17 Jan 2011

The Sheffield Food Scene in the Last 12 Months

How’s it been for you? Certainly the consumer has benefited from discounts and some exciting venues opening up and others raising their game. As ever some great stories out there, success and failure. For me, the more success spread around the city the better, whether it’s mine or my fellow chefs it doesn’t matter, it’s just nice if we all do well. But unfortunately because of the world we live in today, the economy and its effects are top of all our agendas and it has sometimes been the permanent or temporary closures that have grabbed the headlines.

I would prefer it if our sole focus was on new dishes inspired by great local ingredients from amazing artisan producers but unfortunately we do not live in a rich food producing area with an abundance of suppliers like say in the north of the County. It’s a shame but true. I think some of the chefs out there are really pushing on trying to build their reputations in difficult times, I always think great chefs and cooks are the ones who know the right balance, not too much and not too little, just the right amount of innovation and not overly safe.

As always the failures are upsetting and give me no satisfaction when they happen. I have personally experienced in the last 12 months a project that didn’t work out, but as I always say ‘fall down seven times, get up eight’ - I have been fortunate in being able to do that. However, on the positive side there has been some great success stories too.

Food trends are so diverse now it is hard to pin point one actual area where I could say there is real prominence. At the moment, obviously nose to tail of animals is moving at pace, where chefs are trying to find new retro ingredients that will inspire customers, staff and suppliers alike and working closely with farms and on their allotments. I think this is a really great path to take as it shows dedication, inspiration and commitment, though not new it is still the right path to take.

Chefs have slowly realised that they should cook their own food not other chefs straight from a book - add a bit of their own inspiration, use books, the Internet, magazines, eat out. I take ideas from all these places but don’t just copy.

There is more emphasis on classical dishes this year which is always good. A good old un will always beat any new one. As Marco Pierre White said “everything in food has been done before it is just being reworked or described differently on a menu”. What we have to do is excite the customer - if you can offer ‘Choice, Value and Quality’ within your menu you will not go far wrong.

So 2010 was a tough year for many, but the food world is so diverse it is hard to say one trend has stood out to me. I think the days of a diverse world cuisine are here to stay. On a final note, New York foodies and chefs are talking about who does the best burger and garlic bread - bring on 2011.

Thank you for your support in 2010, look forward to seeing you in 2011.

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