New year, new food. We spoke to Sergio Sanz Blanco of Michelin-starred Ametsa with Arzak Instruction about his predictions for 2017, including more charcoal, less foie gras and a rise in Hawaiian flavours.
1) What ingredients do you think will be popular on restaurant menus in 2017?
Plankton – which is a water algae. It is usually used in the medical industry. It is packed with nutrients and health benefits so as we see the trend in health-conscious food growing this could be an interesting ingredient to look out for. I also think we’ll see more ‘good fats’ which is great, – people shouldn’t steer away from good quality butter, cheese and yoghurt.
2) What cuisines do you expect to become more popular in 2017?
Basque food. Ametsa opened 3.5 years ago as the first Michelin star Basque restaurant in London. Spanish restaurants in London are already very popular however London has seen more Basque restaurants pop up recently. I would expect to see more of these restaurant open as Spanish tapas is very popular and it would be great to see Basque cuisine become more widely known. We’ve seen the rise of sharing foods, at Ametsa we serve beautiful tapas for the table to share and enjoy as an alternative to a starter.
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 and I think it’s vital that this trend continues in 2017. I feel it is important to educate especially our newer diners on the provenance of our fresh produce. The UK has amazing fish from the coastal waters and meat from the countryside, we only serve the highest quality of produce and ingredients in the restaurant.
4) If 2016 was the year of the Mexican mash-up, what will 2017 be the year of in terms of eating out?
5) What do you believe to be the next ‘courgetti’?
6) When it comes to vegetarian/vegan dining, have you seen an increase in this market? Do you suspect that this trend will continue?
I have seen a big rise in guests requesting vegan and vegetarian menus. This has increased compared to last year so we have now developed a tasting menu to accommodate rather than a limited selection of a la carte dishes.
7) 2016 was the year of the ‘sugar scare’. Since the sugar tax was announced in the March budget, have you seen an increase in diners who ask about sugar levels in meals and do you suspect this will continue?
Generally we don’t have guests who ask about sugar however we have seen that a greater number of guests that do not have sugar in their hot beverages. We also limit the amount of sugar that is used in our dishes.
8) What ingredients do you suspect we will see less of on restaurant menus in 2017?
Foie gras. As people become more health conscious and aware of how food is created (not a bad thing) I think we will see a natural decline in this dish.
9) Will 2017 see the rise of ‘the savoury meal’ or the ‘sweet treats’?
I feel that next year will be more savoury – with the rise in casual dining restaurants which offer sharing plates this will continue.