food forecast 2018: food trends, veganism, chef jobs and indy restaurants

by: | March 1st, 2018 | Ellis Mack Blog

more on the vegan menu (4)


Food is not just vital for human life; it has become a staple part of our everyday discourse. Gourmet food, in particular, has inspired a new wave of cooking that has been exploited across restaurant menus, social media and online blogs. It is now standard practice for diners to take photographs of their food and post them onto Instagram, Facebook and Twitter while dining out. Our growing fascination with food has been driving a number of trends across the hospitality industry that we had to highlight in our 2018 food forecast.


#1 more vegan options on the menu

Hands down, one of the top trends across restaurants has been the incorporation of more vegan-friendly menus and restaurants. The most recent survey from the Vegan Society found that over 542,000 people are following a vegan diet in the UK – an increase of more than 3.5 times the number of vegans over the past decade, making veganism one of Britain’s fastest growing lifestyle movements. The report also found that UK veganism has grown over 261% in the last decade – and this has transpired across the restaurant sector.


For example, in 2017 the sale of vegan dishes at the Italian restaurant chain, Zizzi, skyrocketed by 246% in one year. According to Just Eat, the food delivery service with hubs in 15 countries, reported that 33% of their partner restaurants now offer vegan options to keep up with the rising demand. Just Eat experienced a 987% increase in the demand for vegetarian options in 2017, according to the Mirror.

Interested in trying something off the vegan menu? Read TripAdvisor’s Top 10 vegan restaurants in the UK – two of which are in Edinburgh. Article at –> The Scotsman.


#2 pro local produce

Although, the farm to fork movement is not exactly new, it is still growing according to top chefs across the UK. Mark Jarvis, the chef owner of Anglo Restaurant and founder of Neo Bistro in London said “I think value and sustainability will be big [in 2018], and also a large increase in the use of British produce. I can also see Mayfair and West London becoming culinary cool again.”

Fine dining continues to thrive with the support of fresh, local ingredients. Yet, as the late celebrity chef Paul Prudhomme once said, “You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food.” Less expensive dining options have been made readily available and will be described further in the next trend.


#3 less chains, more indys

Diners have more options now than ever before. Over and above limited income by diners, the restaurant industry is threatened by market saturation, making customer loyalty difficult across the board. Pre-theatre specials and dinner voucher schemes online has made independent dining more common and affordable for UK diners. On the flipside, the rise of indys has started to impede on big restaurant brands.

Over the last couple of months, a number of restaurant chains have been under siege across the UK. The Chronicle Live reported that The Restaurant Group (TRG), owners of branded restaurants including Frankie & Bennie’s, Coast to Coast, have put 23 of their restaurants up for sale. Over the last year the TRG has closed 37 sites and opened 24 sites, including new Chiquito, Coast to Coast and Frankie & Benny’s restaurants at intu Eldon Square and intu Metrocentre.

Big Hospitality has released two similar articles recently about the multi-site closures of Jamie’s Italian premises and Byron’s rescue deal. The Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group (JORG) has confirmed that they will be closing a third of their UK restaurant sites as part of a strategic review of the company in which 12 of its 37 locations will most likely be shut down. Similar to the JORG’s move, 99% of creditors were in favour of a Company Voluntary Agreement that could see the closure of up to 20 Byron restaurant sites.

Has there been too much pressure put on branded restaurants? Will increased popularity of the independents amongst diners be a sustainable, long-term trend for 2018? We’ll just have to wait to see.


#4 more chef roles available

There is an unprecedented level of demand for talented chefs in the restaurant sector across the UK. Over the last few years there has been high turnarounds in the kitchen, making career minded chefs very difficult to find and retain due to inadequate salaries and working conditions. To understand the chef shortage further, we interviewed Ashley Mason, one of Ellis Macks’ very own, and former Head Chef in London. He believes the demand for more talented chefs stems from two key industry changes: (1) more restaurant openings and (2) a lack of extensive in-house training. Here’s what he had to say:

“I think more places are opening. Chefs as far as qualified chefs are concerned are in high demand. Although there are more chef roles, businesses need to be more involved at the college level for training. That’s where the next generation of chefs are coming from. Training is key to the success of the individual and the restaurant, but it seems to have taken a back seat.

Across all levels, it’s down to the owners and operators to ensure that staff are trained properly. Chefs we speak to, mostly Chef de Parties, can feel like that they are in the dark.

Cooking isn’t rocket science until you get to Rosette and Michelin Star level. The most famous chefs worked under Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay – people who worked under them are astounding and all successful, but that’s where they want to be. Being a Michelin star chef, you are a different breed. You need to be driven.” 

We are currently recruiting chefs and hospitality positions of all levels across the UK. To apply visit

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