Le Cordon Bleu, the leading Global Network of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institutes, is happy to share a vision of 2017 foodtrends in the world, through the eyes of its alumni.
Luiz Hara (UK), chef, food & travel writer, founder of the London Foodie.
After a career in investment banking, Luiz decided to leave his city job in order to pursue his interest in food. Following training in Japanese cuisine in Tokyo, Luiz returned to the UK and graduated with a Grand Diplôme® from Le Cordon Bleu. Today, the Italian-Japanese Brazilian chef is the author of a cookbook, hosts his highly-acclaimed Japanese Supper Club from his home in Islington, travels the world exploring new cuisines and ingredients, and also blogs as The London Foodie which is one of the Top 10 Food and Travel Blogs in the UK.
What have you accomplished since graduating from Le Cordon Bleu?
Since graduating, I have been running my Japanese and Nikkei Supper Club events for 30 people each evening from Wednesday to Saturday at my home in Islington. I serve a 10-course tasting menu and have been very fortunate that my events have always sold out since I started them. For a couple of years now I have been hosting one guest chef each month at my supper club, offering them a 4-night residency and helping to promote their name and work via my networks and social media channels.
I work frequently with various brands, as a writer and consultant or developing menus, recipes and hosting supper club events for British media and consumers to promote these brands.
I also write as The London Foodie, one of the top 10 UK Food and Travel blogs, so my time is spent either planning and cooking for my supper clubs or travelling and collaborating with other chefs to discover new ingredients and cuisines and writing about these experiences in The London Foodie.
My first cookbook ‘Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food the South American Way’ was published in 2015 and I am currently working on a second cookbook to be published in late 2017.
What do your customers crave when they come to see/taste your work?
My main expertise is in Nikkei cuisine, a style of Japanese cooking that was created outside of Japan by immigrants, mainly in South America. When my family migrated from Japan to Brazil with thousands of others, they had to recreate Japanese cooking ‘Washoku’, using the local ingredients they could find at the time – the dishes are hearty, homely and utilizes ingredients and cooking techniques from both Japan and South America.
My Grand Diplôme® training at Le Cordon Bleu has given me the skills to elevate this home cooking tradition to a more sophisticated style appropriate to a savvy, cosmopolitan London crowd. For example, my customers crave dishes like my Nikkei sushi ‘surf & turf’ trio – a combination of 3 nigiri sushi topped with blow torched foie gras and garlic teriyaki sauce; aji amarillo cream over slices of raw salmon; grilled scallop topped with tobiko caviar and Japanese spicy creamy mayonnaise. Or my delectably creamy Nikkei lobster rice with saffron and white miso!
What food trends do you foresee for 2017 and onwards?
There is a lot of talk about gut-friendly cooking, on the back of the previous year’s craze over fermented foods like kimchi and kombucha. ‘Gut-friendly’ foods are thought to promote healthy bacteria in the intestine to help with irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, immunity, low energy and libido.
Sugar is seen as the new enemy – I foresee a lot of activity around reducing the amount of hidden sugar in our diets, in light of increasing awareness of obesity and type II diabetes. Personally I would rather not see a sugar tax, but better education about the risks of sugar.
I have seen an increasing interest in the relatively undiscovered cooking of the Philippines, and I think that ‘Ube’, the bright purplish-blue Filipino yam, is at the forefront of this trend. On a recent trip there, I could not get enough of the stunningly coloured ube ice cream, which is delicious and nutty, making for the creamiest mouth feel.
Looking back to 2016, what is the main evolution you have seen in the food industry in the UK?
In 2016, I saw a lot of interest developing in some aspects of Asian and Nordic cooking – the use of fermented ingredients (Japanese rice kouji, miso and Korean kimchi to name a few) was evident, as were vegetable and fish pickling and sourdough baking. In addition, several restaurants started offering Hawaiian ‘Poke’ – the Hawaiian raw fish salad thought to be very healthy. I have also noticed quite a few matcha houses, specializing in a variety of sweet and savoury dishes using the wondrous Japanese green tea.
Any aspirations for the future?
In 2017, I am working on my second cookbook, currently entitled The Japanese Larder, which will focus on core Japanese ingredients and their use in a non-Japanese home kitchen. I look forward to its release later in 2017.
My love for Asian cooking goes far beyond Japanese and Nikkei cuisines, and a dream of mine would be to take up the Thai Cuisine Diploma course provided by Le Cordon Bleu Thailand in Bangkok. This is a 9-month programme, akin to the French Cuisine in London. Whether in 2017 or later, taking up this course would mean a 9-month commitment living abroad, but it would add a string to my bow and would be a fantastic opportunity to continue my personal development.