All posts tagged: Food

City responds perfectly to complaint about black child selling food

Image: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

You’d think people would stop calling the cops on young black kids who aren’t actually affecting their lives in the slightest, but here we are. At least this time the end of the story is a bit more heart-warming.

Jaequan Faulkner, 13, set up a little food stand outside of his home in Minnesota to help raise money for school clothes, and some heartless (read: racist) person called the police on him because he didn’t have a permit to run a business. Instead of shutting Faulkner down, the Minneapolis Police Department came out in support of him and teamed up with the local health department to get him the permit he needed to keep running, the Associate Press reported earlier in the week.

The story gained steam throughout the week, garnering more national attention and becoming a popular Twitter moment Friday night. People who learned about the story sympathized with Faulkner and praised the police for encouraging his entrepreneurial spirit rather than stifling it.

The local news station KARE 11 News reported on Faulkner’s small business, calling it a hit.

According to KARE 11, Faulkner started his hot dog and snack stand in 2016 with the help of his uncle, and he returned this summer after taking a break last year. Shortly after getting up and running, a complaint was made to the Minneapolis Department of Health about his food stand, AP reported.

Instead of attempting to shut Faulkner down, the city pitched in and took care of his $87 permit so he could keep selling his food and making money for school. Not only that, the health department contacted a local organization to give him some tips on keeping his business thriving and making sure everything is as clean as it can be.

Stories about individuals calling the police on black people who aren’t doing anything illegal at all or black kids who are just trying to make some money have been blowing up on the internet recently, with callers like Allison Ettel and Jennifer Schulte getting publicly roasted for their prejudiced behavior.

Although we don’t know for sure who called in the complaint on Faulkner, it’s nice to see local authorities being reasonable and helpful rather than antagonistic.

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What Top Chefs Cook for Their Dogs

Chefs want us to enjoy their food and are picky about what they serve. An intimate knowledge of ingredients, produce and provenance means they’re more likely to scrutinize what they feed their pup.

So what do they prepare for their four-legged diners? We asked them.

Andrew J. Scott |

Dave, seven, is a cross between a rough-coated Terrier and a Shih Tzu and is owned by Andrew Scott.
Source: Andrew Scott

Dave, seven, is a cross between a rough-coated Terrier and a Shih Tzu. He has a discriminating palate. “We try to do special stuff for him,” says chef Scott. “For his birthday, we did a trio of fish: salmon, cod and tuna, baked in the oven in tinfoil parcels. He prefers fish to meat, especially oily fish. We also made him a birthday cake with special doggy ingredients. He also enjoys turkey mince with a little cheese sprinkled on top, or scrambled egg and rice when he is poorly. He is so fussy, he can spot anything cheap.”

Monica Galetti |

Monica Galetti with her dogs Fynn and Cole.
Source: Monica Galetti

Monica Galetti, best known as a judge on MasterChef: The Professionals, owns two dogs: Fynn, a three-year-old brindle Boxer; and Cole, a French Bulldog pup. Both enjoy a sweet treat.

“I freeze them bananas and they love it,” she says. “Sometimes I poach chicken breast to give them a change from dog food. They can smell it and sit there waiting for it. If I am making myself a hard-boiled egg, the boys have one each. They also love apples if I am having some for breakfast.”

Mark Birchall |

Chef Birchall owns a 20-month-old chocolate Labrador called Reggie who enjoys an unusual treat.

“I feed Reggie regular dog food for most meals, but he gets a deer antler to chew on as a special treat,” Birchall says. “It relieves the boredom and the antlers are a great source of calcium and phosphorus. He likes roast chicken or roast beef, too. He loves it. He will eat anything we eat: potatoes, roast carrots, braised cabbage, broccoli.”

Richard Turner |

Richard Turner with his dog Buster.
Photographer: Paul Winch-Furness

Richard Turner’s four-year-old is a Pitbull crossed with a Rottweiler who goes by the name of Buster. He’s pretty easy-going but he does have a favorite treat.

“He really likes kefir fermented milk,” says chef and butcher Turner. “I make it for him. You take kefir grains, cover with milk and leave at room temperature for a couple of days. He likes it just as it is, but he is the least fussy dog in the world. We also give him fancy dog food called John Burns. We were advised to get it by a police dog handler. He also likes bone marrow, because I am a butcher.”

Paul Ainsworth |

Chef Ainsworth has one rule for the diet of his four-year-old Border Terrier, Flossie: She doesn’t get conventional dog food.

“We changed her diet about two years ago and usually give her lots of raw meat and vegetables,” he says. “As a treat, her absolute favorite is non-spicy chorizo cut up really small with scrambled eggs. She loves it. She’ll also eat what we are eating: Chicken, rabbit, duck. She’s not massive on lamb so we stay away from red meat. Also, loads of broccoli, carrots mixed really finely. She also likes Sea Jerky dried fish skins, the smellier the better.”

Angela Hartnett |

Otis is a three-year-old beagle owned by Angela Hartnett.
Photographer: Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

Otis, Angela Hartnett’s three-year-old Beagle, has an eating disorder: He compulsively hides his food.

“If we give him a bone or some other treat, he’ll either hide it around the house or bury it in a hole in the garden,” she says. “Dogs are like humans. They are what they eat. Otis was behaving badly and we took him to a trainer who said that feeding him dried food was like giving him crack cocaine. So we switched to Luna & Me, which are frozen patties of raw meat. But he doesn’t always behave, still. I served a steamed treacle pudding the other day, which he sniffed, knocked it off the table and consumed in a minute, the whole lot.”

Henry Harris |

Percy, a six-month-old Cocker Spaniel, has a sophisticated palate.

“He is rather partial to roast chicken or lovely pink-and-white fish sticks,” chef Harris says. “In the main, we buy a kibble that we moisten with warm water or occasionally a light stock. He definitely prefers stock. He is fine with chicken or beef or fish. He’s also partial to buttered asparagus. We were eating it the other day and he jumped up and yanked it off someone’s plate. He won’t be getting that again soon.”

Eric Chavot |

The French chef’s Cocker Spaniel Solo gets poached chicken every day, with no seasoning or sauce. “He absolutely loves it,” Chavot says. “Being the dog of a chef, it is very difficult for him because we cook wonderful things for us, and he knows. You can see his little nose analyzing everything. And he doesn’t want to be on the ground. He wants to be up on a chair, seeing everything that you do.”

Daniel Clifford |

The two-Michelin star British chef knows all about feeding dogs. “In France, it was my job to cook for a chef’s Labrador,” Clifford says. “He’d eat a fillet of beef that had to be sauteed. It was glazed in veal stock and you had to add potatoes and carrots.” Clifford’s own Bulldogs, Clifford and Winstone, enjoy nothing more than a Sunday roast but he won’t let them have cauliflower or broccoli because they aggravate their flatulence. They are also partial to a bowl of boiled rice, roasted marrow bones and anything from the restaurant.

