In Style + Design

The Evolution Of Sydney’s Relationship With Food

Our eating habits are a vital part of our daily lives, and food holds huge significance in defining different cultural fabrics. So, just how is our relationship with food evolving? What culinary trends are on the rise? The Future State: Food panel held recently at Carriageworks as part of Semi Permanent contemplated such questions.

The expert panel consisted of interior designer Caroline Choker and architect Vince Alafaci, both from Acme; Stuart Brookshaw, head of special projects at Deliveroo; and Mike McEnearney, the man behind restaurant brand Kitchen by Mike. The panel delved into what the future of food might look like, and the dynamic link between eating and experience.

Our interactions with food are often formed by the spaces that we associate with eating. Acme, a multi-disciplinary design firm focused on creating holistic spaces, has been behind several Sydneysider favourites such as Rosebery-based distillery Archie Rose, Watson’s Bay Boutique Hotel and The Grounds of Alexandria. Acme is all about creating spaces to celebrate food, and “explore how patrons feel and engage with a space, and curate how they experience an environment,” says Caroline Choker.

Interior designer Caroline Choker and architect Vince Alafaci, both from Acme.

Acme is centred on building engaging experiences within design, as well as playing with the continually blurred boundaries between work-life balances. “We’re trying to create spaces now where that blurred vision is going to further extend into living spaces. So that work, live, play is all in one space,” says Vince Alafaci. So, as we move into the future, spaces must adapt to suit our modern lives.

As we become even busier in an all-encompassing digital world, it’s clear that people also crave a sense of community and real, pure experiences. “Connectivity is paramount in anything at the moment. By celebrating the offering, you’re constantly making people feel that they’re a part of the process,” says Choker.

Another key figure in the Sydney restaurant scene, Mike McEnearney, is known for his promotion of wholesome and responsibly sourced produce. His now-closed Rosebery restaurant Kitchen by Mike reflected a canteen-style ethos — a place where people gather to eat, stripped of all the ceremony typically found in the world of restaurants. His offshoot at the Sydney international airport continues on the wholefood legacy, and you can even pick up a bento-style Fly by Mike pack for the plane. McEnearney agrees that a community-based outlook is at the heart of his relationship with food. Coinciding with the digital age, there’s been a significant shift in wanting to reconnect back to nature, and to know exactly where our food comes from.

Archie Rose design by Acme

McEnearney is also the creative director and curator of Carriageworks Farmers Market, held every Saturday, where stands are limited to NSW-based producers and farmers. “People want to know the postcode of their asparagus. They want to know that it’s not far away, that it hasn’t travelled. You have this very authentic farmers market feel in an urban space, so you can have a relationship with that farmer,” says McEnearney.

It’s predicted that we’ll continue to feel a strong consciousness in considering what we eat. It’s all part of our human connection back to Earth, and this can be seen in various future trends from produce and delivery choices to infrastructure.

Another key player in the game is food delivery company Deliveroo, which started in the United Kingdom and now operates out of 12 countries. As Stuart Brookshaw says, “[people] want a better choice, a better selection.” And that’s just what Deliveroo provides: “your favourite restaurants, delivered fast to your door.” It’s the perfect solution for the time-poor, and soon we’ll be seeing Deliveroo-style ‘marketplaces’ where you can enjoy the full-customer experience with different restaurant brands all in one space.

Acme’s Alafaci touches on our responsibly to be self-sustainable, and to “start becoming accountable for what we’re producing.” A growing number of companies are considering their own footprint, and Deliveroo is one such company stepping up, with ideas for internal urban farms in their restaurant ‘marketplaces.’ “We’re going to start with herbs and micro-herbs, for the restaurants that are on-site. So that they harvest what they need from inside the building itself,” says Brookshaw.

Another huge trend that hasn’t gone unnoticed is the consideration of vegan, or more eco-friendly, diets. While populations soar, we’ll need to start getting serious with alternative sources of protein to survive. “We should be eating a plant-based diet anyway… [Growing up] it was our birthright to eat burnt lamb chops and lumpy mashed potatoes three nights a week. That was what we believed in, and a lot of people still believe in that. We need to push that entirely aside,” says McEnearney.

One trend McEnearney hopes will continue is the act of gathering around the table for meals: “that’s where we come together. As humans around a table.”

Lead image: Fred’s, Paddingtion. Design by Acme. 

Published 26 June, 2018