In recent years, air fryers have taken the culinary world by storm, gracing kitchens across the UK and beyond. It seems like everyone (and their mum) has embraced this new kitchen appliance, so much so that London welcomed its very first pop-up air fryer restaurant on September 27th, exclusively serving dishes made using the beloved air fryer. This sparks a debate on whether air fryer restaurants are just a trend, or something here to stay?
The rise of the almighty air fryer can be traced back to the early 2000’s, but it’s only in recent years that they have truly captured the hearts and kitchens of the nation. In particular, they rocketed in popularity during the pandemic, as people found themselves with more time at home and a desire for quicker, healthier cooking alternatives to traditional methods. Since then, their popularity has only continued to soar.
One of the best parts about using an air fryer is that they allow you to cook without using any oils, making them good for healthy eating and cutting out fat, salt and calories. What’s more, they generally cook food much quicker than a traditional oven due to the hot air circulating more quickly around the food in the smaller cooking chamber.
Whilst air fryers have become commonplace in domestic kitchens, the hospitality industry has been slow to take up this new trend. However, ‘Air Fryer King’ Nathan Anthony has taken the first step with his pop-up air fryer restaurant in London, in collaboration with eBay.
The restaurant, which was around for just one day, used refurbished air fryers from eBay and served a menu of 12 small plates, giving diners tips on how to make them at home. The purpose was to educate customers on the energy cost savings that refurbished air fryers can bring, as well as their sustainable credentials.
This suggests that there is a niche market of consumers eager to explore the creative possibilities that air frying can offer. While it’s unlikely that air fryers will replace conventional restaurant kitchens entirely, they may find their place as a unique culinary experience.
However, as with any innovation, there are sceptics. Some nutrition experts argue that air fryers are a fad, hailed as the latest and greatest way to prepare meals. Critics also contend that air fryers can compromise the taste, quality and texture of dishes, making them less suitable for restaurant-quality fare. Additionally, concerns about the volume capacity of standard air fryers may pose challenges for busy restaurant kitchens striving to meet high demand.
The air fryer phenomenon has undoubtedly made a significant impact on the way we cook and consume food, and they are now a household staple. However, the question remains: are air fryer restaurants a fleeting trend or a culinary concept here to stay?
Do you work in hospitality and are thinking of introducing air fryers to your kitchen? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts on how you’re planning to do this.