2012: The year of all things British. With the Olympics a mere 200 days away, national pride is set to soar. It's time to show the rest of the world just how great Britain can be – and not just on the sporting front. Rumour has it they're laying it on thick with the catering too, drafting in the heavyweights of British cuisine to show Johnny Foreigner we can cook. No, really we can.
All joking aside – or actually, not – it's fun looking at the new trends predicted for this, the year of the UK. Naturally Jamie Oliver has gotten right down to brass tacks with his new chain of Union Jacks – no prevarication there, then. Whether it will survive the year is another thing altogether, given his unconvincing launch of Barbecoa in the City, where the bankers soon put paid to Oliver's dreams of mouth-watering haunches of meat, gently roasting on the largest grill in Europe and demanded their usual fare of steak and nursery puddings. The haunches of meat are no more; the grill now reduced to cooking dull cuts of sirloin. A shame – Jamie, mate you should have stuck to your guns.
Other slightly anti-British trends include the rise of much-hyped, usually badly-executed Latin American food. Peru in particular looks set to take our palates by storm, although once past the ceviche and yet more steak, one wonders whether we'll really see the advent of that delicious Peruvian staple, roasted guinea pig? Street food is still apparently street-hot, along with all-day breakfasts (haven't we been doing that for a while...?), potatoes (!?) and grilled cheese sandwiches, something the Americans get a bit over-excited about. Some chefs are getting worked up about fusion again, but whether anyone can do it properly remains to be seen. We'll keep you posted on crazy/nauseous food combos throughout the year – and if you find a great one, post it on the board.
The new buzzword for 2012 is 'hyper-local', meaning grown by the restaurant itself – because 'home-grown' just isn't explanatory enough. Apparently customers are banging on their tables demanding to know the exact location of every component of the menu and if it isn't from less than 20 feet away, it can just go back to where it came from. Quite what this will do to all our poor vegetable suppliers and markets is another question entirely. And we're all going to be eating more communally. Those titchy tables for two? Out the window. Get with the party, people and mingle. Valentine's night's sure to be cosy.
Things set to fall into the abyss of 'crap ideas we thought were good a year ago and haven't worked' include – oh- cupcakes (that'll help the Government's unemployment figures when those kitchen companies go bust), wooden boards for serving (Jamie's stuffed again, then), food trucks (street food – coming from a rickshaw near you), foam (again), Korean (did anyone actually try kimchee?) and freestyle dining (Ready Steady Cook at your table – could be good, could be rubbish; usually the latter).
We're not going to make any predictions of our own: what we do know is the restaurant scene is as exciting and vital as ever and yeah, sure, some ideas don't work but lots do. There's masses to look forward to in 2012, lots of innovations to wow the tastebuds and empty the wallet. It's set to be an exciting year, food lovers. Happy New Year!