It was a necessity for her, and it’s a status symbol for you – that is the difference between the relation you and your grandmother have to cooking. Being ‘chained’ to the kitchen was a duty for our grandmothers and something to rebel against for our mothers. For us, it has become more like an honour, a way to celebrate our free time. No matter whether male or female, it’s an opportunity to show off our prowess beyond what your day job is.
Manuela Rehn, founder of the popular, Berlin-based food consultancy and specialist for organic and ethical food systems, Grüne Köpfe, explains the concept to me over a BBQ pork belly roll at the ever-trending Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg.
Photos @ Caro Hoehne
‘Nothing else is more talked about than food. Being knowledgeable about food enhances social status. But the difference to earlier days is that it is not about being a snobby connoisseur. It is more about being a passionate individual with a consciousness for cooking and food. Thanks to facebook, instagram, blogs and food websites which deliver an inexhaustible funds of information, almost everybody can be a food expert,’ Manuela tells me.
The cool knowledge about clothing and music that we grew up with is today the foodie-knowledge.
‘We see that among youngsters, restaurants and food events have replaced clubs as the new places to be. You are hip if you know where the best burger is served, if you are one of the few invited to a secret supper club or if you personally know the farmer you get your veggies from. Young people get there “coolness credibility” by being the coolest foodie’, she tells me.
Photos @ Caro Hoehne
I stopped mid-pork-belly-sandwich with almost a full mouth and couldn’t help to make a joke: ‘Surely teenagers don’t have pictures of sprouts and growing cycles of vegetables up on their walls like celebs…’ (I confess, I splurged out mid bite). Of course, she saw the ridiculous in my statement. As she tells me however, the new trend is not happening within the all-allusive market of the 16-25 olds, but the infinitely more influential (and attractive) 25-55 year olds who are cashed up and starting to think beyond their own needs. For them, tasting and pairing not only wines but also food in general is a legitimate path to pleasure and a way of enjoying life. A funny fact that Manuela tells me is that food posters are being bought and sold in new fever. Maybe not quite the same way as celeb pin ups, but still.
‘We see a trend in ‘developing a more diverse food language’. It’s a language that reflects what happens in your mouth, and why. This also sparks more interest in the story behind: production, craftmanship etc.’ Manuela says.
To focus on pleasure and inquisitiveness is the key to young foodies as a target group, as I learn. Giving foodies the space to show, discover and celebrate their identity and lifestyle is a real door opener for newcomers on the food market. Indeed, Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote earlier this year: ‘It comes to the point where you want to show that you are better fed than other consumers. That you are eating ethics, animal rights and environmental protection all in one go.’
‘The more you want to talk about food (and as we see that is becoming a important fact), the more you need to know about the whole subject area. It would be ridiculous to talk about food but not about farming and agriculture. I don’t want to tell my friends at dinner that the fantastic steak they just enjoyed came from cruel animal farming. As Wendell Berry said: ‘Eating is an agricultural act”, she quotes.
Having a good knowledge of the key components and techniques, and developing your own creations from there is not only the trend in fashion and technology. Far from classic cookbook recipes, it is now on the rise within the food world.
A target group of cooking enthusiasts, who is traditionally defined by following set rules and instructions, now has a new face. It’s all about the pleasure, the purpose and being free to invent personal creations.
Retailers and manufacturers now have the chance to pass on their expertise and know- how to a receptive audience of foodies. To give knowledge, inspiration and power to food enthusiast is something I try very hard with my own little chocolate company, BLYSS.
You can connect with Manuela Rehn and her business partner Joerg Reuter in Berlin at their next public workshop on November 20-21 in Berlin (auf Deutsch!).
They run workshops for small retailers and manufacturers like me. You can learn about current food trends that turn roots into revenues, and about being a space that honours the consumer, land and seeds. If you want to find out more about the great topical mix of ethics and business that Grüne Köpfe offer, please feel free to get in touch with Manuela: