Colors: Green Color
Colors: Green Color

New research has revealed that the turmoil of 2020 led half of Brits to reassess their cooking and eating habits – with one in ten stating they had already made big changes. The survey, commissioned in line with the release of new plant-based recipe book Great British Vegan by Aimee Ryan (@WallflowerKitchen), shows that a quarter (26%) of respondents reported cutting down their meat consumption - following news that a record half a million have signed up to the 31-day annual vegan eating challenge, Veganuary.

Although many reported eating fewer meat and dairy products, some respondents expressed concerns around adopting a fully vegan diet – the biggest being that they might miss eating their favourite foods (39%). Others worried vegan food may be less tasty (22%), more expensive (22%) or that following a vegan diet may be too time-consuming (16%).

When asked what would encourage them towards a vegan diet, a fifth (19%) of respondents stated they would feel reassured by knowing food would taste just as good, knowing it was a healthier option (18%) and knowing they could still enjoy their favourite dishes (17%).

Among the dishes said to be ‘most missed’ when transitioning to a vegan diet, were fish and chips (44%), a traditional Sunday roast (42%) and a full English breakfast (38%).

 

Top 10 Savoury British Dishes Most Likely To Be Missed When Turning Vegan

1.    Fish and Chips – 44%

2.    Sunday Roast – 42%

3.    Full English – 38%

4.    Bacon Butty – 37%

5.    Sausage Rolls – 28%

6.    Shepherd’s Pie – 27%

7.    Yorkshire Puddings – 27%

8.    Bangers and Mash – 26%

9.    Cheese and Ham Sandwich – 21%

10.  Steak and Kidney Pie – 21%

Wider trends included a quarter of Brits now cooking more from scratch than did previously and over a third are eating healthier and including more fruit and vegetables in their diets.

The research uncovered a generational gap in eating trends, with 71% of 16-24-year-olds considering or making changes to their diet following 2020, compared with just 31% of those over 55.

Top 10 Eating and Cooking Habit Changes Prompted By Events of 2020

1.    More cooking from scratch / eating fewer prepared meals - 25%

2.    Eating healthier than previously - 23%

3.    Eating more fruits and vegetables than previously - 23%

4.    Being more experimental with cooking / tried new recipes - 19%

5.    Eating less meat/meat products - 18%

6.    Eating more locally sourced food - 17%

7.    Spending more money on cooking and eating - 16%

8.    Eating fewer sweets or desserts - 14%

9.    Trying to cook in bulk more - 12%

10.  Eating more traditionally British foods/meals - 11%

Aimee Ryan, author of Great British Vegan said: “It’s so exciting to see how many people are embracing changes in their eating habits following the difficult year we’ve all had. When I went vegan in 2014, I was determined not to give up my favourite foods, such as the full English breakfast, steak and kidney pie and scones. I created the ‘Great British Vegan’ recipe book, which has plant-based versions of all of these staples, in the hopes that it will show people it’s possible to enjoy comfort foods you love, without using animal products and without compromising on flavour and familiarity."

Jessica Axe, Publisher at White Lion - publishers of Great British Vegan, said: “The research shows a steady rise in popularity for a more ‘flexitarian’ approach to eating from the general public, with many wanting to dabble in eating less meat and dairy without wanting to sacrifice enjoying their favourite dishes. That’s why we’re delighted to launch ‘Great British Vegan’, showcasing delicious and more accessible versions of everyone's favourite meals and comfort foods. We hope it spurs even more people towards that Veganuary pledge.”

 

From humble beginnings on the streets of Nepal, to winning the nation’s hearts on Masterchef: The Professionals, chef Santosh Shah is putting Nepalese cuisine firmly on the map. 

Santosh’s talent, skill and passion has been laid bare for all to see as he competed on the UK’s most prestigious cookery competition, Masterchef: The Professionals, coming in second place against 32 other professional chefs. 

Santosh shone a light on Nepalese cuisine in all its glory, introducing the judges, food critics and esteemed chefs to flavours and ingredients they had never experienced before. His dishes wowed throughout the competition, with The Guardian’s Grace Dent noting ‘this is the most beautiful plate of food I’ve ever been served on Masterchef’ and esteemed judge Monica Galetti commenting, ‘it’s a real master of art to be able to use spices as he does.’ 

Santosh’s first culinary job was as a kitchen and commis chef in an Indian hotel when he was just 14. From then on, he worked tremendously hard, rising through the hospitality ranks in India, and eventually moving to the UK in 2010. Once in London, Santosh worked at some of the most renowned Indian kitchens, holding positions at Michelin-starred Benares restaurant and super trendy Dishoom, before becoming a Sous Chef at The Cinnamon Club and eventually Head Chef at its sister restaurant, Cinnamon Kitchen. 

Santosh worked at The Cinnamon Collection with Vivek Singh for three years, cooking for MP’s at The Cinnamon Club and City workers at Cinnamon Kitchen. He then took a position as Executive Chef at the five-star LaLit Hotel in London. 

What’s next? Santosh is looking forward to the future and what it may hold. His goal is to open a Nepalese restaurant in London and be awarded a Michelin star. For now, he will continue working on his skills, and learning from his mentors, to continue bettering himself and his cooking. 

