Recent snippets of significance from the Press
The Future of Health
Writing in The Times, Helen Rumbelow trials a new gadget that lets users choose food based on their genes. The DNA Nudge wristband and associated app was developed by scientists at Imperial College and essentially works by analysing a sample of person’s DNA to determine general overall health with an emphasis on issues such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease. This info can then be coded into the wristband which has an inbuilt barcode scanner and motion sensor – so it can recommended products during a supermarket shop that are best for your personal DNA profile and also provide a guide to beneficial exercise regimes. It’s certainly cutting-edge technology and something I’m sure we’re going to see become more mainstream over the coming years, especially as these sort of gadgets are only going to get more sophisticated and accurate.
It’s all a Matter of Taste
We all have those particular foods and tastes that we just can’t get on with, and in his regular column in The Telegraph, chef Stephen Harris, takes a look at why individual tastes vary so much. It seems that we all taste in slightly different ways, for example tolerance to salt differs from person to person and we all also have varying amounts of receptors that pick up bitter flavours – and if you happen to have large amounts of these receptors then you may well find biter foods and drinks to be inedible.
Dark Days for Restaurants
The Sunday Times has an interesting article on the rise of so-called dark kitchens, that is, restaurant-style kitchens that are set up solely to cater for the home delivery market – a topic we’ve covered ourselves in a number of recent blog pieces. As full-service, bricks and mortar restaurants continue to struggle and as food home delivery only continues to grow in popularity these dark kitchens are appearing in cities across the globe, from London to New York and Sao Paulo to New Delhi. However despite these kitchens being cheaper to run than traditional restaurants they come with their own set of problems that include issues with recruiting and keeping staff to the large amounts of plastic waste that they generate. Regardless, as this article points out, for food delivery these are halcyon days, and with plenty of potential profit in the pipeline, it seems that in the immediate future, dark kitchens are only set to become more ubiquitous.
The Whole Fish, and Nothing But the Fish
It is estimated that only 43% of each fish and shellfish caught in the UK is eaten as food, with the bones, head and offal either being tossed away or ground into fishmeal. However one chef, Australian Josh Niland is now trying to challenge this wasteful practice – in fact at his Sydney restaurant Saint Peter and associated ‘fish’ butchery he and his team make use of over 90% of each fish. Niland has just published The Whole Fish Cookbook, and to coincide with this The Guardian has an interview with him, in which he details the inspiration behind his revolutionary style of ‘fin-to-tail’ fish cookery which include an obvious passion for fish and a stint working at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck.
There’s Cod up North
With news that the MSC is in the process of suspending their sustainability certificates for North Sea cod, food writer Tim Hayward, along with chefs Mark Hix and Valentine Warner head to a place where cod is still fished sustainably – the Lofoten archipelago off the tip of northern Norway. This bleak and beautiful area is where cod come every year to spawn, something the local fisherman have been taking advantage of for 100’s of years. As Hayward reports in The FT, despite the cod no longer being the vital revenue stream it once was (tourism is catching up fast) the cod here is still vitally important to the local population and is revered for its versatility as a food source – be it fresh, frozen or air dried.
It’s Wine, Naturally
This in-depth piece in The New Yorker looks at the growth of, and increasing trendiness of natural wines. These wines, which are typically made with organic grapes, using no added yeast, no filtration, no chemical additives, no new oak barrels and no mechanical manipulations, have over the past decade been slowly but surely disrupting the traditional global wine industry. Natural wines are a good fit for a modern generation of environmentally conscious and food obsessed consumers, however, as this article points out, like many artisan products that become popular and enter the mainstream they risk losing what made them so special in the first place if they become too commercialised. Although admittedly for many wine drinkers natural wines still remain an acquired taste, so they may just continue to remain a niche tipple.
When in Miami
The FT has an article on Miami’s Design District, a now thriving retail and dining area that has revitalised a once run-down suburb on the edge of the city. Over the past 20 years or so this area has grown from a mere out of the way curiosity to a fully-fledged shopping precinct and a destination in its own right. Although it took a while to attract suitable tenants, this district has now flourished thanks to an ambitious redevelopment plan, in part funded by luxury retail giant LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy). Alongside the many big name retailers now to be found here there’s also plenty of independent shops and eateries, and dining and drinking options even include a number of instore places, that blur the line between retail and restaurant, such as the Dior rooftop café.
We Need to Talk
Over the past few years voice-operated AI has become common-place in the home, through devices and apps such as Siri, Amazon Echo and Google Home and now unsurprisingly it’s also moving into the office. In this article in The FT, Shannon Bond takes a look at such voice activated technology and how it’s set to revolutionise the way we work – in fact Gartner, the technology research group, estimates that by 2023 a quarter of worker interactions with software will be mediated by voice, up from less than 3 per cent this year. However despite all the excitement over the possibilities for this tech, the applications currently available are limited, and companies say it is too early to predict it’s potential impact – although it will undoubtedly lead to a profound change in the way we work in the near future. Going forward, it will be especially interesting to see how this type of tech will be adapted for, and utilised by, the restaurant and food industry.