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“Food is a central activity of mankind and one of the single most significant trademarks of a culture” Mark Kurlansky, Author of ‘Choice Cuts: A Savoury Selection of Food Writing from Around the World and Throughout History’

The world used to be your oyster… … but today it is just as likely to be a seafood platter of Japanese sashimi, Malaysian prawn noodles, Thai fish cakes and Chinese prawn dumplings, as chefs bring inspiration from across Asia to enhance the buffet table.


he world brims with enticing flavours which change as some become more popular while others may fade from the scene. And the more people travel, the more they expect to be delighted with a global array of dishes when they check in to a hotel. Trendwatch Hotel 2016: Buffets around the World has fresh insights to inspire hotel professionals such as General Managers, F&B Directors and Executive Chefs. We have gathered recent expert research into the people, the food and the celebrations that will matter in 2016. We identified the travellers who are leading the changes, the foods that will be at the forefront of trends, and the high days and holidays which bring guests back to the buffet table time after time.

As traveller numbers rise across Asia, both tourism and the meeting, incentive, conference and exhibition (MICE) markets surge. Hotels respond by adapting their menus to fit in with global food trends to stay relevant and competitive. Sriracha? So last year. Instead, a dash of gojuchang, a splash of yuzu, a hint of coconut—simple changes which can update recipes from 2015 to 2016. Guests always come first, and one fast-growing group is MICE travellers. We think of them as a melting pot of local and international travellers who meet and mingle at buffet tables which have become gathering place for cuisines and people. Another prominent and growing group is the Millennial generation, travellers aged between 18 and 35 who are trendsetters now and for the next few years. They want their food to be fresh, healthy, authentic, and to make them feel good, through the ingredients it contains and the story it tells. The third important and increasing specialist group are Muslim travellers, who are emerging as a key


market for the hospitality industry to cater to their special needs. Food needs to keep up with global trends, and stay in tune with this cosmopolitan crowd as well as their impact on the ASEAN travel market. Diners like feel-good food which still tastes good, such as inventive vegetable dishes which take centre stage on the plate, because they feel these are the healthier options. Similarly, they look for foods that are sustainable and locally sourced—food which comes with a story—free from genetically-modified ingredients, and low in fat, salt and sugar. This used to be a ‘nice-to-have’. Today, guests expect it on the menu. Diners also expect food that is reassuring and yet exciting, which is a welcome challenge in kitchens looking to reinvent the classics. For inspiration, hotels need look no further than their own backyard, as Asia is the source of the next wave of up-and-coming food trends, and even street food is being refined, polished and served up with style. Tradition and innovation meet in the last part of this book: feel-good festivities such as Christmas and Chinese New Year, meals which unite whole communities such as Ramadhan, and bring families and friends together to eat, drink and be merry, such as weddings. At these events food is so much more than just food: it’s a high point in the day, filled with meaning and significance, a subject of conversation and delight, and the secret ingredient that makes the celebration a success. These are the broad strokes of what is hot for 2016. The rest of this book has the facts, figures, ideas and inspiration for hotels to fine-tune menus for different groups of people. What happens next is the secret ingredient that only you can bring.


For inspiration, hotels need look no further than their own backyard, as Asia is the source of the next wave of up and coming food trends


Contents 2 Welcome 6 Foreword by Otto Weibel 8 Preface by Ira Noviarti

28 Top Dining Trends 30

Heirloom Summer Tomato Salad Tomato and Feta Salad 34


The Global Melting Pot is Bubbling


Rise of the Millennials


A Tradition of Muslim Hospitality

Feel-Good Food Organic Mac and Cheese Burger

10 Making the most of MICE 14 MICE Guest Trends

Move Over, Meat

Organic Cheesy Macaroni Cones 38

Re-inventing Classic ASEAN Dishes Spiced Lamb Rack with Peanut Sauce Malay-style Mutton with Peanut Sauce


Asian Flavours Beyond Sriracha Smoked Norwegian Salmon with Yuzu Glaze Smoked Salmon Salad with Yuzu Dressing


Off the Street and on to the Table Wagyu Beef Tacos with Guacamole Beef Tacos with Spicy Tomato Sauce

50 A World of Celebration 52

Prosperous Reunion for Chinese New Year

60 Thank You 61 Research & Resources 62 Upcoming Events in Asia

Prosperity Fruity Yusheng 54

Round the World for Ramadhan Middle Eastern-style Lamb Rice


Festive Fare for Christmas Spiced Indonesian-style Roast Chicken


Love Bites for Wedding Days Ocean Treasure Pot


Today, business is all about innovation and how to add value to your business activities




am honoured to be invited to write the foreword for Trendwatch Hotel 2016: Buffets around the World. This book will be a useful resource to explore new ways to operate modern hotels and restaurants.

I have been very fortunate to work with Unilever Food Solutions’ management and chefs for many years in large hotels, where one thing became clear: the industry is all about innovation and how to add value to your business activities. The food business is no longer only the chef’s job. It involves the whole team from the General Manager downwards. Unilever Food Solutions have provided information, inspiration and guidance to chefs and their teams for decades, and have an outstanding reputation and products. In today’s ever-changing world, we must understand the needs of our customers as well as the needs of our businesses. The F&B industry is facing real challenges in the coming decade relating to food sustainability and healthier food choices. Customers want to know where their ingredients come from, how they are grown and their nutritional value. They care about the environment and seek out better, more sustainable produce. In short, they want to feel good about their food. Trendwatch Hotel 2016: Buffets around the World will inform you about new trends and innovations, and help streamline your F&B operations. It will share recipe ideas that will help you respond to changes in the industry which impact your customers and their needs. Unilever’s research and technology has a global back up, with partnerships around the world. Therefore, Unilever Food Solutions is the right partner to work with. This book will give you the edge your hotel needs to win customers over and keep them coming back. Enjoy the book, and keep cooking!

Otto Weibel Director, Ottscott Pte Ltd


Today’s emerging trends are tomorrow’s best practices




t Unilever Food Solutions, we’re always curious about what’s happening in the hospitality industry. New developments and emerging trends are always on the rise, and we want to help the F&B industry make the best of them. Trendwatch Hotel 2016: Buffets around the World provides industry insights to hotel managers and chefs, who all want to know what the Next Big Thing is. They want to understand the market better, generate consistent and appetising meals, and stay abreast of current and upcoming trends. In this book, we identify some of these food trends and suggest an inspirational and a practical recipe for each of them, which executive chefs can adapt and include in their buffet lines. Trends also travel the world more easily today. The digital generation communicates via social networks and mobile applications, where communication is boundless. Groups such as Millennials and MICE travellers, in particular, keep each other up to date with food trends from miles away. As they travel for work and leisure, these communities are always keen to find out about the latest in the hotel and dining industry. They have special preferences when they travel, and are keen to find establishments that fit the bill. The trends captured here will inspire hotel industry stakeholders to provide compelling solutions for their guests’ needs and demands. Today’s emerging trends are tomorrow’s best practices. We hope you find this book inspirational as well as useful, and that it will stimulate ideas about how to keep food offerings fresh for a different group of guests arriving every day.

Ira Noviarti Vice President Southeast Asia, Unilever Food Solutions



Making the most of MICE Growth drivers such as a larger pool of Millennials and more international and domestic travellers make the meeting, incentive, conference and exhibition sector a thriving opportunity for hotels.


ver the past five years, hotel revenues around the world have jumped almost US$100 billion, from US$457 billion in 2011 to US$550 billion in 2015.

The main winners are big hotel groups such as Marriott, Hilton and InterContinental, but independent four- and five-star hotels and those from smaller chains are also enjoying this dramatic growth. Simply, the hotel industry is thriving. And nowhere is this truer than for Asia, which has been driving global growth in many sectors for the past few years.