Albert Roux |

Albert Roux and his dog, Canelou.
Photographer: Alice Cottle/Bloomberg

Canelou, a four-year-old-Labrador, loves beef Wellington. At least, I hope she does. When I invited her owner, chef Albert Roux, to Bob Bob Ricard restaurant for lunch recently, he took a large part of our £89 ($120) dish home for her. “Every time I have a lunch like today’s, I always leave a little bit for her,” he says. “When I go back, I say, ‘What have I got for you, darling?’ I love my dog. I call her my mistress, because when my wife is away, she jumps onto the bed, puts her head on the pillow and sleeps all night.”

Theo Randall |

The British chef’s Labrador twins, Maude and Evie, aged five, will eat anything, from chili to raw garlic. “Whenever I am cooking, they lie on the floor for any scrap,” Randall says. But their regular diet is Basil’s Dog Food, a raw mash up of meat, vegetables and ground bones, all from British farms.

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    12 Ways Youre Eating in New York City Wrong

    Few questions are more urgent than where to eat when you’re traveling to a place with more than two restaurants.

    It’s certainly omnipresent for people who are visiting New York. (“Where should I eat?” is a question any local food critic hopes to never hear again.) The city has one of the best and deepest restaurant rosters in the world, and the amount is increasing: in 2017, there were 26,697 restaurants in the city, up from 26,110 in 2016 and roughly 1,500 more places than there were five years ago.

    Of course you can make a list of must-try restaurants; that never hurts. But for a city as big and fast moving as New York, having a solid set of strategies to maximize your meals is the expert way to go. 

    Here’s how you’ve been messing it up.

    1. You skip breakfast.

    A post shared by Daily Provisions (@dailyprov) on

    Unlike some breakfast-oriented cities like Atlanta and San Francisco, New York hasn’t always taken the first meal of the day seriously, beyond a bagel and schmear or slapped-together deli bacon-egg-cheese. Now the city has embraced it, and you’ll find stellar options from the maple-cinnamon crullers and smoked-gouda-and-sausage breakfast bagels at the compact Daily Provisions in Gramercy to the ranchero eggs at NoHo’s Atla. If a true New York bagel is on your bucket list, splash out with a spread at Russ & Daughters Café on the Lower East Side. For a statement breakfast in midtown, the Lobster Club highlights dishes from other Major Food Group restaurants including Sadelle’s sticky buns, as well as an over-the-top caviar breakfast egg toast. 

    2. You’re taking “No” for an answer. 

    If you want to eat or drink at a restaurant or bar that accepts reservations and there aren’t any, stay strong, advises Jim Meehan, co-founder of cult cocktail bar PDT. “Ask to be put on the cancellations list and tell the contact that you will be standing by for their call—and then do. Most restaurants lose 10 percent of their reservations to no-shows or last minute cancellations. If they can rely on you to fill a slot, they’ll be more inclined to offer it to you, first.”

    3. You’re blinded by stars.

    A post shared by ATLA (@atlanyc) on

    Famed food writer and former editor Ruth Reichl suggests you pay attention to the second, less-expensive and less-time-intensive restaurants from great chefs.  One of the best examples is Enrique Olvera’s all-day Mexican cafe Atla instead of his high-end Cosme. Likewise the Bar Room at the Modern has a more modestly priced menu than the adjoining Modern dining room. There’s also Nomad instead of Eleven Madison Park, and JoJo instead of Jean-Georges.  

    4. You’re only sitting at a table.

    Among the great places to sit in New York is the bar at Gramercy Tavern.
    Source: Gramercy Tavern

    The time-honored tradition of eating at the bar at great restaurants like Gramercy Tavern, Le Bernardin, and Union Square Café also appeals to Reichl. It’s a more social experience than the dining room; you can often walk in and still enjoy the full menu; and it’s also a good place to get tips on where to eat from the staff and other diners if you’re visiting.

    “And don’t forget the counter at the Oyster Bar,” advises Reichl, of the Grand Central Station icon. “It’s a quintessential New York experience. And you only need to have a few oysters to have the pleasure of watching those fantastic guys open the shells and concoct oyster stews.”

    5. You’re only ordering cocktails.  

    A post shared by Grant Achatz (@grant_achatz) on

    We happen to be in the golden age of cocktail bars in New York, with destination versions of everything from speakeasies (Dear Irving) to tiki bars (the Polynesian) to rooftop hideaways (Broken Shaker). Many of these places also have very decent bar menus. Meehan, who put chef-made hotdogs on the map at PDT along with fully loaded tater tots, recommends eating while drinking around New York.

    Among the top spots to do this are the Italian-styled Dante in the Village where the negronis (and ice) are an art form; the Office, where Michelin-starred chef Grant Achatz oversees dishes like prime ribeye tartare; the James Beard-winning, New Orleans-celebrating  Maison Premiere in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (it also has one of the city’s best $1 oyster happy hours); and Bar Goto, which serves exquisite okonomi-yaki, or Japanese omelet, to go with its meditative drinks.

    6. You think Brooklyn is the only other borough. 

    It’s definitely worth a trip to the original Xi’ans in Flushing.
    Source: Xi'an Famous Foods

    Yes, yes, Brooklyn is fantastic when it comes to food. Don’t not eat in Williamsburg; Lilia continues to be one of the top five restaurants in New York, and it’s here you’ll find the city’s best pancakes. Robert Sietsema, senior critic at (and my sometime dining companion), spends most of his time scouting out restaurants outside of Manhattan, and encourages even first-time visitors to not be shy about exploring the borough further. He recommends Di An Di, the new Houston-style Vietnamese spot in Greenpoint; the fresh pasta specialists Faro or its offshoot General Deb’s, in Bushwick; and the “wonderful” Pheasant under the BQE.

    And then there’s Queens, one of the most diverse places on earth where up to 800 languages are spoken. “They have food from everywhere, it’s such a great place to eat,” says Sietsema, “with prices that are half of what you’d pay in Manhattan—if you could find that food in Manhattan.” He shouts out Taqueria El Sinaloense, which offers regional Mexican food; Mapo B.B.Q. with its stellar Korean menu; and the O.G. Xi’an Famous Foods in a Flushing mall that started a robust pulled-noodle empire. (Fun fact: Flushing is the largest Chinatown in New York.) For the Bronx, there’s the red-sauced Italian Mario’s Restaurant on Arthur Avenue, the borough’s trapped-in-time Litty Italy.  And Lee’s Tavern on Staten Island is worth the trek for thin-crusted pizza, for those who want to name check all the outer boroughs—and wave “hi” to the Statue of Liberty on the way.

    7. You’re not becoming a regular. 

    Upland is a place worth repeat visits. It's the kind of place that does everything well.
    Source: Upland

    You can geek out on a place to go for the ultimate burger, the best fried chicken, a killer brunch. “Fine,” says magazine’s restaurant critic, Adam Platt. What’s better is to have a list hand of places that are solid all day long that work for multiple meals, palettes, and appetites.