Santosh says: “Coming second on Masterchef is a dream come true, and I could not be more honoured! It has been an incredible experience that I will never forget. 

“My mission now is to show the world how amazing Nepalese cuisine is, with vibrant and interesting ingredients and flavours that deserve to be enjoyed by the masses! 

“Cooking authentic Nepalese food on Masterchef and experimenting with dishes I grew up eating has been an absolute joy and I am so happy that the judges loved them! For now I am going to keep working hard, experimenting and learning and we’ll see what 2021 brings!” 

Kid chef and 12-year old entrepreneur Julian Frederick is teaching other children how to build their culinary skills and empowering them to be leaders in the kitchen and beyond. His company, The Step Stool Chef, which is dedicated to building kids’ confidence and independence through cooking, is partnering with SideChef, the all-in-one home cooking platform, to launch The Step Stool Chef Cooking School For Kids brought to you by SideChef Premium.

Step Stool Chef CEO and co-founder Julian Frederick said: “I want to help kids build their cooking skills and confidence while creating great family time memories. The Step Stool Chef teaches kids to be leaders in the kitchen, providing tools and solutions for them to learn to cook in a safe space with little to no help from parents. At the Step Stool Chef, the kids are the chefs, parents are the assistants.”

SideChef Premium is an immersive cooking subscription service that offers home cooks hundreds of recipes, tips, and behind the scenes knowledge from world-renowned chefs and culinary influencers. It is available for $4.99/month or $49.99/year and allows home cooks to unlock recipes from major culinary creators, explore new cuisines, and transport authentic flavors from around the world into the comfort of their own kitchen.

“In these uncertain times, what is certain is that home cooking has become an essential part of everyday life, even for kids, and we are dedicated to persistently innovate with renowned partners like Step Stool Chef to help kids start their cooking journey with a strong foundation,” said Kevin Yu, CEO, and Founder of SideChef.

“Teaching the future generation life skills early on in their childhood development means we are fulfilling our mission to empower even the youngest of eaters everywhere to cook great food.” Step Stool Chef Cooking School for Kids, brought to you by SideChef Premium, is broken down into two class modules – Intro to Kid Cooking and Next Level Cooking. Within both modules, kids learn essential cooking skills as well as how to integrate math, science, and reading into the overall cooking experience. These classes are easy to follow, engaging, and most importantly, entertaining for kids.

“This unique partnership allows us to merge kid cooking, education, and technology. Step Stool Chef co-founder Toria Frederick explains. “As distant learning and homeschooling become a reality for many kids across America, these on-demand cooking classes are a great complement to the new reality of present-day at-home education. This is a great solution for families wanting to spend more time together that also supports kids learning to be more independent.”

Additionally, SideChef offers parents the ability to order all the ingredients they need right from the platform, through its partnership with Walmart and AmazonFresh. This enables subscribers to have a seamless home cooking experience with one-click shoppable recipes, personalized meal planning, and the ability to connect recipes to smart kitchen devices from several leading kitchen brands for a true all-in-one home cooking experience.

Beyond cooking classes for kids, SideChef Premium also includes 800+ exclusive on-demand recipe classes from world-renowned culinary experts, including the winner of Top Chef Masters, contestants from MasterChef and The Great British Baking Show, and more. Each culinary expert features instructional guidance with step-by-step videos, cooking techniques and tips, and voice-guided cooking.

Hot off the press following the excitement of the NEW Katsu Chicken McNugget launching in the UK, the return of the Big Tasty was announcehitting McDonald’s restaurants from today  (December 30).

One of McDonald’s best loved menu items will be available with or without bacon.

Made with fresh 100% British and Irish beef, melty cheese made with Emmental, topped with tomato, lettuce, slivered onions and lashings of Big Tasty sauce, all on a sesame seed bun.

As the name says – it’s big, it’s tasty, and only available for 6 weeks - so hurry up if you want to get your hands on one.

Available for a limited time only, the NEW Katsu Curry Chicken McNuggets are match made in heaven and everything you didn’t know you needed until now. Now hitting McDonald’s restaurants, they are the tastiest way to wave goodbye to 2020 and start the new year as you mean to go on!

100% chicken breast meat in a crispy Katsu Curry panko breadcrumb coating, served with our classic Sweet Curry dip – need we say more?

Last but definitely not least, the signature limited edition Galaxy Salted Caramel McFlurry will also be making its return, and will be available in both mini and full sizes.

The perfect combination of soft dairy ice cream with pieces of creamy Galaxy chocolate and a swirl of caramel sauce means it is a very popular choice, so make sure you can get one while it is available for 6 weeks.

McDonald's have paused walk-in takeaway services in the UK as new lockdown restrictions come into force. It means that dine-in meals and walk-in takeaways will not be available temporarily while it reviews safety procedures, it said.

Its UK boss said it will be testing "additional measures that may further enhance the safety of our takeaway service." Rival food chains Burger King, Subway, KFC and Pret A Manger are still offering takeaways in-store.

