As Liquid turns 18, our Chef DirectorDavid Colcombe, reflects on the changes in the food sector over the last two decades. 

The food industry has changed a lot since 2004, the year that Liquid was born. The events of the last 18 years have shaped the sector in many ways – and particularly since the pandemic. From people’s shopping habits to eating out experiences, there is plenty to be said on the topic! 

In the early 2000s, there was a great deal of emphasis on ‘farm to fork’ as the idea of sustainable farming came to the fore. People began to care more about where the food on their plate was coming from, with chefs sourcing organic meats and fish straight from the sea. 

Attention was also turning to foods from further afield – from Spain to Scandinavia. Chefs were realising how much they could learn from European cuisine, using different ingredients and techniques in the kitchen. Food industry giants were also testing the waters with new and unusual flavours – like Pepsi’s ‘Holiday Spice’ 2004 limited edition drink. 

There’s no doubt that there will always be a place in the UK food industry for authentic, traditional European dishes. But in recent times we’ve seen a shift towards international cuisines through the rise of street food. In Birmingham, popular street food venues like Digbeth Dining Club have proven this, with plenty of options to choose from – from Korean BBQ to Mexican tacos.  

Influences from around the world have changed the way we cook today. The rise of social media has allowed chefs to create and share recipes with the click of a button – and has given a platform to younger people looking to start out in the industry. Cooking TV programmes such Tom Kerridge’s Fresh Start help people to see the benefits of cooking and encourage them to have a go at home. 

Since the pandemic, the way people shop has also changed. I for one had never done an online food shop until three years ago – and now I have a fresh fruit and veg box delivered to my doorstep from the local grocers every week. More people also shop locally, supporting fishmongers and butchers. 

The amount of food options on offer has also massively grown. We’ve seen the rise of trends like brunch, alongside the opening of new concept cafes that create an experience for those visiting. From Shoreditch to Selly Oak, there’s plenty out there. I was particularly amused when one of the team recently told me that their 80-year-old nan was going out for bottomless brunch – there really is something for everyone! 

Technology has played a large part in the changing landscape of food over the years. New technologies have impacted the way that chefs navigate the kitchen and revolutionised techniques. Here at Liquid, our Development Chef, Olivier, uses tools like a water bath and thermos mixer, meaning he’s able to cook without the need for a commis chef. 

There is no doubt that a focus on sustainability is here to stay. The rise in vegetarian and vegan diets shows the raised awareness and desire to eat for the environment, and emphasis is placed on shopping sustainably. At Liquid we believe that if we can fit-out our office ethically, why shouldn’t all our produce be sustainable too? 

So, it’s fair to say there’s been a lot of change in the food industry over the years. The vast inspiration available to us now has generated more encouragement and investment in the sector. We’re pleased to have recently launched our new offering, Kitchen by Liquid, to provide a unique content creation space for food and drink demonstrations, recipe development, cookery classes, and more. 

By opening our kitchen to the community in Birmingham and beyond, we hope to inspire the next generation of chefs, and support opportunities for the thriving food sector over the next 18 years.