, who says: “I don’t understand why people queue for this. Isn’t it just kai tan gou (Cantonese for steamed egg cake)?”


What gave the impression to be only a meals fad has seemingly gotten uncontrolled, with salted egg yolk turning up in all kinds of snacks and dishes.

As a sauce, it’s drizzled on burgers, fish and chips and even tendon (tempura on Japanese rice).

It can be included into ice cream, croissants and even utilized in mookata.

And each eating places and snack manufacturers have rolled out salted egg yolk chips and fish pores and skin.

Fusion restaurant Morsels’ chef-owner Petrina Loh, 35, says: “I love salted egg, but it’s going into everything.”

Maintaining a Michelin star prices an excessive amount of for some cooks

Chef Jerome Brochot is giving up his Michelin star at his restaurant due to the prices of sustaining excessive requirements. PHOTO: NYTSYN

MONTCEAU-LES-MINES, FRANCE• It is like giving up your Nobel Prize, rejecting your Oscar, pushing again in your Pulitzer: Jerome Brochot, a famend and refined chef, determined to show in his Michelin star.

He is renouncing the uniquely French distinction that separates his restaurant from 1000’s of others, the lifetime dream of a whole bunch.

But his determination was not a rash one, born of conceitedness, ingratitude or spite. Rather, it was for a prosaic, however nonetheless vital, purpose: He may now not afford it.

It is a drastic step that claims every thing in regards to the crushing actuality of “the other France” – the provinces the place on common greater than 10 per cent of storefronts are vacant, the outdated jobs have gone and the cafes are empty on chilly mornings.

Even in a area famed for its culinary traditions, this declining outdated mining city deep in decrease Burgundy couldn’t maintain a one-star Michelin restaurant.

Brochot, a youthful-looking 46, had gambled on high-end delicacies in a working-class city and misplaced.

In November, he wrote to the Guide Michelin, the fats purple gastronome’s bible in Paris that bestows the honour, to say he needed out.

He may now not make ends meet at his vivid orange hotel-restaurant Le France, he mentioned. He may now not pay for the personnel, produce and precision that go into charging one-star costs.

“The economic situation here in the ex-mining basin is a disaster,” he wrote to Michelin.

“What I’m doing today, I’m not doing lightly, but because I have no other choice.”

Turning in a single’s stars is not unprecedented, however it’s uncommon. A handful of three-star cooks have carried out so through the years, crushed by the expense and pressures of sustaining their temples of gastronomy.

To step out of Brochot’s gleaming kitchen and immaculate, angular eating room is to marvel how he received right here within the first place.

It appears an extravagance in a pale industrial city whose glory days had been 100 years in the past, just like the reproach perpetually thrown at France itself as a rustic dwelling past its means.

The “for sale” indicators on the worn pastel storefronts down Brochot’s avenue are pale with age. The few folks hobbling about within the gloom of a cold December morning are bent over with outdated age.

“There will never be buyers here,” Brochot mentioned outdoors a shuttered retailer that was on the market.

Unemployment is 21 per cent in Montceau, in response to the government’s statistics, greater than twice the nationwide common. But the coup de grace for Brochot was the shuttering of 4 companies in fast succession.

“I said, ‘This is going to be complicated for us, with 200 people out on the street,'” the chef recalled.

The inhabitants, round 18,000, has been in regular decline for years and the final coal was pulled out of the earth practically 20 years in the past.

Not a lot has occurred since – apart from Brochot.

It was 18 years in the past that the chef wager that there was simply sufficient trade within the space to let him train his abilities near home.

Six years later, he was awarded his first star by Michelin.

But he’s a whole bunch of 1000’s of euros in debt from a kitchen renovation, so it was a query of self-preservation. With a prime menu at US$130 (S$174), his objective of 60 diners a day was turning into an increasing number of elusive.

“It’s been catastrophic for the last three years,” mentioned Brochot, a quicksilver whirl of perpetual movement as soon as he’s in his chef’s whites.

His technique seems to be working. He has reduce his costs and is providing a extra down-to-earth delicacies of stews, together with the traditional blanquette de veau, and serving cod as an alternative of the dearer sea bass.

It had depressed him deeply, he mentioned, to have to throw away pricey bass and turbot, like gold even in France’s avenue markets, on the finish of each sitting as a result of his clients could not afford it.

“There was a lot of waste,” he mentioned. “Since we changed the formula, we’ve gotten a lot more people,” he mentioned.

Above all, the impact has been psychological. “In the heads of people, a one-star, it’s the price,” he mentioned.


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