    First and foremost is Upland, from chef Justin Smilie which has a noteworthy burger, pizza, pasta, short ribs, lunch, and brunch. Similarly, Loring Place has a crowd-pleasing menu, day and night. Among other all-day destinations: Lafayette Grand Cafe in the Village, and the nearby EstelaRoberta’s in Bushwick; Frankie’s 457 Spuntino in Carroll Gardens; and Sunday in Brooklyn in good, old Williamsburg (although brunch is what you’ve seen the most social media for).  

    8. You’re not pounding the pavement. 

    A post shared by NY DOSAS (@nydosas) on

    Even with all our restaurants, make time to eat on the street. The midtown-based Halal Guys, with their chicken and gyro combo and incendiary hot sauce, have long since replaced a “dirty-water dog” as New York’s most iconic street food. Reichl has recommendations: “I just had the most delicious Taiwanese oyster omelet in TurnStyle at the Columbus Circle subway station. The guy at N.Y. Dosas at Washington Square Park, are another stop. Now that it’s summer, what could be better than eating outside?”  

    9. You’re not going big at lunch.

    Le Coucou is just as pretty, and also less expensive, at lunch.
    Photographer: Corry Arnold

    Fancy restaurants offer great deals at lunchtime. Le Coucou has a $48 lunch with many of the same sought-after dishes that are served at its impossible-to-get-into dinner. Marea’s lunch time meal is $58. And the $38 prix fixe at Nougatine and the Terrace at Jean-Georges is still a steal. Reichl also sees opportunity, and value, at many of the city’s top Japanese restaurants. “There’s a great omakase sushi deal at Sushi Ginza Onodera—if $130 can be called a deal,” she says. “Sakagura, too. Also Sushi Yasaka, probably the best cheap sushi in the city, is remarkable at lunch. I honestly don’t know how they do it.” 

    10. You’re only making reservations.

    Dedicated restaurant reservationists may be practically extinct, and hotel concierges a dying breed, but for a seat at the city’s top spots, a handful of services are here to help. Resy is very good (and probably the only way to score a table at the outstanding Lucali pizza if your last name isn’t Beckham); so is Tock, which offers pre-paid, ticketed seats at Eleven Madison Park ( and their Summer House) among other high-end spots.  

    But if you’re only eating at restaurants you have a confirmed seat, stop! You’ll be missing out on some of the city’s most exciting spots to eat right now. There’s the new Una Pizza Napolatana; the creative small plates wine bar Wildair (which has some reservations via Reserve); the transportive Italian caffe Via Carota; and the bold-flavored Thai restaurant Ugly Baby in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. 

    11. You’re afraid of a little line-up.

    Your reward for waiting on line at Bubby’s.
    Photographer: Evan Ortiz

    On the extreme end of the spectrum of the no-reservation spots are the ones with long lines—the places that don’t take your name and update you with wait time texts while you have a drink down the road. In fact, lines have become routine, notes ’s Platt. “Diners are drawn to them; it’s part of the experience and an event you can record,” he says.

    Among the places where there’s an often a line that’s worth standing on: Momofuku Noodle BarDominique Ansel BakeryBubby’s for brunch; the Michelin-starred Tim Ho Wan for dim sum; and, of course, the original Shake Shack in Madison Park. Be warned, thought, that not all N.Y. lines are created equal. Exhibit A: Cookie DO NYC, which had bouncers for crowd control, and then a class action lawsuit that alleged the raw cookie dough was making people sick.

    12. You’re only eating one dinner. 

    Stop one on your midtown tour: The Grill.
    Courtesy: The Grill

    In spite of a proliferation of tasting menus, New York is still an ideal place to graze—especially when you factor in the FOMO of seeing dish after compelling dish on social media. “Forget destination restaurants,” says Platt, “every neighborhood is worth eating in now.” The best strategy is to stake one out, like this example itinerary in Manhattan's ‘Middle Village: start with the fried cauliflower buns at Nix, then get the house burger at the bar at Gotham Bar and Grill, and finish with a cheese plate and a glass of white Burgundy at Corkbuzz, all within a 5-minute walk of each other.

    Alternately, stay in Midtown after your meetings, and you can have martinis at the Grill and then walk a few blocks for tacos and crab nachos at Empellon Midtown. Or saunter to the border of SoHo and the West Village for crudo and Champagne at Charlie Bird before heading around the corner to Andrew Carmellini’s the Dutch for mains, and a sceney nightcap of Indian-spiced cocktails at Bombay Bread Bar after. 

    Keep it going as long as you can. Because if there’s one thing you’re definitely doing wrong when eating out in New York, it’s not doing enough of it. 

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      The Mission to Build the Ultimate Burger Bot

      Weeks after he was born, Alex Vardakostas’ mother strapped him into a baby carrier and went back to work flipping burgers at A’s, the Southern California fast-food restaurant that she and her husband owned. When Vardakostas was a toddler, the town’s local newspaper, Dana Point News, ran a photograph of him peering through the restaurant’s walk-up window. As he grew older, he often played in the back of the kitchen among pallets of hamburger buns while his parents worked. At 8, he started filling drink orders, standing on top of a milk crate to reach the soda machine. Sometimes he ran food experiments, soaking burger meat in Worcestershire sauce to see if it would taste better. He learned snippets of Spanish from the line cooks, Apolinar and Ernie, and at 12 he started working beside them.

      Now 33, Vardakostas lives in San Francisco, and for the past nine years, he’s been building a robot that can cook and assemble around 100 burgers an hour—keeping pace with a typical fast-food staff—with little human intervention. “Our device isn’t meant to make employees more efficient,” Vardakostas told a reporter in 2012. “It’s meant to totally obviate them.”

      That quote turned the entrepreneur into a Silicon Valley caricature overnight, a cautionary note in think pieces foretelling the robot revolution, worker displacement be damned. (It didn’t help that Vardakostas looks the part of a dashing tech villain, with dark, wavy hair and a muscular build credited to weight lifting and a red-meat-heavy diet.) But six years on, he’s as adamant as ever. Sprawled on a couch in the robot workshop of his company, Momentum Machines, he raises his voice over the whir of an industrial saw. “I’m abso-fucking-lutely trying to obviate that role,” he says, miming the flip of a burger, over and over, eyes fixed on the imaginary patty. “As a society, if we’re pushing to keep people in a burger-flipping role, we’re doing something wrong.”

      Vardakostas insists he isn’t the heartless disruptor he’s been made out to be. His company isn’t about destroying jobs, he says; it’s about shaping the future of fast food—one in which humans will still have an important place. His skeptics will soon be able to see that vision for themselves: This summer, he’s opening the doors to a San Francisco restaurant called Creator and unveiling his gleaming burger bot—a surprisingly beautiful copper and wood machine, its spotless glass chutes stacked with vivid towers of tomato, onion, lettuce, and pickle.

      Just off Highway 1 in the surfing town of Dana Point, Vardakostas’ mom, Maheen, still works seven days a week. The slight 66-year-old stands over the A’s grill wielding a spatula, a hairnet stretched over her dark bun and a red apron around her waist, waiting for her son to put her out of a job.

