The 20 biggest food trends from 2000-2020

As we have rung in the new year of 2020 and also being our hotel’s 20th anniversary year, we took the opportunity to reflect on the past 20 years and the food trends which have come and gone. It’s a great time to look back, as our hotel itself has seen an interesting journey in our food and beverage offerings. We have also seen various restaurants occupy our building and interesting features over the years. Read on for the quirky culinary trends in this throwback, as well as some memories we hold here at the hotel.

2000 – Foams and gels

Foam & Gels

It started in experimental restaurant kitchens, soon flourishing every which way. Chefs cooking with foam and gels made these exciting textures quirky and “out of this world”, which were made famous by chefs such as Ferran Adria and Heston Blumenthal in their respective restaurants. Soon, it was becoming trendy to cook the lightest foams and most peculiar of flavours to elevate dishes.

2001 – The celebrity chef concept

Celebrity Chefa

There once was a time without ‘celebrity chefs’, believe it or not. As television became more popular and shows easier to produce, saw the creation of more food-centric television shows. Introducing popular faces such as Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Ainsley Harriott and for local faces, Iain Hewitson, Matt Moran, Pete Evans and Manu Feildel.

Speaking of celebrity chefs, our previous on-site restaurant was managed by the late chef Tony Bilson, featuring Manu Feildel as the head chef. Bilson had approached Feildel in 2004 to assist with the restaurant opening. Six years on, Feildel had elevated our restaurant, Bistro Fax to 3-hatted fame thanks to his celebrity chef status and skills!

Later on in 2004, chef Tony Bilson was later approached with Manu Feildel to be Head Chef for the opening of Bilson’s, here at Radisson Blu Sydney!

2002 – Comfort food

Comfort Food

It is fascinating what effect a global disaster such as the 9/11 attack can have on the world. What started as more of a trend in the US, there was an increasing popularity of comfort and home cooking, with people eating out less and staying in with friends and family. This brought more indulgent and hearty food coming back such as macaroni cheese, pot pies, baked goods and TV dinners soon spread around the globe with the rise of globalization. Restaurant chains such as Boston Market even expanded into the Australian market.

2003 – Fine dining

Fine Dining

The “fine dining” concept took off in 2003

2004 – Artisanal chocolate


Artisanal chocolate started to become big in 2004, beyond your Dairy Milk bar

2005 – Sushi


The interesting thing about sushi is that it has been prominent in Australia since the 1970s, however, it was either reserved for the fashionable or the health-conscious. Positively, Australian chefs were getting more creative with sushi creations, and it finally became a popular takeaway choice due to its convenience and light-nature.

2006 – Deconstructed dishes

To be more innovative and to reinvent common dishes, chefs decided to “deconstruct” their dishes and rearrange them on the plate so that consumers could enjoy and appreciate each component in a new light. The problem with this trend is that it got popular, fast, and quickly became overdone and uninspired.

2007 – The burger craze


In the late 10s, somehow burgers got bigger, better, crazier and more gourmet. This trend was and still is a global phenomenon, seeing the burger get a reputation outside of the typical fast-food joint. Slowly, hipster, artisanal, organic and alternative burger joints were opening, Shake Shack and Grill’d are two brands which expanding during this time. People started taking their burgers seriously and started turning their nose up at Big Macs. One success story is the nearby Bar Luca, one of the best burger shops in Sydney. (Conveniently only a 5-minute walk away!).

2008 – Wholegrains


2009 – ‘Fancy’ salts

Chilli salt. Himalayan salt. Iodised. Table. Rock salt. Truffle salt. Kosher. Although it took a few years for fancy salts like pink Himalayan salt to become a pantry staple, 2009 marked the year it was finally commercially available to consumers in grocery stores.

2010 – Food trucks

Food Truck

The famous Radisson Blu coffee cart, found on the Hunter Street entrance from 2006-2014

The food truck trend is said to have been popularised in Los Angeles, USA, where they have always had a strong mobile food industry. Within Australia, the excitement surrounding food trucks and markets has only begun in the last few years, with the rise of mobile restaurants and social media advertising generating excitement due to their fleeting nature. Very on-trend!

Similarly, food carts also received a revival as ‘hipster’ style shops and eateries have become vogue. We even introduced a coffee cart parked outside of our hotel many years ago, which became a hit with the city regulars this end of the city. Claudia our current Bar Supervisor, was a well-known face out the front of our hotel daily, as she ran the cart through to 2014!

2011 – Charcuterie boards

This serving of cured meats [charcuterie] has been around for thousands of years, however, the modern adaptation, called charcuterie board has been developed into a large spread of meat, cheese and accompaniments, used in parties and other social settings. It is a trend which drops in an out (which you might remember was in fashion in the early 2000s with glass platters, rather now in 2020 it’s about the most hipster wooden board you can find).

2012 – Veggie chips and powders

Veggie chips and powders

2013: The year of the cronut

On May 10, 2013, in a small New York bakery, a baker launched her invention: the cronut. Three days later, she had a queue of 100 people outside waiting to try it after a blogger had posted about the food online. After nine days of selling her cronuts, the baker filed for a trademark on the product, and the cronut as we know it is known as on of the best ‘extremely fun’ inventions of 2013 by TIME magazine.

2014: Craft beer

There has been a strong movement away from commercial beer and towards smaller craft batch-brewed beers. In Australia in 2018, it was reported by ABC that the nation has averaged one small brewery opening each week, a strong sign that craft brews will only become more popular in the future.

2015: Healthy eating, quinoa, and kale!

2015 was a year where healthy eating was ‘cool’ again. Quinoa was receiving a lot more press and attention for its nutritious properties and became the new superfood. Whilst kale was having a resurgence in popularity, starting as a hipster ingredient but soon being found in all innovative cafes globally. Kale became a media sensation on its own, featured in memes and clothing items, which exacerbated its popularity around the world. It has come a long way from being the decorative leaves in Pizza Hut restaurants.

2016: Charcoal everything


2017 – Bone broth

Bone broth

2018 – Gut-friendly foods (introducing… kombucha and friends)

One of the most memorable food trends to date has to be fermented foods, especially kombucha. What started as a home-made fermented, brewed tea has turned into the world’s new healthy soft drink alternative. Brands such as Remedy and Amplify are huge brands in Australia, and with such a fast pick up over the years, our hotel has even introduced six kombucha cocktails to excite our bar patrons and offer ‘something different’.

Other favourite fermented foods include kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, kefir, and tempeh.

2019 – Veganism and faux meat

Veganism and faux meat

According to research by Roy Morgan in 2018, there is a growing trend with going meat-free, with 2.5 million of the Australian population identifying as vegetarian or almost vegetarian (12.1% of Aussies). Vegan Australia estimates there to be 400,000 vegans in the country, and even vegan food labeling has almost tripled in the past five years, showing a rise in demand for vegan products.

2020 – Predicted trends

Doing a quick bit of research online, there is much speculation as to what will be the ‘in-foods’ this year. A few foods predicted to boom in popularity in 2020 include biltong – a South African air-dried jerky and low-alcohol beverages, with many spirit companies bringing out low-alcohol variants for consumer sale such as seltzers, tonics, and low alcohol gins. Other honourable mentions are “seacuterie” – cured seafood pastramis and Filipino BBQ which is predicted to be a hot cuisine this year.

A lot can change very quickly in the food scene, so without a doubt, we will surely see some interesting and resurfacing trends, it is just a matter of time!

(By Emma Hedges)

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