Fashion Week in Milan in September gave rise to an ebullient spirit, followed by Fashion week in Paris which was completely star-studded. As I started focusing on Luxembourg Fashion Week this month, which spotlights the fashion and art industry, emphasizing the country’s involvement in their growth, I had a notion. The idea that food is as much about the art, design, textures, colors, ingredients, and techniques, as is apparel fashion. I call this Food Fashion!
We may not always recognize it, but this idea of Food Fashion is highly prominent in hospitality and lifestyle. It is essentially the art of the gastronomy, an epicurious, sensory delight! Whether it be the simple bowl of your favorite “comfort” food, or a delicacy discovered at a Michelin star restaurant, food is increasingly fashionable.
You Are What You Eat
While we don’t “wear” our food, it matters as much to our personal and social wellbeing, as how we “style” ourselves. The old adage, “you are what you eat”, seems appropriate.
However, my interest is less about what the latest “food trends” are. Like designer clothing, fads come and go. Rather, I am enthralled with the idea that what we eat, where it comes from, how it is prepared, the nutritional value and how sustainable it is, are all coalescing with the art, design, techniques and ingredients that chefs around the world are introducing.
In other words, food as fashion is becoming normalized. It is being introduced to our favorite kitchens, including our own. And that excites me.
Fashion designers are the obvious influencers in the apparel fashion world. Likewise, culinary artisans and chefs, are the key influencers in Food Fashion. (That’s why I like to assert myself into their kitchens whenever I get the chance.)
And well they should. Chefs and culinary creatives have knowledge and tools to generate change in recipe design, menu planning and communication with customers. They hold the power to not only promote a mainstream debate on food, but to deliver food-forward creations.
For example, in my recent article about Yannick Alléno, I wrote about his experimentation with extraction and how it has not only transformed his food, but re-shaped the culinary landscape. Chefs around the world are picking up on this theme and taking it to the next level.
Food fashion is not merely about exploring the future of food, but it is also about re-defining classic culinary traditions, re-purposing and sometimes re-inventing them.
So Sous Vide
Consider how the sous vide cooking technique has, over the past 10 years or so, become known as a “fancy” way of preparing proteins, and other foods. But this is precisely the beauty of Food Fashion. The sous vide method is an adaptation, derived from experimentation and re-invention. The use of containers was adopted by Georges Pralus, a French chef, in 1974.
Yet, there was more to discover. Low temperature cooking is an age old method of cooking. However, the challenge has remained – how long to cook food in a sous vide bath?
Another pioneer in sous vide came along. Bruno Goussault, a French Scientist, who became well-known for training top chefs in the method. He developed the sous vide parameters of cooking times and temperatures for various foods.
These advances allowed for the form and shape the chefs desire as they design their plates. Soon chefs began to use root vegetables in sous vide. This helped retain color and texture.
Fashion on a Plate
Essentially we are exploring fashion on a plate, that arrives through a series of re-discoveries. Even the devoted home chef can use techniques that were once the realm of fine dining restaurants.
Food fashion is not merely in the echelons of culinary “designers.” It is increasingly in the mainstream of society. We all have our ideas of where food is headed and how it impacts our lives.
Whilst choreographing an upcoming celebration, with Zenia Dutta Roy, founder of Les Sûtras Boutique in Luxembourg. I asked her views on Food Fashion.
‘Zenia, you host glamorous gatherings and milestone events frequently, not only promoting your brand but also coming alongside other women entrepreneurs for their brands.
As far as Food Fashion goes, what trends and styles do you foresee in the near future?’
“Kiran, for me personally, I see Spices and Heat. Fragrant, aromatic, vivid colors that complement the threads of my creation.
As well as being a nutritional powerhouse, spices offer warmth and energy during the cold season. I think people enjoy this and I love the concept of colorful spicy bites of food on sustainable bamboo skewers for my events!”
Food trends just like clothing design trends undeniably come in waves and seasons. Now more than ever, we see industries and communities focus on and practice what is immediate, eating more locally grown.
Furthermore, food as fashion has become a matter of importance when it comes to the various forms of diet. Many debate about what the best dietary regime is. Whether we should be vegetarian, omnivore, flexitarian, reducetarian, kosher, pescetarian, halal, vegan.
It only matters that we are conscious of what we are eating, where it is coming from and how it impacts our collective wellbeing. This will help bridge the gap between farm to table. It also helps us to make healthy choices for ourselves.
Still, taste-makers are continuously coming up with alternatives to foods that seem to challenge conventional thinking. These include vegan eggs, potato milk, oat milk, butters made of pumpkin, macadamia or chickpea. Sunflowers and not just the seeds. Hibiscus, hot peppers, etc.
Food is changing rapidly and so are the places at which we choose to dine. The culinary scene has embraced the idea that whatever we want to eat can be taken to the street. Sushi, Pizza, Dim Sum, Tapas, Tacos, Samosas, Empanadas, Pani Puri, Burgers, Shawarma, Falafel, Kebabs, Arepas, Crepes, Gyros…all available via entrepreneurial food-truck vendors or pop-ups.
Regional crops and spices lend a plethora of tastes and flavors to the palate, each distinctive to its territory. Curating local and seasonal ingredients inspire chefs to deliver nouvelle cuisine. Dishes that emphasize freshness and nutritional value, while reducing or eliminating rich, heavy ingredients.
Yet, there are growing expectations from some of the chefs who wear their hearts on their sleeves, to deliver even more. Such as: celeriac shawarma, utilizing the root of celeriac (celery plant), thinly shaved, layered, smoked, and carved.
Food Fashion takes us back to our roots (pun intended). Celery root, kohlrabi, watermelon radish, rutabaga, Jerusalem artichoke, Mediterranean potato, parsnip, turnip, beetroot, carrot, cassava, jicama, salsify plant, lotus root, and butternut squash for grilled entrée items, marmalades, soups, stocks, extractions, emulsions, sauces, thinly shaved for salads, used as a blanket to roll other ingredients, pickling, fermenting, roasting and grilling.
Mushrooms have been with us for millennium and somehow, they are still up and coming. Lion’s mane, steeped in garlic oil and smoked with a little “TLC.”
On a sweet note, there is Torrone (Nougat with Hazel nuts). One of the best hazelnuts in the world, found in the Langhe region. These incredible nuts offer vast nutrition and health benefits, high levels of vitamin E and antioxidants. Characteristics: earthy, sweet notes, fragrant, chocolaty, buttery, nutty with complex notes of vanilla and honey. Long shelf life due to its high oil content. The soil and climate make it ideal for growing this tree.
We live in an incredible time, where there are so many food options available. When it comes to Food Fashion, what tempts you most? What is your go-to fashion when it comes to food?
The Future of Food Fashion
Whereas Food Fashion reveals what new things we are eating, how it is prepared and served, how nutritious it is for the eater, the next phase in Food Fashion has already emerged. Food Fashion now asks the question: are we climate-smart about what we eat?
Becoming climate-smart helps to address a few simple challenges that affect our world and each of us, personally, such as:
How sustainable is our food?
What is the impact of our food on the planet?
How do we reduce food wastage?
Is climate-friendly cuisine a fad or the future? Will it become a staple of global culinary best-practices? Or just a passing food fashion?
I’ll pursue these topics next time in Food Fashion: Part 2.