5 Down Under Food Trends that Might Soon Hit Europe
Australia has neither a restaurant awarded with a Michelin star nor has it left any significant footprint on the culinary landscape. But recently, Australia has become a place where innovative and interesting gastro trends evolve. Healthy fast food, super exotic regional cuisine and multisensory experiences are some of the promising concepts that might get big in Europe.
What do you get when you marry a sushi roll and a burrito? A sushi burrito. This merger of two of the most beloved dishes in the Western world is one of the biggest trends among young Australians at the moment. It combines the healthy ingredients of sushi with the handy format of a burrito. Through these characteristics, it meets the increasing health awareness of young consumers as well as the need for on-the-go solutions to fit into an active lifestyle. In addition, it is cheap and harmless in terms of making a mess, as the stable nori leave keeps the roll together while the rice absorbs the insidious sauces. Due to the simple preparation, the sushi burrito comes in countless varieties and therefore suits the taste of many customers.
Besides burritos, the Mexican taqueria Guzman & Gomez offers a wide range of other popular Mexican dishes. Playing on the trend of organic and premium fast food, the taqueria chain took Australia by storm. Their founders attach great importance to the quality and regionality of their ingredients. All of their restaurants source locally and support sustainable producers. Guzman & Gomez started to change the image of fast food which away from the uninspired burger restaurants that flood the restaurant landscape. Fast food, which is mostly associated with an unhealthy diet, is brought back to its roots, quickly prepared meals that can also be healthy elements of a balanced diet.
However, some producers did not want to wait for the Messiah in form of a do-good restaurant chain and founded autonomous collectives. One good example for this kind of emancipation of farmers is ‘The Farm’ in the vicinity of the famous holiday destination Byron Bay. It’s a multisensory experience offering the entire package: an educational walk, a trendy café and restaurant, a farm shop and various other shops selling products made of the produce from the farm. And if you are keen to learn more there is always a farmer who is happy to introduce you to the secrets of this beautiful place. The smelly farm from our childhood days transformed into a hip Mekka for health-aware big city people.
Which should remind us that the land the farm was founded on had not always belonged to the white migrants from Europe. Although it was often neglected in the past, Australia has a rich pre-colonial history. The Aborigines, who lived in this country as nomads long before the first white migrants came, have a special connection to nature and a cultural heritage in danger to be forgotten. The Australian chef Jock Zonfrillo revives part of the Aboriginal culture in his Adelaide based restaurant Orana. He serves dishes that honor Australia’s food history, celebrate the nutritional properties of indigenous ingredients and respect the produce’s relationship with the land. His self-imposed mission is to define Australia’s modern gastronomic identity with forgotten flavors like emu, green ant, fermented bunya nut or sugar lerps.
Until Australia’s gastronomic identity is filled with life, the void is occupied by other phenomena, such as food precincts. Unlike food courts, we are most familiar with from shopping centers, food precincts are an agglomeration of specialized high quality food businesses creating a culinary environment that invites visitors to try new things and combine delicacies from different kitchens. In such a food precinct the borders between shop, restaurant and public space become blurry. Food precincts are a place to celebrate the variety of good food with other open-minded people in a visually appealing surrounding. The Tramsheds in Sydney upgraded some shabby ruins to one of the trendiest food precincts in Australia.
There is going on a lot in the Australian gastro scene, but which trends have the potential to make the final leap to Europe? In a nutshell, they all do have the potential to make it to Europe and some of them are already stretching out their feelers. The sushi burrito will be definitely a topic, as sushi is already a thing in many European countries. In fact, Europe’s first “Subu” food truck was seen in Hamburg. The benefits of the burrito format just add some extra that makes sushi even more attractive. A taqueria like Guzman & Gomez is also likely to enter Europe soon, as the gastronomic landscape is missing new, healthy impulses in the low-budget, fast food sector. The concept of ‘The Farm’ might be a solution for smaller farms in Europe, struggling to compete with big, industrial farming companies, and will therefore find imitators in the near future. An Australian/Aboriginal restaurant might work in Europe as well, but as long as Australian chefs are trying to define the Australian culinary identity in their home country, an expansion into distant Europe is unlikely. But long-overlooked and forgotten regional specialties might become trendy soon. As food precincts are just a format, which lives from the food businesses within, it is most likely that Europe will get to know food precincts, too. There are plenty of ambitious and innovative gastro entrepreneurs in Europe that are already waiting on the starting blocks. The future of gastronomy looks delicious and a little more Australian!
Author: Timo Cunow
Timo Cunow is a cultural scientist and economist with a passion for aesthetics. On his various stints within Germany and abroad, he was profoundly shaped by the people he encountered. His mission: to find sustainable solutions for making the world a little bit better.