      Brian Finke

      Angelo Vardakostas sailed into Los Angeles on a Greek commercial ship in 1955. Greeks were opening diners across the country at the time—mom-and-pop analogs to the McDonald’s, Carl’s Jr., and Kentucky Fried Chicken chains that were multiplying in the postwar sprawl—and Angelo hopped off at the port and started looking for a job. He worked as a dishwasher and bartender at a string of restaurants, eventually snagging a position waiting tables at a fancy Beverly Hills bistro. (Once he was sent to a table with the ingredients for Caesar salad dressing, intended to be mixed tableside; not knowing any better, he poured the raw egg directly into the salad.) By the early 1970s, Angelo had saved enough to make a down payment on a joint called Archie’s BBQ in the fast-food hub of Downey, California, a few miles away from the original Taco Bell. He rechristened Archie’s as A’s. Figuring he could save money, he later told his son, he kept the same sign and pried off the other letters.

      After a few years, Angelo decamped and opened another A’s location 50 miles south, in beachy Dana Point. In 1979, a pair of twenty­something sisters spotted a “help wanted” sign in the window. They had recently arrived from Iran, having fled the Islamic Revolution, and Angelo hired them on the spot.

      The elder sister, Maheen, had won a national math championship when she was 17 and had graduated with a master’s degree from the University of Tehran. Before leaving the country, she worked as a civil engineer for the Iranian Air Force. “I was so depressed when I got here,” she remembers. “My career was gone.” But the 27-year-old applied her methodical nature to her new tasks at A’s, taking inventory and handling large orders during the lunch rush. While Maheen was brooding and detail-­oriented, Angelo was easygoing. She found him charming. “He always brought humor,” she says. The couple married in 1982. “We didn’t have time to date,” Maheen says, with a laugh. Alex was born in 1984, and two years later the family opened another A’s outpost in San Juan Capistrano, 20 minutes from Dana Point. A year later, Alex’s brother, George, was born.

      Business picked up in the new location, and when Vardakostas was in grade school the family moved into a sprawling ranch house in San Juan Capistrano, where they added a tiled pool in the back. Vardakostas started working the grill, sneaking free food to friends from his private middle school between shifts. Some of the kids took to calling him Varda-Cheeseburger, a taunting twist on his last name. “My parents would come to the school dirty from work,” Vardakostas says. “I had a chip on my shoulder.” He got in a few fistfights, but never dared to tell his parents.

      When Vardakostas reached high school, he says, his father started taking the boys on weekly trips to the local bookstore. “We’d drink frappuccinos,” George recalls, “and everyone would pick their own book.” While Angelo flipped through The Wall Street Journal, Vardakostas paged through books on science and physics. After graduating from Capistrano Valley High School with middling grades, Vardakostas headed to nearby Saddleback College. He washed and detailed cars to make extra money, eating for free twice a day at A’s. In 2006, Vardakostas transferred to UC Santa Barbara to study physics. A classmate and friend, Steffanie Hughes, remembers him as a preppy kid, typically clad in a pink polo and Jack Purcells. She was impressed by his intelligence and intrigued by his unusual living arrangement. For his first few months in Santa Barbara, Vardakostas was staying at a Motel 6. He would spend hours studying in the driver’s seat of his used Mercedes—a gift from his dad when he transferred to UCSB—which he liked to park at the beach. Though he loved his classes on quantum mechanics and electromagnetics, he says, his thoughts would often return to his parents and their longtime employees passing years in the A’s kitchen, cooking burger after burger. An idea came to him his junior year, as he lay awake at 4 am in a bout of insomnia: “What if I could create a robotic kitchen?” The idea excited him. “Once you have a vision about how things could be better, it grows like a weed,” he says. A couple of weeks before graduation, he told Hughes about his burger bot scheme. Her reaction was one he’d hear repeatedly in the ensuing decade. “You’re going to displace workers,” she told him.

      After graduating in 2007, Vardakostas got a job automating data at a semiconductor company. Still, he says, he was fixated on the idea of a burger bot. “I was thinking, why the hell isn’t anybody doing this?” He installed design software on his laptop and started studying robotics after work. Within two years, he quit his job and began building crude burger-making robot prototypes in his parents’ garage. First up: the tomato slicer, pieced together for $25 using an Allen key set, PVC piping, and some balsa wood he bought at Home Depot.

      Maheen urged him to get out of the burger business. His brother was baffled by his garage tinkering. “I mean, why don’t you want a sexier job? Make the next iPhone,” George told him. One night, a guy overheard Vardakostas talking about his burger bot at an Orange County bar and blurted out, “If my kid did that, I would shoot him.” Vardakostas stopped telling people about his plan.

      Alex and his parents at Burger Stop in 1985 in San Clemente.
      Courtesy of the Vardakostas family

      By 2010, Vardakostas’ robot was starting to show promise, but he knew he’d need heavy machinery to build a working prototype. He joined TechShop, a DIY makerspace in Menlo Park, and couch-crashed with Hughes, who had landed a job at Apple and was living in San Jose. Intimidated by the CNC tools, he introduced himself to a twentysomething guy in work boots he’d noticed expertly working the milling machine. The guy, Steven Frehn, was a mechanical engineer and recent Stanford grad—“one of these genius kids,” Vardakostas thought. Frehn grew up in a dusty stretch of Southern California making sketches of electric cars and cities crowned with solar panels. In high school, he landed an internship working for NASA, automating sensors at an Air Force base. Now he was building his own solar panels and sweeping TechShop’s floor in exchange for free use of the equipment. When Frehn asked what he was working on, Vardakostas was cagey. “A machine to cut vegetables,” he replied.

      The two struck up an unlikely friendship. Vardakostas is charismatic and creative, Hughes says, while Frehn is grounded and practical. Eventually, Vardakostas revealed his concept for the burger bot. “I immediately thought it was amazing,” Frehn says, “but it sounded like a lot of work.”

      Vardakostas returned to his machine—and his parents’ garage—in Orange County. When he didn’t want to make the six-hour drive to San Jose, he would occasionally send Frehn robotic components via same-day delivery for quick alterations; Frehn would use TechShop’s tools and rush-mail the part back. After about seven months, Vardakostas’ makeshift vegetable slicer was functional.

      Momentum Machines CEO Alex Vardakostas samples robot-made burgers at Creator, his San Francisco restaurant.

      Brian Finke

      Air pressure pushes buns through a blade that slices them in half.

      Brian Finke

      Encouraged, Vardakostas moved on to building the conveyor belt that would move the burger down an automated assembly line, the bun slicer and toaster, and the electric grill. In the fall of 2011, after two years, a burger emerged from his machine. The robot was viable.

      Now Vardakostas needed money. Hughes arranged a meeting with Lemnos Labs, one of Silicon Valley’s first hardware incubators, and in November of 2011, two Lemnos partners flew to the Vardakostas home in San Juan Capistrano to visit the entrepreneur-in-waiting. Vardakostas delivered his pitch in his childhood bedroom; Lemnos partner Helen Boniske remembers that physics books were strewn on the floor.

      Then he led the partners to his parents’ three-car garage, now dominated by a 6-foot-tall burger beast. Vardakostas clicked Place Order on his laptop, and the machine sprang into action. A presliced bun ran through a toaster on a squeaky conveyor belt. The bottom half slid down a chute beneath the vegetable slicers, where robotic blades cut pickles, tomatoes, and onions. The patty traveled through a charbroiler on a separate conveyor belt, then glided down a chute onto the bottom bun. The top bun dropped onto the sandwich and a mechanical arm pushed the entire burger into a white paper bag. “For one dude to build this thing in a garage,” Boniske says, “it was an incredible feat of engineering.” Lemnos offered Vardakostas about $50,000 in seed money and invited him to join their ranks.

      Two months later, Vardakostas moved to San Francisco and set up his workshop in Lemnos’ SoMa district headquarters. He posted an ad on Craigslist seeking machining engineers and hired two recent college grads: Jack McDonald, a mechanical engineer from UC Berkeley, and Lucas Lincoln, a roboticist from the University of Utah. Frehn soon joined the group full-time.

      The foursome set to work building a new, improved burger bot prototype, sometimes pulling days so long, Vardakostas says, that he slept in a sleeping bag under his desk. But because he wasn’t looking to sell his machine to fast-food chains, venture capital firms were wary of investing. By now, Vardakostas had become convinced that his company could transform not only the repetitive act of burger making but also the entire fast-food business model, from the ingredients used to the wage structure. His dream, he says, is to open a chain of Creator restaurants across the country, delivering high-quality, inexpensive food to the masses. “It was right on the edge, man,” McDonald recalls. “We believed in the idea, but it’s a lot harder to convince other people that it’s the future.” To stretch their seed money, they often ate their machine’s own imperfect trial-run burgers for lunch.

      One day that fall, Avidan Ross, a roboticist turned venture capitalist, visited Lemnos Labs and spotted the burger bot across the room. “I said ‘What is that?!’ ” he remembers. “I have to meet these people.” Whereas other investors at the time were “caught up in iPhone apps, trying to find the next Snapchat,” he says, his newly launched VC firm, now called Root Ventures, was focused on hardware. In a stroke of luck for Vardakostas, Ross was a kindred tinkerer: He had built his own pizza oven and several barbecue contraptions in his backyard, one of which tweeted its temperature every five minutes. Ross had also given a lot of thought to how robotics might be used to automate costly cooking techniques. Early in 2013, he wrote Momentum Machines a check for about $300,000. Google Ventures and Khosla Ventures soon followed.


      Momentum Machines isn’t the first to attempt to automate restaurant kitchens. In the 1960s, the American Machine & Foundry Company unveiled a fast-food device that churned out burgers, hot dogs, fries, and milkshakes at a Long Island drive-in. An attendant punched in the orders on a push-button dashboard that controlled the machinery. Though the contraption saved roughly $1,900 in cook’s wages each month, it also cost $1,500 to lease. It never caught on. More recently, fast-food chains have been taking small steps toward automation, especially in ordering, but also in the more complicated process of making food. McDonald’s has been installing self-service kiosks as part of its “Experience of the Future” campaign. Chains from Taco Bell to Burger King have adopted ordering apps. This spring, Little Caesars received a patent for a pizza-making robot. Over the past two years, Miso Robotics in Pasadena, California, has been developing Flippy, a burger-flipping robotic arm that works with most restaurants’ preexisting grills. Flippy was slated to be deployed at CaliBurger restaurants around the country this year, but its March debut was inauspicious: After a couple of hours at the chain’s Pasadena location, it fell behind on orders and was decommissioned for improvements.

      The technical complexities, coupled with the cost of building a kitchen bot, mean that it will take time before robotics transforms the fast-food industry. Still, chains continue to pursue automation because they think it will boost their profits; labor costs typically make up around 30 percent of restaurant expenses. “The fact of the matter is businesses will automate when it’s cost-effective,” says Teofilo Reyes, a policy expert at Restaurant Opportunities United, a nonprofit that advocates better conditions for fast-food workers. Replacing multiple salaries with the one-time cost of a robot is an enticing business strategy, especially in an industry with a high turnover rate. Martin Ford, author of Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, predicts that within the next five to 10 years, major fast-food chains will be able to reduce staff by 30 to 40 percent due to automation.

      The impact of such cuts on overall employment rates is unknown, says Sylvia Allegretto, a labor economist at UC Berkeley. “The big mistake everyone makes is they can’t foresee the new jobs that will come online because of the technology,” she argues. The car may have put blacksmiths out of business, but it also created assembly-line jobs. Of course, automation in manufacturing has now put assembly-line workers at risk. They’re being replaced by robots, overseen by a small group of humans with the expertise to manage them.

      How to Work a Burger Bot

      1. Ordering
      Diners customize their meals through Creator’s app, which sends the information to the bot.

      2. Toasted bun
      Air pressure pushes the brioche bun through a blade that slices it in half. It travels down a vertical toaster before dropping into a compostable container.

      3. Produce
      The bun moves on a conveyor belt below chutes of tomatoes, onions, pickles, and shredded lettuce. The robot cleaves a fresh portion from each of the vegetables.

      4. Beef
      Hunks of brisket and chuck are tumbled with seasonings in a vacuum chamber. The bot grinds and shapes 5 ounces of meat into a puck, then a mechanized arm deposits the patty between two griddles.

      5. Grill
      The patty is cooked at 350 degrees until medium rare. When it’s done, a mechanized spatula places the patty onto the open bun.

      6. Condiments
      Convection heat melts shredded cheese. Requested sauces and seasonings—including coffee-flavored salt, chipotle powder, and curry ketchup—are deposited from various dispensers.

      7. Quality control
      The burger emerges from the robot, where it’s checked by a human worker. —L.S.

      Vardakostas won’t share his financial projections, but his business model makes some ambitious assumptions in its path to success. He says that the robot will eventually make burgers more efficiently than a typical fast-food restaurant, though at its current rate—about 100 burgers per machine, per hour—a McDonald’s-­style restaurant could keep up. App-based ordering means that Creator will be able to serve more customers, faster. The restaurant may also shore up its bottom line by serving beer, wine, and fries, items with a high profit margin. Vardakostas says he plans to spend around 45 percent of his revenue on burger ingredients, which include pasture-raised beef and organic vegetables. Most restaurants spend roughly half that on total food costs.

      To Erik Brynjolfsson, coauthor of The Second Machine Age, it makes sense that Momentum Machines is opening its own restaurant rather than shopping its bot around to existing chains. “You can’t just pop the robot into a restaurant and leave the whole rest of the business the same,” he says. “You have to reinvent the roles of the people, the types of ingredients, your price points. Replacing a human burger-flipper with a machine isn’t the big payoff—the payoff is inventing a totally new kind of restaurant.”

