Chefs take time out to talk about the plates of the future

On the 26th April, chefs from the best kitchens in the UK — including Raymond Blanc, Prue Leith and 25 others — came together at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen to talk about the huge opportunities there are for chefs who are willing to create innovative delicious food that doesn’t always have meat as its principle ingredient.

All of these chefs are up for the Future Plates challenge — are you?

And what better time? We know that the appetite for plant-based dishes is growing at lightning-speed, so there is a really exciting market opportunity for chefs that are willing to take it. Half of the UK is now ‘flexitarian’, with a growth of 2.2 million people in just two years, according to the Times and countless other newspapers and studies. Then there’s the massive growth of veganism, which many celebrities and even top sportspeople have embraced as a healthier way of living, and which has grown 360% in the last ten years according to the Daily Telegraph.

Whilst many chefs from high-end restaurants are starting to jump on this trend, there is still a lot of space for the rest of the community to experiment with dishes and menus that focus on plants as the star.

Whilst enjoying a ‘Future Plates’ inspired menu from Fifteen’s head chef Robbin Holmgren at the kick-off dinner, conversations flowed across a few topics: menus and how to present meat free dishes in new and creative ways; ensuring the quality of produce including seasonality, locality and cooking techniques; and lastly, how best to engage and enthuse staff in all of this.

‘Meat should no longer be the default star of the menu!’ We as chefs have a great part to play in bringing our customers new and exciting plant-based options when they eat in our restaurants.
Have a strong vision that everyone knows, with a focus on amazing plant-based dishes, and make sure that your staff hold that vision as much as you do so they can communicate it to your customers. They need to love and understand the dishes as much as you do, so they can communicate that passion and get customers really excited to eat plant-based food.’ — Raymond Blanc

We’ve pulled out a few quotes to illustrate what was being talked about — as you can see, it was a fascinating night! Top tips were shared, from treating vegetables with the respect they deserve to ensuring quality is as much of a priority for sourcing your carrots as it would be the way you source your meat. We’ll be sharing these over the coming weeks, along with recipes and videos of the amazing chefs that want to support the Future Plates campaign. Check out the conversation from the night on #FuturePlates and feel free to contribute or RT!

Can chefs create plant-based dishes that are just as delicious as any meat dish? Everyone at the event responded with a resounding yes to this question — with the caveat that chefs need to work together and inspire each other, as the current culinary culture in the UK is not set up for this kind of cooking or eating.

If you want to be involved in Future Plates and submit a recipe or video, please email info.futureplates@gmail.com and join the conversation at #FuturePlates.

Future Plates is part of the Protein Challenge 2040 and is coordinated by Forum for the Future and the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

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