London is a melting pot of different cultures from around the world – the Babel of the modern world with over 300 languages spoken across the capital. Each culture brings its own unique culinary heritage, and such a fusion of styles mean one of the widest choice of cuisine in the world for Londoners to explore. Chefs from around the world bring a taste of home to the city, and their local foods are imported via global shipping routes and airfreight. Often, they’re preserved using chemicals to try to maintain their original flavours.
But as food provenance, traceability, and ‘Free from’ labelling becomes more important, many conscious chefs, caterers, and producers are creating foods whose ingredients are sourced with immense care. The fundamental ethos of these producers is that no chemicals or additives are used in their products. Combined with expertise in food sciences, this new wave is able to produce foods that inspire adventures around the world through food, happily free from preservatives that ordinarily might have to be added to keep the ingredients ‘fresh.’
‘The fundamental ethos of these producers is that no chemicals or additives are used in their products. Combined with expertise in food sciences, this new wave is able to produce foods that inspire adventures around the world through food, happily free from preservatives that ordinarily might have to be added to keep the ingredients ‘fresh.’
Demand for responsibly sourced food has never been stronger. Trust in food sources is being increasingly linked to transparency where consumers want real information about the products they eat and details about where their food is coming from. This in turn helps them make a judgement about its quality.
Sometimes, chemicals are added to foods to enhance flavouring, texture, colour, or shelf life. High levels of MSG, salt, or sugar are often mixed into foods to compensate for the lack of intrinsic flavour. Sourcing high quality ingredients free from this chemical has become a high priority for many chefs in London.
The most common are monosodium glutamate, or MSG, and Potassium Sorbate. The latter is used as a preservative to prevent the growth of moulds, yeasts and some bacteria. Though the chemical itself is generally regarded as safe, the problem is when it is not used “in accordance with good manufacturing practice.” MSG enhances the savoury umami flavour of foods, and is popular in Asian cooking and processed foods in the West. As a result, many conscious caterers choose to use ingredients that use little or no chemicals in their food at all.
Last century the sorts of chemicals described above were much less commonly used, in part down to lower levels of mass production and desire for longevity. When it comes to Hobros’ XO-inspired sauces on Provenance Hub, unlike XO sauces at their origin in Hong Kong, there are no unnecessary additives to either compensate for a lack of intrinsic flavour nor to extend shelf life. The results are delicious, authentic flavours free from.
‘From London’s laboratories to professional kitchens, the city is at the avant-garde in many scientific disciplines. Some food products are so unique, and the processes used to create them so specialised, that scientific principles and precision must be used to get them just right. If you’re not using artificial chemicals to enhance the products, then you need to stick to these principles even more carefully.’