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Salt Bae’s New Burger Restaurant Opens In NYC

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Salt Bae’s new burger joint, which has been under construction for about a year at 220 Park Avenue South, near Union Square Park, finally opened last Friday — complete with a promotion giving free veggie burgers in pink buns to women only. It took less than a week for the restaurant’s bizarre food lineup to go viral, starting when New York Magazine’s restaurant critic Adam Platt tweeted out a photo of the stunt-filled menu.

The whole menu, including the free-veggie-burgers-for-women promotion, is part of Salt Bae’s global playbook for the burger chain, according to Al Avci, the general manager of Nusr-Et’s operations in the U.S.

“We wanted to compliment the ladies,” Avci tells Eater. The promotion went well at Salt Bae’s previous opening in Dubai, and “that’s why we brought it here,” he says. “We weren’t thinking it would be sexist.” If men ask for the veggie burger, the restaurant will dish it out free of charge to them as well. “In reality, nobody is paying for the veggie burger,” Avci says. The veggie burger is also quite small — it’s more like a free appetizer promotion than a free meal.

The 65-seat, casual offshoot of Nusr-et Steakhouse is part of a larger chain that the company has been promoting for awhile. At the Union Square location, there’s seven burgers on the menu, plus a selection of fries, milkshakes, beer, wine, and soda. The veggie burger thing is accompanied by some other gimmicky menu items, like a $100 wagyu burger garnished with gold leaves and an accompanying “golden shake” for $99. There’s also a $9.95 wet burger that’s similar to a Sloppy Joe and is served with gloves. On the alcohol list, every beer is $7.95, whether it’s a Miller Lite or a lager from Brooklyn Brewery.

Nusret Gökçe, the Turkish butcher-slash-Instagram celebrity who opened up an outpost of the expensive, critically-panned Nusr-et Steakhouse in Manhattan in 2018, was aiming for a more accessible line of restaurants with the Salt Bae burger chain. The opening promotions will run for about three months (or less), according to Avci, and customers “love it” so far. (Avci declined to allow Eater to speak with customers in the restaurant during the interview.)

In the months leading up to the opening of Salt Bae, the restaurant’s parent company has been sued repeatedly for labor law violations, with lawsuits citing everything from wage theft to sexual harassment at the restaurants. Avci declined to comment on the lawsuits other than to say that “everything is up to code and there is no problem whatsoever.”

Salt Bae plans to expand the concept to Miami next, Avci says, with an outpost of the chain opening in that city in the next six months.

Salt Bae’s opening menu
Erika Adams/Eater

220 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10003





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How Will Coronavirus Affect Our Food? The Pandemic and Our food Systems, a Dispatch From Mexico – Food Tank

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Researchers suggest that preference for a particular food, pangolin meat, caused the COVID-19 pandemic to emerge. Considered a delicacy in China and Vietnam, pangolin meat costs up to US$300 per kilogram (2.2 pounds). Many people believe that pangolin scales have healing properties against various illnesses, including “excessive nervousness,” “hysterical crying in children,” “women possessed by devils,” malaria, and deafness, among others. 

This appetite for exotic meats has resulted in immediate disruptions to eating habits around the world. Supermarket shelves are empty due to panic buying and stockpiling. Restaurants across the globe are sharing emotional messages with their clients as they find themselves forced to close indefinitely—many of these businesses will never re-open.

But the impact on our food systems goes far beyond this and will be felt by millions of people both now and in the long term. Here are some of the likely repercussions:

The most vulnerable populations will face increased food insecurity. The threat of not having access to particular desired foodstuffs (which many people are experiencing for the first time in their lives) is eclipsed by the threat of not having any source of income or access to food at all. More than 820 million people around the world find themselves in this latter situation as they face the additional threat of a global pandemic.

Without a doubt, the number of people experiencing hunger is going to increase dramatically. Recommended or mandatory social isolation around the world means that millions of people that work in the restaurant, tourism, hotel, entertainment, and air travel industries, among others, will suddenly find themselves unemployed. As the economic crisis continues to expand, this sudden wave of unemployment will extend to other industries.

In countries such as Mexico, where more than 25 million people regularly don’t have sufficient access to food and more than half of workers are employed in the informal economy, this crisis means that many millions will lose their sources of income practically overnight.

The quality of the food that is available is also likely to worsen. Ultra-processed foods were already popular due to their price point and widespread availability, and it is likely that the consumption of these products will increase as low-income populations find it increasingly difficult to access healthy food.

Students’ nutrition is in danger: More than 85 million children in Latin America and the Caribbean benefit from school nutrition programs, with these programs representing one of the primary sources of reliable food for 10 million children. In Mexico, the nutrition programs at the more than 25,000 full-time school programs have benefited more than 1.3 million students.

One of the most urgent measures that must be taken by local governments in the face of this pandemic is ensuring that public programs offer uninterrupted access to food for all students while schools are closed. The U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) has recommended a wide range of measures, including distributing food directly to the most vulnerable families (through school sites or mobile distribution units), delivering emergency rations, and implementing initiatives to deliver fresh food directly to homes, among others.

We won’t have to worry about running out of food…yet: Agricultural products are still being produced and distributed to wholesale markets. However, retail markets and supermarkets don’t have enough inventory to rapidly fulfill the panic orders placed by consumers that have financial resources available. Not all consumers have the luxury of stocking up. In Mexico City alone, a large percentage of the population lacks the financial resources necessary to purchase necessary provisions for more than two days, including the more than 2.5 million people living in poverty.

Local markets and supermarkets can manage high-volume demand through adequately planning, as they do during the winter holiday seasons. Over the next few weeks, the demand for foodstuffs is likely to level off and stabilize into a new normal, and distribution channels will be able to adapt accordingly, e.g., redirecting products originally destined for restaurants to supermarkets and other shops.

In countries with mandatory social isolation measures in place, food production and distribution has been included as an essential service that is exempt from the order, along with medical services, police and security forces, firefighters, and basic public services. The reasoning for this is clear: people need to eat, and the people that produce and distribute our food don’t have the option to work from home.

In Mexico City, the Central de Abasto, the largest wholesale market in the world, is a crowded critical nexus. More than 90,000 people work at this market, which welcomes more than 500,000 visitors per day and provides 80 percent of the city’s food. Although sales have been irregular over the past few days, with increases due to panic purchases and decreases due to social isolation and reduced demand from restaurants, the market will stay open.

As in other countries, in the days to come, steps should be taken to implement mandatory health and safety measures, including limiting the size of gatherings. However, not one of the 65 wholesale distribution markets located throughout Mexico should close. Local governments will play a crucial role in terms of providing the inputs necessary to allow these markets to continue to operate (antibacterial gel, gloves, masks, etc.) and ensuring compliance with health and safety requirements. Similar measures should be implemented in local markets and supermarkets to allow them to stay open while also limiting contagion.

The long-term food supply will be more uncertain, and it will impact farmers and fishermen: Certain staple crops, such as corn, rice, and wheat, which are produced and stored in industrial quantities and have highly efficient transportation and logistics systems that minimize human contact, are unlikely to experience significant disruptions.

However, many international production and commercialization channels are likely to be interrupted. These interruptions might be the result of a scarcity of workers. Freight transport is already experiencing significant volatility. The flow of migrant workers is also at risk. For example, the 250,000 Mexican agricultural workers that travel to the United States every year on temporary work visas during the harvest season are likely to face issues this year as a result of the partial closure of consular services and the restrictions at the border.

The concentration of workers required to produce certain products will also impact the likelihood of contagion, impacting future production. For example, meat processing requires workers to labor in close quarters, which puts the industry at risk of disruption if cases are detected at a processing facility. Rural agricultural activities require a smaller concentration of people, so they are likely to be less affected.

Coronavirus is also more likely to impact older individuals. Rural Mexico has seen decades of steady migration of young workers from rural to urban settings, and as a result, four out of every ten rural agricultural producers are over the age of 60. This might impact the ongoing availability of agricultural products.

There are also likely to be significant demand-side disruptions. Producers of non-perishable products are going to see spikes in demand, as has already been seen in the demand for beans around the world. The initial fears regarding fresh fruits and vegetables will be alleviated as more evidence emerges indicating that they are safe to eat. Fishermen and agro-industries that export goods to other markets might experience disruptions due to decreased consumption, a result of restaurant closures and quarantine measures.

Food products will experience price volatility for various reasons, including the depreciation of currencies (the Mexican peso has fallen by 20 percent this month), which makes it more difficult to purchase imported goods, or scarcity due to isolation measures, coronavirus outbreaks in agricultural areas, or disruptions to the logistics and/or transportation systems.

Increased public spending and proactive policies that prioritize health, food, and production: The immediate priority for public spending must be making the necessary investments so that the health system can manage this pandemic, including purchasing respirators, updating intensive care units, offering widespread testing, etc. It is critical to implement emergency support measures to guarantee food access for the most vulnerable populations, whether through direct cash transfer programs, food stamps programs, support for community kitchens, direct deliveries of food, and/or increasing the funds for unemployment insurance.

It will also be necessary to significantly increase the support provided to small-scale producers and fishermen. These support programs could potentially include direct cash transfer programs, immediate access to credit, and/or directly purchasing products to be used as part of support programs for food-insecure populations.

This means an adjustment to public spending priorities, including postponing or canceling projects that aren’t urgently necessary, such as the Mayan Train and other infrastructure and transportation projects.

Beyond public spending initiatives, proactive action is needed to guarantee the accessibility and availability of food, including decreasing tariffs for certain strategic imported products, as well as focusing support for the most vulnerable populations to receive direct food assistance (school children and the elderly). The government should also implement a system of community kitchens, coordinate with the private sector to protect the supply chains that deliver fresh food, and convene food councils that bring together agricultural producers, fishermen, markets, and others to urgently identify solutions that will ensure the ongoing availability of healthy food. The government must draw on the lessons learned as the country hardest hit by the H1N1 outbreak.

Restaurants, street food stands, and taquerias are among the most impacted: Waitstaff, cooks, and other restaurant workers that serve a high number of potentially infected customers at restaurants and food stands or through delivery services are highly exposed to contagion.

In Mexico City, a metropolis whose gastronomy attracts foodies from all over the world, restaurants started to close more than a week ago. Some of these restaurants have already shifted to delivery and pick-up only, as have many other restaurants around the world.

In other cities, celebrity chefs like Marcus Samuelsson in New York City and José Andrés in Washington, D.C., are promoting community kitchen models to help feed the most vulnerable populations, including the elderly, as well as offer employment opportunities to laid-off workers from the foodservice industry. Alice Waters has converted Chez Panisse, her acclaimed flagship restaurant in Berkeley, California, into a point of sale for boxes of fresh produce from local producers.

Could something positive emerge from the coronavirus? We can only hope that people that are stockpiling food out of panic soon transition to responsible consumption from local producers. That we recognize the increased importance of local restaurants and alternative markets that sell organic, seasonal produce. That there is a renewed interest in cooking and cultivating food, even if it’s just a few potted herbs, and supporting urban agriculture. That we develop a greater awareness of food waste as we are confronted with food shortages.

Many will soon realize that food is the best medicine. Coronavirus represents a significant risk for people with diabetes and those that are overweight or obese. Now, more than ever, it is urgently important to implement measures such as clear labeling to reduce the consumption of ultra-processed foods, which cause many illnesses related to poor nutrition.

This time, the novel coronavirus emerged from an exotic animal market in Wuhan. However, previous flu epidemics, including the avian and swine flus, emerged a bit closer to home: industrial livestock and poultry farming. Hopefully, we will rethink the industrial meat industry, whose heavy use of antibiotics and chemicals and increased risk of virus spread have put our health at risk for decades.

We can only hope this slap in the face from nature serves as an opportunity to recognize that we must create systems that are able to feed us without making us sick or destroying our planet.

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Sirusho – ARMAT series | #12 Lyon, France

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“ARMAT” documentary series is all about the Diaspora, our roots, our values – reflected through SIRUSHO’s eyes. Sharing with you her own experience!
Watch Now Ep.#12 – Lyon, France!

**
“ARMAT” (meaning ‘roots’) was filmed for over two years, as Sirusho was touring in countries with large Armenian Diaspora on her “Armat Tour”. In every country where she held large solo-performances while on tour (such as France, Belgium, the Netherlands, United States, Canada, Australia, Lebanon, UAE, Latvia, etc. ), alongside concerts, rehearsals and organizational work, her filming crew also captured the entire process of touring and visits, aiming to present the life of the Armenian communities and Armenians.
Each episode of the TV doc. series will be focusing on the Armenian Community in the given country, presenting the history of its formation, how they manage to remain so Armenian and stay true to their roots while being far from the motherland, how carefully they cherish the culture, how the love for the motherland is conveyed from one generation to another and how much of it is actually preserved.
Each episode will also feature local sights, as well as exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of the buzz in the backstage from Sirusho’s concerts in every country and her day-to-day tour life.

