When it comes to studying the dining experience within UK markets, the analysis of trends isn’t always an easy task. For starters, what do we mean by a trend? Assuming that we know what a trend is, how should we measure it? 

When it comes to studying the dining experience within UK markets, the analysis of trends isn’t always an easy task. For starters, what do we mean by a trend? Assuming that we know what a trend is, how should we measure it? 

Across every restaurant, or just the top 10%, or 50%...it is very tricky. 

By definition the UK restaurant industry is perpetually awash with naturally oscillating trends, culinary and commercial, triggered by the brightest minds continually seeking market advantage through added value. Not unlike Formula One teams who invest significant sums to simply gain the advantage of a hundredth of second, our industry leading lights continually scrutinise the dynamics of the consumer experience in search of even higher standards of perfection.

One clear trend that has emerged in recent years has been the development of tableware in ways not previously imagined. Traditionally, the purpose of the plate was simply to provide a surface off which diners ate. Then there was a variation in shape and style followed by a variety of colours to showcase modern gastronomy.

Pretty much without exception, what’s worked in the UK restaurant industry has inevitably cascaded through to the consumer, albeit as a watered down clone of the original. It’s been this way for decades and will probably continue this way infinitum.

For the first time chefs are now developing the plate as an integral emotion within the dining experience, an extra sensory ingredient that goes beyond the visual and the tangible so that for an increasing number of leading chefs, certain dishes just can’t be served on a plate not designed for their food.

Developing this idea still further, chefs are increasingly fusing the theme of their cooking to the aesthetics of the plate to produce a deep holistic reaction in the diner. Chefs who create multi-texture dishes now demand multi-texture tableware. Chefs that pursue the beauty of nature seek out plates that move the diner subliminally, in ways that complete the dining experience not with novelty, but with a wholesome understanding of connection and satisfaction.

At the very leading edge, the top 1% in the world, artisan handmade tableware is often produced individually on demand by craftsman steeped in skills and knowledge passed down through the generations.

In these establishments, and keeping with the Formula One metaphor, the impact of the tableware at this level represents the tenth of a second advantage. Close behind this untouchable standard is a wonderfully engaging range of tableware suited to top chefs who no longer see the plate as a receptacle, nor even a canvas, but instead a deeply emotional catalyst as carefully sourced as the precision ingredients that they carry. That’s your hundredth of a second...

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