It is shaping up to be another interesting year with plenty of good and not-so-good top Australian food trends 2019 and Brisbane food trends to track.
Drawing on my 20 years as a food writer, I’ve looked ahead for Australian food trends highlighting the dining changes which you will experience throughout the year.
Flick to the end to see my predictions for the sizzling Brisbane food trends and what is happening on the dining scene.
UPDATE: See my 10 Top Australian Food Trend predictions for 2020 here.
Nine big National Australian Food Trends for 2019
Satisfying the discerning diner will not only require an engaging menu filled with taste-tempting food, but also the backstory on where it came from. Going forward we want to know where what we are about to put in our mouth was grown, caught, farmed or processed. The best answer is local, Australian and sustainable.
Look for these descriptions on the menu and ask the wait staff where what you are eating came from. They may not love you for this but it will reinforce the importance of food origin and sustainability.
I always like to check where my fish and seafood comes from as I prefer to eat Australian seafood when I’m in Australia. Here’s why.
Farm to Table
Here’s where it becomes clear how serious a venue is about sustainability.
Ethical eating, which includes nose to tail and root to shoot is complicated for restaurants and best suited to small operations. Basically it’s about eating the whole animal, not just the top cuts but the other bits that are often discarded. It is a challenge but highly rewarding for chefs.
See it in action at Spicers Hidden Vale or The Farm at Byron Bay.
Want to find places to dine where this is a priority? Here are some tips on ethical dining.
More Australian food trends to watch
I was surprised when I checked out the minibar at Banyan Tree Phuket in Thailand on a recent stay and found many cricket-based treats. Insects, which are a low cost, high protein source, will be appearing more and more. Look out for insect powders to improve your smoothie and cricket flour for bread and pastries. Yum! These products will soon be seen on grocery store shelves and restaurant menus.
Meat-free lifestyles are here to stay and have become so popular they are now mainstream. Although Maccas still only offers their vegan burger in Sweden and Finland, it’s only a matter of time. Head to Ribs & Burgers, Grill’d, Soul Burger and Lord of the Fries for your vegan burger fix at the moment.
Food as medicine
The smart people have been using food as medicine for a while, but for the rest of us, it’s time to wake up and try hemp and camel milk then eat your omega-3 in salmon, walnuts and soy.
Hemp milk is a slightly earthier alternative to other non-dairy milk. It has a slightly thicker texture that blends well with coffee. Hemp milk also contains more calcium than cow’s milk and although a derivative of the marijuana plant, is completely legal.
The Kombucca Effect
Fermenting has turned into another craze, with kombucha (Kombucha is a fermented, lightly effervescent, black or green tea drink with perceived health benefits). now on shop shelve everywhere. Just have a look at the line up next time you are in the supermarket.
Expect to see more boutique and chef-driven versions along with kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, tempeh and kefir. It’s all about increasing probiotics to improve the immune system.
This is not a new trend, but what is new is how people are beginning to think of tea with the same reverence as coffee due to its many varieties, applications and benefits.
Expect to see a tea bar popping up alongside the local coffee roaster closely followed by nitro tea on tap and tea cocktails. Just remember to always approach a Long Island Tea with caution. This is a cocktail that packs a punch!
There has been an increase in Feminism and Female Power with the development of the #metoo movement. Will this spill over into hospitality with traditionally male orientated venues seeing a more female focussed makeover?
The launch of Crafty’s at Harbour Town on the Gold Coast is set to redefine sports bars into an all-day, family-friendly and super social venue. Think harvest bowls, cold-pressed mimosas and an under 12’s food menu and house-made low sugar sodas and spider menu. You’ll still find die-hard sports bar faves still on the menu too.
Eating out rather than in
Takeaways and Uber will always have a place but it’s stuff to stave off hunger, not a dining experience.
As we become more accustomed to receiving and eating cold chips and burgers, pizzas with half their topping missing or poorly flavoured food, putting on shoes and heading out the door is going to seem more attractive.
Five Brisbane food trends to watch
Brisbane dining has burst out of the box with an array of tempting offerings aimed at locals and visitors, showing off the city like it has not been seen before. Think The Terrace at Emporium Hotel South Bank, Felons Brewing and Mr Percival’s at Howard Smith Wharves and Hellenica at The Calile.
Even visitors from Australia’s ‘food capitals’ of Sydney and Melbourne have been surprised.
What comes next will be interesting to see. Here’s my watch list.
Diners spoilt for choice
Exciting new restaurant, bar and café openings have flooded the market wowing patrons with their flare. What will happen to existing eateries with so much new competition? My prediction is that the good venues will lift their offerings to impress and those that don’t will struggle. By the end of 2019 or earlier, the fall out will be clear.
Brisbane is a small pool on which to draw for quality hospitality staff. I expect it will not be hard for canny restaurants to attract the right staff, either poaching them from competitors or southern states. You don’t have to look hard to find chefs and staff who have made the move north and love it. They could be part of a crowd sooner rather than later.
Fine dining is on its knees
There is hardly a tablecloth in sight in restaurants today and that doesn’t look like changing. The few fine diners that remain have the market for special celebrations covered.
One way to combat the chef shortage problem has been to bring in high profile, Michelin-starred chefs to set up restaurants and supervise for a while. Eventually, they move on and so do their special touches and flavours. Brisbane diners are no fools and they know when the big names have left the building.
Pseudo Brisbane style
It has been wonderful to see the large hotel chains choose to open new Brisbane venues, some even before they have set foot in Sydney and Melbourne. It’s also pleasing to see them adopt Brisbane themes for their decor and identify with the local culture. However, please don’t tell me how locally-orientated your hotel is and how wonderful are the works from artists outside of Queensland on your walls. For example, art inspired by Brisbane River reeds does not work for me. We have mangrove roots, not river reeds.
About the author
Kerry Heaney is a food sherpa, travelling the world bite by bite. For her, it’s all about where to go to eat and where to eat when you go, and she’s been writing about that for the past 20 years.
A writer and editor who contributes regular food and travel feature stories for a range of print publications including Escape.com.au, Kerry has been sharing food love through Eat, drink + be Kerry for ten years.
Kerry is a past president of the Australian Travel Writers Society (ASTW). Chat with Kerry on Facebook at Eat,drink+beKerry or see where she has been lately at eatdrinkandbekerry on Instagram.
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Yes it will be an interesting foodie year. Poor staff and food do no a food haven make. When will they learn?:) cheers sherry
Great article Kerry!
Thank you Karen. Lots to look forward to in 2019.