In 2014 the travel sector in ASEAN alone brought in over US$290 billion, which was 12% of regional GDP. This is slated to rise to nearly US$530 billion by 2025, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. Part of this impressive growth is the increase in people travelling on business, particularly for MICE. The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) calculated that the number of regularly occurring, internationally rotating association meetings is increasing by 100% every 10 years, and has been consistently doing so for the last half century, with no signs of a slowdown.


30 million

1st Thailand 2nd Malaysia

27.4 million

3rd Singapore 15.1 million

Top ASEAN tourist arrivals destination in 2014

MICE events in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East increased by 39% from 2010 to 2014, surpassing the global rate of 26%

Globally, it is one of the fastest growing sectors in travel and tourism, reported Travel Daily News Asia-Pacific. While Europe and the US remain the major markets, growth is particularly healthy in this region. ICCA reports that the number of MICE events in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East increased by 39% from 2010 to 2014, surpassing the global rate of 26% over the same time. In 2014, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, in that order, topped ASEAN tourist arrivals and also saw the bulk of international visitors coming from other Asian nations.


The impact on F&B in hotels of the growing MICE market can scarcely be underestimated. In Shanghai Daily, General Manager of the Grand Hyatt Shanghai, Richard Greaves, called it “a strong and lucrative market,� and he identified F&B as a key area for innovation to attract MICE travellers. As well the numbers changing, what these travellers want is shifting, too. Business people want more than just business, so smart hotels are marketing themselves by creating holistic guest experiences for MICE travellers.

Take Destination Hotels and Resorts in the US, for example. Their outdoor properties are touted as places where delegates can take a break from proceedings in the middle of nature, while their customised conference programmes include location-specific team building activities that add the extra that guests are looking for. Naturally, they also tailor meals to suit F&B trends, and feature the lighter, healthier fare that is gaining traction among diners worldwide. Identifying growth is just one part of understanding the MICE sector: knowing what these ever-increasing groups of business travellers want is the other.


US$550 billion


US$457 billion

Growth of Hotel Revenue



The hotel industry is thriving. And nowhere is this truer than for Asia, which has been driving global growth


MICE Guest Trends Hospitality revolves around guests, so knowing who they are and what they want is vital. Three groups of people will be significant for 2016: MICE attendees, Millennials and Muslim travellers. Understanding them is the foundation for hotels catering to their distinctive needs.



ooking at international arrivals in 2014, visitors to Asia came mostly from‌ Asia. Not surprisingly, travellers from China are on the list of top four arrivals in most ASEAN countries, and Koreans also make it to the top 10.

There are a few travellers from further afield, too: Singapore hosts many Indians, Thailand sees visitors from Russia, Myanmar and Vietnam both welcome more Americans, while Indonesia sees Australians, mostly making their way to Bali. The figures are impressive: in 2012, the World Travel and Tourism Council anticipated Asian business travel being spread fairly equally among China, India, Indonesia and the rest of Asia-Pacific, with growth of up to 7.7% between 2012 and 2022, against global business travel growth of 4%. At least 35% of travel spend is dedicated to MICE, and the industry in the region had a combined annual growth rate of 6.7% between 2003 and 2013, according to Radius Travel. Heading these travellers is the Millennial generation, aged 18 to 35. According to Ipsos, a research company, there are over 130 million of them in Asia, and they make up a quarter of the population. They view money as something to enhance a lifestyle and they spend more in travel than other generations, particularly on the finer things in life. They want something new, healthy and ‘real’. They are swayed by information they find online, and share information there, too, influencing the next wave of travellers. As so much of their spending is on business travel, they make up a big part of the MICE boom. Over 60% live in Asia and account for more than a third of the amount Asians spend on international travel. MICE travellers come from distant countries, within the region, and also within their own country. When they get to these events, however, all these groups like to eat at hotel buffets, because they are a social way to dine, they facilitate networking, and their variety means even the most finicky of eaters will find a suitable dish. That goes for both local and international delegates. Locals want to showcase to their guests the real food of their homeland, while international travellers want to know they have had a true taste of the destination. Both demands can be met in a buffet, with authentic local and regional food combined with reassuringly familiar international dishes. Local expertise is also essential when catering to Muslim travellers looking for halal food, whether they come from the Middle East or within Asia. Hotels in countries which are already set up for this, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, will benefit most.


The Global Melting Pot is Bubbling The MICE sector is growing fast, driven by international and domestic guests alike who look for new regional flavours as well as familiar tastes of home—so there is something for everyone at the buffet. 16



rom halfway around the world, from across the region or from just down the road, millions of people attend MICE events. The sector is like a melting pot where domestic, regional and international travellers meet. Of the 110 million who came to ASEAN in 2014—for business and leisure—almost half came from neighbouring countries. Looking at a bigger regional picture, ASEAN is working hard to build the MICE sector and its efforts are paying off. A MICE Asia-Pacific Expo study found that the industry grew by 133% between 2008 and 2014, and industry watchers at EventNook anticipate even better years to come. Most significantly, the ASEAN Economic Community, launched last year, spearheads greater economic integration across the bloc. That includes easier travel within ASEAN, making large-scale events more accessible and adding to the growth potential of the MICE sector. The overall figure is set to increase. In Asia, the meetings which business travellers attend are often slightly smaller than in other parts of the world so there is more room for expansion, and industry experts told AMEX they anticipated fast growth in the number of attendees in 2016. The spend-per-meeting is also expected to rise.

Almost 80% of travellers are from neighbouring countries, so keeping cuisine local can be a successful strategy

Business travellers are showing a taste for luxury after the recent budget-conscious years It’s a lucrative market. Karthik Rajan, Vice President of Public Sector and Government Practice at Frost & Sullivan consultancy firm, calculates that in Thailand, business travellers spend 3.5 times as much per day as leisure travellers, and almost twice as much per trip. In Malaysia that figure is 3 times as much as leisure travellers, while in Singapore it is around 1.7 times. Thailand is leading the charge in ASEAN with an average growth rate of between 5 and 10% each year, and an increase in MICE visitors of nearly 20% in the past 12 months. Other nations are no slouches, either. Singapore has been an events hub in ASEAN for a long time, hosting over 3.5 million business visitors in 2014, according to the Singapore Tourism Board. The smaller picture is of MICE events hosting millions of international, regional and local travellers, so hotels cater to domestic as well as international guests at MICE events. Even as they court the foreign dollar, they don’t neglect local diners who can make up a majority of attendees. For example, travel management company Radius Travel estimates that 70-75% of meetings in the Asia-Pacific area are held domestically. So while most official MICE figures emphasise international arrivals, many are from within a country. They may not have travelled great distance, but their expectations will be as high, if not higher, than those of attendees who have crossed borders to be there. These business travellers also look for F&B outlets where they can meet clients and partners with some privacy, as well as healthy eating options so that they don’t have to leave the hotel to find somewhere for dinner.


> > > 3.5






Business Travellers

Leisure Travellers

Spending Power by Traveller Type


Local people are also likely to return more often, simply because it is more convenient for them than for overseas guests. And because they often play host to international attendees, they will expect high standards when dining.

It helps to have a clear idea of which country most come from, as nationalities differ in their travelling styles. One survey reports that Chinese and Indonesian business travellers place a premium on feeling important, for example, while Singaporeans look for comfort but keep a tight rein on what they spend. Understanding the people behind the trends is still important.

Even international arrivals may not be from too far afield, and most travel takes place within the region. Almost 80% of travellers are from neighbouring countries, according to a World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Report 2015, so keeping cuisine local at the buffet table can be a successful strategy for hotels.

Yet business travellers do have things in common as well. They are showing a taste for luxury after the recent budget-conscious years, and more people are attending each meeting, reports Benchmark Hospitality Information. They look for simple things in a hotel room to help them work efficiently.

Finally, at a more personal level, the millions of MICE attendees are all individuals who expect to be treated as such.

Destinations, resorts and hotels which can mix business with leisure and offer more recreation, working in a relaxed setting, will prosper.


