2.19 Wed 19:00 START
Makoto Asamoto, who devised the food menu for the INTERSECT BY LEXUS cafe corner, came together with Masanobu Sugatsuke, an experienced editor-in-chief in the worlds of publishing, web, advertising and exhibitions, to discuss international trends in cuisine and their connection with lifestyle as well as what we choose to eat on a daily basis. Hosting the event was honeyee.com editor-in-chief Tetsuya Suzuki.
The first topic discussed was daily diet. Mr. Sugatsuke has been very active in covering food trends, having published a series on ‘third wave coffee’ in Tokyo and a book about vegan cuisine, among others. Meanwhile, Mr. Asamoto’s bistro in Yoyogi-Uehara, Fort Greene, has established a reputation since its opening as an establishment with great food and music that reflects Mr. Asamoto’s lifestyle. Its name comes from the area in Brooklyn where he used to live. He explains that he owes his exposure to the different cuisines that form the basis of his work to the time he spent in Brooklyn.
The conversation moved on to Brooklyn’s culinary culture. Mr. Asamoto explained that dishes generally use local ingredients and only simple seasonings, so the Brooklyn style is very grounded. He said Brooklyn’s charm when he was there, in an era when it was just beginning to develop its own culinary identity, was very different to Manhattan’s glamourous dining scene of the day. With “organic” and “local” as keywords, Mr. Asamoto spoke highly of Brooklyn’s innovative and deep culinary culture.
One point of interest the two men share is supermarkets. In recent years, small retail businesses that deal in organic foods have been on the rise in the United States. Whole food restaurants, using organic ingredients, have been gaining in popularity over fast food. Also gathering attention are consumer concepts such as the Park Slope Food Corp, where hours of labor are exchanged for shopping rights. Meanwhile, the idea of ingredient traceability is penetrating different spheres. For example, Mr. Sugatsuke explained that the third wave coffee concept is being adopted in the world of chocolate in the form of a ”Bean to Bar Chocolate” philosophy.
The results of a survey asking guests what they had eaten for lunch showed a rich diversity of everyday diets. Mr. Asamoto suggested that taking an conscious interest in what we eat allows us to develop an interest in food, which influences our choice of ingredients, and that food often appears to taste better when we know who prepared it. If we take an interest in food, the influence of the organic food wave is likely to continue.
Mr. Asamoto suggested that such new trends in America’s culinary circles stem from a change in the perception of abundance; something that suits you and can be used over a long period of time is a better reflection of abundance than a luxury brand. This is not limited to food, as in the example of a suit or watch passed on from father to son and customized to fit that person. At the same time, people are placing more importance on the story behind an item. Mr. Sugatsuke added that the definition of abundance is also changing. In the 20th century, being rich many people’s ultimate goal. In the 21st century, more and more people are placing more importance on being smart than being rich. In the more progressive cities of advanced countries, people are essentially turning their attention to being smart.
To wrap up, Mr. Suzuki said, “Rather than being influenced by trends, being more conscious of personal choice is more likely to lead to finding what is right for you. This is true for both food and fashion, as can be said for lifestyle in general.” The event made the point that a comfortable lifestyle comes through food you are at ease with – your own “comfort foods” – and that making choices is essential.
A detailed report on the event is available at honeyee.com.