Calgary

Will we keep baking bread and ordering pizza? Food trends columnist Elizabeth Chorney-Booth weighs in

Food trends columnist Elizabeth Chorney-Booth thinks we'll attempt lengthier recipes, like smoked meat, but will probably keep ordering in.

'It's still all about comfort food,' she says

Cooking meat over long periods of time, like brisket, could be one food trend people turn to in 2021 says Chorney-Booth. (Suresh Doss)

This year's food trends will be hard to predict if we look at last year's guesses as an indication of what's to come, says food trends columnist Elizabeth Chorney-Booth.

"Who knows?" said Chorney-Booth on The Homestretch.

"I actually looked up some of the trends for 2020 that were predicted last January, and it was all about things like healthy plant-based eating, non-alcoholic cocktails, less single-use plastic for containers … that all pretty much went out the window in March when we all started drinking and snacking our sorrows away, and ordering so much takeout that there was a shortage of food containers in the spring."

She says we can look to the actual trends of 2020 — comfort food, charcuterie and online cooking classes — as a guide map for the year ahead.

While the projections for 2020 food trends may have included healthy dishes, we actually saw a resurgence in the popularity of charcuterie boards, she says.

Calgary restaurant trends

Chorney-Booth says, "it's still all about comfort food."

She says some new restaurants in Calgary are opening but offering take-out only.

"It seems like at least half of them are specializing in pizza and the other half are doing fried chicken or tacos."

She predicts takeout will continue to dominate even if restrictions on in-person dining are lifted.

Come springtime, Chorney-Booth believes Calgary's patios will be once again flooded with visitors.

In terms of menus, she thinks they will focus on, "food that's not just familiar but also easily transportable."

She says eagerness for delivery staples like pizza has led restaurants to up their creativity in terms of toppings.

"Dill pickle seems to be the big one right now … I had one the other night from Jin Bar and it had honey buttered potato chips on [it]," she said. "The brand new Pink Door Pizza in McKenzie Towne is doing one with fried chicken."

She says it's been a tough year for restaurants but that "we also have to remember that the restaurant business is precarious, even at the best of times."

Success depends on many factors, like whether a restaurant has a strong customer base and if they are willing to diversify in what they are offering, she says.

More plant-based purchases 

Chorney-Booth says while the focus during the last 10 months may have been on fast and easy comfort food, it will likely shift to a "bit of a resurgence in that plant based trend that was promised for 2020."

She points to the plant-based fast food trend during the past year — using the popular V burger on 17th Avenue as an example — but explains that "it's not necessarily health conscious."

"I think we're going to see more high-quality salad kits take out. That's a little less treat driven," she said.

"I've seen a lot of cuisines that specialize in slightly lighter fare or a combination of lighter and heavier food."

She says a good example of this are Japanese restaurants in Calgary that are gaining popularity.

Time-consuming home cooking

Given many people will still be working from home — with little to do in the evenings — they are apt to take on longer-term cooking projects, says Chorney-Booth. 

"Just more of those time consuming dishes that most of us have stopped making in regular life because life was moving too fast," she said.

Things like smoked meats, souffles, beef Wellington and yes, bread-baking.

Once it is safe to do so Chorney-Booth believes communal cooking tools, like a fondue pot, will be popular. ( Julie Van Rosendaal)

Once people are allowed to socialize in smaller groups again she thinks they'll reach for the fondue pot.

"That same retro spirit is going to come out in communal cooking at home. You know, things like table grills, hot pots, fondues are going to be big throughout the winter."

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