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#ARMAT #Episode12 #Sirusho

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Doing the right thing – and benefitting the business

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Food Industry Consultant, Lesley Thompson, summarises this year’s NSF International Conference, which outlined ways to create and maintain a healthy business culture.

doing the right thing

The theme of this year’s NSF International conference, held at the British Library in London, reflects the growing movement across business, government and some parts of our community, to turn away from deterrence as the main tool to enforce compliance with rules. Instead, fairness, openness, encouragement and trust are being used as tools to encourage individuals to act responsibly.   

There has been a tendency in some businesses to regard compliance as an overhead. There is, however, growing evidence that suggests companies that ‘do the right thing’ by their customers, suppliers and regulators, benefit in many ways, including financially, and, perhaps most importantly, through business resilience and reputation.

“Compliance is an outcome of a healthy culture,” according to Ruth Steinholtz of Areteworks, who spoke at the conference. She defines poor cultures as showing the features of bureaucracy, short-term focus, hierarchy, blame, silo mentality, all of which can lead to high employee disengagement, bad behaviours, poor performance and even criminal behaviour.

The theme of developing and maintaining healthy business cultures in the food industry is very topical at the moment and within this ‘doing the right thing’ can be expressed in several ways. The event was held shortly before the Covid-19 shut down and this was, of course, rightly the focus of many operations and food safety executives at the event. The advent of this coronavirus has thrown into sharp relief the urgent need to government, business leaders, media and individuals to act responsibly in the interest of others and the country.

In this COVID-19 crisis, it appears that the majority of employees trust their business leaders more than government and the media to give the clear, accurate and timely information about how to keep themselves and others safe and to act responsibly in their interests. So, doing the right thing right now for business means showing leadership and effective and regular communication with their staff.

Building trust has always been an important facet of consumer-facing business. Through the 20 years that Edelman, the global communications organisation, has produced its Trust Barometer – an annual survey of 10,000 respondents across 10 markets – the priority issues for people have shifted from celebrity CEOs, through the need for trust in innovation, and in 2019 to competence and ethics.

Michele O’Neill, Edelman’s Global Strategy Director, explained during the conference that people worry about the quality of information they receive and the amount of false information, especially on social media. By and large government leaders are distrusted, while trust in scientists is high – even more so now in the midst of this coronavirus outbreak. Worryingly, no company is seen as both competent and ethical, although it may have some of these features. However, business performs better on these axes than media, NGOs and especially, government.

A total of 64 percent of consumer purchasers now see themselves as ‘belief-driven buyers’, ie they will choose, switch or avoid brands based on their stand on societal issues.

Sean Rickard, the well-known agri-food economist, argues that the right response in the UK is for our supply system to produce distinctive food products with specific attributes, not only taste and value, but also credence attributes including provenance, safety and sustainability, within a globally competitive, affordable, industrialised production system.

For the food industry as a whole, there is a huge and passionate debate going on between experts about the right path for the future. Do we create a world competitive food industry or develop farming as a land management industry and import more food? Is this really the stark choice?

The speakers agreed that more strategic and sustainable partner relationships between all parts of the supply chain are needed for the future success of the food industry. By working together, suppliers and retailers can create more value in products and better fit them to what specific categories of consumer require.

Andrew Fearne, Professor of Value Chain Management at Norwich Business School, believes that the more fairness a supplier perceives in the relationship with the customer (the organisation and the buyer), the more likely they are to go the extra mile to help deliver to the end consumer.

The regulators too are shifting their strategy away from enforcement and more towards education and engagement. During her presentation, Maria Jennings, Director for Regulatory Compliance at the UK Food Standards Agency, explained that they have changed the name of their current initiative from ‘Regulating our Future’ to ‘Achieving Business Compliance’ to reflect this.

There are many sides to ‘doing the right thing’ and much food for thought for our business leaders. Perhaps this coronavirus crisis will teach us all a lot more about what doing the right thing means.

About the author

With extensive experience in brand, marketing strategy and research/feasibility project work over the last 10 years, Lesley Thompson has developed in-depth knowledge of international food assurance, food safety, risk and supply chain issues. Lesley authors, edits and ghost writes white papers on these and related topics, as well as organising conferences. 



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