70-75% of meetings in the Asia-Pacific area are held domestically


Rise of the Millennials Millennials are the youngest and the fastest growing segment of MICE participants. Shrewd hotel managers are boosting their efforts to make the most of this youthful and travel-savvy demographic. 20



Aged 18 to 35, Millennials are more educated, tech-savvy and mobile than the previous generation he Baby Boomer generation love old-school elegance and the reassurance of knowing what to expect when they check into a five-star hotel.

But in recent years many hotel companies have been launching business chains which deliver the style that travellers expect paired with a contemporary look, targeted at the generation just behind the Baby Boomers: the Millennials.

In Southeast Asia alone, there are over 130 million Millennials, a quarter of the population They are aged 18 to 35, and are more educated, tech-savvy and mobile than the previous generation. The older end of this crowd (the mid-twenties and upwards) already forms the bulk of MICE travellers, and the group will grow as they get older and more secure in their careers. Travel booking site Expedia reported that Millennials in their late twenties and early thirties make a growing portion of managers and executives, and travel for business about five times a year, twice that of their over-35 peers.

In Southeast Asia alone, there are over 130 million Millennials, a quarter of the population. Looking at global travel patterns, marketing firm HotelRez projects that by 2030 the number of them who travel will hit 78 million. Other forecasts say that Millennials will account for 75% of travel spend in the next 10 years. They travel with deep pockets. Millennials had over US$4 trillion in disposable income to spend in 2015, according to MasterCard. Many also have corporate expense accounts, and 42% are likely to spend more company money than their own when travelling. They are used to combining work with leisure and are 62% more likely than their older peers to extend a business trip into a vacation. To capture their attention, the hospitality industry will have to play to their tastes. Hotels are responding by either building new or repurposing old hotels to meet their needs. For instance, Southeast Asian luxury chain Jen has rebranded some hotels in Penang, Manila and Johor Bahru, converting them into trendier, more upbeat versions. “The central question for us was always ‘How do we create something fresh and super relevant to the young-at-heart, Millennial-minded travellers?’” said its Director of Development, Howard Ho.


One third of them, for instance, read labels to make healthier choices, while a third chooses food and drinks with as few additives as possible, according to F&B consultancy The Hartman Group. Hoteliers are making these changes because Millennials are brand aware and demand authenticity and relevance from their favourite brands. Ipsos Business Consulting reported a director of Lenovo’s Digital and Social Centre for Excellence, Rod Strother, saying “Millennials are looking for a connection with a brand. They want to believe in a company that does good.”

When Millennial travellers are presented with the things they value, they are happy to pay for the experience ‘Good’ can apply to anything from the environment to food. It doesn’t just matter that their food tastes good; it matters where food comes from. Better yet if it is organic, harvested from a sustainable source, and locally produced to minimise their carbon footprint. Millennials also want to be good to their bodies, by eating healthier food that is free from chemicals or additives.


When Millennials travel for MICE events, meals are not just to sit down and fill up. Travel Market Report observed that meals are about snacking, grazing and sampling, social dining that caters to specific diets. In other words, the buffet line is where hotels can shine with variety and novelty. It’s not surprising that Millennials’ preference for being mobile and social extends beyond mealtimes. In the same report, Social Media Specialist Philippe Cesson who heads marketing agency Cesson 3.0, said that 36% of Millennials prefer working in the lobby rather than their rooms. Work, in the eyes of these twenty- and thirty-somethings, doesn’t have to take place behind a desk. Most importantly, when Millennial travellers are presented with the things they value, such as distinctive stories of local culture, healthy eating, and understanding of the country they are visiting, they have shown that they are happy to pay for the experience.

It doesn’t just matter that their food tastes good; it matters where food comes from


There will be


A Tradition of Muslim Hospitality From its birth in the inhospitable deserts of Saudi Arabia, Islam has always placed looking after guests at the heart of its philosophy. Now as the population of Muslim travellers grows, hotels are recognising them as a significant market, and adapting to accommodate them. 24



lobally the Muslim population is projected to be 2.2 billion by 2030, an increase of 26% from 1.7 billion in 2014. Almost 60% live in Asia, especially Indonesia which is the world’s most populous Muslim country. It’s no surprise that the travel industry increasingly recognises Muslim travellers as a major specialist sector. Muslim consumers in general look for products and services which are in tune with their faith, so that Islam-friendly hotels and restaurants serving halal food benefit from the growth of this population. A study by MasterCard and Islamic travel specialist CrescentRating estimates that in 2014, Muslim travel and hospitality market has reached US$145 billion. The world’s Muslim population will grow at about twice the rate of the non-Muslim population over the next two decades, according to the International Monetary Fund. In travel alone, over 100 million Muslims account for 10% of the world tourism economy, and they are expected to rise to 150 million by 2020, spending a projected US$200 billion. “Muslim travel will continue to be one of the fastest growing travel sectors in the world,” says the report.

1.7 billion Year 2014

As Muslim travellers become more affluent, they are prepared to pay for premium food, while travel has given them a taste for international cuisine, too Visitors from the Middle East to Asia are also high spenders and stay for longer periods than other travellers, according to a 2013 report by Travel Trade Gazette. For the fifth year in a row, MasterCard and CrescentRating put Malaysia as the top scorer in their Global Muslim Travel Index in 2014, with Indonesia at number six and Brunei at 10. Elsewhere within Asia, the report placed Singapore and Thailand the top two among non-Islamic countries for hosting Muslim travellers, and noted that Japan has also made great strides to welcome this group.


2.2 billion Year 2030

Growth of Muslim Population 25


US$1trillion Year 2014











US$10 trillion Year 2030

Growth of Halal Food Market

The demographic of Muslims is also changing, as it is for other faiths. Muslim consumers today are likely to be younger, savvy, and interested in convenience, choice and quality, but look for products and services that fit in with their beliefs. As Muslim travellers become more affluent, they are prepared to pay for premium food, while travel has given them a taste for international cuisine, too. One priority among Muslim travellers is halal food, where animals are slaughtered according to established rules, and no pork, lard or alcohol is involved in the cooking. Singapore is a leading light among non-Islamic countries, having over 10,000 halal-certified food outlets, while Malaysia has the possibility of becoming ASEAN’s halal trading hub, according to its Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Abdul Razak. While hardly a ‘trend’, halal food is growing fast, and the Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts that by 2030, the global halal market will reach US$10 trillion from US$1 trillion in 2014. Malaysian billionaire Halim Saad has called halal “the biggest and the oldest brand in the world”. As halal food is also associated with strict standards in food care, many non-Muslims look to it as a stamp of quality, and Asia-Pacific Food Industry magazine calls halal “the new mainstream”. Just as vegetarian food is catching on with carnivores, and gluten-free bread is enjoyed by health-conscious diners, so halal food is extending its appeal beyond the people it was first intended for.


“Halal certification gives companies a competitive edge, so they can sell to a larger pool of consumers and can also export to more countries in the region,” says Leong Lai Peng, Senior Lecturer In Food Science and Technology in Singapore. Last year, the Archipelago hotel group in Indonesia teamed up with Malaysia’s LagiSatu hotel search website which launched the Salam Standard, certifying Islam-friendly hotels, to make it easier for Muslims travelling to the country with confidence.

Muslim travel will continue to be one of the fastest growing travel sectors in the world So far, over 10,000 hotels have already signed up for Salam Standard accreditation, including AccorHotels, Mövenpick Hotels and Resorts, Rotana Hotels and Resorts, Anantara Hotels and Resorts, Tauzia Hotel Management, and Berjaya Hotels and Resorts. As Muslim travellers are forecast to make up fully one quarter of global travel expenditure, doubtless more will follow.



Top Dining Trends When guests change, hotel menus also change to suit them. It’s not about creating dishes, it’s about adapting them to stay a step ahead of diners’ tastes and to keep it fresh and exciting.



ike anything else, food follows fashion. Diners may not know exactly what the current trend is, but they know that they want to be excited by something new. What appealed 10 years ago may not hit the spot today, so there is always demand for insights about the guests who are checking in to hotels and what they want when they get there. Rising interest in healthier food means that vegetables are in the spotlight, for example. Diners want them as the main event, not a side show, and they look for local ingredients from sustainable sources. They want a meal which comes with a story, and which makes them feel good about eating it. Standard buffet behaviour is to try a taste of everything, which makes it the ideal setting for the variety of tastes found in ASEAN, and for chefs to introduce new twists on old favourites. Not that there is a need to recreate the classics. Instead, the aim is to keep a dish authentic enough for people trying it for the first time, but original enough to delight locals. Sometimes flavours and styles of cooking create a buzz. Sriracha was flavour of the month—or of the past five years or so. Now new food favourites are moving from sideline to mainstream, and tastes of Asia such as sambal, gojuchang and yuzu lead the charge. Chefs worldwide are paying more attention to ingredients like these which may be commonplace in the average Asian kitchen, but which are shaking up cuisines on other continents. Alongside this, the street food that is such a major part of everyday Asian life is being smartened up for hotel buffets. Trends come and go. What stays constant is the creativity to combine the old and the new into something exceptional.


Move Over, Meat Vegetables are muscling out meatier options on the plate as diners recognise their health benefits, and hotels make eating them fun. This demands creativity and an attention to what is seasonal.

To balance this, they make vegetables more inventive, such as broccamole (guacamole made with broccoli), turnip-kale stem pesto, and sunchoke curry, made with a delicate tuber that tastes like artichoke but belongs to the sunflower family.


he classic picture of the Western meal is meat, potatoes, and vegetables lurking on the side. Whether it’s a slab of steak, a piece of chicken, some fish or a rich stew, the chances are that meat is the main element. That’s changing. Not that vegetarian food is pushing meat off the plate altogether. Instead, innovative vegetable dishes are taking centre stage, part of a worldwide shift that places vegetables at the forefront of dining, according to food consultants Baum and Whiteman. Several factors have come together: rising beef prices, fear of chemicals in meat, farmers’ markets selling more exciting vegetables, growing interest in seasonal food, and more people being ‘flexitarian’—vegetarians some days, but not others. More restaurants, such as Al’s Place in San Francisco, named best new restaurant by Bon Appetit magazine in 2015, serve vegetable-centric dishes with an innovative twist. Their menus have meat under ‘side dishes’.


The spiralising fashion is at the heart of this trend of enlivening vegetable dishes, and kitchens are creating spaghetti alternatives from zucchini, squash, sweet potatoes and beets. Houlihan’s restaurant and bar chain in the US has launched an ‘inspiralised’ menu with a butternut squash and sausage lasagna and Thai noodle salad with the noodles made from zucchini, mango and peppers. This trend of moving meat to the side is more of a feature in Western cuisine, while Asian food has a long tradition of using smaller amount of meat as highlight in dishes that mainly comprises of vegetables. Meat has more often been used as a flavouring than a focus and, as the New York Times put it, cooks “save fish and meat for moments when extra depth or intensity are needed”.

Chefs being creative have made vegetarian dishes more colourful and tastier


Innovative vegetable dishes are taking centre stage as part of a worldwide shift that places vegetables at the 5.9% forefront of dining9.3% So this trend is showing itself in Asia through more creative vegetable dishes. Vegetarian grocer-café The Real Food Grocer, which has three branches in Singapore and one each in Malaysia’s Penang and Kuala Lumpur, has inventive vegetarian options such as chickpea and sweet potato cakes, and burger patties made from beet, carrot, millet, onions and zucchini. According to the Vice President of Singapore Chef Association, Chef Eric Neo, this creative approach to preparing vegetables has made them more appealing to diners. “Healthier dining has always been around,” he says. “But chefs being creative have made vegetarian dishes more colourful and tastier. I think the trend will grow to include a larger audience.” And diners love vegetables even more if they are organic. According to F&B product experts Innova Database, sales of organic products climbed from 5.9% to 9.3% from 2013 to 2015, while vegetarian products climbed from 7.8% to 10.5% in the same period. Couple that with the rising cost of meat (beef prices are set to rise between 12% and 15% in 2016) and the World Health Organisation’s link between processed food and cancer, the time is right for vegetables to take centre stage—or at least centre plate.


Inspirational idea: Variety gives depth and excitement to vegetable dishes. An Asian take on a Mediterranean classic, which allows the intense flavour of the tomatoes to emerge.

When something tastes this good, there’s no need for meat



Tomato and Feta Salad Practical for the buffet: Here the salad is created to bring out the natural umami of tomatoes, with feta, basil paste and pitted black olives.

Variety gives depth and excitement to vegetable dishes 33

Feel-Good Food Health and freshness have always been priorities for diners, but today they want something more—to know where the food comes from and what’s in it, so that they feel better from the inside out.

If they can find versions which are made with 'better' ingredients then they will choose those


ood is so much more than nourishment; it’s an experience, a story, a lifestyle. Diners come to the table with high hopes and hotels can deliver with food that is organic, natural and minimally processed, and food which is sustainable, locally produced and environmentally friendly. The first makes diners feel good physically; the second packs an emotional punch. On the health side, market research company Mintel reported diners specifically want less salt and sugar, and zero trans-fats or preservatives. Similarly, researchers at Nielsen found that 43% of people choose food without genetically modified ingredients. Instead, people look for foods to make them feel healthier from the inside out, and one third of diners prefer food that is high in fibre and protein or is fortified with minerals, vitamins and calcium. That’s the science—but life is more than vitamins and fibre. Every dish on every table tells a tale and people want to hear that story, to reassure them that the food doesn’t just taste good, it’s good for them as well.


For instance, diners prefer locally sourced food which has travelled less than the industry average of 1,000 miles from farm to plate. Significantly, this is not just a ‘nice to have’ but will become something they expect. Backing this up, the US National Restaurant Association found that over 80% of chefs saw locally sourced meat and seafood as a hot trend. These expensive local ingredients can be supplemented by products which simplify catering and come with high levels of food safety and integrity. Hotels are taking note, and Marriott International and Starwood Hotels, among others, have removed trans-fats from their kitchens, while Royal Sonesta Hotel in Boston and the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas both offer gluten-free dishes. These are not just for people with gluten intolerance, and many consumers ask for gluten- and dairy-free products because they think they are better for them. This move towards healthier eating is most noticeable among people in Asia-Pacific and the younger generation. That means it’s not just a passing fad. The same is true of illness-preventing superfoods such as kale and berries, as well as sustainable food: the younger the customer, the more likely they are to support it.


Good food doesn’t just need to be salad and steamed vegetables, though. Adapting favourite recipes by using organic, low-salt, low-fat ingredients, for example, mean that diners can eat the food they want at the same time as feeling good. They still look for exciting, tasty foods that are full of flavour. But if they can find versions which are made with ‘better’ ingredients then they will choose those. Nor does this enthusiasm for feel-good food mean diners don’t allow themselves the occasional treat, either. Even though sales of healthy foods like dairy-based shakes and vegetables outpaced sales of indulgences like chocolate and cookies, overall sales of both kinds of food grew, reported Nielsen. Diners also want transparency, so they know what they are eating. Food Technology magazine reports that many professional kitchens have made a point of making their menus healthier by banning artificial ingredients and additives. Perhaps most reassuringly, the Nielsen survey found that 93% of diners in Asia-Pacific are prepared to pay a premium for food which they know is the healthier option. When there is such a clear message from diners, hotels can make a point of telling the story of the food, so it becomes something they can be proud of.

Every dish on every table tells a story, to reassure them that the food doesn’t just taste good, it’s good for them as well 35

Inspirational idea: This reinvention of an American favourite combines a farm-fed chicken patty blended with vegetables for lightness, organic mac and cheese with a four-cheese sauce of parmesan, romano, munster and provolone, and baked rather than fried.

