In hardly any other city in the world, healthy food has such a value as in San Francisco. The city is a hot spot for foodies and for digital innovation on the plate. Large food companies like Nestlé have also recognized this.
Stephanie Naegeli is part of the Silicon Valley Innovation Outpost team and knows exactly what is happening in the food szene.
SWISS Travel Guide: California and San Francisco - the promised land for all for whom eating does not mean mere food intake. Why has the food culture developed so strongly there?
Stephanie Naegeli: California is slightly different. First this state supplies the entire US with agricultural products, it is a kind of food hub. Secondly the hippie culture has laid an important foundation for innovation of all kinds. There was, and still is, a different, much more open mind and view of most things. Also as for the food: we are growing fresh, with alternative methods, we cook ourselves, etc. A trend that has already started over 40 years ago! It only took a very long time for this trend to reach the mainstream. Already in the early 1970s the first open kitchens were developed in San Francisco to demonstrate transparency and to allow everyone to participate in the cooking process. In addition, they wanted to get away from the French "high end" cooking, with expensive luxury ingredients. Instead, simple and natural foods were used. Not least, California is also an ethnic melting pot: Asians, Latinos, Europeans and, of course, Americans live together. This mix of different continents brings something special to California and San Francisco - not just about the food.
SWISS Travel Guide: How much has the Californian Lifestyle influenced your own life and especially your eating habits?
Stephanie Naegeli: It has very much influenced my life and eating habits. I would say I definitely eat healthier than I did in Switzerland, for example much more fish and seafood. I guess three times a week minimum, because of course the offer and everything is very fresh and not so expensive. Pasta, for example, I barely eat now, but a lot of vegetables. Of course, I always try new things out, which happens almost automatically when one is constantly dealing with food trends. And I started to bake my own bread. Because getting good bread still is a difficult thing in America - even in San Francisco. I use a wild yeast variety for it, which I breed in the refrigerator.
SWISS Travel Guide: What are the big, important trends in the food scene?
Stephanie Naegeli: Healthy, fresh and sustainable food is the number one topic and will certainly remain a while longer. There is also a lot to try out. It is interesting that more and more people have the desire to feed themselves as naturally as possible, to use original organic ingredients. At the same time, however, the demand for synthetically produced substitute products for meat, eggs and dairy products is rising. This goes hand in hand with the growing number of vegetarians and vegans who want to forgo animal products from the most different motifs. Many chefs have made this their restaurant concept. And so slowly, this trend has also arrived in Europe. Then there are more so-called "pop-up restaurants" in and around San Francisco. This means that chefs cook for one evening or a period of time in a provided location. A great opportunity for young chefs to demonstrate their skills without the need to open a restaurant.
SWISS Travel Guide: Nestlé is working with start-ups and young companies from the Bay Area who have innovative, digital ideas for the food sector. Which, for example?
Stephanie Naegeli: There have already been some projects, for example in the field of consumer research and new digital models. We want to understand how people live, how they shop and how they cook. In San Francisco, we see the growth of start-ups that supply food on demand: good, freshly cooked food, with healthy ingredients brought home. For us this development was interesting and we asked ourselves what role Nestlé could play and how could our products work in this environment. In order to gain experience, we worked together with "Spoon Rocket". You can order one out of four food variations via their app. All ingedients are freshly prepared and delivered to your place quickly.We alsohad a projectwith a Recipe Box company, called"Chef'd", which provides recipes on demand.
SWISS Travel Guide: What are the biggest challenges of the future for companies in the food industry?
Stephanie Naegeli: A big issue already is for example overweight in children. This will keep us thinking and becomes a bigger problem if nothing changes. For sure this is due to foods with a high fat, sugar and carbohydrate content - as is the case with many fast food products. And that's where Nestlé is also responsible. For us, it is an important task to find out what children like, what they have for eating habits and how to offer food that is cooked quickly and nevertheless healthy.
The idea behind...
The Silicon Valley Outpost Team was founded 2013 with focus on digital innovations. Projects are dealing with topics like customer's needs and a closer communication with them. For example there has been developed an app that provides personalized information for pregnant women. 2016 the team has been expanded from two to fifteen members. Via the portal Henri@Nestlé startups from all over the world can bring in innovative ideas.