Melisa (left) and Jasmine Hemsley on the hunt for bones
t wasn’t just champagne flowing at New York Fashion Week. On the drinks list at one pop-up event was the fashion pack’s more primal new favourite tipple: bone broth.
What started as the salvation of the “paleo” diet follower — paleos adhere to a system of eating based on the foods our ancestors ate, such as meat, nuts and berries, and are not allowed to drink tea or coffee — is gaining ground on cold-pressed juices and even “activated charcoal” as a fashion foodie trend.
This cultish consommé featured in American Vogue’s December issue as part of a bone broth-based gravy by Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley, whose recent bookThe Art of Eating Well, described bone broth as the “forgotten superfood”.
“Boil your bones” is the mantra (and hashtag) of the London-based sister chefs behind the food business Hemsley + Hemsley. Their book sold out at Selfridges over Christmas and the pair have since featured in a slew of fashion bibles recommending different ways to boil carcases and create delicious meals.
The soup served at the International Rescue Committee’s pop-up at New York Fashion Week was created by Marco Canora, whose East Village gourmet broth store Brodo offers takeaway broths flavoured with marrow, garlic and ginger. And it’s not only in New York that the trend has appeared.
As well as showing up on menus across London, the craze has also spread to Melbourne, Australia, where restaurateur and florist Joost Bakker briefly opened Brothl. This slate-floored restaurant sold concoctions made from seafood shells, chicken and beef bones. Bakker, who has championed reuse in restaurants and “closed loop” energy systems, makes his broths with bones and offal from nearby outlets.
But it’s not just about flavour, health or reducing waste — the most interesting factor for the fashion crowd is, of course, the purported beauty benefit. “I recommend bone broth to all my clients — it’s a delicious skin elixir,” says New York facialist Julia March. “It is filled with easily assimilated proteins and amino acids that are the building blocks of tissues. Amino acids repair the tissue damage — they are good for rosacea and heal inflammation and infection in acne. Hyaluronic acid and collagen attract water to the cells and plump up skin from the inside.”
One of the Hemsley sisters’ broths
Furthermore, claims March, bone broth “helps curb cravings for sugar, which is terrible for skin because it causes glycation, destroying collagen and elastin fibres and leading to premature ageing and elastosis.”
Jasmine Hemsley sums up its benefits: “Bone broth is basically everything we’ve been paying extra for in supplements and beauty products — and you can make it for next to nothing. Just use a few old bones, vegetable peel, some bay leaves and a slow cooker.”
Pete Servold, founder of Pete’s Paleo, a San Diego paleo food-order service, says: “It has gone beyond the small group of paleo dieters to everyone wanting some. Our bone broth sales have grown 300 per cent in the past six months. Unlike the cold-pressed juice trend, people are finding with bone broth that it really is great for you. It actually does improve your skin.”
Broth can also be relatively low calorie as long as the fat is skimmed off when making it. Chefs are experimenting with different treatments to create new flavours, from simply roasting bones in water with cloves to adding exotic garnishes. “I love chicken broth heated with grated ginger, ground turmeric, a pinch of cayenne and some lemon, and then an egg dropped in,” says Melissa Hemsley.
Although in the past a dish like bone broth may have remained resolutely unfashionable, today, thanks to the rise of mass foodie-ism, it has been leapt upon. “Food and fashion have crossed over. It has become aspirational to be adventurous, to have tried the latest things,” says Servold. “Every cut of meat is already on the menu. Now bones are no longer off-limits.”