I’d noticed it in my visits to restaurants, sure—more and more kids crowding tables, their parents’ and their own—but the fact that there was a trend afoot didn’t really hit me till it crashed into my own family.
“Aunt Kath! Great job on the sandwiches piece!” offered one of my nephews, age 18. “Glad to see you discovered Martino’s—that’s one amazing tri-tip, right? Though I have to wonder why you didn’t include the Other Coast Café. Because seriously…the Rajun Cajun?”
I stammered out my defense—a little gloppy, a little overpoweringly spiced, only had 25 slots but who knows, might’ve been my 26th—before I realized: My generation had no version of the precocious gastronome. No, this type appears to be new among Millennials, that spawn of the Boomer/Gen X’er epicurean entitlement, weaned on sushi and brioche grilled cheese and overinformed, arguably, about what constitutes a Mediterranean interpretation.
Chicago magazine called them “koodies,” and the New York media in particular has chronicled their emergence as food critics and, in the case of a New York Times Magazine cover story a couple of weeks ago, celeb chefs. (It should be noted that the kid chef profiled, Flynn McGarry, was invited to help prep a dinner at Seattle’s own Modernist Food Lab, under chef Maxime Bilet.)
And now, from Quartz, the alarming inevitability: Restaurants have officially supplanted malls as the preferred hangout of teens. In its semi-annual study on teen behavior, Piper Jaffray found that for the first time in its 27-year run, “teens (particularly high-income ones) spent more on food and events than they did on clothing.”
“We see restaurants as the next generation hang out for teens,” the report concludes.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you.