For many in the West, 2016 will be remembered for Trump, Brexit, terrorism in Europe and an absurd number of pop culture deaths, from Bowie to Muhammad Ali. By comparison, China had an unusually quiet year. Nonetheless, there were still a few goings-on in the world's most populous country.
In our 2016 Year in Review series, we recap the best (and worst) of China's year in the worlds of technology, social media, sport, fashion, food, arts and more.
A lot happened this year in the Pearl River Delta, specifically in the food and beverage industry. To get an idea what new food trends kicked off and have taken hold, we spoke to six reputable chefs from Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
Rodrigo Gonzalez, chef at McCawley’s Irish Pub, GZ
“This year the food trend was ‘eat healthy, be healthy,’ with organic products and more seeds and grains. In Guangzhou especially, there are more organic local farms, so it’s easier and cheaper than before to have these products in your restaurant.”
Buda Huang, co-owner of and chef at Comme Chez Vous, SZ
“In Shenzhen, people’s tastes change very quickly and the media plays a big part in that. Customers have traveled now, they are picky and they know what they want. In 2016, we’ve moved towards Cantonese food prepared in a French style. People also want spicy.”
Chris Huang, founder of and head chef at Veg Tables, GZ
“For me, 2016 in Guangzhou saw a big change in the healthy food trend. I opened Veg Tables at Goelia 225 because I'm becoming more preoccupied with climate change and want to share tasty food with vegetarians. I hope a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.”
Mattias Riccardo Bregoli, executive chef at Shark Futian, SZ
“I saw more and more people looking for oysters, steaks and a good drinking atmosphere this year. People eating steak cooked medium is also something new. I predict the same trends will continue next year, but bigger and with better quality.”
Li Yan, head chef at Social & Co, GZ
“The F&B industry became more challenging and interesting this year! Customers aren’t satisfied by good service and tasty food only – they always expect more and are attracted by special events, dynamic food and healthier ways of eating. This is a good reason for all of us to work harder to discover and achieve more.”
Paul Dodd, executive chef at the Westin Shenzhen Nanshan, SZ
“2016 was a great year for craft beer. Brew bars really pushed things forward in terms of quality, variety and guest experience. In the 12 months I've been here, the quality of new restaurants opening continues to improve. It's an exciting time to be in Shenzhen.”
For more 2016 Year in Review coverage, click here.