Happy New Year. I hope 2021 will be a good one. It couldn’t be any worse than 2020, that’s for sure. The hospitality industry in Hong Kong thought the 2019 political protests were bad. Then last year came along and said, “Hold my beer.” Although restaurants and bars had a rough time, in other ways 2020 was quite good for food appreciation. Stuck at home with nothing to do, people started to bake, and bread making became a global obsession that briefly caused a run on flour. Suddenly, the cool new things to own were an air fryer and a sourdough starter. Having one of those reusable water flasks was important for a while, but then more environmental cred could be scored with a washable face mask. It was important when working from home in 2020 to show you weren’t wasting all your time on Netflix and naps, by posting to Instagram all your walnut rye or poppy seed sourdough. That, in addition to your daily yoga routine. Although some amateur chefs used the pandemic to sharpen their cooking skills, others just ordered lunch and dinner online; the year was also big for delivery services. If you couldn’t eat out, you could still enjoy the food from many Michelin-star establishments, which were willing to pack up their tasting menu and have it delivered to your flat. It might have been a survival move, but I wonder about the long-term repercussions of turning bespoke culinary presentations into the equivalent of an Ikea bookshelf. Occasionally, some assembly was required and dishes actually came with instructions on how to reheat and plate the food. 7 new restaurants and menus to try at the foodie haven Wan Chai Of course, there is no way the home version can match what a fully staffed kitchen can serve. Further, all the chefs that boasted of their zero-waste approach had to eat their words when they started packing every tiny morsel and sauce into tiny separate plastic containers, all destined for landfill. I suspect once the pandemic is over, there will be a huge backlash, with everyone rushing out, partying hard and living it up. It’s human nature to indulge in what is denied for so long. The original Roaring Twenties came after the Spanish flu ended in – wait for it – 1920. When the time comes, I predict the current interest in plant-based meat will wane too. The pandemic proved life is fleeting, so why bother with an Impossible burger when you can have a real one. Same goes for cauliflower steak. Avocado will go back to being made into guacamole, not as a solo act on toast. In 2021, celebrity chefs will have to repair their battered empires, much like the Windsors after Harry, Meghan and The Crown . Closures and shutdowns have decimated global ambitions. But one member of culinary royalty seems to have regained her mojo. While colleagues consolidated finances, I’m enjoying Nigella Lawson embracing social isolation in her latest BBC show, Cook, Eat, Repeat . The domestic goddess doesn’t just cook and eat by herself, with no friends or family gatherings at show’s end. She addresses “the absurdity of cooking for oneself” by demonstrating contrarian idiosyncrasy. In one episode, she decries the sourdough obsession. “A starter requires so much attention. It’s a creature to be kept alive, like a baby. I’ve done that and I’m not ready for the commitment again.” Yet she has no issue with filling an entire pot of oil to fry a single chicken thigh for a sandwich. She also professes bread should be buttered twice – once to let it melt into the bread, then to top up with thick patches on the top. And, she says, “there’s nothing better than a butter facial”. However, the best is her goofy and controversial pronunciation of microwave (as “mee-crow-wah-ve”). I think she just invented 2021’s coolest food word already. Pretentious, sure. But no less than calling salting something a dry brine. Now that is out like 2020.