Trending: The knives are in

When did cooking get so cool? Tim Walker traces the rise of the hip young panslingers

Eating at the best restaurants used to be so much more straightforward: you checked the reviews in the Michelin Guide, then your secretary called to demand a banquette in the corner. You had to be wealthy, of course, and well-connected. And if you were neither, then you had to save your pennies for the next six months, while you waited for that reservation at the table by the loos. Now, though, the hottest joint in town is on Twitter; it's filled with 20-somethings who've little more than £20 in their pockets; and, no matter how wealthy or well-connected you are, you'll probably have to queue for a table. Eating out has become something that young people do. It is, for want of a better term, cool.

Tonight the first annual Young British Foodies awards in London will bestow upon a group of young chefs, bartenders and producers such titles as "Charcuterie Personality of the Year" and "Most Irreverent Young Chef". One of its organisers compares the YBFs to the YBAs of the 90s art scene, on account of their creativity and the challenge they pose to the established order. Restaurants have been described as the new rock'n'roll since the days of Marco-Pierre White, but the YBFs' clientele really could be off to a gig when they finish their ribs. As with music, they're always in search of something new, and they earn prestige from sharing it with their friends – tweeting Instagram pics of their appetisers, for example. By the time too many people have eaten there, they're on to the next place.

"Good food has become cheaper," says chef James Lowe, 32, who until recently cooked at The Young Turks, a pop-up above The Ten Bells pub in east London. "In the past, what constituted good food was decided by the Michelin Guide, and they only addressed the higher end. Now we think more democratically about good food; good food can be a burger." (The identity of the best burger in London is hotly contested: is it the "dead hippie" at Meat Liquor in W1? Or is it Lucky Chip's "Bill Murray Life Aquatic Surf and Turf" at the Sebright Arms in Hackney?)

The godfather of the new London restaurant scene is Russell Norman, whose first restaurant, Polpo, opened in 2009. Like many of its imitators, Polpo doesn't take reservations. That means queueing. Tom Adams is the 23-year-old chef behind Pitt Cue, which first sold barbecued pork from a van on the South Bank, and is now a tiny restaurant in Soho, where the queue for a table can take two hours. Younger diners, he says, are more willing to wait. "We couldn't afford anywhere bigger than a 25-seater, and the only reason we don't do reservations is we'd probably only get half the amount of covers that way – and we probably wouldn't be in business anymore."

Adams admits the queue for a table brings cachet, like a six-month wait for a reservation once did. It's possible to foresee a future where restaurants split into an ageing establishment and a counterculture, where newspapers review the latest high-profile opening as if it were opera, while bloggers line up for the latest scuzzy burger show. "It's annoying that food has trends and fashions, but it does," says Lowe. "Part of what's popular now will become established, but perhaps people will get fed up with the trends and say, 'Actually, I fancy a big white tablecloth, and why do I only have one waiter? Get me three!'"

Suggested Topics
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
    Why the league system no longer measures up

    League system no longer measures up

    Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
    Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

    Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

    Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
    Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness