Who better to ask about what lies in store for gourmands in 2024 than the top chefs who preside over the edgy Cape Town inner-city’s coolest kitchens?
From sustainable seafood haven, Galjoen, to street-food rockstar, Ramenhead, downtown Cape Town is a veritable melting pot of destination and award-winning eateries. The Cape Town Central City Improvement District is a constant partner to CBD retailers, including its vibrant restaurants. Here, the CCID ventures into their kitchens to uncover the top food trends.
1. A is for authentic
Peter Tempelhoff and Ashley Moss, founders of fêted restaurant FYN, believe that in a world where rising prices underscore the importance of value, consumers are drawn to experiences that blend luxury with self-expression. “People are seeking indulgent flavours and colours that resonate with their personal values. This demand for authenticity is reflected in the emerging desire for genuine alternatives to popular products – a niche that savvy establishments like FYN are well-poised to explore.
“Amidst the quest for better-for-you products, consumers are prioritising options that signal benefits, such as gut health, relaxation, and energy. FYN, with its celebration of high-quality, excellent African ingredients, tantalises the taste buds and aligns with this growing preference for health-conscious choices.”
2. A taste of Africa and the rise of third-culture cuisine
Consumers have a growing interest in, and demand for, vibrant colours, unconventional flavour combinations and tastes from under-represented regions, such as Africa, the FYN team explains. African flavours come to the fore in FYN’s fusion Japanese-African experience, which finds unique symmetries in fire-cooking methods and flavours, between two countries that seem vastly different. This also embodies the growing trend of third-culture cuisine, which is seeing chefs devise dishes from their diverse backgrounds, bridging different cultures.
3. Planet first
A 2024 Time Magazine top food trend is sustainability, which is driving current food and drink trends. It is also ushering in a plethora of planet-friendly alternatives, such as cacao-free chocolate. The Cape Town CBD is seeing numerous restaurants put planet-first practices firmly on the menu, including Gigi Rooftop at boutique hotel, Gorgeous George. General manager and director Guy Bennet says, “We pride ourselves on sustainability, with locally sourced and ethical produce. We believe the future of food requires a radical shift in thinking, with a move to being more responsible for our planet. This starts in our backyard!”
This desire to protect the planet is also driving the plant-based super-trend, which Byron du Bois, executive chef of the Southern Sun The Cullinan, says will continue to dominate the 2024 culinary landscape. “The big emphasis on plant-based foods will prevail in 2024, as well as a focus on sustainable and organic food. We will see more earthy ingredients and products being used such as mushrooms, grains and pulses, seeds and nuts and legumes. Chefs will try to keep things as organic as possible throughout the cooking process.”
4. An increase in Asian influence and third-culture cuisine
Another Times’ trend is the increased use of Asian ingredients, like black sesame, milk tea and more. The Cape Town Central City has excellent, authentic, Asian-influence restaurants, including Tjing Tjing Momiji, Obi, YU and Japanese-Peruvian newcomer, Nikkei. Misha Tichelaar, general manager of Nikkei, says Nikkei – the name for Japanese-Peruvian cuisine – has been making waves worldwide, so it was only a matter of time until the winning combination found a home in Bree Street.
Tasso Evangelinos, CEO of the CCID, says he is proud of the Cape Town CBD’s incredibly rich offering of globally acclaimed restaurants embodying the latest food trends, “These establishments continue to provide a unique offering for visitors to town, ensuring we remain a world-class Central City where people want to visit, stay and do business.”
IMAGES: FYN, Gigi Rooftop, Nikkei