When I first heard the phrase “food as a pillar of pop culture,” I imagined the corners of the Parthenon being held up by a stack of hamburgers, Beyonce, Buzzfeed headlines and my Instagram feed. I googled “Pillars of Pop Culture” to see if I was missing anything major, but the only book I found, written in the 1980s, was entitled The Seven Pillars of Popular Culture and didn’t even have its own Wikipedia page. I was ready to dismiss the idea until I remembered that just yesterday I went to a pizza museum, rewatched the “Elijah” episode of High Maintenance that makes fun of celebrity chefs and nostalgia-ate several rice krispy treats. Earlier this week I went to an overwhelmingly cool clothing store and more than half of their trendier-than-thou quarterly magazines were food-focused. Food might have pillar-like properties after all. Time to attend a conference about it.
Bitten Food co-founders Naz Riahi and Emily Schildt are hosting a one-day event on February 6 at the Scholastic Auditorium in SoHo to explore the intersection of food and pop culture. The topics range from the role of food in the maker movement to the future of protein consumption (crickets get my vote every single time). Speakers will address the role of print publications as “the new disruptor in food media” and the future of vertical agriculture. “The speaker selection process was a (delightful) challenge,” Naz told us. “There are so many incredible people and startups doing inspiring, disruptive work in the food space… you might not think of cultured meat as a trend, but once it becomes mass, I guarantee there’ll be memes a’plenty.” They’ll be welcoming a representative from Modern Meadow to the stage, as well as Eric Demby of Smorgasburg; Gabi Lewis, co-founder of Exo; Dorothy Cann Hamilton of the International Culinary Center and Peter Kim of MOFAD.
A quick glance at the website for the upcoming Bitten Food conference makes it obvious that it’s not your average stale breakfast pastry ordeal. Their stunningly graceful food photography (see above) will have you staring slack-jawed at your screen before you remember what you’re doing, and the co-founders’ backgrounds in trend consulting and marketing are evident on every page. They’re the first to concede that they’re thinking about food as the new fashion, where “now you’re a big deal if you’re hip to the latest chef.” Interest piqued? Buy your tickets here.