Less Is More

By Gretchen Morfogen


When the over indulgence of the last decade came crashing down all around us there seemed to be an overall sign of relief. Aside from the obvious financial malady of the last few years the attitudes and lifestyle adjustments we have all been forced to make have initiated a movement of simplification. Ridding ourselves of the habits that can consume our conscientiousness is very cleansing.

The dining/grocery industry is no exception. The restaurants that have managed to downsize their offerings to elevate their culinary prowess, and innovate a dynamic means to present their businesses are surviving. Others who choose a stagnant, opulent approach to business and do not modify to the economic woes, are gone. Small(er) plates/ portions are the way, expanded wines lists by the glass- yes! They can offer fantastic food with a carefully chosen wine selection and partner that with understated ambience and sophistication and you have the makings of an unbelievable dining experience. This concept has translated not only to sit down restaurants but the emergence of the mobile eateries (food trucks) and take out places. Even the high end dining rooms have modified their menus to a reasonable level of portions, a la carte expansion, and more casual lunch menus at an everyday price.

The French are leading the way in this movement and have been for many years now. The upcoming nouveau chefs are not only changing the classical techniques to a modernized version of cuisine but they are using the clean, fresh, cream-less ingredients that their culinary forefathers would be proud of.  Their approach to the casualization of culinary arts is refreshing, necessary and bold!

Many of the new innovations that independently owned as well as chain places are dishing out are lower priced combinations, locally sourced produce, dairy and other goods and much more creative menu options that ever before. With the flux of employees in the culinary field these days, companies can hire the vastly creative professionals to come up with theses new ideas to lure customers to their products.

Obviously, marketing is a key ingredient in everything mentioned but the simplistic approach to capturing our dollar is boosting the economy exponentially whether we realize it or not. Everybody needs to eat. More and more the earned dollar is being spent on food outside of the home. There are people who never cook, never use their kitchens. Their survival is tantamount to these businesses successes.

Food is like music. There are many notes that are all the same but when combined together in a lively, creative, avant garde, rustic, or independent way- a masterpiece is born! All the notes come together to provide a beautiful song that can either be played over and over or hit shuffle and you can have something different every time.

The positive to the less is more movement is that we can be satisfied without more and maintain a healthy existence in every aspect of life. The decade of more is over and let us hope we’ve learned a valuable lesson from it.

Gretchen Morfogen is a regular culinary writer for The Healthy Planet magazine.