2. Fast food is changing
Underserved communities are finally getting affordable, healthy, delicious food thanks to Los Angeles chef Roy Choi and San Francisco chef Daniel Patterson. They’ve joined forces to show how fast food can empower communities. The first outpost of their new concept, LocoL opened in L.A.’s Watts neighborhood January 18, offering $2 tacos and $4 veggie burgers. A second location will open later this year in Oakland.
3. Restaurants are helping pay for college
Many people get jobs in restaurants so they can pay for college. Chris Coombs, chef-owner of Deuxave in Boston, now pays off his kitchen staff’s financial loans while they work for him -- so if employees have student loan payments from school, he will take over their payments, like a Chef Daddy Warbucks. “It’s an incentive to get great chefs to work for me and stay working for me,” he says. Because really, who wants to wear a suit and tie on Wall Street after you’ve experienced the thrill of the kitchen? Also, smart chefs = smart cooking.
4. Staying fit has become a priority
The restaurant world is notorious for breeding an unhealthy lifestyle. “We do a great job taking care of our guests, and often times end up overindulging ourselves,” says Patric Yumul, president of the Mina Group. To counteract the indulgence, the Mina Group partnered with NoCal Fitness to create the Mina Challenge. Teams from each of the group’s 27 restaurants partake in monthly fitness and nutrition competitions. Winners receive gift cards as prizes. In NYC, restaurateur Michael Chernow of the Meatball Shop and Seamore’s, kicked off the new year by launching Seamore’s Fitness Club. Each Wednesday his front and back-of-house staff are invited to join him on four-miles runs or at yoga or spin classes. Could a Top Chef Biggest Loser spin-off be in the future?