Free from additives, but not free from pleasure



Organic Cheesy Macaroni Cones Practical for the buffet: Bite-sized macaroni and cheese, best served with a note to tell diners where the ingredients come from so they can enjoy its organic credentials

Even the most sinful food can be made that bit healthier with organic ingredients 37

Re-inventing Classic ASEAN Dishes Hotels can adapt, recreate and interpret national signature dishes as long as the essence of the dish remains true. The result can be an innovative taste of home for locals and something exotic for international travellers.

Same same, but different” is a saying in Thailand which perfectly captures the way old favourite foods are being given a new life by innovative chefs. Take for example regional and international MICE travellers who often look for specialities of a country. Kitchens need a few recipes which will always be popular with visitors, but with their own special twist.

Reinventing the classics is a way to please everyone It’s not about fusion: it’s about staying true to what made a dish a favourite in the first place, while making sure it does not just stay preserved like a piece of heritage. Few have changed as fast as Singapore, which can lay claim to signature dishes from three races. Each one gets a makeover at The Quarters, where Malay satay appears as a burger, keeping the spicy peanut sauce of the grilled meat skewers served on the street; the hawker favourite chicken rice becomes a chicken poached in a Hainanese broth with chilli sauce; and chicken with a curry leaf and cream sauce captures Indian cuisine in a new way.


Thai flavours, such as the hot and sour notes of Thai broth tom yum goong, have also found their way into other dishes, such as tom yum fried rice and tom yum pasta. The Singapore restaurant Som Tam serves up tom yum truffle fries and tom yum chicken wings—fun new ways to enjoy a traditional flavour. Equally, classic tastes can be adapted for local ways of eating. Londoners are more comfortable with burgers than skewered meats, so Sambal Shiok Restaurant merges Malaysian flavours of satay and beef rendang with pickles and sambal chilli, as burger patties in toasted buns. Sometimes it can simply be a case of packaging timeless food into an easier mouthful. Chilli crab is popular in Singapore, but even its greatest fans will agree that it’s messy to eat. So The Bao Makers Cafe and Bakery took the three essential parts—mantou buns, crab meat and chilli sauce—and made them into something between a burger and a pau. Meanwhile, restaurant chain Din Tai Fung combines sweet, delicate crabmeat and hot chilli into steamed pau: easier to eat, but no less tasty. They call these one of their range of ‘signature’ pau: reinventing one classic dish can turn it into another.


Hotel can put their mark on traditional food while still protecting the authentic core Hotel can put their mark on traditional food while still protecting the authentic core. Giovanni Sias, Waterfront Manila Pavilion Hotel’s Executive Chef, says “I recently did chicken and pork adobo. I chopped the meat, mixed it with goat cheese, egg white, and the adobo sauce, and then froze it to firm it up. And then I rolled it in flour, egg, and bread, and I made chicken-pork adobo croquette.” Also in the Philippines, the Manila Hotel’s Café Ilang-Ilang simply added adobo to pizza: something for traditionalists and adventurers alike. Whoever makes the choice for the dish, the result is more choice overall. Michelle Lean, the Cordon Bleu-trained host of CCTV’s Travelogue show, likes the way regional signature dishes are being modernised and reinvented, saying “I love the movement of these different cuisines, as it brings so much more variety to a city.”


Inspirational idea: Premium lamb cutlets are marinated in lemongrass, turmeric, galangal, coriander and garlic, while the satay sauce is spiked with purĂŠed ginger flower and lime zest, all accompanied with crunchy pickled achar.

Street food grows up and gets sophisticated, but never loses sight of its roots 40


Malay-style Mutton with Peanut Sauce Practical for the buffet: This Malay-inspired dish takes the elements of the chargrilled street favourite—mutton, spicy peanut sauce, ketupat and vegetables—and transforms them.

A single bite that contains the essence of an entire country 41

Asian Flavours Beyond Sriracha Chefs and diners love the versatility and taste of Sriracha, but 2016 will see a new wave of Asian flavours alongside the ubiquitous spicy-tart sauce.


round five years ago, Sriracha hot sauce exploded onto the US market, and global domination quickly followed. Last April, market research firm IBISWorld identified hot sauce production as the eighth-fastest-growing industry in the world. Strangely, the one area where it made relatively small waves was in Asia, where there are plenty of other chilli sauces. Some in Asia even wondered what the fuss over Sriracha was all about. Now, though, the Sriracha wave is ebbing, and chefs and foodies alike are looking to Asia for the next hot sauce. Sambal, the Indonesian and Malaysian's condiment of fresh red chillies, shrimp paste, garlic, ginger, scallions, fish sauce, vinegar and lime juice, has been identified as one to watch and use. It’s flexible, and the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore slips it into their colourful sambal chilli marinated chicken with turmeric glutinous rice dumpling, Hong Kong’s City Garden Hotel stir fries it with clams, while at the Kempinksi in Jakarta it accompanies porridge, noodles, fried rice, roast lamb, beef liver and, of course, laksa.


Yuzu, a zesty yellow citrus fruit like a cross between a lemon and a tangerine, is slated to make its mark in kitchens around the world Meanwhile, the Korean wave does not look to be dying down anytime soon. South Korea’s latest offering is gojuchang sauce, made from red chilli, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and salt. Gojuchang’s flavour profile is in line with what international food and restaurant consultants Baum and Whiteman have identified as this year’s flavour trends. Consumers are looking for deep contrasts to richness, hence the appeal of the fermented tartness of gojuchang. But it is not just heat that is leaving diners’ taste buds tingling. Yuzu, a zesty yellow citrus fruit like a cross between a lemon and a tangerine, is slated to make its mark in kitchens around the world. The fruit, which originates in East Asia and has a place in Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisines, fits the bill in the world’s search for exotic flavours. Yuzu’s tart flavour lends itself well to salad dressings such as vinaigrette, and refreshing desserts such as sorbet. Chefs also add a few drops of yuzu juice to cut rich sauces such as hollandaise.


Coconut is another natural flavour that lends itself well to cooking. Coconut cream adds richness to sauces, nata de coco gives fibre and body while toasted coconut adds lightness and a fashionable scorched flavour to desserts. Coconut water can be used as a base for soups, lending a delicate sweetness to chicken and seafood that in turn infuse the stock with flavour. It looks great in photos too, which is perfect for Millennials. At Cafe Organic in Bali, smoothie bowls topped with fruit, acai, chia seeds, goji berries are served in coconut husks that serve as an edible, Instagrammable bowl. Another trendy flavour is salted egg yolk. Custardy, salted egg yolk filling first oozed its way into dim sum in steamed white buns, and is now spreading. When salted egg yolk croissants were first launched in Singapore, they were sold out at bakery Flavour Flings within half an hour. Salted egg yolk sauce has also been used to flavour all kinds of stir-fried dishes, such as crab, prawn, and even bitter gourd. It can be tossed in pasta, drizzled on onion rings, and makes a luscious dipping sauce for fries. Sriracha may have had its day in the sun, but in the creative hands of chefs and the dishes they can come up with, the next generation of flavours looks to be just as versatile as their predecessors.

Gojuchang’s flavour profile is in line with this year’s flavour trends, as consumers look for deep contrasts to richness 43

Inspirational idea: Yuzu concentrate is blended with vinaigrette and soy sauce, and spread across the smoked salmon to cut through the richness—a big step up from the standard lemon.

Diners who think Asian food is all about hot chilli need to get acquainted with the zesty juice of the yuzu fruit



Smoked Salmon Salad with Yuzu Dressing Practical for the buffet: A combination of Korean yuzu with soy sauce and olive oil, on New Zealand smoked salmon, with Japanese alfalfa sprouts.

