Dear Mr. Food Trend Buzzword Guy: Is it true? Is there really another over-hyped food trend buzzword coming soon to my neighborhood? If there is, it’s distressing, especially since I’m barely getting over the bruises from the last few.
I’ve tried to implement the last few food trend buzzwords as much as possible. The other day I picked up organic tomatoes at the store – I might have gotten locally grown at the Farmer’s market a few days before, but, I didn’t know I was going to need them then. At least I’m thinking about it, right?
But then, I read a recent article that talked about one of these food trend buzzword concepts. The author wrote buzzword fraud is possible because, “Consumers don’t really want to buy farm-to-table food. What they want to buy is the moral satisfaction of farm-to-table food.”
Dang it. I thought I really did want to buy farm-to-table food. If moral satisfaction comes with the package, is that really a bad thing?
I read another article, too, written by a “Pissed Off Tampa Chef” that talks about the restaurant PR spin doctors causing him to vacillate “from pissed to crushed to wanting to close my restaurant to being pissed all over again in the last week because the overwhelming response to the PR bullshit that was spewed was that customers didn’t care that they were being lied to – they just liked the food.”
“Didn’t care…Just liked the food?” What in the holy hell is wrong with me?
How can I, the customer, not have the social and moral awareness to confront my server, demand to see the manager and quiz the chef on the exact food trend buzzword of the day regarding the meal I am about to be so graciously served, especially after I:
- Work my 60+ hour work weeks
- Spend another 10-12 hours in rush hour traffic, sometimes another one just getting to your food trend buzzword restaurant
- Pay my bills and taxes and figure out how much I have left to splurge on a meal out
- Sync my schedule with my love and organize that ever so rare date night
- Find a babysitter for $15 an hour, because, well, you know, California minimum wage and all
- Drive around an eight block radius 4 times looking for parking at the restaurant
- Walk 1/2 mile because I couldn’t find parking
- Bite my tongue while being scolded by the condescending hostess because I was 15 minutes late for my reservation
- Finally plop down in my seat and take the first relaxing deep breath of the day
- Plan to drop a Benjamin or two on what I hope will be a great meal, but am afraid it might not be, and what a bummer that would be after all it took to get here
It’s true, sometimes I go out to eat some GOOD food and I don’t pick a food trend buzzword to support. Occasionally, I spend my money to dine out with my wife, family and friends to relax, to celebrate, heck, even for reasons as plebian as not having to cook and clean dishes for an evening. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t care. Sometimes, I just want to eat a good meal, with good service, in a nice environment without having to be ever-vigilant and concerned about who grew my lettuce.
And now, you’re telling me I have a whole new food trend buzzword that’s gonna make me look like a bad guy…
This new one, you claim, is “a series of unwasted food pop-up dinners where San Diego’s top chefs will use creativity to transform ignored or un-coveted food that would otherwise become ‘waste.’” As I delved into the new hype, it became a story of its own, which I’ll talk about in part 2 of this series.
But, for now, why, oh why is there yet another food trend buzzword for me to get beat about the head and shoulders with, especially when I’m as uncaring and uninformed as it seems I am?
All I need is a reason to care. A real one. I’ve invested a lot of money and effort into supporting your food trend buzzwords, including attending pop up dinners, benefits and fundraisers. I’ve invested my time and energy learning about them, spreading the word about them and inviting my friends and family to support them. It would be great to know that the effort and money that has gone into these efforts has had some productive results. Can you let me know? Tangible, positive results are always a great reason to care.
By the way, is there any possibility, any at all, that maybe the food trend buzzword hype is less about actually accomplishing real change and more about increasing the cash flow, visibility and reputation as food trend buzzword experts for the establishments who trumpet the latest buzzwords?
Because, by all means, if you want to serve me stuff grown chemical free, in your backyard, caught by your personal fisherman and throw in some by-products, ugly vegetables, carrot tops and turnip bottoms, I’m actually cool with it. I do have a couple of requests, though.
First, can it be be tasty? I mean pretty damn tasty. Secondly, could I have a great experience at your food trend buzzword restaurant while I’m eating it?
Because, if I plan my trips properly to the farmer’s markets and seafood-mongers, I can eat all of those things at home and save myself a dent in the wallet and the nausea caused by the poor service and superior, snippy attitudes I often receive at food trend buzzword establishments.
“Open a menu in a local- or sustainable-themed restaurant, and dish descriptions are so larded with geographical specifics, it’s hard to tell if you’re reading a bill of fare or a rural road map. To many food critics, that attention to detail has become a mask for a lack of talent in the kitchen.”
Or this article in Vanity Fair, where Corby Kummer writes: “It feels particularly misleading when excessive earnestness is a cover for fatally unimaginative, formulaic food. Transparency about sourcing and insisting on food raised to ethical standards is laudable…But purity and moral superiority are not excuses for not knowing how to cook.”
Yes, that’s what I’m trying to say! I want to care about the latest food trend buzzword, but I also want good food…and a great experience.
Oh, and one more thing, Mr. Food Trend Buzzword Guy. You’re a business. Your primary focus should probably be on becoming profitable. In the restaurant industry, that can be accomplished with a bit of luck, good marketing, controlling your costs, a good location, great food, great service, a genuine concern for your customers and a passion for creating the best dining experience possible.
There’s probably a whole bunch of other stuff, but, I’m a customer. It’s not my job to tell you how to run your business, kinda like it’s not your job to tell me what or how to eat.
Here’s a new trend that might work: Treat me good, serve me great food and I’ll not only come and support your cause, I’ll come back, bring my friends, tell my co-workers and talk about all the cool things you’re doing to anyone who will listen.
Food Trend Buzzword, Buzzword and Buzzword – I will, I do, I might even believe…but please, stop beating me over the head with it and serve it to me hot, tasty and with a smile.
Cheers, my friends!