On her own admission, Li Edelkoort says she’s in a strange profession. As a trend and lifestyle forecaster, her clients come from a diverse range of industries — fashion, cars, cosmetics and even food. So what inspires these predictions? Is there something the rest of us are missing? “The signs are always available,” she says. “I just learned to train my intuition, learned to listen and tapped into it as early as possible.” Recently in Toronto for the launch of Samsung’s Chef Collection, we decided to pick her brain about the culinary trends she’s picked up on that we should all be paying attention to right now and those that will affect us in the near future.
Staying close to home
The locavore movement is no surprise, but it’s definitely something that Edelkoort sees gaining momentum as we continue to battle with issues of sustainability. And it will be much closer to home than you think. “Eventually self-made food on your roof, your garden and balcony will be common,” she says. “We will also be eating much more vegetables and reducing the quantities of fish and meat.” Yes, there’s a possibility that bugs will become a source of mass-produced protein. But Edelkoort is not biting. “I think we can do with less protein,” she says. “No matter what protein we eat, we shouldn’t eat that much.” Instead, daily cooking will involve vegetable-rich dishes. A deeper respect for the earth, animals and food purveyors will also be on the upswing.
Feel like you see, hear and think about food ALL the time? You’re not the only one. “Food is one of the major symbols of the new togetherness in society,” says Edelkoort. “The whole ritual of eating is coming back.” Not only has she noticed tables getting longer and smaller (hello communal eating!), but the family meal or sharing brunch on the weekend is also becoming an expression of spending quality time together. “It may not be on a day-to-day basis because we don’t have the time and all family members are not present, but there is definitely more togetherness and sharing.” We’ll drink to that.
Playing chef at home
The kitchen is now a theatre and savvy home cooks are more than happy to welcome guests to experience their cooking prowess. It’s like your own Food Network show, right? That’s one reason. Then there’s restaurant fatigue according to Edelkoort. “The music is too loud, people are talking over the music, you stuff yourself with bread before you eat, there are these long menus to choose from…,” she says. “At home you can do something different.” The talking, cooking, setting the table all fosters a sense of togetherness and becomes part of the entertainment. “It’s much more amusing, really,” says Edelkoort.
Those fancy-schmancy china platters and plates you inherited from grandma will soon be passé. If Edelkoort is to be believed, you’ll need to arm yourself with slabs of stone and wooden planks to present food on. “You can even put it directly on the table if you dare,” she says. “It will be about landscaping food where you would create mountains and valleys with the way the food is laid out. Almost like a horizon or garden. A sort of a tablescape, which will be especially fun for kids.” Think about it this way, less washing up and no need for a centerpiece on the table. It’s all taken care of.
The rise of tapas eateries and restaurants with ‘sharing plates’ is really no coincidence. Edelkoort asserts that we have been eating uncontrolled portions for far too long and now there is a natural tendency to scale down those servings. “People naturally order a couple of starters and not too much of a main course,” she says of her observation. “This indicates that the main, which is always organized around the fish or the meat is not in fashion anymore. So naturally, I think people are regulating their body weight and waste, and if this trend continues it will be very good.” Another trend to watch for? Fasting. Whether it’s replacing meals with fruit and vegetable juices for three- to five-day stretches or skipping meals every other day, Edelkoort sees the health benefits for the heart and brain really putting it in the spotlight.