Chipotle to Add Tofu “Sofritas” to Permanent Menu

After a successful test run for Chipotle’s vegan protein option, tofu sofritas, in the West Coast last year, the soybean-based staple will be making its way to Chipotle’s permanent menu in New York and Boston locations beginning March 3, announces Grub Street. Chipotle describes sofritas as “organic shredded tofu braised with chipotle chilies, roasted poblano peppers, and a blend of aromatic spices. Hodo Soy Beanery in Oakland supplies Chipotle with GMO-free tofu.

José Andres to Break Into Fast Food Scene

José Andres revealed to Vanity Fair about his plans to enter the fast-food industry in the coming year and a half.

“Maybe I shouldn’t tell you . . . I’m not going to tell you why, but, I’ve been saying for a while that more and more chefs, we need to be [better at] influencing how to feed the many. We only feed the few. I don’t mean only on hunger issues, which I love to see the food community very involved in, solving the hunger and obesity issues in America and overseas, but I believe there’s an opportunity for chefs to have more of a say in how we’re going to feed the vast majority of this planet. You achieve that through the fast-food restaurants. I guarantee you that in the next 10 to 20 years we are going to see more and more fast-food restaurants lead by chefs.”

In response to the interviewer confirming Andres’ interest in exploring the fast food industry, Andres reasoned, “It would be right. Let me ask you: Who do you prefer, a clown organizing your menu—with all due respect to Mr. McDonald—or a chef? I do believe it’s a very simple answer.”


Chef Driven Market May Open in Union Square Park

As of yesterday, the New York State Court of Appeals ended a six-year-long battle which would determine whether a “Chef Driven Market” could open in Union Square Pavilion; they ultimately acquiesced to allowing it. It’s probable that restaurateur Simon Oren will open his planned full-service establishment with 200 seats; however, the Parks Department has the final say in authorizing the proposed menus along with other operational logistics.

Dave Pasternack to Join Forces with LDV Hospitality

Chef Dave Pasternack of B & B Hospitality Group’s Esca is partnering with LDV Hospitality (Scarpetta, American Cut) in an Italian fish restaurant venture. The restaurant will open in the old Promenade Des Anglais space. “I’m calling it Barchetta, which means small boat,” said Chef Pasternack. He continues, “It’s taken me 14 years, but I’m finally doing it.” Esca patrons need not worry, as Pasternack has no plans to leave.

Blue Bottle Raises $25 Million for Expansion

Thanks to the $25 million Blue Bottle just raised from investors, the Oakland-based coffee roasters will be launching several more locations on both coasts in the near future. The top-tier coffee company plans to “expand retail operations, improve internal training programs and further develop its quality control department.” A Boerum Hill location, bottled iced coffee and an improved sustainability quotient include just a few of the exciting ventures in store for Blue Bottle. founder and True Ventures (the company that invested $20 million dollars in Blue Bottle in 2012) investor Tony Conrad lauded visionary/Blue Bottle Founder James Freeman:

“What we saw and why we got involved is that James and his team are part of a handful of people who are founding a movement around coffee. It’s not just the very specific experience around the coffee Blue Bottle roasts, it’s everything they do from the way they source the product; supporting farmers in developing regions of the world to grow the purest, highest quality organic beans that promote sustainability; the way they choose store locations that often act as a vote of confidence for a developing neighborhood; and how they serve the product (what cup, what glass, what temperature, single origin beans versus blended bean mixes, espresso drinks only on premise….). They think through every detail to offer something beautiful in our daily lives—it’s a philosophy/approach that has led to a movement around the integrity of experience around coffee.”

Wine Direct Shipments Skyrocket as Average Price Per Bottle Decreases

Winery-to-consumer direct shipments have exceeded the overall growth of the American wine retail sector dramatically, increasing to $1.57 Billion in 2013. According to reports based on millions of transactions in 2013 from ShipCompliant and Wines & Vines, the average price per bottle shipped has decreased for the first time since first being tracked in 2010. The newly-released, downloadable annual winery-to consumer shipping report gives detailed insights on the where, how, and when of winery shipments; furthermore, it predicts the future of winery to consumer shipping over a ten-year pipeline.

Notable report findings include:

  • In 2013 the volume of shipments increased 9.3% to 3.47 million cases, while total sales of winery-to-consumer shipments increased 7.7% to $1.57 Billion
  • 2013 was the first year that the average price per bottle of wine dropped from the prior year and rested at $37.78
  • Shipments from Napa Valley represented nearly 50% of the total value of the channel
  • Sonoma County and Oregon experienced explosive growth in direct shipments in 2013
  • Shipments of Pinot Noir continue to increase across the country
  • With only modest assumptions concerning growth, the direct to consumer shipping could grow to $3.2 billion in ten years.

Manhattan’s First Dinner-and-a-Movie Hybrid to Open

Joining the ranks of Brooklyn’s Nitehawk Cinema is Manhattan’s first dinner-and-a-movie venue, a high-end movie theater with food and beverage service, founded by IPic. The 40,000 square foot outpost in the Fulton Marketplace will sell tickets between $14 and $28, depending on the time and service offered. Reclining seats, blankets, and personal call buttons are just a few of the probable amenities to be offered.

The menu at the Pasadena location includes popular munchie favorites like Buffalo chicken spring rolls and fish and chips.

The movie/dinner establishment is scheduled to open in 2015.

“Secret” Menus, or Not-So-Secret Menus…

Mark Wilson, contributing writer at Fast Co. Design, detailed the ins and outs of “secret” menus at restaurants including Chipotle, Starbucks and In-N-Out Burger. Chipotle’s “Quesarito,” Starbucks’ 170,000 customizable beverage permutations and In-N-Out’s “animal-style” fries are a few of the secret (or not-so-secret) menu options that add to these restaurants’ mystique and allure.

“I think of it as the customer’s the brand manager,” Chris Arnold, Chipotle’s Communication Director says. “The experience of the public is something different for everyone, like an iPod in a way. How many billions and billions of iPods are in circulation, and yet no two [playlists] are alike. You buy a burrito, I buy a burrito. We pay the same thing for it, and they’re two very different things.”

Read about Wilson’s comically relentless quest to order the arcane “Quesarito” at Chipotle, amongst his other classified culinary discoveries.

Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Upcoming Ventures

Rumor has it that Chef Jean Georges will release a line of prepared food, including jams, under the ABC brand. That’s not all the restaurant magnate has in store— he plans to open a raw and vegan restaurant in the spring.

1 Knickerbocker Coming to Bushwick

1 Knickerbocker Avenue in Bushwick will welcome an eponymous bar and restaurant in mid-November. In the past, the building housed a dance hall, brothel and speakeasy. Owner Jesse Levitt and manager Aimee Arciuolo are working towards restoring 1 Knickerbocker’s interior to its “original decor.” Levitt and Arciuolo plan to serve American food and classic cocktails at the newest rendition of this Bushwick venue. According to PropertyShark, the building sold from one LLC to another in 2012 for $1,625,000. Brownstoner dubbed 1 Knickerbocker the “House of the Day” at one point.

Eater announced the restaurant is currently hiring all Front of House positions as of last week.


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