In Singapore’s vibrant dining and cocktail scene, 2024 brings exciting ideas. Relying on insights from industry insiders, we unveil the F&B trends dominating the new year. From groundbreaking cell-based ingredients to the popularity of draft cocktails, and the prevalence of food art, we spill the concepts and trends that will be shaping Singapore’s gastronomic landscape in the coming months.
He’s the CEO and co-founder of some of the buzziest local bars in town – Sago House, Low Tide, Ghostwriter and Underdog Inn. Sago House received the top hospitality honours at last year’s Asia’s 50 Best Bars awards, and Gray is currently listed at 25 on the Bar World 100 list of the most influential people in the bar industry.
While Gray is renowned for launching cool bar concepts and experiences, he’s sounding a bit like a wise sage for the new year. “I’d hope to see people slow down on opening concepts and venues – I’m one to talk!. But I really would like our industry to consolidate its manpower and training. We can’t keep up the pace that we have been working at and the costs associated with it unless we work together as a community.”
PEOPLE WILL BE MORE DISCERNING WITH THEIR DRINKING HABITS
“Since opening our first venue, Sago House, in early 2020, we have witnessed the evolution of guest expectations. Our patrons now return regularly not just for the drinking experience but for our team and their personality. In Singapore, where we currently have over 50 high-quality cocktail bars, the abundance of choices within a small community, coupled with a decrease in disposable income for Singaporeans compared to previous years, leads me to believe that consumer preference will continue to favour value for money over conscious drink ‘hunting’.”
With wallets tightening this year, customers are expected to be more discerning about where they go for a drink in Singapore’s crowded bar scene, which includes the award-winning Sago House (above).
DRAFT COCKTAILS WILL BE MORE COMMON
“Draft cocktails (concoctions made in advance using high-quality ingredients and spirits that are prepared in larger quantities) have been a part of our offerings since day one. However, we have scaled up production and are now crafting commissioned cocktails for The Edition Hotel and High House at One Raffles Place. These cocktails can be prepared with or without alcohol, providing guests with a consistently high-quality experience delivered with speed and efficiency. Additionally, they play a crucial role in addressing the staffing crisis here in Singapore, enabling bartenders of all levels to craft delightful drinks.”
WE’LL BE ENJOYING DRINKS THAT ARE NOT TOO BOOZY
“Another growing trend in the cocktail scene is mid and low alcohol by volume (ABV) offerings, which we are currently exploring at Low Tide. It allows our guests to enjoy more without breaking the bank or getting too ‘high’.”
A glass of Old-Fashioned from Low Tide
THE RETURN OF CLASSIC COCKTAILS
“I really believe full-pour classics in an intimate setting are going to make a comeback. As for an ‘It’ drink, the Old Fashioned-style cocktail is making a huge comeback.”
LARGE AND GRAND BARS ARE TRENDING
“I’m working on a few consultancies right now, and the running theme that I’m seeing is bigger and more grand. I think with the influx of event-based hospitality groups, the public is becoming more attracted to a space that can hold 100 pax or more, creating a vibrant atmosphere. I’m still confident that small bars should remain small and niche. But large format concepts are definitely in demand.”
Gong is a conceptual food artist born in Shanghai, raised in Singapore, and now based in Sydney. She launched her artful platform Who Eats Art (@whoeatsart on Instagram) in 2021 and has since collaborated with brands such as Martell, HSBC, and Studie Doe, creating installations for parties and dinners.
Working with food as her medium, she crafts conceptual edible installations that appeal not only to the palate but also aim to create a visual feast curated with the intention of bringing together a community of people to share an experience at the table. Common themes in her works include surrealism, experimentation with shapes and forms, and the use of ingredients like eggs, bread, cheese, and silver.
FOOD ART WILL BE MORE PROMINENT IN OUR DAILY ‘FEED’
“Food is more than just cooking and eating. It encompasses psychology, physics, architecture, design, science, and art. With the rise in cross-border collaborations, pop-ups, and crossovers, food art will become more prevalent, evolving into a lifestyle in leading cities. Brands will use food art as a marketing tool to connect with their audience, recognising food as a universal language. Individuals will also incorporate food art into their daily lives, becoming more experimental in how they set tables and present food.”
Void Egg, a Dali-inspired installation by Gong Hua, was set in the void deck of Block 8 St. George’s Lane and the first work for Who Eats Art.
FOOD ART SHOULD EMBODY A MORE ROBUST SUSTAINABLE NARRATIVE
“Sustainability should always be kept in mind when it comes to food presentation and building sets. While marveling at splendid food art installations, I’ve pondered the issue of wastage. Working consistently with environmentally conscious clients, I strive for minimal to zero wastage. I’ve repurposed acrylic record player covers, reused cardboard boxes as pedestals, and even employed toilet rolls (don’t tell anyone) as props for my setups.
When sourcing materials, my first choice is always The Salvation Army, Red Cross, and Reverse Garbage, an internationally recognised non-profit creative reuse centre in Sydney. I firmly reject the idea that an impressive installation requires building a temporary structure from new materials exclusively for the event.
To me, while sustainability adds complexity to creating an installation, the end product, derived from so-called ‘waste’ is immensely rewarding. People appreciate beautiful things, and in 2024, the visual presentation of food may not differ significantly, but it will have a richer narrative and greater meaning if the sets are crafted with “re-sources.”
