8 tasty Australian food trends for 2023

by | Feb 28, 2023 | Gatharing Ideas, News & Media

If you like to keep your finger on the pulse (or plate) of what’s hot in the food world, you’re in good company. At Gathar, we love knowing what’s trendy when it comes to what we’re eating, where, and the why behind it all.

Luckily, creating thousands of amazing dining experiences across Australia and in the United States means we get a firsthand look at what people are hungry for! As we kick off 2023, there are some trends we’re happy to see the back of (looking at you, butter boards) and some we’re ready to invite to the party.

What are the current food trends in Australia?

Australia has long been a melting pot of cultures and cuisines, which generally makes us pretty open-minded when it comes to food. We like to try new things and embrace the experience of eating in so many different ways. 

It’s this mindset that really underpins the food trends we can see taking shape in 2023, influenced by a greater appreciation of where our food comes from and how it’s served to us.  Hope you’re hungry – grab your fork and let’s dig into this year’s top food trends. 

delicious cocktails, hold the alcohol

1. Alcohol-free drinks: Booze without the buzz

Have you walked down the drinks aisle at Woolies or Coles lately and had to do a double-take at what looks like beers, spirits, and pre-mixed cocktails on the shelves? If you thought we’d taken a cue from countries where you can grab a six-pack with your milk and eggs, sorry to disappoint!

The popularity of alcohol-free drinks is seriously skyrocketing. A few years ago you might have spotted a few zero- or low-alcohol beer options at Uncle Dan’s (see: Dan Murphy’s). Now, our largest purveyor of party libations has a fully dedicated Zero% range. 

Not to mention independent bottle-o’s like Sans Drinks, Australia’s first non-alcoholic drinks superstore where no-alcohol beer, wine, pre-mixes and spirits are all in abundance. 

Thankfully, the art of the craft has caught up with demand. So whether you’re doing Dry July, Sober September, need to put down the pinot for 9+ months, or simply want to socialise without the need for social lubricant, there’s never been a better time to give booze-free beverages a go.

Have you tried Nikkei cuisine?

2. Fusion food: When two become one

‘Fusion dining’ can be triggering words for some. This is a concept where the line between original and gimmicky is wafer-thin and it’s oh-so easy to get it wrong. Why put in a half-baked effort with two cuisines when you could excel at one? 

Well, because the union of two cuisines can sometimes strike a harmonious balance that couldn’t be achieved in isolation. Taking the best, complementary elements from two cuisines – whether it’s borrowing from flavour profiles or cooking techniques – has the ability to impress even the most seasoned foodies. 

The best examples of tried-and-true fusion cuisines are undoubtedly Tex-Mex (we have the Texan-mexican medley to thank for nachos) and French-Vietnamese (France’s occupation in the late 1800s-mid 1900s shaped Vietnam’s cuisine, including the introduction of baguettes and pate for bahn mi)

Japanese-Peruvian fusion – known as Nikkei cuisine – is having a huge moment in Australia right now. A wave of Japanese emigrants to Latin America in the 1920s created a fusion of flavours, which has really only taken off at a global level over recent years thanks to Japanese-Peruvian chefs championing the cause. 

You might have tried Nikkei without even realising; one of the biggest purveyors of the fusion cuisine is culinary global giant Nobu with its delicious tiradito dish: raw, sashimi-style fish with punchy chilli and coriander. 

Just when you think there’s nothing left to surprise your palette, along comes a fusion dish that delivers something truly, deliciously new. 

it’s easier than ever to live that GF life

3. Dietary requirements: Something for everyone

Spare a thought for the coeliacs of years gone by, when the only options were stodgy pastas and even gluten-free soy sauce was a gamble. Increased awareness in the general population of what foods cause us discomfort has meant eating gluten-, dairy- or meat-free is no longer treated as some kind of extreme or limiting diet. 

It’s rare to be seated at a restaurant in 2023 and not to be quizzed about your dietary requirements. The boxes are there to be checked when you make the booking, and menus wear their GF, DF, V and VG badges proudly. 

At Gathar, we create hundreds of private chef experiences every month and it’s a rare thing indeed to have a booking without a single dietary requirement. Chefs have become very used to catering to dietaries, adapting their dishes or offering alternatives so nobody misses out on the deliciousness. 

It’s not just about someone not enjoying a certain food; when there’s something on the menu that doesn’t agree with you, your whole dining experience is impacted. So if you’re planning on hosting a dinner party in the near future, don’t disregard the dietaries!

we love going out – but we also love staying in!

4. Dining in: The new dining out

You heard it here first: bringing the restaurant experience to you is going to be a defining food trend in 2023. The humble dinner party made a huge comeback at the tail-end of 2022, up 34% according to News Corp.

We’ve always believed hiring a private chef should be accessible to everyone, and it seems more and more people have gotten on board with this idea. That personalised, intimate, interactive experience that comes with bringing a chef to you is an unbeatable experience, in our books.

Why the upward trend for in-home dining? During peak pandemic years, we became used to eating at home. Some of our favourite restaurants started offering take-away, and many of us made home improvements that meant we wanted to put our kitchens to good use. 

One of the small silver linings of the pandemic is it reminded us about some of the perks of entertaining at home: no seating time limits, BYO wine, no need to rush home for the babysitter, no need for Ubers or paying for parking… stay as long as you like, drink as much as you like, and make as much ruckus as you (and your neighbours) are comfortable with. 

being conscious of your food waste is a big part of the sustainable food movement

5. Sustainability: Feeding the planet

Sustainability and food is all about how our food is grown, how it gets to us, and what happens to the stuff that’s left over. 

The past few years have really shown us how reliant we are on global and national supply chains to fill our supermarkets, with bare shelves during peak periods of Covid and during last year’s floods. This awareness has seen many people choosing to shop at independent grocers, markets, and farm-gates where our food has a much shorter journey from paddock to plate.

But what about the food that doesn’t make the grade? Food waste is a growing problem., with the average Australian household wasting more than 4kg of food per week. 

As it turns out, tossing food scraps into your standard wheelie bin isn’t great for the environment; it’s a huge contributor to climate change, with organic materials releasing methane gas when they break down in landfill. 

As for the food that doesn’t make it into our trolley, or even onto the shelves? There are heaps of amazing organisations like OzHarvest, FoodBank and FareShare that rescue perfectly edible, delicious food from landfill, creating meals for those who are struggling to put food on the table. 

One major sustainable food trend everyday Aussies are embracing is reducing meat consumption, which is the perfect segue into… 

Plant based burger
are you a fan of meat-free Monday?

6. Plant-based meals: Plant power activate!

More and more Aussies are experimenting with flexitarianism (casual vegetarianism), getting more fruit and veg into their diets. 

As for why? There are a bunch of reasons: the carbon emissions produced from animal-based products (see above), the rising costs of items like meat and dairy, and general health benefits from focusing on that bottom rung of the food pyramid. 

“Just increasing plants in whatever type of diet that you prefer is a good message,” says accredited dietitian Nicole Dynan.

And while there are plenty of incredible vegetarian restaurants leading the way (shout out to Smith & Daughters in Melbourne, No Bones in Byron Bay, and Yellow in Sydney) the wider industry is embracing the trend by simply making sure there are plant-based alternatives available on their menus to cater to growing demand. 

According to research from three leading Australian universities, around one third of Australians reduced their meat consumption from August 2021 to August 2022 – a trend that is really only set to continue. 

Even this year’s Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic famously embraces an exclusively plant-powered lifestyle and has been quoted as saying his diet took him from the “brink of failure to the champion of the world.” Hey, if it’s good enough for a 22-time Grand Slam winner…

indigenous ingredients from our Adelaide Culinarian Meez On Plus

7. Local or native ingredients: Connecting with country

‘Bush tucker’ ingredients that have been used by Indigenous Australians for thousands of years have been gaining more awareness and popularity over recent years and we see this trend continuing in 2023.

