Cape Town’s food economy plays a pivotal part in its visitor economy. When travel bans and lockdowns allow, it’s one of the main attractions that lures throngs of tourists to the pretty city’s shores. 2022 should be no different with Chef Naseer Abdullah, Executive Chef at The Radisson CollectionTM Radisson RED® Cape Town, predicting a bumper year for local cuisine that champions homegrown ingredients. While plant-based and gluten-free will continue as top trends, there’s also a call for rustic comfort foods that remind us of home and those carefree, joyous pre-pandemic days…

For Chef Naseer, food is indelibly attached to his childhood in the Cape Flats. Memories of his mom’s biryani, pickled snoek and steaming stews continue to influence his creations. For him, food should be robust, stylish, and tell a story. This storytelling aspect has been a big trend in top restaurants the world over. People connect with cuisine that tells a tale and takes them on a journey. This is fundamental to Chef Naseer’s new menu for Radisson RED®, which makes homegrown the hero and takes a playful position on the conventional eating experience. 

Here are some of Chef Naseer’s top food trends for 2022: 

  • Loving local: Firstly, there’s a big trend to choose sustainably sourced ingredients lovingly grown by local farmers and suppliers. It’s nothing new, but there’s still a massive movement to use seasonal, fresh ingredients that showcase the best South Africa has to offer – like ‘chokka’, our locally-sourced squid. This one’s particularly special as I use chokka as bait when I go fishing. It has good memories for me. At RED, everyone’s a local. Our food is sourced and looked-after locally – we’re even growing some of it ourselves. 

Secondly, we could soon see South African food having a major moment overseas. Two South African chefs have been awarded Michelin Stars and the hope is that more will soon follow! Our food is utterly unique and special, and it’s time it took its place on the world’s stage! 

  • Ready for rustic: Amidst all this uncertainty and sadness, many of us are feeling nostalgic and craving food that’s just like mama used to make it. Rustic, simple comfort food is totally on trend. We’ve made sure we’ve got a selection of favourites to bring the nostalgic factor, from deep fried chicken burgers to BBQ short ribs with apple-mint slaw. 
  • Dictating the diet: People are asking for increasingly personalised meals to match their dietary restrictions. Covid-19 has made us all even more conscious of our health, so many are after immune boosters, gluten-free and other ‘healthier’ options. We’ve made these tasty options front and centre on our new menu, with dishes like our bulgur wheat and lentil bowl with exotic tomato salsa and beetroot ricotta, spiced tempura cauliflower ‘wings’, and our ‘chokka’ grilled calamari bowl with sushi rice and fried ginger. 
  • Plant-based power: The vegan movement is still sweeping the world, with more and more people calling for plant-based. And, we have fully embraced the movement with our ‘Yes-Ve-Gan’ Christmas menu which includes a selection of sumptuous, guilt-free, vegan treats and takes you on a journey of culinary delights, festively themed, and served with a lekker, local twist. 
  • Colours are cool: Another trend is super-colourful cuisine. We’re bringing this through by using rich hued spices, homegrown greens from our vertical garden, and more. 

Chef Naseer’s food is all about showing local flavours – and cultures – love.  Coming from the Cape Flats, he says his journey wasn’t easy. “Growing up, my journey wasn’t the easiest but I have my mother to thank for keeping me grounded and instilling all the values I hold today.” He left college at age 19 and started working at one of the country’s biggest caterers, Green Catering, as a junior chef. 

This is where he learnt the life of being a chef, “I learnt the creativity, hard work and passion that one must have in this industry.” Four years later, after a few hotels, restaurants, and a head chef position at Madam Zingara – a highlight in Naseer’s journey – he was approached by Radisson RED. He joined the Radisson RED® family in 2017 as second in command in the kitchen. He went on to be executive chef two years later. 

To experience many of 2022’s top food trends, visit the RED side of life for an immersive, unparalleled dining experience this December. 

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