Chef Ian Howard, of Babylon at The Roof Gardens, talks to us about local sourcing, the rise of veggie, and what’s to come in 2017.
1) What ingredients do you think will be popular on restaurant menus in 2017?
I think 2017 will see an emphasis on ‘home grown’ ingredients. Over recent years we have seen our guests proactively taking a greater interest in the journey from field to plate; it’s no longer enough to simply have a few items on your menu that are locally sourced. In Babylon, being situated above The Roof Gardens gives us a wealth of inspiration; I have regular catch ups with our Head Gardener to see what herbs she’s growing and how we can incorporate the atmosphere of The Gardens into the menu.
2) What flavours have you seen being developed, that you envisage emerging on restaurant menus in 2017?
Across the industry there has been a real increase in guests looking for healthy, vegetarian and vegan options. 2016’s huge courgetti trend showed how vegetables can take the starring role in a dish, and no doubt vegetable based dishes and ingredients will continue to rise in popularity for 2017. Expect to see vegetables used in everything from yoghurts to pickles to oils on restaurant menus.
3) Have you seen a trend for locally sourced food amongst diners over the past year and do you expect this to continue in 2017?
Absolutely. In Babylon, luxury dining doesn’t mean that sustainability has to fall by the wayside, in fact our guests expect us to go above and beyond the norm and this is 100% what sustainability is about for us. We ensure that our suppliers are as local as possible, meet our sustainability values and of course offer the best quality ingredients. I think it’s important to get out and meet suppliers as much as possible and encourage my team to do the same; we recently went to Colchester to see where our oysters come from. We are hearing more and more guests talking about this inclusive approach to sourcing and are expecting this to continue into 2017 and beyond.