Energising, refreshing, and very simple to serve 45

Off the Street and on to the Table Street food is on the rise as diners and celebrity chefs alike love its authenticity and robust flavours. A trend is emerging of hotel menus inspired by the fusion of ethnic street food and traditional fare.


Street food has been overtaking fine dining as many diners became disenchanted with nouvelle cuisine. It’s also been a trend among hoteliers for a while and Leslie Stronach, Executive Chef at the InterContinental Bangkok, has long sung the praises of the city’s street food, as has Martin Faist at Absolute Hotel Services in the Thai capital. And a stamp of approval came last year when Michelin launched a guide—but no stars—for Hong Kong and Macau street food. treet food is moving from the sidewalk to the hotel restaurant, with a little help from celebrity chefs—and diners who like its honesty, simplicity and intense flavours.

Last year, Fox News’ programme Chew On This reported that Gordon Ramsay and Anthony Bourdain labelled Singapore street food as “one of the hottest food trends of 2016”. Ahead of the curve, Australian Chef David Thomson brought Thai street food to high-end dining at his Singapore restaurant Long Chim, while TV chef Susan Feniger opened her South Hollywood restaurant, Street, in 2009 after being impressed by the food she had eaten on the streets of India.

Street food has been overtaking fine dining 46

Street food is about variety and freshness served with little fuss. But while each street hawker specialises in just one recipe, professional kitchens can deliver exotic dishes from all over the world to the buffet table. Flavours have always fused, so that Vietnamese cooking merged with French baguettes to form the banh mi (local sandwich), and today Mexican tacos can happily carry Asian spices. It’s popular because it’s associated with fun. Travellers feel adventurous eating with local people; squatting on plastic stools by hawker carts in Hanoi with a banh mi is a badge of pride for backpackers. So when diners find good street food served up in hotel buffets, they associate it with leisure, pleasure and adventure. Bringing street food into the spotlight, Singapore has an annual World Street Food Congress, and the UK has its own ‘Oscars’, the Street Food Awards. The Bourdain Market, named after the globe-trotting TV chef, is looking for partners and investors to bring high quality street food to New York.


When diners find good street food served up in hotel buffets, they associate it with leisure, pleasure and a sense of adventure Street food was designed to feed large numbers cheaply and efficiently, but it is loved by people from all walks of life. A 2007 study from the Food and Agriculture Association put the number of people eating street food every day at 2.5 billion. The fact that rich and poor alike enjoy it means it adapts very well to professional kitchens. One thing that a hotel can bring to the party is better hygiene. While in the old days vendors carried food on trays and baskets on their heads (where it could fall victim to passing birds), healthy hawker fare has become a priority today. It’s another reason why the excitement of the street marries perfectly with the reassurance of the hotel kitchen.


Inspirational idea: Here we rolled premium beef with onions, tomatoes and coriander into soft tortillas, halfway between a taco and a burrito, served with smooth guacamole dipping sauce topped with rough-cut tomato, jalapeĂąos, sweet onion and more coriander.

A perfect mouthful that moves off the street and into the uptown high life, without losing sight of its roots 48


Beef Tacos with Spicy Tomato Sauce Practical for the buffet: Strips of tender beef flash-fried and served on a crisp taco shell with onions and coriander, and a dash of hot sauce to turn up the heat.

As well as tasting good, street food needs to be easy to eat 49

A World of Celebration Passion, pleasure and delight all run high during festive times when families, friends and communities get together to have a good time—so the food served is bound to be a celebration too.



oday, festive food is about respect for the traditions that people know and love, while also introducing something new. Rather than revolutionary new dishes, the emphasis is on evolution so that each new generation connects through food with the generations that have gone before, at the same time as enjoying something original. Each nation celebrates the same high days and holidays a little differently, so there is plenty of opportunity to borrow from neighbouring countries to add a fresh twist to old customs, especially when it comes to the table. These foods can journey a long way and take many forms: the Yule log was originally just that—a log on the fire that burned for the whole Christmas. The French recreated it as a chocolate cake which they brought to Vietnam over 100 years ago, and it’s now served in hotels in Singapore. Where next? The ASEAN region is also rapidly transforming, so traditional foods evolve from year to year. And the region is rich in culture and customs at the same time as being influenced by new festivities like Christmas, imported from the chilly West and warmly embraced. So abalone and lobster sit side by side at a Lunar New Year buffet, while Middle-Eastern and Indo-Malay Muslim favourites rub shoulders with sushi and pasta in a Ramadhan buka puasa, Christmas turkey is served in a glorious variety of ways depending on the country, and wedding feasts are a time for both the couple and the chefs to showcase something unique. Festive food offers hotels a chance to show creativity alongside time-honoured, tried-and-tested tastes, and to bring together something old with something inventive and new.


Prosperous Reunion for Chinese New Year The Lunar New Year celebrations have long brought families together. Nowadays, families and friends alike celebrate at home and in hotels, and look for both new and traditional dishes.


n Thailand and Laos, they celebrate Songkran with splashing water as a sign of purification. In Vietnam it is known as Tet, in South Korea it is Seollal. Each has particular food for the celebration, such as the Banh Tet (steamed rice with mung beans and pork in banana leaf packages) in Vietnam, while Laotians might enjoy pouhn pa (seabass with chargrilled eggplant and chilli). Across China, the spring festival which marks the start of the new lunar calendar is celebrated with firecrackers, hong bao or ang pow (red envelopes), new clothes, and of course festive food. Delicacies such as rou gan or bak kwa (grilled, sweet dried meat similar to jerky) and nian gao (glutinous rice cake) are common during this season. In China, banquets abound with symbolism, with longevity noodles for long life, fish (yu) as a sign of abundance, fried spring rolls which represent gold bars and prosperity, and dumplings shaped like silver ingots. These dumplings (jiao zi) are packed with minced meat, cabbage and spring onions—but never pickles because that suggests the future will be sour. Originally from Song Dynasty (AD 1132 – 1279), pen cai (big bowl feast) is a luxurious braised dish of pork, chicken, mushrooms, prawn, abalone, scallops and vegetables, which has also found its way to this region the last few years.


In Singapore and Malaysia, Chinese families toss a salad with raw fish (yusheng) high in the air—the higher it is tossed, the higher the prosperity will be. They all celebrate the same thing: the wish for good fortune in the coming year. Hotel buffets are proving a popular choice for families during the festive season, reported The Straits Times in Singapore. One chef estimated that revenue during the two-week Chinese New Year period increases by at least 50%. Across ASEAN, buffets allow hotels to cater to a variety of guests’ tastes, satisfying those who want a traditional meal with food symbolic of the Lunar New Year, as well as diners hankering after a new experience.

Chinese families toss a salad with raw fish (yusheng) high in the air—the higher it is tossed, the higher the prosperity will be


Yusheng, the fish salad tossed in Malaysia and Singapore to celebrate the Lunar New Year is loud, messy and fun. This less-sweet, more refreshing version removes the red and green yam strips and substitutes them with dragon fruit, watermelon and pineapple. The sauce is a zesty-sweet blend of plum sauce, Thai tamarind sauce and honey, and the vegetables are iceberg lettuce, alfalfa and sliced red radish. Abalone and smoked salmon are optional.


Round the World for Ramadhan Breaking fast at the buffet spread allows Muslim diners to try cuisines from around the world in a communal setting, alongside favourite local and traditional dishes.


or the holy month of Ramadhan, observant Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset, and break fast with a meal called iftar, or buka puasa in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei ASEAN’s majority-Muslim countries. Buffets have long been popular with Muslim diners as they break fast among family and friends, and they are increasingly common in hotels. They allow diners to eat what they want, to prepare for the next day’s fast. In Middle Eastern and North African Muslim countries, iftar usually includes a rice dish such as briyani, mansaf (lamb in yoghurt) or kabsa (spiced rice with meat and vegetables), and is rounded off with a dessert, often kunafa (sweet cheese pastry), luqaimat (crisp dumplings) and qatayef (nut-filled sweet pastry). It has spread from being a small community or family meal to becoming something much bigger, and some corporations make it a social and business event for staff, suppliers and customers to enjoy a special meal together, whether they are Muslim or not. They often hold these events at hotels, which turn iftar into an experience with distinctive dishes. The Renaissance in Kuala Lumpur serves whole roast sheep as well as other uncommon dishes, on a seven-day rotation so that returning diners do not become jaded.


