Culinary Marvels: Food Trends for 2024

South Africa’s culinary landscape is ever evolving, with chefs and food enthusiasts constantly pushing boundaries and exploring new flavours. With so many moving parts, the proud emergence and embrace of authenticity and the willingness, this author would even say keen enthusiasm, to create and innovate, let’s take a look at the current culinary trends shaping the diverse regions, and likes, of South Africa and it’s ‘cans. 

Alternative proteins and the Plant-Based Revolution Across the Nation

A growing consciousness around health and sustainability is fuelling the plant-based revolution in South Africa. From my local spots as a Jozi resident to the multiple of blogs on LinkedIn, this shift in mindset is fuelled by a social emphasis on sustainability. From Cape Town to Johannesburg, more restaurants are offering innovative plant-based dishes that cater to the growing demand for vegetarian and vegan options. Expect to find creative plant-based burgers, colourful Buddha bowls, and indulgent dairy-free desserts gracing menus across the country.

The dynamic and thus ongoing Fusion Fare and Global Influences in Urban Hotspots

In cosmopolitan hubs like Cape Town and Durban, culinary experimentation knows no bounds. Chefs are embracing global influences and fusing flavours from around the world to create exciting new dishes. Ever pushing while simultaneously blending, fusion now makes every day the Korean Taco, the tandoori Italian with to spice-infused pizzas, the fusion fare scene is thriving, offering diners a tantalizing journey of taste sensations.

Heritage Rediscovery with a Modern Twist, the more things change the more they stay the same but also change

While honouring tradition, chefs in regions like Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape are putting a contemporary spin on heritage cuisine. There’s a renewed interest in indigenous ingredients and cooking techniques, resulting in dishes that pay homage to South Africa’s rich culinary heritage while embracing modern culinary trends. Expect to encounter reinvented classics like chakalaka-spiced risotto and umngqusho arancini on menus. Venues, ambience and offerings in the tourism landscape of Mpumalanga especially reflect this regardless of which niche of South African heritage, taking and showcasing up proudly to many international visitors that flock here in the season months

Hyper-Local Sourcing and Seasonal Delights

I recall my excitement back in 2016 working with a then cutting edge and unique local Botriver business who introduced me to the term foraging. 8 years ago, and well over a decade into my own hands-on involvement in this industry of hospitality, this was out the box. Today, a short 8 years later, the farm-to-table movement has evolved into hyper-local sourcing, with restaurants in regions like the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal forging even closer ties with nearby producers. Embracing seasonal ingredients at their peak freshness, chefs are creating menus that change daily to showcase the best of what’s available locally. From foraged wild herbs to heirloom vegetables, expect to taste the essence of South Africa’s terroir in every bite. The term has been largely popularized and brought to the attention of us all by now even into the retail space

Interactive Dining Experiences and Food Halls

Interactive dining experiences are gaining popularity across major cities, offering diners more than just a meal – they provide an immersive culinary journey. From chef’s table experiences to DIY cooking classes, these interactive formats allow diners to engage with their food on a deeper level. Additionally, food halls continue to thrive, providing a vibrant space where diners can explore a diverse range of culinary offerings from artisanal producers and food entrepreneurs.

Before closing however, we should acknowledge the return of comfort food, coupled to the move of Gen X and early millennial’s and the entertainment trend of nostalgia and yesteryear’s, almost in contrast to the innovation however still linked to re-imagining – Imagination being so vital in our culinary journeys, where necessity meets imagination as an everyday luxury while being a principal, fundamental and basic human right.

In conclusion, South Africa’s culinary scene is a dynamic tapestry of innovation, tradition, and global influences. From the plant-based revolution sweeping the nation to the fusion fare flourishing in urban centres, there’s never been a more exciting time to explore the diverse flavours of South Africa’s contemporary food landscape. Perhaps we could even say it is never too late to even coax this retired chef out of said retirement.

By Caval Goodyear

Hospitality Jobs Africa