The rise of the “foodie”

Insight by Andrew Howie

There has been a huge growth in the number of ‘foodies’ in recent times. This secretive group of people enjoy going to good restaurants as entertainment and are hard to come by. They are not necessarily looking for expensive nor exclusive. They do however know of all the best places to eat. For them the thrill comes from finding an obscure eatery that can satisfy their penchant for taste. They then take great pride in sharing this secret with others that may too enjoy the experience. This has coincided with far more quality restaurants around the world and a great accessibility to good food.

For me, food is best enjoyed with people you care about. A communal experience, perhaps? Whether it is that one special person in your life, or with a group of friends breaking bread. The enjoyment comes from the sharing. Such truth can be seen reflected in many new eateries that seat you at a long communal table. Some even serve meals to be shared amongst new acquaintances at your table.

There has also been a huge rise in recent years of the ‘celebrity chef’. The face of great restaurants thrust in to the public eye. Whether that is on a TV show like Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver, or in mainstream advertising campaigns. These people make huge money from cook books and other means like the internet. They come up with meals that are easy and most importantly, accessible. They allow people who would otherwise be at a loss to create anything, to learn how to be creative.

Food brands have realised this and those who are keen to remain market leaders, all have a celebrity face to their brand. Usually a local talent from a notable restaurant, they take a brand and broadcast it to a much wider audience. They come up with meals that people with little experience can produce with pride.

No longer are people restricted by their imagination. Meal bases, herbs and spices, finishing sauces and even gourmet pre-prepared meals are all readily available. More than that. they are tasty.

The move to the mainstream has also been supported by hugely successful television shows. Applying the proven success formula of reality TV, shows such as Hells’ Kitchen and more recently Master Chef has ensured interest in cooking is now at new heights.

Qantas Airways took in-flight dining to a new place when they hired world renowned chef Neil Perry to prepare their First and Business Class menu. The idea that food in the sky should be second rate was tossed out the window. Those lucky enough to be up the pointy end now enjoy a dining experience more synonymous with a restaurant closer to sea level.

Whilst food has always been driven by necessity, there has been a shift lately that makes sense. Why not take something that has to be done and make it fun? Today’s dining experience is now more about collaboration, co-creation and creativity.

I have always enjoyed eating. The difference is now I really enjoy cooking.