The Tastemakers: A Celebrity Rice Farmer, a Food Truck Lobbyist, and Other Innovators Putting Food Trends on Your Plate (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

"From a chef trying to breakout Peruvian cuisine to the chia seeds’ attempt to be the next health savior, the author of Save the Deli captures the world of food fads. The narrative jumps from specialty food award shows to bacon festivals to the art of food forecasting. The Tastemakers looks at the how long-term trends (healthy eating cocooning, authenticity, convenience) combine with marketing (from turning chefs on to black rice to convincing supermarkets to stock a new branded apple) to create the next phenomenon, and how the internet and social media has speeded up trend lifecycles. I personally think the subtitle overemphasizes the cupcake narrative, whose slow rise (about ten years) is contrasted with the lightning speed mainstreaming of the croissant style donut. The more interesting question is why hasn’t completely flatlined, compared, say, with the quick rise and fall of the açai berry. Sax tries to be neutral on most issues: he likes chefs and local sourcing and environmental trends, but he also is fascinated by stage five of food trends, which is when corporative mass market initiatives swoop in for the kill, often killing the trend in the process, or at least returning it to niche status. Greek yogurt-flavored cereal, anyone? David Sax has written a fascinating cultural narrative that will appeal to foodies and business buffs alike."

— Daniel Goldin


Tastemaker, n. Anyone with the power to make you eat quinoa.

Kale. Spicy sriracha sauce. Honeycrisp apples. Cupcakes. These days, it seems we are constantly discovering a new food that will make us healthier, happier, or even somehow cooler. Chia seeds, after a brief life as a novelty houseplant and I Love the '80s punchline, are suddenly a superfood. Not long ago, that same distinction was held by pomegranate seeds, açai berries, and the fermented drink known as kombucha. So what happened? Did these foods suddenly cease to be healthy a few years ago? And by the way, what exactly is a “superfood” again?

In this eye-opening, witty work of reportage, David Sax uncovers the world of food trends: Where they come from, how they grow, and where they end up. Traveling from the South Carolina rice plot of America's premier grain guru to Chicago's gluttonous Baconfest, Sax reveals a world of influence, money, and activism that helps decide what goes on your plate. On his journey, he meets entrepreneurs, chefs, and even data analysts who have made food trends a mission and a business. The Tastemakers is full of entertaining stories and surprising truths about what we eat, how we eat it, and why.

About the Author

David Sax is a writer specializing in business and food. His writing appears regularly in the New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, Saveur, the Grid Toronto,, and other publications. His first book, Save the Deli: In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye, and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen, was a Los Angeles Times bestseller. Sax's work has also won a James Beard Award for Writing and Literature. He lives in Toronto.

Praise For…

“Entertaining… Sax has seized on a big, juicy topic, and is at his best in on-the-scene reporting, where the brisk, funny, assured voice that earned him many fans…keeps us galloping through the aisles… Sax is great company, a writer of real and lasting charm… The Tastemakers will leave readers wondering about how susceptible we are to the charms of any new food—and how long we're likely to stay captivated.”—New York Times Book Review

“Sax…embarks on a lively culinary your of America, consulting chefs, producers, foodies, food buyers, and trend forecasters to find out why one day sriracha sauce is all the rage, and the next, people are adding kale to every meal.”—The Economist

“Sax has done his homework—and probably put on a few pounds. A solid overview of trendsetting foods brought to life with colorful examples.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Sax declares, food trends, though sometimes annoying, deepen and expand our cultural palate, spur economic growth, provide broad variety in our diets, and promote happiness.”—Publishers Weekly
Product Details
ISBN: 9781610395496
ISBN-10: 1610395492
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Publication Date: May 26th, 2015
Pages: 336
Language: English