Breaking fast has spread from being a small community or family meal to becoming something much bigger The CafĂŠ at Hotel Mulia Senayan in Jakarta, meanwhile, serves up cuisine from six different continents, including Italian pasta and Japanese sushi rolls, in addition to Middle Eastern favourites such as shawarmas (grilled meat and salad rolled in flat bread), reported The Jakarta Post. Desserts are similarly cosmopolitan, with mousse, parfait and fondue next to traditional Indonesian dessert kolak, or fruit in palm sugar and coconut milk. Hotel service goes beyond food, and as there is often only a short window of time between breaking fast and prayer, some hotels now have prayer rooms set aside as part of the buka puasa buffet package. One thing is consistent, however: the meal traditionally starts with dates, eaten by the Prophet when he first broke fast.


Lamb Rice

Muslim food originated in the Middle East, so that’s where we turned for inspiration with this light but spiced lamb briyani. The jasmine rice is coloured and scented with turmeric, and studded with cashew nuts, raisins and peas. Onions and garlic are fried with spices (turmeric, cumin, cloves, cinnamon and allspice) then added to the rice and the minced lamb, and simmered until perfect.


Festive Fare for Christmas Some say Christmas comes but once a year. Others talk of the Twelve Days of Christmas. In fact, people celebrate throughout December, giving plenty of opportunity for hotels to blend innovation with tradition.

In Europe in years gone by, a goose would sit at the centre of the festive spread. Now it has been pushed out by turkey from the US. In Asia, though, particularly the Philippines, the spread is just as likely to include roast chicken, duck or a whole suckling pig.

Deck the halls with boughs of holly” goes one Christmas carol. Not easily done in Asia, but there are still plenty of festive treats. The traditional Christmas originated in Western countries which celebrated the birth of Jesus, but it has become a commerce-and-celebration event even in countries that are not Christian. In December, festive decorations appear in big cities in Asia, and it is marked by gift-giving, parties and sharing food with both family and friends. In Vietnam, a legacy of (Christian) French colonialism, they still have a log cake called a bûche de Noël.

The food may vary, but the spirit of celebration remains the same everywhere 56

In Asia, Christmas is celebrated most flamboyantly in the Philippines, where festive music starts playing as early as September, and on Christmas Eve people eat lechon (roast pig), bibingka (rice-flour and coconut cake), puto bumbong (sticky rice and yam steamed in bamboo), and other sweets. Blending traditional and local is common. In Hong Kong, Yamm at the Mira Hotel has added a bit of theatre to the Christmas buffet with a turkey carving station, while The Bostonian at The Langham opts for oysters and sashimi alongside the traditional fare. And Kitchen at W also mixes the expected roast goose with wagyu beef and Tasmanian salmon with passion fruit boost. In Singapore, Mezza9 at the Grand Hyatt serves Thai-style chicken with honey next to slow-roast turkey with apple sauce, while the Marriot brings a local twist to a Christmas dessert with the Kaya Namachoco Yule Logcake. In Vietnam, meanwhile, the French influence still shows in the Sofitel Sukhumvit’s rotisserie-style chicken and French cheeses. The food may vary, but the spirit of celebration remains the same everywhere.


Christmas going global allows it to pick up tastes from anywhere, such as this farm-fed chicken with an Indonesian paste including galangal, turmeric, ginger and lemongrass. Once again, at its heart is this marinade which tenderises, flavours and keeps moisture in the chicken as it roasts. Finally, it is served ‘en daube’ with Western-style vegetables, garlic, onion, celery, carrots and parsley.


Love Bites for Wedding Days For their wedding, couples want something to make their big day unique, and novel ideas to make their celebration more memorable.

Singaporean website The Wedding Scoop says that 45% of a wedding budget goes to food. As a result, most large hotels offer wedding packages, which either give a range of options to the couple, or allow them to personalise their big day with special requests.


eddings are not just about the couple; they are also about the families and friends who will support them through their married life. So bringing everyone together to eat, drink and toast to the couple has always been central to the big day. The banquet may not be on the same day as the wedding itself. In China, the wedding takes place on a day chosen because it is auspicious, while the banquet can be a question of when the hotel has availability. At the banquet itself, each dish of the eight courses served symbolises something such as happiness, prosperity, long life or fertility. But there is room for innovation, too. For instance, the Mandarin word for scallops sounds like the phrase ‘raising children’ (dai zi) so they are a key part of the meal; but how they are presented is up to the creativity of the chef. Weddings represent big business for hotels, and since many couples and their parents want to use their wedding to impress their guests, the food served by the hotel is essential. They want something that will impress and give mian zi (face) so many opt for four- and five-star hotels.


Event planner Wedding Bliss Thailand notes some trends for 2016: fewer sit-down dinners and more canapés and buffets, live cooking stations for a bit of drama, and livelier flavours in wedding cakes such as salted caramel and chai latte. Elsewhere in Asia, wealthy couples are looking overseas for their wedding packages. The Bangkok Post reported on an Indian couple who flew 200 guests to a beach resort in Thailand, spending US$140,000, although some couples can spend 20 times that amount. Few can expect anything so lavish; but that doesn’t make even the most modest weddings any less special for the bride and groom.

Trends include more canapés and buffets, live cooking stations for a bit of drama, and livelier flavours in wedding cakes such as salted caramel


If weddings are about doing something personal for the big day, this dish with hand-rolled mackerel balls with black fungus and spring onions has a real customised touch. Abalone and sea cucumber delight the parents, and water chestnuts add a vivacious crunch for everyone. Rather than replacing the traditional, auspicious whole fish, this is a new course to add a fresh dimension to the banquet.


Thank you for joining us


nformation is like food—it’s best when it’s shared. With this book, we wanted to share insights based on the experience of diners and food experts alike. To start, we combined our industry experience with reports by professional market researchers such as Mintel and Nielsen, which interviewed tens of thousands of people to gather data. All this expertise was fed in to Trendwatch Hotel 2016: Buffets around the World. To this, we added information from industry-watchers who have built up domain expertise over the years and know what the Next Big Thing is expected to be. We included anecdotes from people on the ground such as hoteliers, chefs and F&B directors—anecdotes that they shared with each other and with us during our own regular meetings with people in the industry. And we were proud to tap on the expertise of the international award-winning Chef Yen Koh, who led the Singapore national culinary team to championship at the Culinary World Cup 2010. The inspirational ideas and practical recipes in this book are Chef Yen's culinary brainchild. Since the 1880s, Unilever Food Solutions has been passionate about inspiring hotel professionals such as General Managers, F&B Directors, and Executive Chefs to spice up their creativity and commercial skills. We hope this book has entertained, informed and inspired you, but most of all that it’s useful and will help you delight the guests that stream past your buffet tables every day. Your expertise and innovation will help build the food trends of tomorrow. We’re looking forward to that, just as we look forward to a fruitful, long-term continued partnership with you.

Yours truly,


Research & Resources The insights reflected in this TrendWatch Hotel 2016: Buffets around the World have been gathered from many sources, including books, magazines, journals, websites and market reports. We went through all of these to bring you the most relevant information from the industry.

