Emeril Lagasse opens NYC restaurant

Emeril Lagasse in his new Greek restaurant, Rodos, at 39 W 24th street in Midtown

World renowned chef Emeril Lagasse has secretly opened his very first New York City restaurant — completely under the radar. For now, Rodos feels like your own private Greek island oasis, though it won’t stay that way for long.

Think healthy Greek fare with a splash of New Orleans decadence. The stealth chef launched Rodos in the lobby of Chelsea’s Hotel Henri with restaurateur Yiannis Chatiris on January 8.

“Yiannis and I have known each other professionally for years and became friends,” Lagasse said. “I’ve had more than 75 offers to open in New York but nothing was right until now.”

Read more here.

Yankee Stadium, Barclays Center Respond To Report Claiming They’re Among The Dirtiest Sports Venues

A bombshell report released by ESPN’s Outside The Lines pored through and analyzed nearly 17,000 food safety inspection reports from 2016 and 2017 conducted by the local health departments which oversee the 111 arenas where every team from the four major North American sports hosts its games. OTL found that in 28% of the arenas, at least half of the outlets inside these venues incurred what ESPN called a “high-level violation — one that poses a potential threat for food-borne illness.”

In the New York City area, where we’ll focus this report, findings were mixed for the six arenas which house teams in North America’s largest and most lucrative market.
Of all 30 Major League Baseball teams inspected in this ESPN report, none fared worse than Yankee Stadium. The new-era cathedral in the Bronx ranked 102nd out of the 111 venues, with 34 of 43 outlets at the Stadium reporting high-level violations, a whopping 79.07%.

Read more here.

Romaine’s Woes Are Great News for Other Kinds of Greens

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“Prices for iceberg, green leaf and other types of lettuce are soaring as demand surged in the wake of the romaine recall. A carton of iceberg lettuce at wholesale markets in California fetched as much as $60 this week, U.S. government data show. That’s up from as low as $24 on Nov. 19, the day before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning to consumers about romaine.

The same holds true for other salad staples: the price of Boston lettuce surged 175 percent, while green leaf lettuce gained 160 percent, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. Even kale, a member of the same family as cabbage, was not immune, rising to as much as $16 a carton from a low of $12.

“It’s uncertain how long it will last,” said Trevor Suslow, the vice president of food safety for the Produce Marketing Association, referring to the price spike. “I would imagine it will stay high for a while because of the understandable disruption.”

See more here.

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


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.

Read more here.

Fast Casual + Hawaii = Wisefish Poké


In a true sign of the chain’s enduring influence even in it’s downfall, you can now find a “Chipotle of” nearly every cuisine, from salad to curry to falafel and back again. So the opening of fast casual “Chipotle of Hawaiian” Wisefish Poké yesterday should come as no surprise to anyone, although poké itself might be a dish non-Hawaiians are less familiar with.

Traditional poké is a raw fish salad extremely popular in Hawaii. It’s most commonly made with yellowfin tuna but also available with salmon, octopus or shellfish and dozens of seasoning combinations. At Wisefish you can construct your own bowl from bases of rice, zucchini noodles or mixed greens and toppings like crab salad, wasabi-avocado cream, and citrus-ponzu sauce. The fish is responsibly sourced from vendors like Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co, and aims to be un-selfconsciously fresh and healthy. All told, this seems like a great moment for a concept like Wisefish: fast casual bowls are as popular as ever, and mainland Americans have already fully embraced raw fish. Poké provides just enough of a twist to get the lunch crowd out of their usual routine.

Check out Wisefish Poké at 263 West 19th St.and read more here.

The Latest Health Craze Gets Hand-Wavey About Super-“Food”


Activated Charcoal Drinks from Juice Generation

While it may not be a superfood in the strictest sense of the word, charcoal is now being touted by some as the next miracle ingredient that can rid your body of those mysterious toxins you somehow still have, even after eating nothing but kale and quinoa bowls since 2015. Activated charcoal has long been found in beauty products, and it is indeed used by the medical community to treat overdoses and food poisoning. The principle is simple – charcoal is absorbent and will bond to other harmful chemicals in the digestive tract, helping to flush them out safely. But some have now taken this a step further and claim that charcoal has numerous benefits (like lowering cholesterol and treating viral infections), even for those not currently in the middle of a drug overdose.

The ingredient may not do much in the way of improving taste, but it can be found in juices and elixirs everywhere from Los Angeles-based Juice Served Here to LuliTonix to Juice Generation, not to mention gracing recipes at Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream and Lowlife on Stanton Street. Other restaurants are also toying with adding charcoal-laced dishes to their repertoires, including El Rey and Dimes, if they can figure out how to do so without sacrificing flavor or texture. Mission Chinese Food even uses it in a cocktail to achieve a pitch black color, although beverage director Sam Anderson is adamant that it will not prevent hangovers – or do much of anything for your health, for that matter.

As the latest health trends move outside the realm of what might fairly be called “food,” the best advice might be to take your charcoal with a grain of salt – and never trust health advice that says your food can’t be tasty too.

To read more, click here.

The Government Wants You to Have Your Coffee and Drink it Too

The federal government just released their dietary guidelines for 2015-2019, and most of them should come as no surprise. The guidelines are updated every five years to reflect current research and recommendations in the interest of promoting public health. For the most part, they tend to remain much the same: eat more vegetables and whole grains, avoid sugars and trans fats. The updates this year include changes to the recommended sugar intake (which should now be only 10% of daily calorie intake),  increases in allowable salt intake for certain demographic groups (now up to 2,300 mg a day), and the removal of a daily cholesterol recommendation. There was no recommendation to avoid red meat, despite the studies from the World Health Organization earlier this year indicating that it has carcinogenic properties on par with tobacco. All this is great news for anyone looking to replace their sugary pancakes and waffles with an extra helping of sausage and eggs.

Even better is the news that the department of health has finally gotten on board with “moderate” (up to 5 cups a day) coffee consumption. Citing a growing body of research indicating that coffee can help prevent everything from diabetes to cancer, the new guidelines say that coffee can be part of a “healthy lifestyle.” Although research indicates that, unsurprisingly, genetics play a strong role in the effects of coffee on the body, the report still acknowledges the many benefits available from your morning cup of joe. Just remember to hold the sugar with that.

To read more, click here.

Eat Less “Healthy” Food in 2016

As the last days of December wind to a close, many people will be finalizing their lists of new year’s resolutions. And while it is always a good idea to renew your commitment to your health, family, friends and environment, you might want to rethink any resolutions to “eat healthy.”

Researchers from he University of Texas recently published an article in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Affairs asserting that when foods are labeled “healthy,” people tend to perceive them as less filling, and eat more as a result. Of course, eating a large volume of kale and quinoa salad is certainly better than eating a large volume of sugary treats, and the researchers don’t recommend ignoring nutritional information. The danger is that many foods can be marketed as healthy in ways that fool the brain into thinking we should eat more than necessary. Labeling like “all natural” and “low fat” are common examples. So this new year, remember to take health claims with a grain of salt – especially when you’re browsing the “low sodium” section.

To read more, click here.

Recipe for Rice with Fewer Calories

Scientists at the College of Chemical Sciences in Sri Lanka have developed a recipe for rice that greatly reduces the amount of digestible calories.  Rice is the most-widely consumed source of calories in the world, and in many cuisines, it is consumed with every meal of the deal.  The problem, however, is that as rice has gotten cheaper to produce but not any healthier to consume: a single cup of the cooked grain has about 200 calories–mostly in starch form.  These starches convert to fat in the body when not burned off shortly after consumption.

Thus, the interest in slowly-digestible and resistant starches is growing, and that’s where undergraduate student Sudhair James’ research comes in.  “If you can reduce the digestible starch in something like steamed rice, you can reduce the calories,” said Dr. Pushparajah Thavarajah, a professor who is supervising the research. “The impact could be huge.”  Rice is usually converted into glucose in the gut, and then glycogen soon after.  This glycogen builds up when we don’t exercise enough to expend the energy consumed.  However, some “resistant” starches take too long for the body to process into glucose or glycogen, so we don’t process as many calories.

The Sri Lanka team has developed a recipe that converts regular white rice into a starch more similar to a resistant starch: “What we did is cook the rice as you normally do, but when the water is boiling, before adding the raw rice, we added coconut oil—about 3 percent of the weight of the rice you’re going to cook,” said Sudhair James, who presented his preliminary research at National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) on Monday. “After it was ready, we let it cool in the refrigerator for about 12 hours. That’s it.”

To read more about the research, click here.

QSR Chains Seeking New Image

Quick-service chains will be attempting to reinvent a fresher image for the New Year by dropping their reputation of serving ‘junk food.’ The masses have spoken, expressing an aversion to overly processed and reheated foods. Chains such as Taco Bell and McDonald’s will be rethinking their choice of ingredients by removing the amount of artificial preservatives in their foods. Greg Creed, CEO of Yum Brands (owners of Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut) realizes that, “This demand for fresh and real is on the rise.”

Creed stated at an investor and analyst presentation last month that the company should begin to use less preservatives and be more transparent about their use of ingredients. The objective to re-market fast-food into anything other than will be challenging as it has forever been perceived as fattening, cheap and unhealthy. Packaged food and beverage companies have already begun to reformulate their products by removing chemical ingredients. The transformation from junk food to ‘real,’ ‘fresh’ or ‘healthy’ food will be a tricky one. To read a few examples of QSR chains that are making moves towards this challenging recasting of their brands, click here.