McDonald's UK and Ireland chief executive Paul Pomroy said that safety measures across the firm's 1,300 restaurants will be reviewed by an independent health and safety body and added that customers would be kept updated via the restaurant's app and its website. Drive-through and delivery services across the fast food chain will remain open.

Under new lockdown restrictions which came into force in England and Scotland this week, hospitality firms are allowed to offer takeaways and deliveries. But rules which had previously allowed takeaways or click-and-collect services for alcoholic drinks have been scrapped. Wales and Northern Ireland were already in lockdown, which meant that pubs, restaurants and cafes were restricted to takeaway-only too.

After the first nationwide lockdown in March, many chains including McDonald's, Burger King and Pret closed their doors to hungry customers. They gradually reopened with additional safety measures in place, such as plastic screens in front of the tills, hand sanitiser dispensers and restrictions on the number of customers allowed in at any one point. Some also pared back the number of dishes on offer.

Despite adapting their business models, many casual dining chains have been forced to make job cuts in the last year as lockdown restrictions hit sales.

The UK has reported a further 1,041 people have died with coronavirus, the highest daily death toll since April. It came as 62,322 new cases were recorded, the highest daily rise since mass testing began, as MPs debated England's lockdown.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said doctors could be forced to ration treatment without the new curbs. There are 30,074 Covid patients in UK hospitals, he said, as an ambulance trust told of severe pressure.

Sitting in the foothills of the Helan Mountains, Emma Gao runs the Silver Heights winery and vineyards in China's Ningxia province, about 1,000 km (620 miles) west of Beijing and where it's dry and sunny with mild temperatures in summer and plenty of irrigation from the Yellow River.

Still, the winters are so bitterly cold that the vines need to be buried under 30cm (12in) of soil late in the year so that they make it through to the next season.

Wines from the region have grown in popularity in China, and business is good for Silver Heights. A medium-sized winery, it produces up to 200,000 bottles a year and exports to 15 countries, in addition to its home market. In fact, Chinese wine is having a moment, domestically. While foreign wine is often regarded as more prestigious, under this year's lockdowns Chinese drinkers have increasingly sought out home-grown wines.

Why has this been the case? And will Chinese wine maintain its increased popularity in its home market after the Covid-19 pandemic ends, or will drinkers switch back to imports?

According to industry analysts Wine Intelligence, there has been a shift to buying more domestic bottles in most wine-producing countries this year.

Nowhere has this been more pronounced than in China, where 54% of respondents to a Wine Intelligence survey in August said they were now buying more Chinese wine compared to pre-pandemic levels. "There is a dramatic rise in the consumption of local wine this year," says sommelier and wine educator Roger Chow, from Xiamen in Fujian province. One possible reason, he thinks, is that people switched because imported wine simply became trickier to find due to the pandemic.

Wine import volumes into China slumped 32% in the first half of 2020 compared to the previous year, according to industry figures. Imports by value also declined sharply over the same period, down 31% to $752m (£565m). But according to Janet Wang, author of The Chinese Wine Renaissance, it's unlikely to account for the entire change, because most stores and distributors would have had months worth of existing imported stock. Instead, she thinks the shift is about Chinese producers being savvy enough to sense an opportunity.

Ms Wang says: "Anecdotally, you do hear people saying 'we're seeing a lot more promotions around Chinese wine, or a lot of distributors are taking up Chinese wine, or inquiring about Chinese wine'."  For many years, expats in China turned up their nose at the local wines, and as recently as five years ago one Chinese executive even candidly admitted his company's wines were "not very good".

It's not unusual for a young wine industry to endure some sniping from better established rivals overseas. Even Australian wines - which now account for around A$3bn ($2.2bn; £1.6bn) in exports a year - were famously derided as "Chateau chunder" by British comedy troupe Monty Python.

Some Chinese winemakers have sought to get around this reputational issue by partnering with European wineries and in some cases making their labels look similar to European brands. But according to Daxue Consultants - a market research group which (among other things) helps Chinese winemakers with their branding and marketing - some wineries now want to play up their connection to China.

"When we look at the label, some can be very westernised in style. The other side is quite interesting. They're more like localising or integrating Chinese elements," says Daxue's Yuwan Hu.

Ms Wang says that in recent years the general quality of Chinese wine has greatly improved. And in fact, the best Chinese wines have been winning competitions for even longer. She also points out that some Chinese winemakers have been trying to cater to the national palate, which comes from the county's well-established food culture. "So straight away, some of the more astute producers were saying 'this is quite a sophisticated market in terms of the palate'," she says.

Ms Gao, who learned winemaking in France's Bordeaux region, agrees that if there's a shift towards Chinese wine, it is because of higher standards, and producers who know their market.

She says: "I believe the quality of Chinese wine keeps improving.  And this has been matched by a new generation of wine lovers that are more adventurous, proud of their Chinese heritage."

Ben Luker, from Wine Intelligence, says that the pandemic has also been a catalyst for Chinese consumers to trust domestic products more.

He says: "Trust in domestic produced wine, and even trust in imported wine, has always been something that's very much a challenge to the industry, because there was always that fear that it was counterfeit."