      While robots will serve as Creator’s chefs and cashless cashiers, they won’t be without human support. This spring, Momentum Machines hired its first restaurant employees, including a general manager, a host to explain how the smartphone ordering process works, and “burger buffs” trained to maintain the machine and deliver meals to tables. Up to nine employees will work during Creator’s peak hours—on par with a standard fast-food restaurant—and Vardakostas says he’ll pay them $16 an hour, $1 above San Francisco’s minimum wage.

      All this raises the question: Can Creator actually make money, or will it become another over­hyped gimmick propped up by VC funding? “It’s to be determined,” says Aaron Noveshen, founder of the restaurant consultancy the Culinary Edge and an early Momentum Machines adviser. “If it doesn’t take five people to stand next to the robot to make it work, then they can reach profitability.” Helen Boniske believes Alex could charge more than his proposed price of $6 to $7 per burger, with an eye to Creator’s eventual expansion.

      While Creator is a contained testing ground, for now, the idea of robotic kitchens catching on throughout the restaurant industry is unsettling to many. “For some reason, with our burger bot, people have a visceral reaction: This machine is doing exactly what you see a human doing,” acknowledges McDonald, one of Momentum’s original engineers. There is something especially troubling about fast-food workers being tossed aside—perhaps because those jobs are viewed as a place for people who have limited options. The median income for a fast-food worker is around $21,000, and more than half receive some public assistance. “The reality is that many people who work in fast food may be well suited for routine jobs,” Ford says.

      Alex balks at such sentiments. He sees burger flippers as trapped by their jobs, not clinging to them. “You don’t grow up next to fast-food workers without realizing these people are capable of so much more—it becomes this sort of haunting thing,” he says. “People say, oh, flipping burgers is the only thing they can do. That’s fucking bigoted. Dude, no, we can do a lot more than flip burgers. We just haven’t had a chance.”

      For a line cook who just lost his job, though, Vardakostas’ vision may offer little consolation.

      Momentum Machines engineers receive real-time obstruction alerts from the burger bot during testing.


      Vardakostas loads stacks of pickles, tomatoes, and onions into his machine. Each topping is sliced to order.


      At Creator in San Francisco, Vardakostas walks over to inspect his machine’s latest burger. For the past year, the restaurant’s unfinished dining area has been his second office, his 50 employees gliding between the two buildings on scooters and skateboards. At the moment, the restaurant windows are frosted over to thwart oglers, and the rare visitor is required to sign a nondisclosure agreement and cover their phone’s camera lens with a sticker. It’s mid-April, and the team is customizing burger orders from Creator’s smartphone app for the first time, requesting extra cheese or chipotle powder instead of jalapeño salt. Half a dozen developers and software engineers are seated at the dining tables with their laptops, obsessively tracking the real-time progress of the two identical robots across the room.

      Amid the bustle of machinery, finishing touches are being put in place to make the space feel more like a homey café than, say, a dystopian factory. One wall is painted with yellow Fibonacci spirals. Burger ingredients chill in glass-front refrigerators alongside meticulously written explanations of their provenance. Customers will be invited to browse books while they wait for their orders, from design tomes to Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation.

      After nearly a decade of R&D, Vardakostas says, “we had our pick” of VC firms during last year’s fund-raising round. He recently received investments from Root Ventures, Zynga cofounder Justin Waldron, Great Oaks Venture Capital in New York, and K5 Ventures in Orange County. According to its 2017 SEC filings, Momentum Machines raised $18.4 million in funds.

      Despite his insistence that he’s not selling his robot, Vardakostas claims his company has heard from fast-food chains and sports stadiums that are interested in purchasing it. “We were able to get them an introduction to Burger King really early on,” Boniske says. “It was just too early to have a substantial discussion. Burger King’s reps said ‘I don’t believe it’s possible.’ ” It’s hard to know if Vardakostas will sell in the end, but it’s easy to imagine. Maybe Creator’s opening will be an inflection point, like the day in 1948 when two McDonald brothers decided to make their customers walk up to the counter to collect their burgers, rather than hiring servers to deliver them to cars. Maybe nothing much will change at all.

      In Dana Point, Maheen says she awaits the day she can install one of her son’s burger robots at A’s. She says she sees his machines as the next chapter in their family’s American success story, payoff for all those years she and her husband spent in the kitchen. “You know who wants to lose their jobs?” Maheen asks wryly, slouched in a booth at A’s during a weekend lull. “It’s the managers.” Once her son’s long-­promised burger bot arrives, she says, she may even consider retiring.

      Lauren Smiley (@lauren smiley) wrote about virtual elder care in issue 26.01.

      This article appears in the July issue. Subscribe now.

      Listen to this story, and other WIRED features, on the Audm app.

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      6 Old Acquaintances Who Conveniently Came Out Of The Woodwork Right When I Won A Lifetime Supply Of Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi AllOlio Di Oliva

      After winning a lifetime supply of delicious Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva, I thought I was going to be on easy street for the rest of my life. On the contrary, I had no idea how many old “friends” would suddenly show up looking to get a taste of my haul. Here are six old acquaintances who came out of the woodwork as soon as my pockets were overflowing with wads of tiny fish.

      1. My college roommate, Mark Ericson: Mark basically acted like I didn’t exist back when we lived in the same dorm freshman year of college, but I guess all it takes is a few thousand pounds of premium Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva for someone to completely change their personality on a dime. Suddenly, Mark accepted the Facebook friend request I sent him nine years ago, he’s trying to get the only existing picture of us trending on Twitter with the hashtag #AngeloParodiSardinePortoghesiAllOliodiOlivaBoys4Life, and he keeps offering quotes about our “incredibly formative friendship” to our college newsletter for their upcoming story “Alumni Wins Sardine Contest.” Mark can try to rewrite history all he wants, but if he thinks he’s getting even one tin of Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva, he’s got another thing coming.

      2. My old bandmates: The last time I saw anyone from my old Pearl Jam cover band was when I was dramatically kicked out and told to never come back after I missed too many shows to care for my elderly pet tarantula. Well, it turns out that, in addition to being a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva also has the power to shorten people’s memories! Mere days after I hit it big in the sardine department, all four original band members came crawling back to my door hoping we could run through “Jeremy” like old times to the “smooth backing track of southern Mediterranean fish broiling to perfection” as if I had forgotten them screaming, “You’ve chosen your tarantula over Bellow Ledbetter for the last time!” at me not so long ago. I saw the Tupperware containers hidden in their guitar cases and told them that the only kind of music I make now is the perfect symphony of flavors in my Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva smoked paté, of which I don’t intend to share a single bite.

      3. My first love, Kim Johnson: When I look into Kim’s eyes, I don’t feel like a big hotshot with an unlimited amount of Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva at my disposal; I feel like a kid with a regular amount of sardines who just wants to love and be loved in return. Perhaps that’s why I pushed away my doubts when Kim, my crush since high school, suddenly decided she wanted to “hang out” after years of ignoring my Facebook invites and “Happy birthday” texts. Unfortunately, the reason for Kim’s change of heart became all too clear when I went to bed one night with the love of my life in my arms and 300 crates of Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva in my garage only to wake up the next morning completely alone with just 297 crates of Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva in my garage. Lesson learned—it’s lonely at the top.

