The Best and Worst Food Trends of 2016

Words: Jess Spiro

It is nearly time to bid 2016 adieu, but before we do, we look back on our best, and worst, food trends that popped up this year.


Farm to Table

This has probably one of the best trends this year, a simple idea where the fruit, vegetables and even the meat in some cases all comes from the farm a restaurant is situated on. The Werf Restaurant at Boschendal and The Table at De Meye and Ash have nailed this, serving ethically and very locally sourced ingredients.


Eating local is lekker and what better way to ensure your food has no air miles than to eat foraged food. We saw all sorts of interesting, indigenous ingredients on our plates this year. Most notably, Kobus van der Merwe at Wolfgat leads the charge with his incredible foraged strandveldkos-inspired menu. Some others who are out and about foraging for awesome, indigenous edibles are are Justin William’s of First Light Foods, Roushanna Grey and The Urban Hunter Gatherer.

Consumers asking the right kind of questions about their food

2016 might have been a weird year, but one positive thing that seemed to be on the rise is the ethical eating trend. People more than ever are asking restaurants and grocery stores exactly where their food is coming from. It’s great to see that consumers are starting to become aware of what exactly goes into getting ingredients onto a plate. Read more about our a tale of ethical eating.


If you can dream it, you can stuff it in a taco. Or something to that effect. This year, we saw Mexi-inspired food popping up in unlikely places but we’re not sad about it. Be it Tex-Mex, Korean tacos or just simply interesting ways to use up leftovers, here’s hoping this trend stays forever.


It may be a little funky, but there’s no doubting that fermented foods are not only healthy but damn tasty too. The process of fermentation is no new trend, it’s easily been around for centuries but this year saw it make its way into mainstream cuisine. Kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, yoghurt, there are lots of delicious fermented foods that you’ve already been eating, they’re just a lot cooler now than they used to be.


While 2015 was technically the year that aquafaba became ‘a thing’, 2016 was the year it became a household name. If you’re not sure what we’re talking about, aquafaba is the liquid you drain out of a can of chickpeas and it makes for a ridiculously reliable egg replacement. How do we know this? We went vegan for a week and aquafaba mayonnaise was one of the saving graces.


A year ago if you said you were into Rosé, people would call you all sorts of names. For lots of us, Rosé reminded us of gran or those extra large bottles of the ghastly coloured pink stuff that sit below eye level at Pick ‘n Pay. Rosé was known to be sweet and cheap and easier to drink that actual wine, which explained the hangover of a bad rep. This year, Rosé made a comeback, complete with hashtags (#yeswayrosé and #roséallday) but also with consumers realising that the wine doesn’t have to be sweet and one-dimensional. Rosés are finally being heralded for their bright, fresh, crisp, dry notes, as well as the fact that they’re always going to be the more affordable option. Rosé doesn’t need to age, so it’s relatively inexpensive to make, meaning you can pick up some super quality bottles without breaking the bank. Yes way, Rosé indeed.

Cacio e pepe

How does a classic Italian recipe become an internet star? It probably started with David Chang who was not only cooking the original recipe but many versions of it too including a cacio e pepe ramen dish, which often featured in one of his restaurants. To be fair to the dish though, it is simple and heart-stoppingly tasty and was always destined for its moment in the sun. Cacio e pepe translates to ‘cheese and pepper’, specifically pecorino (being that it’s a Romano dish) which is gently combined with starchy pasta water and a generous crack of black pepper. Please, never leave us cacio e pepe.

Gin and Tonic

No longer claimed by old timers and people on game drives, gin is cool again. And while the UK cottoned onto this over a year ago, South Africa really did make mother’s ruin their own this year and we are now home to dozens of local distilleries. Our favourites include Hope on Hopkins, Bloedlemoen and Wilderer.


Despite all the gin drinking this year, it appeared that healthy habits were definitely a trend. Juicing became a popular way of increasing fruit and veggie options, and many juice bars popped up all over the city of Cape Town. Read about our favourite juicers and juices to make with them HERE.

Family style eating

With places like The Table, sharing your food has never been cooler or more appealing. Restaurants across the country embraced this generous way of eating too, with a lot of menus being designed to be eaten between any number of people. We’re big fans of the sharing style, it opens conversation and means that you’re not ever at risk of food envy.

