Eating in and yet Eating Out
A fascinating phenomenon is steadily sweeping through restaurants and homes around the world involving a reversal of styles. Many restaurants are now offering unusual opportunities for social interaction akin to home entertaining, whilst in contrast we also see a trend towards people creating dining environments in their own homes more akin to that of restaurants. It seems that eating-in is the new eating-out and vice versa!
The reason why these trends are emerging make perfect sense if we look at the current economic climate and modern working environments. Digital technology now enables many more of us to work from home and spend our free time at home on the internet and in a world of social media. Although this allows more flexibility and convenience in our lives, it can be very isolating. To counteract this, people are increasingly seeking ‘eating-out’ experiences that are more interactive and communal. Direct contact with chefs and access to the drama of the kitchen give customers memorable connections with the creators of their meals.
Kitchen innovation has come a long way over the years and high end, custom ranges can transport you to feeling like a chef in your own home, heightening the experience and connectivity when cooking and entertaining your dinner guests. Companies such as Sub-Zero & Wolf offer a professional chef aesthetic in your kitchen while still maintaining a homely vibe, offering appliances from Sous Vide for water bath cooking to teppanyaki iron griddles.
Historically the kitchen has been the heart of the home, even with our ever changing, fast paced lifestyles, for most the kitchen is seen as a core, social area of our homes. Kitchen design has become much more adventurous over the past decade, with a rise in quirky contrasts and interesting material combinations, such as marble, brass, and copper and concrete. Stark contrasts of the urban and opulent, providing a warm glow yet rugged, industrial look to the kitchen area. Some however are opting for a more traditional, homely feel. Items such as the butchers block, open shelving and old fashioned jars are making a comeback, leaning to the look of a traditional pantry. As seen at the recent BBC Good Food Show in Harrogate, locally produced artisan preserves were available at an abundance of stalls, once seen as a staple of British cooking but now often viewed as decorative shelf items.
In Dubai, live cooking stations at Anise provide guests with a stimulating ‘chef-to-diner’ experience and at Traiteur the elevated show kitchen literally positions the restaurant’s Chefs 'on stage', whilst over at Verre the classic Chef’s Table experience takes centre stage. In many other city restaurants, globally the introduction of communal dining tables, as found at Mango Tree in Downtown Burj Dubai, are bringing single diners, couples and groups together to share a family-style dining experience. It is an opportunity, during these often-isolating times, for interesting ‘real world’ conversations and a platform for friendship and understanding amongst our diverse city communities.
In 2012, a phenomenon started as people began to open their own homes to ‘host’ a meal for strangers. Websites such as mealsharing.com and eatwith.com organise people to get together and enjoy food and hosting in a home environment and less formal atmosphere. Described as the ‘Air BnB’ of dining, these experiences are cropping up globally. Travellers are using it as a cheaper option to dining out and more importantly, getting closer to the ‘real’ culinary experience of the country they’re exploring.
In saying this, must recognise that the economic downturn from 2007/8 caused many people to eat out less than they once did. This has in turn been the catalyst for some to create a special dining atmosphere in their own homes. Just as hotel interior design has an influence on the preferred bathroom and bedroom styles in residential properties, now we are seeing chic restaurant styles influencing the home dining experience in terms of décor and food presentation.
At the European design shows during the last summer we saw an array of exciting and innovative products clearly directed at helping make our home dining spaces and mealtimes more spectacular. One of our favourite pieces is the wonderfully quirky and versatile ‘TrackTile’ Table from Three Foot Three Design Ltd.
The table brings together a selection of beautifully veneered tiles that are smooth on one side but form a huge variety of stunning railway layouts when flipped over! The motorised Brio® trains can be loaded with a cargo of delicious for guests to take as they pass by. Creator Paul Mottram says, “by using a ‘TrackTile' Table, dinner parties and mealtimes can be fun. The tables seem to bring out the inner child with everyone who sits at one and each guest always wants control of their own train. ‘TrackTile’ Tables are a real ‘social network!’”
- Sub-Zero & Wolf have a versatile range of kitchen products including coffee systems, integrated cooktops and freezers
- Arnold’s Kitchens specialise in creating bespoke kitchens, interiors and hand crafted polished concrete worktops for clients looking for something uniquely different.
- TrackTile dining tables are available in a variety of sizes and also include 2, 4 or 6 tile sized coffee tables along with Brio® trains & track components.