This won’t come as a surprise to fans of MasterChef Australia, with native ingredients having been given a significant spotlight, especially in 2022 when the contestants travelled to the Northern Territory for a lesson in Indigenous cuisine. 

MasterChef judge Jock Zonfrillo has long been an advocate for the education and use of ingredients from Country, spending time with Indigenous elders to learn about native ingredients and featuring them heavily at his Adelaide restaurant Orana (which sadly closed in 2020 during the pandemic). 

Want to bring more native ingredients into the kitchen but not sure where to start? Herbs and spices offer a great introduction: dried lemon myrtle leaves are easy to get your hands on and make a beautiful substitute for bay leaves. Give it a go in your next marinade for a chicken dish, or even added into your tea!

Moody restaurant
sometimes the vibe is just as important as the meal

8. Experiential dining: More than just a meal

We’re big believers that you can’t live a full life on an empty stomach. Food is so much more than just fuel. For us at Gathar – and maybe for you, too – food is our love language. It’s the great connector, the reason we gather with our favourite people, and the source of some of our most special memories. 

And memories are sensory things. A song, a smell, a taste – they all have the power to bring a core memory back to the surface. This is what experiential dining aims to do. Restaurants embracing experiential dining focus on creating unique, immersive, and interactive dining experiences that engage all the senses. 

When we say ‘experiential dining’, we don’t mean dining blindfolded or some kind of abstract dinner theatre. Like fusion dining, experiential dining walks the tightrope between creative and cliche. It’s all about the harmonious balance of lighting, sounds, scents, textures and flavours. 

Creating a multi-sensory experience should enhance the enjoyment of the food – not detract from it. A great example of this is a chef’s table experience, where you can see the dishes being prepared in front of you, or wine pairings matched to your menu.

What are food trends?

The world of food is a moveable feast. Food is like fashion and those in the biz are always trying to stay competitive, leading the charge to figure out what’s new and exciting.

While ‘food fads’ can come and go in a flash, food trends are often longer-lasting. Think about the trends that have popped up over recent years and left a lasting impression: food trucks, gourmet burgers, fire-only restaurants, and dessert bars. Over time, the best food trends become a food culture in their own right.

What influences food trends?

Social media food trends
we look to social for our food trends

Social media and pop culture

Food accounts on TikTok and Instagram, in particular, are becoming more influential sources for shaping our food trends. The sheer power of TikTok is something to behold. Once a food trend ‘goes viral’, empty shelves aren’t far behind. Remember the baked feta pasta or whipped iced coffee trends from a couple of years ago…?

Health consciousness

Folks are more aware of what goes into their food (and therefore, into their bodies) than ever before. Again, this is very much linked to social media as well as ongoing health headlines in the news.

This awareness has seen a surge of brands promoting health and wellness, with more natural, organic and supplementary options on offer for those who are looking to make healthier choices. Whether it’s good gut health, better sleep, or eco-friendly packaging, consumers are making it known they want products that are good for their community and the environment – not just for themselves. 

Cultural shifts

Greater consumer awareness can sometimes cause an entire cultural shift. Think about the banning of single-use plastics, the rise of cage-free eggs, or popularity of fresh pre-prepared meals

A cultural shift we’re still in the early inklings of is the movement towards buying local. Fresh fruit and veg boxes are nothing new, but they definitely saw a huge uptake during the pandemic, and that general shift towards buying local fresh produce is here to stay (hooray!)

Plate of cheese, honey and bread
what food trend are you excited to embrace?

The Perfect Way to Experience 2023’s Food Trends

Get in touch to chat to our local concierge team about creating an amazing dining experience for you in 2023, whether you are hungry to give some of these trends a go or simply want to stick to what you know and love.