“I am a Millennial, born between 1980 and 1994, and therefore, according to a conspiracy of journalists, sociologists and assorted pundits, a spoiled, overachieving, techno-centric brat. So to fly in the face of all that, I’m enrolling in culinary school.” – Sophie Brickman
Sophie is not as much of an outlier as she thinks she is. In fact, 2 out of 3 Millennials are what Mintel classifies as ‘Casual Cooking Enthusiasts’.
Casual Cooking Enthusiasts are 53% of the total population but 65% of those 18-24 years old. They find cooking a ‘pleasurable hobby’ and cook an average of 4.4 ‘elaborate’ or ‘gourmet’ meals every six months, more than 4 times as many as those who ‘Avoid cooking’ or are ‘Non-enthusiastic cooks’. As they grow older and start families, the Mintel data suggests many Millennials will become ‘Serious Cooking Enthusiasts’. Serious cooking enthusiasts are 16% of the overall population, but 18% of those 25-34 years old.
Casual Cooking Enthusiasts not only cook more gourmet meals, they also have different attitudes toward food. This means that instead of relying on a diet of Ramen and Easy Mac, Millennial casual cooking enthusiasts are a target for locally grown organic and fresh ingredients. They are more likely to agree with these statements:
You enjoy experimenting with new recipes (86%)
You buy ingredients that are from different countries for specific recipes (61%)
You buy utensils, cookware and other kitchen items if you need them for a new recipe or cooking technique (58%)
You always try to cook with seasonal or local foods (57%)
You are willing to spend more money for the highest quality ingredients (55%)
Millenials have shown a preference for luxury tastes in everything from technology to beer. So it should come as no surprise to see that they are over-represented among foodies. As for Sophie Brickman, she appears to have no regrets about her decision to enroll in culinary school. In February, she posted to her blog that she is enjoying serving gourmet meals to her friends. Here’s her description of a bacon-themed moveable feast.
“Enrolling in culinary school turned out to be a prescient kind of life-style insurance. When the economy tanked, my friends and I started cooking. We found that, for a fraction of the price and with a little creativity, we could cook a three-course meal that would cost $45 per person at any reasonable establishment. While the setting is never luxurious (screws routinely fall out of my table, which causes all guests to crowd on one side, for stability,) the food is. It began a few months ago, when I offered to cook a bacon-themed dinner for my boyfriend on his birthday. I had decided to make a salad (boring, save the goat cheese croutons), Beef Bourguignon (which calls for braising cheap cuts of meat until they become “fork tender,” a term of expertise I picked up at school and enjoy using almost as much as “mouthfeel”) and caramelized-bacon-and-chocolate-chip-cookies (Oh. My. God).
The boys politely slogged through the arugula salad, keeping abbreviations to a minimum, but when I brought out the beef bourguignon, the table became silent. The pasta had clumped together, but they didn’t care. One bit into a chunk of braised beef and moaned, quietly. Another crunched on a thick-cut bacon lardon. (We’d been trained to cut our lardons big in school, at the request of our 250-pound instructor: “I didn’t get this way by eating lettuce,” he said, disparaging the “puny French chefs” who prefer their bacon cut into “teeny crumblings.”) They asked for seconds. Then thirds. One excused himself to the kitchen to “tidy up” and licked the pot. By the time I brought out the chocolate-chip cookies, each topped with a thick piece of caramelized bacon, all three were lying on the rug, moaning with gastro-erotic contentment.”