Le Cordon Bleu, the leading Global Network of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institutes, is happy to share a vision of 2017 foodtrends in the world, through the eyes of its alumni.
Kathleen Flinn (USA), writer and journalist.
What have you accomplished since graduating from Le Cordon Bleu?
I consider myself a storyteller, cook and teacher. I have written three books with two more in the works. One was The Sharper Your Knife the Less You Cry, a New York Times bestseller about attending Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Teaching cooking to home cooks was the subject of another book, and I have worked with numerous organizations to develop programs to encourage teens and adults to embrace cooking as part of their daily life. Over the past decade, I've developed a food writing curriculum titled "Hungry for Words" that will be turned into a book in 2017. In addition, I have served on the board of directors for the International Association of Culinary Professionals and presently serve as chair of The Culinary Trust, a 501c3 non-profit co-founded by the late Julia Child. On the chef front, I curate a pop-up dinner series called The Red Velvet dinners.
What do your customers crave when they come to see/taste your work ?
In my writing, I think that readers want to learn, be inspired and they want recipes that really work. When I teach cooking, my main goal is to help home cooks feel confident. The influx of competitive cooking shows has had a dampening effect on many home cooks who feel they aren't "good enough" to make dinner for themselves, which is crazy. When I put together dinners, whether for my dinner series or private clients, I try to cook seasonally but also make the experience fun. I prefer to serve family style dinners to get people interacting with one another.
What foodtrends do you foresee for 2017 and onwards?
I think that artisan butchers will be increasingly mainstream as more people eat less meat, but want better cuts. I've been preaching about avoiding food waste for years and finally people are paying attention, so I'm hoping to see more "root to stem" cooking and focus on food waste, including on fine restaurant menus. With awareness around sustainable fish gaining, I think we'll see an influx of "non fish" or clearly labeled sustainable fish sushi. I also think you're going to hear a lot about the microbiome and eating for your gut's health so I expect to see cookbooks on gut health and in supermarkets, see tonics, drinks and more prepared foods that utilizes sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha and other fermented foods. The James Beard Foundation says that classic French cuisine will be a trend - and I think they're right.
Looking back to 2016, what is the main evolution you have seen in the food industry in your country ?
Meal "kit" deliveries really took off in 2016 in the U.S., and I think the trend will continue in 2017. However, as grocery delivery becomes more common and mainstream, I think that trend will cool down. Food halls started showing up across the country, inspired in part by Mario Batali's "Eataly" locations. The other major shift in the U.S. is that we can't get enough kitchen workers, particularly line cooks. A friend just closed her restaurant in Seattle after 18 years because it was so difficult to retain kitchen staff; the competition for workers has caused wages to spike - generally a good thing for the employees but it's making it difficult for restaurateurs in an industry where margins are already notoriously thin. I think this trend will continue while the U.S. economy remains strong.
Any aspirations for the future?
Yes! I want to teach more, both cooking and writing. I've been making plans to more formalize my programs and find a permanent home for them. I'm releasing the book, Hungry for Words, in 2017 and plan to hold workshops at various locations in the U.S. and abroad - including Le Cordon Bleu Paris. My husband and I are starting a non-profit to help train workers for the culinary industry along with a state restaurant association, and developing a program to "certify" home cooks. We both believe that cooking can change and improves lives in so many ways, and some people have a passion for food but don't know what to do with it.