Brexit’s Impact on the Specialty Food Market

ba5403b65e43df0297aeba68d6c0ca1fc082559f.jpegThis weekend’s news was understandably dominated by Brexit, and the far-reaching implications of the vote. One unexpected result of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union falls on the English specialty food market, which has so far benefited from the EU’s Protected Designation of Origin status on many of it’s products.

This status, applied throughout the EU to products ranging from wines to olive oils to cheese and meat, allows specific regions to claim sole use of specific brand designations. Most famously, “champagne” is not champagne unless it is produced in the eponymous French province, using the méthode champenoise. Gorgonzola can only be gorgonzola if it comes from Italy. And in England, products like Cumberland sausage and Yorkshire-forced rhubarb are all protected by designated status.

England actually has more than 60 foods and beverages with protected designations. After the vote late last week to leave the EU, this status will disappear, and producers around the world can begin making products like Rutland bitter beer, Stilton cheese and pork from Gloucestershire Old Spot Pigs. While none of these have quite the cache of champagne, they still represent the food culture of the country – and the loss of PDO status could have a real impact on the farmers, brewers and craftsmen who make them.

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Ikea Gets into the Hyper-Local Game

635925890195816807-242942337_Header.jpgAt first glance, it might seem like an affordable furniture company has very little to do with the farm-to-table movement. But where others might see apples and oranges (or apples and bookshelves, as the case may be), Ikea sees opportunity.

The brand recently partnered with Space 10, a “future-living lab” and exhibition space in Copenhagen, to produce an environmentally sustainable hydroponic gardening system (called “The Farm”) made primarily using Ikea products like LED lights, shelving, and plastic bins. All told, 80% of the materials in The Farm come from Ikea’s product lines.

Ikea plans to roll out the new hydroponic system in their in-store cafes. Those cafes have historically been known more for Swedish meatballs, lingonberry jam and baked goods than for fresh produce, but that may change in the near future. Although food sales represent a very small portion of Ikea’s overall revenue, they ultimately plan to market The Farm to restaurants and home gardening enthusiasts interested in producing more of their own vegetables. If the hyper-local movement is any indication, this market will continue to grow in the coming months – and Ikea may just be on to something.

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Pastrami Is the Priority at These Old-School New Jersey Delis

For all the talk of authentic Jewish delis going extinct, a few still take great pride in their pastrami.  A pastrami sandwich at Harold’s New York Deli Restaurant in Edison, New Jersey weighs 20 ounces.  The triple-decker at Harold’s weighs in at 3.5 pounds!  Sharing is thankfully encouraged with no fee.

The owner Harold Jaffe says that the deli sells 8,000 pounds of pastrami a week (all of which is made at the restaurant).  Mr. Jaffe learned the business by working at the Carnegie Deli in Manhattan for ten years.

Customers enjoy bar that offers slices of rye bread, half-sours, spicy pickle chips and health salad (cabbage mixed with oil and vinegar).

The Kosher Nosh is another deli located in Glen Rock, New Jersey, and has been in business for 40 years.  The store is run by Avi Friede and Haim Peer, both originally from Israel.  Mr, Friede says that by selling pastrami, lox, corned beef and other traditional deli foods, he is getting back to his Eastern European food roots.

Hobby’s Delicatessen and Restaurant in Newark, New Jersey was purchased by Sam Brummer in 1962 and passed on to his sons Marc and Michael.  The sons were taught to buy quality goods, prepare the goods well, provide excellent service and be a mensch (a person of integrity and honor).  The pastrami sandwich is the restaurant’s best seller, even with a 12-page menu.  According to Michael Brummer, there is one thing as important as properly steaming and slicing meat: schmoozing.

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B&K French Cuisine Brings Paris to Harlem

The distance from Paris to Harlem is 5,823 km or 3,618 miles.  Benjamin Baccari Kebe, a Frenchman of Malian descent, is trying to bridge that gap at a tiny Harlem counter with a few metal stools.

Mr. Kebe trained at culinary school and at Paris restaurants.  His uncle convinced him in 2009 that Americans loved French food, and that the United States presented plenty of opportunity.  Mr. Kebe moved to New York and worked at Harlem neighborhood bistros.  Then last December he opened B&K French Cuisine with plans to make crepes, bake his own focaccia and serve classics like chicken forestiere.  His attention to detail may be found in the fact that he hand-cuts potatoes for French fries every morning.

The food is simple.  The menu is written on chalkboards hung from the wall, with sketches of the Eiffel Tower and a map of France.  Bissap can be found on the menu – an item from Mr. Kebe’s Malian heritage.  It is a mix between juice and tea, made of dried hibiscus soaked in boiling water, with a crush of mint.

The desserts are rich as they should be, including chocolate mousse, Nutella tiramisu and mascarpone in whipped cream.

Recommended dishes are chicken pesto panini, Dijon braised beef panini, and Londonian fish and chips.  Prices range up to $16.

B&K French Cuisine is located at 2167 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in Harlem.  The restaurant is open from Tuesday to Sunday for late breakfast, lunch and dinner. Reservations are not accepted.

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Elon Musk’s Brother Has a Plan to Sell Organic Fast Food for Under $5

KM

Kimbal Musk, Elon’s less famous brother who made scads of money himself in Silicon Valley before leaving for culinary school, is getting ready to open the first of (what he hopes will be) many locations of a new organic fast-food chain. He tells Tech Insider that in addition to the Kitchen and Next Door, currently the two halves of his restaurant mini-empire, he’s about to launch a new concept called the Kitchenette, where everything will be fast, healthy, and organic but cost under $5. The first location is set to debut in Memphis this August.

With this venture, Musk enters a field that’s really heating up. The idea of bringing tasty and healthy affordable food to the masses has been the culinary world’s holy grail for a while. Musk is packaging the idea as sort of a Pret A Manger–style grab-and-go spot. He says the space will be like a coffee shop, with a counter, indoor seating, and a big patio out front, and the menu will mostly consist of sandwiches, soups, and salads, all made using ingredients sourced from nearby farms. The locavore bent will ensure ingredients stay seasonal, but Musk says there’s another benefit, too:

While the Kitchenette’s pricing sounds too good to be true, Musk says he will make it work with a little help from local farmers. The same farms distribute meat and produce to all three of restaurant concepts, and knock down the price based on what’s in-season.

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Restaurants Are Googling You!

Service

Before you go to a restaurant, you probably look it up online for some reason or another. Maybe you’re making a reservation through the website or maybe you’re checking the menu. You might look at photos to see how fancy the place is or maybe you just need to look up the address. What if a restaurant were doing this to you?

Restaurants google the names of patrons who’ve made reservations more often than you might think. In 2010 the subject surfaced to the surprise, amusement and horror of restaurant goers and chefs alike. People were understandably alarmed, but most people didn’t seem to care. In a poll conducted by CNN, almost 40 percent of people were okay with restaurants googling them if it meant special treatment, and about 4 percent hoped restaurants would research them. Sixteen percent thought it was a little strange but could live with it, and 15 percent thought it was creepy. Four years later, the practice has grown further in the name of  offering bespoke and differentiated services. Justin Roller, the maître d’ at New York restaurant Eleven Madison Park googles every single patron that visits Eleven Madison Park. He looks for anything that can help make a customer feel special and at home. “If I find out a guest is from Montana, and I know we have a server from there, we’ll put them together,” Roller told Grubstreet. He doesn’t stop at cursory information either. “If, for example, Roller discovers it’s a couple’s anniversary, he’ll then try to figure out which anniversary,” Grubstreet reports.

Restaurants also take notes on customers after they’ve dined, to track preferences and habits, like if someone is a good or bad tipper. According to the New York Times, hundreds of restaurants record traits and preferences about their customers, like allergies, favorite foods and even if a customer likes to linger at the table.

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What Are You Printing For Dinner?

3d printed food

Peter Callahan, a celebrity caterer credited by Martha Stewart with inventing the bite-sized slider, bought his first 3-D plastics printer two years ago to wow guests at a holiday party. Today, he has his sights trained on printing the food itself. He imagined drumsticks with edible bones; could they be made of celery? Blue cheese? Hot sauce? Callahan already makes an edible cracker spoon to use with caviar, but he envisions an entire line of cutlery, plates and menus that could be printed and consumed at parties. He sees mini-milk cartons made of chocolate and Asian-style takeout boxes formed from wontons.

“People like new,” he says. But when it comes to food, most of us still cook like cavemen, over fire. Kitchens are “the most primitive thing in our house,” says Hod Lipson, an Israeli engineering professor at Columbia University, who was a pioneer in the field of 3D printing, and food printing in particular. But soon, Lipson claims, we’ll be able to download and print dinner.

Food printers use powders (mostly sugar) or pastes (cooked or uncooked pureed meat, vegetables, grains). The most advanced models have multiple syringes, like printer cartridges, each containing a different ingredient. The syringes extrude the ingredients layer by layer, allowing the printers to build elaborate, computer-generated shapes that would be difficult, if not impossible, to shape by hand or mold. Currently, the food needs to be cooked either before or after printing. But scientists, including Lipson, are working on a printer that cooks as it prints.

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