Gone are the days when food was beautifully laid out on a plate. Now you are bowled over by the chef’s creativity in a bowl.
It’s no longer used to hold soups and cereals – it’s now also for salads and burgers. In some cases, the bowl is as part of the creation as the dish.
Where did this trend start?
According to The Telegraph, it began with smoothie bowls beloved by Instagram’s health-conscious foodies.
“Before long, virtually every fashionable eatery around had thrown the plates out of the window and was serving everything – be it breakfast, lunch or dinner – in bowl form,” the article said.
A Wimpy Breakfast Bowl. Picture: Megan Baadjies
Darren Badenhorst, executive chef at Grande Provence in Franschhoek, said: “It’s definitely a trend and I think it stems a lot from Asian cuisine specifically.
“A lot of their food is served in a bowl and a lot of their food is served without a knife and fork as per chopsticks. From a plating point of view it makes it more concise and visually appealing because the centre of attention is drawn in because the bowl folds in and from that point of view it’s really nice.”
Another reason to love bowl food, Badenhorst says, is because it forces you “to have a mouthful of a combination of ingredients”.
“If you’re plating from a flat plate it’s easy for a guest to cut off a corner of one of the ingredients when the chef intends for those ingredients to be tasted together,” he says. “That’s one aspect that isn’t really seen or looked at, but it is vital in the eating experience.”
“From a layering point of view, that is something that is possibly a past trend in stacking things on top of each other and trying to create visual high rather than having something textured or visually appealing. I’d say that’s heading out but you can be clever in more ways than one when it comes to getting layers into a dish.”
Taking it home
Badenhorst says this trend can also be enjoyed at home. “How you were brought up is how you eat, generally. You can learn trends, but if you have been eating a specific way for 20 years, chances are you are going to keep eating that way.
“So, in a lot of cultures, bowl food is normal. It’s also linked to the time of the year. In summer, it’s lovely to have a spread of salads or cold meats, while in the colder seasons, specifically in the Cape provinces, it’s nice to have a bowl of hearty food. Then you’re leaning towards a stew or a curry which lends itself to being served in a bowl.”
James Kuiper, founder and chief executive of Sexy Food Restaurant in Cape Town – an establishment known for their bowl food – says there is no right or wrong way when it comes to bowls.
“The ingredients can either be served separated and segmented, or chopped and mixed, or layered and stacked. As long as it’s served in a bowl, and looks sexy, it’s a bowl! Eating different varieties of food out of a bowl is always very convenient, and you get to sip the juicy sauce in the end. The dos are all about being as creative as possible with spontaneous varieties, and the don’ts are never limiting yourself to the endless possibilities.”