Talking About Our Generation
Submitted by Sonia Hunt of Noie Productions September 20, 2010
You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world.
Sound familiar? There are many people out there that want to revolutionize or even revolt in some way, shape or form. I continue to see and read countless articles on childhood obesity, health issues, food recalls and food allergies but don’t see much on the execution part. The words are choice, but to me the part of this song that resonates more is:
You say you’ve got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan.
I don’t believe aren’t enough creative thinkers or executers for this food revolution to do things differently and actually make change. Celebrity Chefs like Jamie Oliver have embarked what he calls a food revolution and even has a TV show and celebrity power around it. But what difference is being made? The heart of the platform is to educate and empower as many people as possible to love and enjoy good food. Sounds fine and dandy but what if these same people cannot afford the ingredients needed to cook that healthy food because they live in low-income neighborhoods where no organic farmer’s market nor large-chain supermarket are willing to put in a store, but ten fast food joints are. To me, this platform to make these healthy foods affordable seems to come before the teaching how to cook part.
Platforms. I still have a few pair in my closet. And like the shoe, they can be pretty but you may need to sashay around the block in them a few times before really getting noticed. With 31 food allergies in all types of flavors, I got fed up with the way things are running in the restaurant industry, after a local one sent me rushing to the ER for my life in 2008 and decided to take a new direction and do something.
My company has created a new Food+Life/Style web series (http://soniahunt.com) featuring innovative and emerging chefs, winemakers and mixologists, shooting ethnic and global cuisines; spicy food that definitely contains many ingredients that even I’m allergic to. Its targeted towards a young generation of what I called a budding ‘Food Nerd’, like myself. These nerds want to eat their Banh Mi and if you tell them you’re cooking it in peanut oil, you won’t need a food critic to give you 1 start and shut down your business. Their social media tweets will do that for you. Because of my food allergies, should I not enjoy the foods everyone else does? Why do people not know the difference between a peanut and a nut? How can I utilize my story to train an industry, drive change and still enjoy all the foods I want? This was my goal.
When I meet with chefs to discuss shooting a story, immediately they are very intrigued by my list of food allergies and I become their ‘little project’. From peanuts to corn to avocado, one-by-one they don’t understand how I eat for a living. And these incredibly talented people not only have become dear friends to me, but also actually keep my allergy list in their restaurant’s kitchen so that rest assured I could eat without busting out the EpiPen. And their mind’s creativity revels as they create and re-create dishes so that I can also eat the same thing on the menu as everyone else and not feel awkward. It’s a very personalized experience in which we all learn and grow, together and mainly have fun in the process. And I get to shoot it all on camera.
So I’ve chosen a path and even if one-chef-at-a-time, my platform looks not only to inform but in a personalized way, ‘influence’ these culinary artisans into actually ‘doing’ things differently. Things like adding ingredients lists to menus, creating allergen-free versions of the same dishes on their menus for patrons (w/notification of course), educating staff about ingredients, food allergies and the differences between a peanut and a nut and a level of service. It may sound rudimentary at first, but you’d be surprised that most restaurants do not do this today and what a difference it could make.
I do this in the hopes to change the way the restaurant industry views and treats food allergies, so all the kids out there with issues can be rest assured and have a wonderful meal, just like everyone else. And you know, its gonna be, all right. How are you helping make change in this #foodrevolution? Love to hear from ya!
Sonia Hunt is the Founder+CEO of Noie Productions, LLC, an independent media production company spawning organic, innovative & chic culinary media. Watch the trailer to her new Food+Life/Style series at http://soniahunt.com