FDA Regulations on Artisanal Cheese Aging Process

A request was made for clarification from the FDA on their view on aging cheese on wooden boards. An FDA official responded that cheese shouldn’t in fact be aged on wooden boards without realizing the impact this would have on the cheese business. Within a couple of days the FDA retreated the statement due to the backlash of the press and the general panic of artisanal cheese makers.

Although the artisanal cheese business is quite small the potential regulation still would have had an enormous impact on their production. There is no indication however that this aging process which has been used for centuries could be harmful to our health. Critics of the FDA believe that more time should be spent focusing on bigger food production businesses that could pose more widespread threats rather than meddling with artisanal producers.

What started as a request for guidance on a policy created a stir that now may even go through congress. A Vermont Democrat, Peter Welch, has proposed an amendment that would prevent the FDA from banning the use of wooden boards in the cheese aging process. To read more about the issue and how people are getting involved click here



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.

About.me 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.

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