      4. My sixth-grade basketball coach: Interestingly, when I was an awkward 12-year-old with a horrible free-throw average, my basketball coach, Devon Gherrity, would only refer to me as “Princess Butterfingers,” but now that I have enough Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva to feed a small island nation, Coach apparently remembers me as the “single greatest player in the history of the team.” In fact, he even said he’d consider “honoring my legacy” by putting my face on the official team jersey if I was willing to hand over just a small percentage of my Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva cache. I guess for Coach Gherrity, it doesn’t take hard work and perseverance to become a good basketball player, it just takes enough sardines. And frankly, that’s just sad.

      5. My pediatrician: No more than a week after my apartment became a veritable emporium of Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva, I received a phone call from my childhood pediatrician urging me to come in for an “emergency appointment.” When I arrived, Dr. Jacobs said that my blood work indicated a deficiency of vitamins D, B2, and B12 as well as early signs of cardiovascular disease. “That’s weird, because a healthy diet of Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva should specifically prevent all of those conditions,” I said. Dr. Jacobs gasped and said, “Oh my goodness, you’re right! I totally gave you MY charts by accident. Looks like I’m the one whose health could benefit from an increased amount of nutritious Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva.” Then he kept loudly repeating that he felt faint until I had no choice but to fork over one of the 17 tins I carry on my person at all times. How silly of me to think that my old doctor might actually be concerned about my health and not just thinking of his own twisted way to get his hands on a piece of the Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva pie.

      6. My nephew, David: I’ve been trying for years to make a connection with my moody nephew, David, but I’m pretty sure he’s never said a single word to me. That’s why I was so excited when I heard that he had written about me for his “my hero” essay in school—and then I read it:

      How sweet…not! Even if his play for my sardines wasn’t so desperate, it hurts that David didn’t even mention my years in the Peace Corps or my extensive work with shelter dogs. I’m not just a walking piece of Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva, David! I have feelings!

      Read more:

      adminadmin6 Old Acquaintances Who Conveniently Came Out Of The Woodwork Right When I Won A Lifetime Supply Of Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi AllOlio Di Oliva
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      28 Delicious Dishes Around the World for $5 or Less

      Despite the zigzagging American stock market, the developed world is in the midst of a return to luxury. Restaurants in the U.S. are going formal again, posh conglomerates such as Kering SA are roaring back, and air travel has gotten fancier than ever. Those enjoying fat bonuses from 2017 can do some serious shopping.

      Yet there are still terrific values when it comes to food. We’ve tapped local experts to reveal more than two dozen places from 18 global cities that serve destination dishes for less than $5, 1  without a Happy Meal in sight.



      Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza)

      You can pay for a meal in the Iskelé Turkish restaurant, or you can just go to the stall in Whitecross Street Market, which dates back to the 17th century. These days it’s a lunchtime food destination, and there is no better value than the , a spicy flatbread hot from the grill and topped with lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles, for a little over 3 pounds ($4). 

      Beigel With Smoked Salmon

      Beigel Bake is so good, it would be popular in any city. But in London, where bagels are not celebrated, this bakery is both a destination and a sensation. There’s always a line, day and night, at this 24-hour bakery on a rundown street best known for curry houses. The smoked salmon offering comes with a good amount of fish and a swath of cream cheese for 2 pounds. An oft-told tale has Mariah Carey turning up in a limousine with her entourage and being ordered to the back of the line.



      The quintessential Dutch are a deal. 
      Photographer: Wout Vergauwen

      Bitterballen (Fried Meatballs)

      The quintessential Dutch deep-fried treat makes an appearance at chef Peter Gast’s Michelin-starred ’t Schulten Hues restaurant. A budget edition of Gast’s ragout-filled balls can be found at Ballenbar in Foodhallen, a Borough Market-inspired indoor food market in a renovated tram depot. The most traditional options are the beef balls: crunchy on the outside, gooey and flavorful on the inside, served with a dollop of grainy Dutch mustard for 3 euros (less than $4).



      Allesso di Scottona Sandwich

      Retired butcher Sergio Esposito makes sandwiches using family recipes. The sandwich is comprised of simmered beef brisket sliced up and served with dandelion greens on a ciabatta from Panificio Passi, aka the best bakery in Rome. The bread gets a dip in the brisket cooking juices before it’s filled. “This sandwich is ridiculous,” pronounces Rome’s expert tour guide and cookbook author, Katie Parla. It costs 4 euros. 


      TEL AVIV


      In Tel Aviv’s busiest marketplace, a lesser known specialty among the fruit stands and displays of baklava is the A thin sheet of dough fried with an egg in it (think North African spring roll) gets stuffed inside a pita with spicy harrisa and (a pumpkin and lemon condiment). Cost: 15 shekels, a little more than $4.






      A post shared by Mitch T. (@mitchw0rk) on

      Clam and Garlic Pizza

      A giant neon sign points the way to Golden Boy, which has been providing North Beach with generous squares (and giant sheets) of Sicilian-style pizza since 1978. The greasy, crisp-bottomed pizza has a variety of toppings including sausage ($3.25), but the more interesting options are the vegetarian pesto or the signature clam pizza topped with a notable amount of garlic.

      A post shared by Dan Lee (@danseung) on

      Chicken Korean Taco

      On Thursdays and Saturdays, the team at the modern Korean minded Namu offers a street food menu at the Ferry Building farmer’s market. Think stonepot market vegetables and kimchee fried rice with artisan hot dogs. For $3.50 you can get a Korean taco made from seasoned rice, kimchee salsa, and kimchee remoulade and filled with caramelized chicken. 


      NEW YORK

      A post shared by Yvonne Fung (@curiousyvonne) on

      Spicy Cumin Lamb Burger

      This no-frills mini chain got recognition when Andrew Zimmern of fame shouted out their original stall in the basement of a Queens mall. Xi’an specializes in hand-pulled noodles but one of their best deals is the lamb burger, featuring fall-apart-tender chunks of spicy stewed lamb, heavy on the cumin, wrapped in a doughy flatbread for $4. 

      Mole Poblano With Chicken Tamale

      This tiny new storefront on the Lower East Side specializes in one thing:  tamales. Owner Fernando Lopez makes the masa, then steams them with fillings like a deeply flavored chile mole with shredded chicken, for $4. For the same price you can also get a bacon and mozzarella cheese tamale, or a breakfast egg sandwich on a brioche bun with his chipotle-spiked special sauce. 

      Peking Duck Sandwich

      The biggest bargain on the menu are the juicy pork and chive fried dumplings ($1.50 for four). But the greatness of Vanessa’s, which has outposts in the East Village and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is their sesame pancake-styled sandwiches, filled with ingredients like kimchee, ham and egg, and roasted pork. The peking duck sandwich moistened with hoisin is superb. (At the Brooklyn outpost, the sandwich is $4.25; it’s $3.50 in Chinatown.) 



