It is said that the pandemic has laid the basis for a new generation of British chefs to come to the fore

It has long been jested that the British do not possess a strong food culture as food was too often, in the past, seen as fuel rather than as being an important part of the day in bringing families and people together. However, this has been gradually changing over the years and is a view from the past. Today food plays a far more important role today as communities rebuild.

The argument has long been that for many people, particularly those from ethnic minority backgrounds, food can be both personal, and political. Ethnic food styles were a glue for communities and a symbol of their identities. It allowed for those communities not to feel as isolated.

Undoubtedly this is true and the UK has long been the beneficiary of the many exceptional food styles which have grown and developed in the many cities across the land. However, it is wrong to under-rate the role of food within British culture too. The exciting development is just how most palates have developed and many have a desire to learn about global food styles to a level not seen before. There is little doubt that immigration and multi-culturalism have made the UK food culture far more exciting and interesting and led, directly, to the UK becoming a major food force in the world.

The consumer today wants to learn about international cultures through its food styles and drinks. It does serve to break down barriers, improve learning and cultural understanding and brings people together.

One can debate the past but as the UK became a far more open society, so food cultures evolved and the overall hospitality industry did emerge to become world-class. The question is maybe far less about British culture but more about how all find their place within a truly diverse and inclusive culture. Is Indian cuisine the leading food style in the UK today? Is it being challenged by the Far East? Where do traditional British food styles sit?

Does it even matter if it serves to bring people and communities together? Or if it serves to engage consumers and increase spends?

The consumer today wants to learn about international cultures through its food styles and drinks. It does serve to break down barriers, improve learning and cultural understanding and brings people together. It creates an exciting basis for the industry as demand for great food and for experiences are set to grow. All the evidence suggest that there has never been more interest in fresh food produce, in learning about simple food styles from all across the world, in enjoying new tastes, in how food does impact on health & well-being.

After so much bad news, it is encouraging to learn that so many want to see food at the heart of their daily lives; not just for fuel but for enjoyment and sharing.

As for where does British food culture sit? Does it matter in the overall picture? Arguably not but the good news is that the renewed interest in localism and local supply is seeing many old recipes and traditional food styles re-emerge with energy. It is forecast that many have learnt new cooking skills during the last two years and it will lead to another generation to emerge over the next two decades.

So maybe traditional food cultures will see a renaissance as other food styles grow in strength. The winners should be the industry and the consumer.