I recently looked back (and forward) on my food and wine career and as well as having a good laugh, wanted to share a snapshot of my findings.  My post on the 60s, 70 and 80s can be found here.

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Sun-Dried. Tomatoes.  On everything.  Caesar salad and California roll sushi became lunchtime staples as did neighbourhood teppanyaki restaurants where they threw food at you.  Still not sure why.  Speaking of California, we have Californian Wolfgang Puck to thank for the gourmet pizza craze which saw toppings like smoked salmon and capers, peking duck and hoisin sauce and Greek lamb with tzatziki.  Our supermarkets were full of ‘low fat’ foods which we now know should have been labelled ‘full of sugar’.  Sauvignon Blanc replaced chardonnay as the biggest selling white wine and those clever Kiwis cornered the Savvy B market with multiple offerings from their Marlborough region.  Oh and someone thought up the idea of adding synthetic hazelnut, caramel and vanilla flavouring to coffee.  Just don’t.  In the late 1990s I became Food Director of The Australian Women’s Weekly and started co-hosting Fresh on Channel 9, I job I did for over 8 years.

 

Bread 2000s

Fancy artisinal sourdough replaced bland, flabby white bread in cafes and at home.  Speciality cupcake bakeries popped up all over the place; some offering delicious cakey morsels but sadly more offering dry, tasteless sugar bombs.  Deep-frying all kinds of random food like Mars Bars grew in popularity as did, as if to counteract all that saturated fat, the raw food movement.  For the early part of the 2000s I was deeply ensconsed in directing the 30+ page food content each month for Australia’s biggest selling magazine, The Australian Women’s Weekly – covering all manner of content from weeknight dinners to wedding buffets.  This decade also saw the emergence of growers’ markets and home fruit and veggie patches.  If we couldn’t dig the dirt at home, we hunted down our local market, met the growers and bought the fruits of their labour.  I love this trend and it continues now. Pinot noir became on trend and we started to see more approachable, lower alcohol red and white wines.

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Mexican mania is showing no signs of abating, with new restaurants aplenty popping up and homecooks embracing their inner culinary amigo replacing nachos with fancy soft tacos of pulled pork on the mid-week dinner rotation. South American is hot too and chefs smoke everything from butter to potatoes.  For casual dining Dude food reigns supreme and pork belly is the new lamb shank . If anything our need to know the provenance of meat, fish and produce is growing with restaurants now including producer brand names and credentials on their menus.  On the sweeter side of things, the fancy French macaron (not to be confused with the egg white and coconut mounds of old, the macaroons) superseded cupcakes.   But I’m confident other old fashioned faves will make a comeback.  Who doesn’t love lamingtons and pavlova?  Now Spanish varietals have joined Italian wine styles in growing popularity. There’s a rose revolution and sweet and bubbly, low-alcohol moscato is a refreshing favourite.

For me this 5 years is about strating Flame media with my partner, making my own international-selling TV series , Tastes of Greece, Ireland and Australia; Cracking Christmas and Lyndey & Herbie’s Moveble Feast; writing more books, welling our and others productions globally and establishing www.sydnestudiokitchen.com

 

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2015 onwards

It’s all about smoke and fire with chefs cooking in their restaurants on robata grills (thanks to the huge Japanese influence in Australia) and myriad other ways of suing wood and  charcoal. Forget food and wine matching, now it’s all about matching the wood to the ingredient to be smoked or cooked. Gone are the excesses of molecular gastronomy, though like any trend, the good things remain like the Japanese Rocks at Sepia restaurant in Sydney. Food is fresh and locally sourced and, long after Jennice and Ray Kersh started serving Australian native produce at Edna’s Table from 1981 and for an ensuing 30 years, other chefs are picking up on it. Foraging is big whether in an urban or regional environment and consumers want real, authentic experiences – and to talk about it too. Lots of share plates in restaurants which adds to the conversation. We care about sustainable seafood and ethically sourced produce. Lots of pop-ups with restaurants like Fat Duck and Noma doing it. But there’s plenty on a smaller scale too. Something is happening in Peru but in Australia Korean has hit the big time. At home we’ve learned that fat – good fat – is OK, but we’re on the 5:2 diet and wearing Fitbits to track our exercise and sleeping habits. We’re still keen on preserving in time honoured, not chemical, ways and fermenting. but there are far too many 63′ eggs (poached sous vide) for my liking. In fact sous vide rules the roost in so many restaurants while both in restaurants and at home Thermomix continues to make inroads.

Micro-breweries and distilleries are all the rage. Gin is the drink de jour and there is an alarming rise in “natural” or “orange” wines, the downside being the lack of intervention and sulfur can make it a challenge for them to last in bottle. Call me a philistine but I thought all good well-made wine was natural, the result of a wonderful agricultural product. While at home coffee machines are de rigeur, out we’re seeing the rise of cold drip coffee, though I still love my traditional Italian espresso machine. Move over kale, as chia is the new wonder food – and grown in Australia’s Kimberley region. And we are seeing vegetables transormed  in desserts. Sorry Riedel but cafes and the like are serving drinks in jars, especially in the burgeoning number of small bars. We’ve moved from salted caramel to salted chocolate – but single origin chocolate please.

Australians are as mad about travel as ever, with an incredibly rise in the popularity of cruising – with me joining the trend for hosted tours.

 

Lyndey Milan OAM, Australian home cook hero, combines a thirst for life and a sense of fun with a love of good food and sparkling shiraz. A familiar face on television and in print, she been instrumental in changing the way Australians think and feel about food and wine for over thirty years. www.lyndeymilan.com