So often we associate disruption with technology, like lightning-fast trains and augmented reality. Which is great — that shit is disruptive — but sometimes change can be softer. Sometimes it’s the subtle shift of an idea, not the earth shattering launch of an iPhone.
When it comes to food in particular, disruption is all around you. (And, no, we’re not just talking about the now ubiquitous avocado toast.) It’s the reason you ordered a green juice this morning. Your preference for organic, local fish. The realization that $300 of sharehouse groceries will result in an incredible amount of food waste.
From TV personalities to New York chefs to world famous restaurateurs, Whalebone caught up with the disrupters revolutionizing the way you think, eat and feel about food. We’ve got Tom Colicchio talking about the need for food policy in presidential elections, Nat Young advocating for a less expensive, modern steakhouse and Adam Richman fighting for the democratization of food — and that’s just to start. So, kick back with that (hopefully local and organic) lemonade. We’re diving deep.
Resume: TV host, Man V. Food, Man Finds Food, Secret Eats
Vision: The democratization of food.
The Issue: There’s this prevailing idea that food is the realm of the chef — that it’s an elite, unapproachable artform. Just think of all the people who want to explore new foods but are afraid to ask what’s on the menu — afraid to ask for a description of huitlacoche or langoustine.
The idea that you have to be some intense scholar of haute cuisine to know, cook or enjoy good food is just insane to me. Who’s to say that fried chicken served on a paper plate by the roadside is somehow inferior to Eleven Madison Park? Or that a mom’s creative use of fresh, frozen and canned everyday foods is worth less than what’s foraged or fancy? I love fine dining and think there’s room for all types of food, but it needs to be more of a democracy.
The Disruption: My existence alone is disruptive. I’m not a trained chef; I’ve never been invited to cook at the James Beard House — hell, I probably wouldn’t be invited to cook at an IHOP. But just because I’m not a chef doesn’t mean I’m not a great cook…that I can’t champion other great cooks.
And while there are a lot of chefs and TV personalities who I really admire — we’re talking chefs with a capital ‘C’ — I’m fine not being one of them, even if my success tends to piss a lot of people off. (People hate, for example, that my cookbook is next to Joël Robuchon at the bookstore.) I don’t mind because I’m participating in a revolution…disrupting the idea that food needs to be exclusive to be good.
Read more from our Chefs of the Round Table series: