Marmalade and Chutney made in one of our units

I don’t know anyone who knows more about food than our Creative Genius Director of Food Service, David James. He particularly knows extraordinary facts that make me say, “how do you know that!” I’ve made an assessment of his 2012 predictions.

1. Home cooking, baking and the Great British afternoon tea

This has been a great success at bartlett mitchell. Home baking has always been one of our principles and when your customers are gripped with enthusiasm too, you know it’s a good prediction. We have seen customers having competitions, baking for charity and getting behind programs such as ‘The Great British Bake off’. If you measure the success of this prediction by the sale of baking recipe books, then yes it’s strike 1 for David.

2. Healthier vending

Vending continued to be the bane of everyone’s life with customers demanding the vending machine be filled with items they never buy, however the move to healthier food has become mainstream. Dried fruit & nuts in particular are showing a real ability to have staying power and even chocolate that is good for you (it has probiotics in it). I really like that idea! Generally ‘grab & go’ healthier choices are gradually invading the vending machine – however when the afternoon munchies come, it’s still difficult to knock chocolates off the top spot.

3. Bygone foods

David talked about Ye Old Crops and things we had forgotten about in our shiny, new perfect shaped world. With the effect of dreadful the weather on crops this year, consumers have woken up to the fact that this is not a perfect world and we are going to have to just put up with the odd imperfectly shaped item and the old style apples and the more robust style of vegetable.

4. Grow your Own

Well I managed a paltry 5 strawberries and a half dozen tomatoes in my feeble attempt of untended planting (it always starts out enthusiastically) but I think it’s a bit like having kids – you have to feed them regardless of what your day is like – (whereas I prefer to get myself a G&T). However, it’s probably a more ‘needs-must’ for this predication with prices as they are. There’s a real bright side in intensity of taste with home grown. And my Dad had so many tomatoes growing, he fed the bartlett mitchell office for a month, and we all agreed they tasted a zillion times better and it was worth the effort.

5. Food inflation

Sadly this was a truism to, there’s been a price spike hike and there seems no let-off. Chefs are having to become more inventive and when you look at recent reports on what chefs bought, most it is was the cheaper cuts of meat, I consider this a bonus as these cuts definitely have the best taste and require the most loving culinary care.

6. Pickling and preserving

Certainly at bartlett mitchell there has been a massive enthusiasm for this as chefs are really starting to become pickling giants in their own emporium and sales are running out the door.

7. Outdoor dining and cooking

How we would have loved for this to be the case – I am sure all of us are out there ready to make it happen it’s just the weather that let us down. I’ve read the wettest period is normally followed by the driest, so let’s hope this trend is right for 2013.

8. Rabbit and goat

David described these as, ‘robust, tender and sweet’. I can hold testament to the rabbit being a wonder drug too – at 98 my Dad had a new hip and was poorly for a few days with a slight infection. After David made a rabbit stew for him he was home and recovering well from both the operation and the infection.

9. International flavour

Pop up restaurants have really abounded this year and the website ‘The Nudge’ fills my inbox daily with new catering venues, new ways and new cuisines. I defy anyone to find a better foodie city than London. The influence of all this foodiness is rubbing off on everyone, from our team to our customers.

10 And finally, at number 10 – Breakfast is the new Dinner

One amazing fact I am always amused by is that 5 years ago if we had put porridge on the menu at breakfast – we would have sold maybe one or two bowls, and now our ‘Hodge Podge’ bar is a best seller. So yes definitely a healthier morning and customers are being more conscious of eating like a King at breakfast.

Overall David made amazingly accurate food trend predictions for 2012, and I can’t wait to see what he gives us to look forward to in 2013.

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My earliest food memories are of my mum’s baking; coconut pyramid cakes were my favourite.

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