Having always been fascinated by human behaviour Dr Gaye’s role as a Food Futurologist suits her down to a T. Dr Gaye leads a team who compile biannual trend reports based upon their research into how food relates to an endless list of things including society, culture, history and art. When not predicting what we might be eating next year Dr Gaye is managing her healthy shake and snack business and sharing her knowledge with students at Nottingham Trent and Central Saint Martins universities where she holds academic positions. Dr Gaye talks to us about how food won her over, juggling time zones and why she always makes time for Bikram...
Why did you decide to specialise in food?
I think I was quite young when I decided that I never ever wanted to work in food! Funny how things turn out! Really, I think what I am interested in are beliefs and human behaviour and food is the common denominator throughout history, culture, religions and so much can be seen from what people eat or don’t eat.
When was your big break?
I’m not sure I’ve had my big break…still waiting!
What does an average day look like for you (if there ever is one)?
I start the day with tea and although I would like to think I have my Dr Gaye Super-Shake for breakfast it’s usually more like lunch time when I have a huge glass of it. I personally like mine thick with nothing added but I know that’s unusual - most people find it too earthy and strong on its own. I tend to have lots of emails to sort out and because some of my clients are in the US the time difference often means that I wake up to new things needing attention. If I am doing well with time management I try to squeeze in a Bikram yoga class but if I’m short on time I like to do some fast running - I feel better if I sweat every day! My days are so varied and never the same; I could be filming for a TV series, writing up trend research for the next bellwether: Food Trends book, developing a new product idea for my functional food business Dr Gaye or consulting for a big multinational corporation. I always seem to be researching though and I tend to have one presentation on the go which needs finishing!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I think the variety I have is great. Sometimes it feels like a lot to juggle but it must suit me. I love discovering new things, projects, campaigns or developing trend ideas for the future and I still get a thrill when they come together. People are a highlight though; I love it when I get to see clients or give presentations. and for me the bigger the audience, the better!
Are there any aspects of your job that you find challenging?
Making sure my predictions are spot on! Managing all the research can be a bit tiresome sometimes and it takes a lot of time to write up my findings.
What's the most common question you get asked by clients?
What is a food futurologist?!
How do I do my research?
And of course, how much do you charge!
What's your team 'me'?
I work independently for about 60% of my week and travel a bit or work from home but I have a team in the office who are great at graphics, social media and business which helps keep me sane and lightens the load. I need to be around organised people who are a bit bossy! I get research information from all kinds of friends, contacts and ex-students –all of whom help me keep up to date!
Who do you rely on to keep you happy, healthy and sane?
I rely on silence and Bikram yoga. Yoga enables me to focus and think - even though I shouldn’t be thinking about work I know! I have great friends who put up with me and I like to meet new people to help give me perspectives on different elements of life.
How is your industry changing?
Food trends transcend from a number of different industries: fashion, politics, technology, health, cars etc. It is these changing industries that impact my work. So, I guess, it’s always changing. Every week is different. The one thing I have noticed is that being a Futurologist isn’t as weird as it was 10 years ago…we’re multiplying!