Earlier this week, I attended an event hosted by Les Dames d'Escoffier. The night started with a networking session (with the tastiest mini tacos I've ever had), followed by an enlightening panel discussion entitled The Next Big Bite.
On the panel were three extraordinary women in food: Talia Baiocchi (Editor in Chief and Co-Founder of PUNCH, Award-Winning James Beard Author), Carla Hall (Chef, Cookbook Author, Restaurateur and Co-Host of ABC Emmy Award-Winning Show, The Chew), and Kate Krader (Food Editor, BLOOMBERG PURSUITS). The panel was moderated by Martha Teichner (Correspondent at CBS SUNDAY MORNING, Emmy and James Beard Award-Winner).
The whole conversation that ensued inspired me on so many levels, but in the days since, I have found myself returning again to Martha Teichner's opening prompt. She listed a handful of buzzy food items/topics and asked, food trend or food fad?
Is kale a trend or fad? What about Cronuts? Fast casual dining? What even is the difference between a fad and a trend? Why do we assume a more negative connotation with one of those words than we do with the other? Let me share some of the takeaways I got from the discussion:
Three Makes a Trend
How do you spot a trend? See something once and it's a cool idea. See something twice and you should really pay attention. See it three times and you can call that thing a trend, said Kate Krader. What do you do with a trend? Look at it closely, consider why it's resonating with so many people, and see if there are bigger ideas worth extracting.
Authenticity is Key
On the topic of cronuts, Talia Baiocchi made a great point: Dominique Ansel (the pastry chef behind the first Cronut) did not make the uber-popular treat with the intention of creating a trend or fad. He, now a New Yorker, was authentic to his French pastry roots and created something inspired and true to his talents. That said, once the craze gets adopted by chain breakfast restaurants, the authenticity is lost and we can call something a fad.
Be Careful of Columbusing
A topic that Carla Hall had an incredible perspective on was the idea of "columbusing," or claiming to discover something that never needed discovering. Take the recent poke trend. Ask native Hawaiians and they would not call poke a trend, but a common snack or street food that you can find all over Hawaii. A "trend" does not equal a privileged person taking something from a minority group and making it mainstream.
A favorite moment from the panel was when Carla Hall joked that if you stand still long enough, any clothes will look like they're in style. And she said that the concept applies to food, too. Her point was that even if you're wearing something off-trend or out-of-style, everything comes back into fashion. Be authentic and true to yourself and eventually someone will take notice!