Artistic installations, such as the one done by Gong Hua, are the bread and butter of a cool tablescape.
DINING CONCEPTS WILL INCORPORATE MORE ARTISTIC TOUCHES
“The F&B industry has always aimed to forge an emotional connection with its consumers. With food art, the unexpected visuals evoke emotions in consumers and even viewers behind the screen. Food art is set to not only influence the F&B industry but also extend its impact across other industries intertwined with food.
We’ve witnessed botanical design studios like This Humid House weaving fruits and vegetables into their idiosyncratic installations, fashion brands like Jacquemus sending out encased pieces of toast, butter knives, and dollops of butter as show invitations, and private dining chefs like Bryan Koh’s Senang Supper Club introducing tablescapes that have elevated the standard for private home dining.”
CHRISTINA RASMUSSEN AND SASHA WIJIDESSA
Christina Rasmussen (right) and Sasha Wijidessa
Christina Rasmussen and Sasha Wijidessa are the founders of the sustainable dining restaurant and bar, Fura on Amoy Street. Rasmussen trained at the Culinary Institute of America before relocating to Copenhagen in 2016, where she served as the head forager at the three-Michelin-starred Noma. Subsequently, she joined the plant-based, conscious dining group, Ark Collection, as the general manager before moving to Singapore in January 2022.
As for Wijidessa, she previously held the position of head bartender at Operation Dagger before relocating to Copenhagen in 2019 to work in research and development at the Danish distillery Empirical, where she currently serves as its APAC Commercial Director. The focus on flavour has always been paramount in the cocktails she creates, a characteristic that is also emphasized in Fura’s drink programme.
CONSUMERS ARE MORE AWARE OF CONSCIOUS-DINING OPTIONS
“We don’t brand ourselves as plant-based because Fura has non-vegan aspects of the menu like jellyfish, insects (soon-to-come) and cell-based meat. However, all other aspects are plant-based because this helps lower our carbon emissions. We strive for Fura to be synonymous with future food, hence the title of our menu, A Journal of Future Food.
In terms of the overall F&B landscape in Singapore, more venues need to offer more options for both plant-based guests and also non-plant-based guests who want to be more conscious. Singapore is quite behind compared to other prominent food cities around the world. Sustainable options and plant-based food is definitely the future.”
This Hotdog Doesn’t Need To Explain Itself is Fura’s vegan spin on the hotdog.
SUSTAINABILITY-BASED DINING IS IMPORTANT
“Anyone embracing a plant-based diet has made a choice, consciously contributing to sustainability, be it for the planet, animal welfare, or personal health. More venues should champion sustainability holistically, considering the origin of products, fair trade, and the entire preparation and serving process.
Recycling is a no-brainer, but still often can’t be done by the population. Taking it a step further involves reduction. We strive to minimise waste by utilising every part of an ingredient. Sustainability is not a passing trend or fad; it’s not a checklist to complete in your daily life. It’s a lifestyle, an endeavour to go the extra mile, and, more importantly, a commitment to doing your part for the Earth.”
Koji, the fungus quintessential to Japanese cuisine for producing fermented ingredients such as miso and sake, is one of the ingredients used in the ‘no-low’ highball cocktail at Fura.
CELL-BASED INGREDIENTS WILL GAIN PROMINENCE
“Cell-based products, such as the whey derived from mushrooms and grown in a lab, are among our favorites. Despite being vegan, it maintains a neutral taste, making it versatile for both savoury and sweet applications.”
NO-LOW TIPPLES WILL GET EVEN BIGGER
“Over the years, we’ve bridged the gap between food and drinks, with more bars adopting a flavour-first approach to crafting beverages. As for cocktail trends gaining more traction in 2024, no-low (read: no sugar, low-calorie) cocktails are a definite contender. Although the trend already has a significant presence, we anticipate its continued growth. Another trend, already on the scene and expected to expand, is hyper-locality.”
Lim is the pastry chef, also known as cheffe patissiere, at the chic Odette. Graduating from Le Cordon Bleu Paris, she refined her craft at prestigious establishments before joining Odette in 2019. In 2023, her artistry earned her the coveted title of Asia’s Best Pastry Chef.
AESTHETICS MATTER IN DESSERTS
“I think Singaporeans have always appreciated visually appealing desserts, even more so now than before. With that said, I strongly believe that a good dessert considers all aspects from aesthetics to taste. While the aesthetics of a dessert capture attention first, taste ultimately keeps them coming back for more and leaves a lasting impression. To me, it’s important to play with different ingredients, flavours and textures to bring depth to each dessert and continue to surprise guests”
Aesthetics play a part in how we appreciate desserts.
DESSERT CAFES ARE A GROWING TREND
“We are witnessing a rising number of dessert cafes opening up, featuring some truly intriguing concepts that offer multi-course dessert menus. The landscape and appetite for good, quality desserts are expanding, and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for us in 2024.”
EXPECT TO INDULGE IN MORE SEASONAL FLAVOURS
“Seasonal ingredients will continue to inspire creations next year, whether it is citruses like yuzu and clementines during winter or strawberries during spring. At Odette, we always try to bring out the best of each ingredient during its peak and let its natural flavours shine through our techniques.”
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