Coal cooking

With Marble in Joburg and Ash here in Cape Town leading the trend, it seems that South Africa has gone coal crazy. And with good reason, the smoky, charred, toasty notes pretty much go with everything. Word on the street is that even the apple crumble from Ash goes through their famous Josper oven.


No longer shunned or written off as weirdos, vegans are finally being welcomed into society and with this, their numbers are increasing. Worldwide, the percentage of vegans or people moving to a more plant-based lifestyle grows every single day. While many of us may be die-hard meat lovers, there is no denying that vegans make incredible sacrifices that positively impact the environment. The growing numbers of vegans mean that vegan food is being taken more seriously, with high-end chefs taking real care to cater for them. The benefits of a more veggie-friendly lifestyle are very well known, so let’s hope this trend continues for the sake of this great green earth we inhabit. Read about why you should give vegans a chance HERE.

Nose to tail

Following on from the ‘ethicurean’ trend, this year saw consumers getting into lesser or secondary cuts of meat. We’re big nose to tail fans, as it ensures that none of the animal is wasted. These cuts are also exceptionally tasty, be it a spider steak, pig’s tails or chicken hearts, we hope these previously-unloved cuts are here to stay.


Complaining about the price of avos in February

Look, we get it, avos really do make the world go round, they’re tasty and are a great source of healthy fat. Unfortunately though, like with most natural produce, avocados have a season that generally runs from March to September. Yep, that means people were nearly rioting about the prices of avos in some stores when they weren’t even in season. Luckily, we shouldn’t have a repeat of this next year thanks to Westfalia – word is they’ve cultivated a summer avo that will ensure that there is stock all year round.

The Gluten-free fad

Firstly, let’s establish what gluten actually is. Gluten is a mixture of two proteins, glutenin and gliadin, brought together when flour and water are mixed. It is responsible for the structure and the elastic texture of dough. Right, so now what is the difference between a gluten-free diet and someone who genuinely suffers from coeliac disease. A coeliac simply has to avoid gluten, as their immune system reacts to it, which damages the lining of the small intestine. This hampers the absorption of nutrients, and can cause anaemia, weight loss, fatigue, bloating and pain. The long-term consequences of undiagnosed coeliac disease, and continuing to eat gluten include osteoporosis, anaemia and even bowel cancer. So, basically, more people this year likened what could be a life threatening, crippling illness for some, to a glamorized way of trying to be healthy. Sure, we could all do with eating less bread and other process simple starches, but let’s not try and make out that you have to be gluten-free simply because ‘it disagrees with you’.

Obnoxious, overindulged foods

Don’t get us wrong, we’re a food magazine run by people who are obsessed with food. But sometimes it’s just not necessary to have a bacon-wrapped-nutella-stuffed-deep-fried-croissant, when a simple (perfectly made) plain or almond one will do. Each to their own naturally, but this year we saw more restaurants trying to wow consumers with overdone foods that in reality weren’t done all that well. There is a beauty in simplicity, well-executed foods, so let’s champion that food instead of ghoulish, overboard hybrids.

Downright mean restaurant reviews

Ah, the internet, literally bringing the world to you and taking you to the world. Or unleashing you. Social media is a wonderful tool for sharing ideas, opinions and thoughts but when it’s used in a negative or malicious way, the results can be damaging. We are all entitled to our complaints over bad meals, what we are not entitled to is being an asshole. You can write about a negative experience without damning the establishment to hell. Before you let your fingers run wild over that keyboard, pause and take a minute to think. Did you bring your matter up with the manager or relevant member of staff? How did they handle it? What would you think if you read a review like yours? Your review should be informative, without being inflammatory. Just think of the business owner or chef reading that review and what your words could mean to their business.

Spiralised foods

Probably a hangover from the gluten-free fad as well as the popular banting diet, pasta has been hailed as the devil food and replaced with spiralised vegetables. We love zucchini, butternut and beetroot, we really do, we just don’t need someone telling us that it’s as good as spaghetti. Because it’s not.

Multi-coloured food

Rainbow cakes are one thing, perfect for fun birthday parties but we’re afraid that’s where multicoloured foods need to end. At some point this year, someone thought bagels weren’t perfect as they were and decided to dye them all the colours of the rainbow. This crime against bagels caught on and became something of a trend for a while. This idea will hopefully soon fade into obscurity, along with multicoloured pancakes, coffee, toasted cheeses and sushi. Yes, sushi.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>