Season 11 Episode 5

A Decade On… Are We Done With Sharing Plates?

Communal dining has been perhaps one of the biggest trends of the past decade. From those oh-so-Instagrammable sharing plates to long long benches at street food markets, everyone is getting in on the act. We chat about why communal dining has become so popular recently, and whether or not we even enjoy it. We discuss the dos and don’ts of sharing food and wonder: has it had its day? And will coronavirus be the death of communal dining…? What do you guys think – do you enjoy feasting on sharing plates? Do you have any idea where dining might go in the future? Please SHARE your thoughts with us in the comments below!

 Best soundbite: “You need to tell people when you’re doing small plates. You have to – it’s the right thing to do” – James Currie

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Something to make you think...

Coronavirus has changed a lot of things for us, including the way we eat. Have you still been able to dine with friends and family during this period, even if you can’t share food? How do you think this pandemic will affect communal dining in the future?

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7 Comments

  1. theanita1

    That last example about the socially distance picnic reminded me of Ina Garten and her zoom dinner parties, where everyone had cooked the same thing and they all ate it together online

  2. cheez246890sorted

    Does this exclude family style dining? I find it hard to believe that Chinese people, for example (and I am Chinese) would ever give up family style dining- that is, sharing a number of dishes among a group of people. It might be more common for sharing utensils (spoons/chopsticks), but I can’t imagine giving up this style of eating because it would just feel wrong to me. One of the foods I’m most excited to go back to is hot pot, in fact! and even in single-person-pot shops, they still usually sell the ingredients in batch for tables to share. Culturally, since I grew up eating meals this way, ordering your own plates and not sharing at all really feels to me like a completely different experience (even prior to covid) and could not imagine not doing it once it feels “okay” to hang out with people (I don’t think I would differentiate hanging out with someone safely and sharing a meal safely, so it’s either communal eating or complete isolation).

    Admittedly food preferences and dietary restrictions also come up a lot less in gatherings I’ve been in, but that’s because in my experience most Chinese people don’t have as many of those, and working around a few things (don’t like mushrooms, or something) isn’t too hard, whereas working around other restrictions like no carbs or veganism would be much harder. That said, I can see how sharing plates will probably become a lot less “trendy” for cultures who don’t have this as a default eating style, especially given rising dietary restrictions and virus panic.

  3. cgfetherston

    Even pre pandemic I did not like Tapas or sharing plates restaurants. I always found that I ended up having spent more money than I would have otherwise and end up at a drive thru because I am still hungry. Now we add more serious potential illness as a Special secret sauce so they are even less appetizing.

    I also hate restaurants where you are seated shoulder to shoulder with strangers. I can’t help myself from listening to other conversations and biting my tongue to keep from commenting on their conversations.

    • Sorted

      We totally see where you’re coming from here. They need to be good portion sizes of tapas in order for you to have a decent meal where you feel full. The addition of covid may mean that these restaurants need to think outside the box a little more.

      We hear you on the shoulder to shoulder front also! So hard not to jump into people’s conversations, however on the other hand, maybe people want that and that’s why they chose a restaurant with that seating set up to dine in.

  4. mclivingston

    One of the difficulties with small plate & communal dining restaurants is that you have to account for the dietary restrictions of everyone in your group. There needs to be enough options that sound appetizing to everyone that everyone can actually eat, which can make restaurant selection stressful.

    I completely agree with James: I think it’s going to be a long time before people want to do communal dining again. The pandemic has made us all accutely aware of sanitation and cleanliness, neither of which are possible when sharing food.

    • Sorted

      Yeah – that’s for sure with the dietary requirements, it makes it very tricky! Maybe these restaurants work best in small groups. It’s so hard sharing food as people are either too polite in taking too little, or people take too much and you end up leaving the restaurant still hungry. Maybe if you’re a large group then doubling up is the best option.

      Communal dining places may need to sadly rethink their business model to get them through these strange times.

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