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Top 5 Food Trends in Wellington for 2016

By Bachelor of culinary arts student Denise Tan

Wellington is indeed the food capital of New Zealand and has so much to offer in a concentrated space. New trends are always popping up and sometimes, it is hard to keep up. As we pass into the second half of 2016, let’s discover what is trending this year.

1. Collaborations

Everyone is collaborating! Wellington is diverse and full of culinary arts businesses. Hence, collaborating with each other has come naturally and given birth to innovative and delicious products. Located in the heart of Wellington is Leeds Street, home to artisans, such as Wellington Chocolate Factory and Six Barrel Soda Co. Wellington Chocolate Factory developed a peanut butter raspberry bar that uses their next-door neighbour's, Fix and Fogg, peanut butter. Nothing beats a good rich peanut butter and chocolate combination. Fix and Fogg is another factory that collaborates a lot; from collaborating with Little Dough Co, not only creating a creamy peanut butter and jam doughnut, but also taking over the menu at Peoples Coffee and serving their four different types of peanut butter on Auckland’s Best Ugly bagels, soon to begin production in Wellington.

Another local collaboration is between Six Barrel Soda Co. and Coffee Supreme. They teamed up to create a coffee soda syrup that uses Brazilian Bob-O-Link coffee and from this, coffee bottled soda was born. Coffee Supreme is no stranger to collaborations and have paired with New Zealand’s second largest chocolate factory, Whittakers, to develop the Wellington Roasted Supreme Coffee bar in Whittakers’ artisanal collection.

2. Donuts

Donuts were trending in other parts of the world since 2014, but only hit Wellington big-time mid-2015 where a surprise pop-up donut store was part of Wellington-On-A-Plate and served gourmet donuts by top Wellington bakers, such as Leeds St Bakery and Café Nikau. The Wellingtonian donut craze gave birth to a local start up named the Little Dough Co in the end of 2015. Their donuts are made from local ingredients and in small batches and can only be found in Customs Brew Bar, Vic Books Kelburn and Pipitea, and Five Boroughs on the weekend. The donut flavours are different every week and include extremely unique flavours, such as speculaas sugar and honey tahini glazed with dukkah.

Following the donut trend is the donut ice cream cones trend. Only one place in Wellington serves these bad boys, Sweet Release Cakes & Treats on Willis Street. They have rightly named their donut ice cream cones “Dough my Goodness” which is available from Thursday to Saturday. They even have a vegan option for this treat!

3. Milkshakes

Or should we call them freakshakes? Milkshakes are going maxi and as if a milkshake is not calorie-inducing enough, they are being topped with brownies, or donuts, and a whole raft of sweet sauce, and laced with alcohol. They may be visually-pleasing but they sure are messy and difficult to consume. Wellington is home to super yummy milkshake joints, like Sweet Mother’s Kitchen, Mama Brown, and Fidel’s. One place that has caught onto the loaded milkshakes trend is Mishmosh, a popular bar on Courtenay Place. They only serve milkshakes till 10pm every day and boy are they loaded with goodies. Besides the regular flavours, there are limited edition flavours, like Nutella, and rocky road. Mishmosh calls these milkshakes “loaded milky” and are topped with a donut, lots of whipped cream, and a syringe full of sauce.

4. Food Trucks

Food trucks have been around Wellington for a while, but the trend has boomed recently and many new food trucks have popped up. Food trucks have always been part of the Harbourside Market on Sunday mornings and can be found in nooks and crannies all over Wellington. In this city alone, there are at least 50 food trucks in operation and a wide variety of food can be found in this unique industry. Food trucks are so big in Wellington that there is an annual Wellington Food Truck Trailer Park event during Wellington-On-A-Plate. What’s not to love about food trucks? The food is appetizing, reasonably priced, and always made with love by the humble chefs behind it.

5. Asian Influence

Fusion was big twenty years ago but went out of fashion, only to re-emerge big time several years ago. In Wellington, the influence of Asian food is trending and popping up quickly. Take bubble tea for example. A popular Taiwanese tea-based drink that is typically served with chewy tapioca balls or fruit jellies. Only two places in Wellington City offer bubble tea in their menus; Noah’s Ark on Tory Street and Manners Street, and Cha on Courtenay Place. But in February this year, Wendy’s Supa Sundaes, an ice cream chain from Adelaide, started selling bubble tea. Asian food influence in Wellington is definitely growing and has a rising demand. Dumplings are catching on here in our windy city and new dumpling eateries, such as Dumpling’d are emerging. Dumpling’d’s second store, located on Boulcott Street, even has a bar and how cool will it be to have dumplings and cocktails on a cold Friday night!

Asian influence is so strong that the Night Noodle Markets are coming to Wellington in mid-June. The event showcases the heavenly street food of Asia and will be in hawker-style and serving fusion food too. Not only will this event make Wellingtonians love Asian food even more, it will make the Asian influence even stronger.