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What—and how—will Filipino foodies eat this year? Here are some chefs and restaurant owners’ biggest guesses

By Brooke Villanueva Published Jan 09, 2022 8:51 pm

Were you one of those who hopped on the Dalgona coffee trend in 2019, and whisked equal parts of instant coffee and cold water until it turned thick, smooth, and velvety for your drink? You probably tried it with other powdered mixes, too, like Milo or Nesquik Strawberry. 

Not too long after figuring out other ways to enjoy your Dalgona beverage, another trend made the rounds online: the baked feta pasta phenomenon, which involves baking some cherry tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper, and a whole block of feta cheese in one pan, and then combining that mixture with cooked pasta. Whether it was a failed attempt or a successful one, the entire process was an absolute delight, wasn’t it? 

Making the “TikTok Pasta” (yes, it earned that name) was a favorite pastime in 2020 until the crowd favorite Dalgona made a comeback in 2021—in the form of candy. All thanks to the iconic Korean show Squid Game, this sugary treat dominated the online world, with some sharing easy, foolproof recipes for it and others selling it in sets, even.

Food trends come and go—some get replaced in the blink of an eye, but there are those that stay for longer. While no certain way is guaranteed to successfully predict the ones that would make some noise this year, it’s always fun to be on the lookout for what’s new in the food scene. After all, it’s one that’s full of surprises. It’s one that never fails to thrill. 

Now, on to the million-dollar question: Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with people’s changing tastes and preferences, how’s it looking in the country’s food arena in 2022? Here are some Pinoy chefs and restaurant owners’ biggest guesses.

Childhood favorites

As we continue to stay cooped up at home due to the COVID-19 crisis, Ana Lorenzana De Ocampo—Le Cordon Bleu graduate chef and co-owner of well-loved restaurants like Wildflour Café + Bakery, Farmacy, and Pink’s Manila—thinks that childhood favorites and other comfort food could be a hit this year. “The childhood treats we’re nostalgic for might comfort us through another year with a new variant,” she told PhilSTAR L!fe.

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Healthier food choices 

“On the flip side, many of us will eat better to feel stronger amid an indefinite sick season brought on by Omicron,” added De Ocampo. This could spark inspiration in people to keep their health in check. 

Mikael Jiang of the Raspberry Kitchen Group likewise sees a shift in food choices, but he has a different idea of health-focused offerings in mind. “Concepts that I personally consider health-focused aren’t necessarily salads and low-carb/low-fat options, but rather quality and premium ingredients, such as high-grade steaks, fresh sushi, and most important of all—tastes great.”

Plant-based items 

Plant-based items deserve a separate category for this as a lot of restaurants, even fast-food chains like Burger King, Shakey’s, and McDonald’s, have introduced such to their menus that used to be largely sinful (we loved them before, and we still do now).

Kelly Go—the co-founder of the incredibly innovative and beloved Auro Chocolate—sees plant-based food becoming an even bigger thing this year. “With growing awareness on the climate impact of excessive meat consumptions, there are more and more vegans and flexitarians. So it is definitely a must to cater to this growing market and get creative with plant-based food and treats that do not compromise on texture and flavor,” she said. 

Korean food 

Korean corndogs, croissant waffles, and egg drop sandwiches were a big hit in the latter part of the year. Sebastian’s Ice Cream founder Ian Carandang believes the hype around Korean food isn’t stopping any time soon. “If you want to know what will become the next hot trend here, look what’s popping up in Korea. Odds are a local entrepreneur is already drawing up plans to recreate it here,” he said.

Easy-to-transport offerings 

“The pandemic looks to keep going strong in 2022, which means more deliveries. Products that look and taste as good in product shots as they do when they arrive will be the ones that thrive,” Carandang added. “Baked goods like bread and cookies come to mind.”

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More al-fresco dining areas 

More al-fresco dining areas will pop up in different parts of the metro. “The last quarter of 2021 was a glimpse of what to see in 2022. As we see the tail-end of the pandemic hopefully this year, the preference among dine-in customers for al-fresco dining will still continue, and will put F&B establishments with al-fresco or sprawling outdoor spaces at an advantage,” said Rich Sanz, who co-owns Butternut Bakery, BBK, Ginza Gyu, and Made in Bangkok.

The foodpreneur noted that dining in malls like fast food and fast casuals may still be quite busy. “Malling has been ingrained in the DNA of Filipinos and the absence of open parks and street retail will still drive Pinoys to the malls.” 

More ghost/cloud kitchens + fusion cuisine 

Since the pandemic doesn’t appear to be winding down in the Philippines soon, Maxine Sanz, who likewise co-owns the same restaurants with Rich, said that there could be lots of ghost kitchens, too, that can continue to satisfy our palate. Another exciting thought? More kitchens could even “feature international or exotic cuisines as a way of travel,” she mused.

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