A Renewed Commitment to Planners John Buchanan; Corporate and Incentive Travel Magazine Archipelago Improves Services for Muslim Travellers Mark Elliott; Travel Daily Asia ASEAN has Potential to Become Halal Hub: Malaysian PM Mohani Niza; Health Care Asia Daily Asia Pacific Region Business Travel and MICE Trends Radius Travel Asia’s Millennials want to Connect with Brands Denyse Yeo; Future Ready Singapore Best Wedding Trends to Look for in 2016 The Wedding Bliss Thailand Christmas Dining Deals in Singapore: Guide to Festive Brunches, Buffets and Dinners Zakaria Muhammad; Honeycombers Singapore

Innova Market Insights Presents 2016 Top 10 Food & Beverage Trends Asia Pacific Food Industry Menu Trends: Starting A Local Foods Program Len Elias; Hotel F&B Magazine MICE Industry Trends and Markets Michael Verikios; Travel Daily News Asia MICE Trends and its Immediate Future World Luxury Tourism Michelin Dishes Out Hong Kong, Macau Street Food Huileng Tan; CNBC News Nielsen Global Health and Wellness Report The Nielsen Corporation Now Everyone Can Fly Tim Hill; IPSOS Business Consulting

Crescent Rating Global Muslim Travel Index 2015 Crescent Rating

Puto Bumbong Recipe Filipino Recipes Portal

Economic Impact of MICE in Thailand Frost and Sullivan

Ramadhan Buffet: A Taste of Everything Najiha Hana Zaimuddin; The Jakarta Post

Empowerment, Engagement and Enterprise Adeline Ang; World Street Food Congress

Ready to Feast Krishna Kumar Vr; China Daily Asia

Essential Foods for Tet Holidays Vietnam Online

Singapore’s Street Food Inspires Celebrity Chefs Fox News

Fifteen percent of dieters are concerned about salt intake Mintel

Street Fare and Last Meals: Thailand’s Top 20 Executive Chefs Talk Food CNN Travel

Factors Affecting Wedding Banquet Venue Selection of Thai Wedding Couples Kulkanya Napompech; Journal of Applied Sciences

Street Food in Demand at Omni Hotel and Resorts Bret Thorn; Nation’s Restaurant News

Fairmont Singapore Targets Muslim Travellers TTG Asia Five Reasons Middle Easterners are Looking to ASEAN Investvine Gen Y Luxury; Raini Hamdi TTG Mice Halal: The New Mainstream Sherlyne Yong; Asia Pacific Food Industry; Handfuls of Sticky Rice: A Lao New Year in America Saveur Houlihan’s to Bring Spiralized Vegetable Trend to Its Menu Abigail Abesamis; The Daily Meal How Millennials are Shaping Business and Leisure Travel Trends Expedia How to Target the Millennials Zoe Monk; Boutique Hotelier ICCA Statistics Report 2014 International Congress and Convention Association

The Meaning Behind Your Wedding Banquet Dishes Audrie Soh; Singapore Brides Top 10 Desserts to Tempt Wedding Guests The Wedding Scoop Vegetarian Diets: What are the advantages? Leitzmann C; US National Library of Medicine UNWTO Tourism Highlights 2015 World Tourism Organisation What Business Travellers Value The Most In a Hotel Hotel Internet Marketing Where to Eat During Chinese New Year Benson Ang; The Straits Times Why WHO Linked Processed Meat With Cancer Leadership Newspaper World Street Food Congress 2015 – What to Eat and What to See? Cecelia Joven Ong; World Street Food Congress 5 Best Christmas Buffets in Hong Kong Yi Li Dawson; Lifestyle Asia

“Iftar Indulgence” at Temptations Restaurant Renaissance KL Hotel Malaysian Foodie

11 Hottest Food and Beverage Trends in Restaurants and Hotels 2016 Baum and Whiteman International Food and Restaurant Consultants

In 2016, beef price will rise by 12-15% Agroinfo

2016 Global Meetings and Events Forecast AMEX Global Business Travel


Upcoming Events in Asia 2016 APRIL WORLD CONGRESS OF WFBSC 4 – 6 April, Tokyo, Japan SPIE ASIA-PACIFIC REMOTE SENSING 4 – 7 April, New Delhi, India IT&CM CHINA (INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL & CONVENTIONS, MEETINGS) 6 – 8 April, China CTW (CORPORATE TRAVEL WORLD) 6 – 8 April, China FHA (FOOD & HOTEL ASIA) 12 – 15 April, Singapore AIFE (ASIA INTERNATIONAL IMPORT FOOD EXPOSITION) 14 – 16 April, Beijing, China E-COMMERCE SHOW ASIA 20 – 21 April, Singapore ARCHITECT EXPO 26 April – 1 May, Bangkok Thailand




ASEAN BEAUTY 28 – 30 April, Bangkok, Thailand

PHARMATECH ASIA 15 – 18 June, Bangkok, Thailand



ASIAN SECURITEX 4 – 6 May, Hong Kong, China

WWM ASIA (WORLD WINE MEETING ASIA) 28 June – 1 July, Singapore

SIAL WINE WORLD 5 – 7 May, Shanghai, China


INTERMACH 2016 11 – 14 May, Bangkok, Thailand

MWC (MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS) 29 June – 1 July, Shanghai, China

SHEET METAL ASIA 11 – 14 May, Bangkok, Thailand







WORLD OF COFFEE & TEA 25 – 29 May, Bangkok, Thailand




*information is updated as per March 2016


SEPTEMBER VITAFOODS ASIA 1 – 2 September, Hong Kong, China WORLD LUXURY EXPO 2 – 4 September, Seoul, Korea IBTM CHINA (INCENTIVES BUSINESS TRAVEL MEETING) 7 – 8 September, Beijing, China WORLD SUGAR EXPO & CONFERENCE 7 – 8 September, Bangkok, Thailand PATA MART (PACIFIC ASIA TRAVEL ASSOCIATION) 7 – 9 September, Jakarta, Indonesia ASIA FRUIT LOGISTICA 7 – 9 September, Hong Kong, China 3W EXPO (INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION ON WATER, WASTE WATER & WASTE MANAGEMENT) 14 – 16 September, Bangkok, Thailand CPPE (INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION ON CHEMICAL & POLLUTION ENGINEERING) 14 – 16 September, Bangkok, Thailand POWER-GEN ASIA 20 – 22 September, Seoul, Korea FI ASIA (FOOD INGREDIENTS ASIA) 21 – 23 September, Indonesia MICE ASIA PACIFIC EXPO 22 – 23 September, Singapore FISITA (WORLD AUTOMOTIVE CONGRESS) 26 – 30 September, Busan, Korea IT&CMA (INCENTIVE TRAVEL & CONVENTIONS MEETINGS ASIA) 27 – 29 September, Bangkok, Thailand CORPORATE TRAVEL WORLD 27 – 29 September, Bangkok, Thailand


RETAIL CONGRESS ASIA PACIFIC 12 – 13 October, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia WORLD LUXURY EXPO 14 – 16 October, Mumbai, India ITB ASIA (TRADE SHOW FOR ASIAN TRAVEL MARKET) 19 – 21 October, Singapore E-SECURITY EXPO 19 – 21 October, New Delhi, India ITMA ASIA + CITME (TEXTILE INDUSTRY EVENT) 21 – 25 October, Shanghai, China APEX EXPO (AIRLINE PASSENGER EXPERIENCE EXPO) 24 – 27 October, Singapore GAS ASIA SUMMIT (GAS) 26 – 28 October, Singapore AIRCRAFT INTERIORS ASIA 25 – 27 October, Singapore

NOVEMBER IN-COSMETICS ASIA 8 – 10 November, Bangkok, Thailand HIFI (HOTEL INVESTMENT FORUM INDIA) 17 – 18 November, India


2017 FEBRUARY INTER AIRPORT SOUTH EAST ASIA 15 – 17 February, Singapore

MARCH VIV ASIA (TRADE SHOW FOR FEED TO FOOD INSUTRY) 15 – 17 March, Bangkok Thailand ASEAN ELENEX 15 – 17 March, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.� Novelist and Playwright, George Bernard Shaw


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