Latest food trends

With people becoming more busy and health-conscious, convenience stores and healthful food preparations are some of the popular food trends nowadays, according to a Manila-based chef during her visit to Iloilo City recently.

“There is a noted rise in convenience stores like 7/11 or Family Mart. They are also expanding their array of food offerings. Supermarkets, too have created areas where customers can just pick-up, take home and eat food,” Unilever Food Solutions Executive Chef Joanne Limoanco-Gendrano told the Iloilo media at the sidelines of the Chefmanship Academy held at The Venue.

“Second trend is, food is made more healthful. Unilever, through Chefmanship Academy, has worked with the Department of Health to make food attractive for hospitals and healthier for schools. Like adding malunggay in order to improve the students’ attention span and health. The focal point is on nutrition. We also try to address this through cooking demos. We combine things like white sauce with a puree of cauliflower, for example,” Limoanco-Gendrano said.

She added that since health and wellness are a trend, teas have become more popular, particularly tea brewing and not the powdered kind.

“What I also notice is that customer service and integrity have become more important. Restaurants want to commit to the customer that they are a company with a conscience,” she said.

She said the customers are looking for good customer service.

“Social media has become a marketing tool, but it can be scary too because one mistake you make, everybody knows about it,” she explained.

She also observed that Korean cuisine has become more mainstream. “There is also an influx of Singaporean franchises in Manila. They put up a foreign concept but of a Singaporean brand. For example, a German restaurant that is Singaporean-owned. There’s also the rise of the ramen houses and tonkatsu. It’s not really the healthiest but people patronize them for authenticity. People want to taste the real thing. I think social media has caused people to look for more authentic things,” she said.

“A lot of people are also incorporating Korean chicken wings in their menu,” she said.

Pop-up restaurants are also becoming popular. “Those restos out of the grid. Malls are expensive. For example, in Manila, Kapitolyo is cheap so many restaurants are going there. Then, you could see food trucks every weekend where people really flock and buy stuff,” she said.

Limoanco-Gendrano said this is because people are becoming more adventurous.

“We are embracing whatever is out there and try to apply it in the Philippines but not neglecting our own food,” she said.

Because of this Limoanco-Gendrano advised Ilonggo chefs to make noise about Iloilo City’s local products.

“For example, your oysters have to come from Roxas or ‘batuan’ from Iloilo. People are looking for that. All the culinary capitals in the Philippines should make headlines of their food and ingredients,” she concluded.

Limoanco-Gendrano is one of the 500 chefs under UFS, the food service division of Unilever, maker of Knorr, Lady’s Choice, Best Foods and Lipton.

UFS created Chefmanship Academy, an initiative that aims to empower food professionals to meet everyday challenges like increased competition, rising food costs and manpower issues.  Chefmanship Academy helps food professionals get the critical balance right between impressing diners and making a profit./Marie Katherine Villalon

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