      Chicken Chivichanga

      Named for the North Mexican desert region, this stellar little shop in downtown LA has $2 tacos and carne asada cooked over mesquite wood. The Chivichanga boasts two handmade flour tortillas stuffed with shredded chicken, Monterey Jack, Cheddar, blistered tomatoes and chile.



      A post shared by Elise Enriquez (@elisemenriquez) on

      Kalua Pork Tacos

      There are multiple locations of  the Hawaiian-styled Marination. The newest is near the Amazon campus; the best is in West Seattle with killer views of the city. Among the $3 tacos are tofu, kalbi beef, and sweet kalua pulled pork, served on two corn tortillas, topped with housemade pickled jalapeños and their signature sauce.



      A post shared by Justin Bastedo (@just_e_do) on

      Mini Big Mac

      A globetrotting menu of tapas is the name of the game at this casual restaurant, with dishes that range from Scotch eggs to falafel to pakora (all less than $5). On Sundays, the special is mini-mac sliders: A mini Big Mac with a beef patty, American cheese, mustard, dill pickle, on a seeded bun, that’s a stellar version of its namesake.



      A post shared by Mercadoroma (@mercadoroma) on

      Milanese Cemita (Pueblan-style sandwich)

      The crunchiness of the bun and generous stuffing of avocados, chipotle, and a Mexican herb called make these sandwich staples from Puebla a new category in contrast to Mexico City’s ubiquitous tortas. Choose among options ranging from the basic (shredded cheese) to a Biscayan style cod panini. The real star is the cemita de Milanesa, stuffed with a breaded, pounded thin veal cutlet for 75 pesos ($3.99).



      Argentine White Pizza

      Influenced by generations of Italian immigrants, thick-crusted Argentine pizza is now a Buenos Aires staple. The best in the city is El Cuartito. Since 1934, it’s been serving up slices of (white pizza with plenty of gooey cheese and onions), juicy Napolitana, and sausage-based Calabresa in an unassuming venue surrounded with signed posters of boxers, soccer stars, and folklore singers. For a real throwback, order soda in a siphon. Slices start at $1.75.

      Sandwich Completo

      Nestled in the middle of Buenos Aires’ bustling Microcentro, El Buen Libro fools you with its inconspicuous, convenience store vibe—unless you walk by at lunchtime, when a line goes out the street for its build-your-own sandwichs. In addition to the classic veal Milanesa, a local favorite is the homemade sandwich, the Argentine take on cold steak roulade. Top it off with vegetables and condiments and come hungry: portions are large. The Milanesa grande will set you back about $3. 



      Menu of the Day

      The specialty at this hole in the wall is Peruvian-style vegetarian cooking. Potatoes feature in most plates (after all, 4,000 varieties grow in the Andean highlands). The menu of the day, including a starter, main course, dessert, and drink, is an astonishing value at $4, and might include vegetable soup with corn and manioc, Andean lasagna, and freshly made vanilla pudding. 





      Barbecue Pork Roll

      You can normally spot this place because of the lunchtime line of city workers. The classic Banh Mi pork roll comes complete with fresh coriander, chili and homemade butter with the option of barbecued or crispy fried pork, or pork loaf, salad and a choice of roll baked on premises (wholemeal, multigrain, sourdough). A basic sandwich is A$5 ($3) and costs a bit more with all the trimmings.

      Cheese & Spinach Borek

      A tour of Melbourne’s 140-year-old market is worth the trip just for the superb, Victorian-era Deli Hall. It’s even better if you pick up a Turkish borek for just A$3.50. The ladies can barely keep up, so be prepared to jostle for your fresh, crisp pastry filled with feta and spinach. There’s also a tasty spicy lamb for meat lovers or a potato and vegetable option. If you happen to be late and lucky, you might find a ‘two for A$5’ discount.



      A post shared by Sen Squall (@sen028) on

      Chicken Rice

      Nearly everyone in Singapore has an opinion on where to find the best Hainanese chicken rice. This eatery nestled between public housing blocks in the city-state’s central district has an especially loyal following. Chef-owner Ronnie Chew gets all the elements of this ubiquitous Singaporean dish working in harmony: the stock-infused rice is fluffy and the chicken moist, with plates from S$3 ($2.30). Pro tip: Balance out the garlicky and savory chili dip with some aromatic minced ginger.

      Braised Noodles

      Be prepared to wait for a bowl of hearty braised noodles from this stall in Singapore’s Old Airport Road food market. Thick yellow noodles, pork belly slices, chunks of fried fish, and a well-seasoned hard-boiled egg are doused in rich, flavorful gravy and finished with a garnish of cilantro and sliced red chiles. Bowls start at S$3.



      A post shared by Sheen (@sheene) on

      Katsudon (Pork Cutlet)

      A freshly fried pork cutlet is simmered with an egg and sweet soy sauce just long enough before it’s heaped atop a bowl of rice—the perfect meal, for just 500 yen ($4.64) 2 at any of Katsuya’s 345 restaurants around Japan. Normally a higher-priced item that you have to wait for, your katsudon is ready in minutes at this fast-food style franchise. Options abound, including fried shrimp, and an array of condiments.

      A post shared by あみたば (@amitahba) on

      Nori Toast
      Coffee Shop Ace, 3-10-6 Uchikanda, Chiyoda-ku
      Japanese coffee shops usually have “one-coin morning sets,” breakfast sets with coffee, toast, and sometimes a side of boiled egg and salad, all for a single 500 yen coin. Coffee Shop Ace in Kanda, an area best known for its bars and izakayas, has been around for four decades and is famous for its “nori toast” morning set: buttered, dried seaweed toast plus coffee. It may sound like a strange combination, but the butter and nori gives the toast a nice umami kick. 

      A post shared by Tomoko (@jellyfish627) on

      Napolitan Japanese Spaghetti

      Tucked away in an underground shopping alley in the heart Tokyo’s financial district, Little Koiwai offers what many locals grew up eating: Japanese-style pasta. Soft-boiled spaghetti fried with bits of onion and green pepper, plus sweet tomato sauce is known as “Napolitan” priced at 540 yen. Other favorites include the soy sauced-flavored “Japone” and cod roe-mixed “tarako.” You’ll see a long line of Japanese salarymen standing in front of the shop if you go at lunch.



      Tteokbokki (Stir-Fried Rice Cakes)
      Jaws Tteokbokki
      , multiple locations
      This restaurant chain, with outposts that resemble cozy hot-dog stands, serves jaw-dropping, spicy Korean rice cakes soaked in gochujang, the traditional hot pepper paste. A bowl full of the chewy cakes, usually more than a dozen pieces, accompanied by a bowl of oden soup (in a dashi, soy sauce broth) that costs about 3,000 won ($2.80). More adventurous dinners can partake of blood sausage, called soondae, for just a little more.


      HONG KONG 

      Black Pepper Pork Buns

      This Shanghai-style noodle joint has a small, no frills dining room. But Hing offers sensational little dumplings, or buns. Two pan-fried black pepper pork buns are HK$24 ($3). Don’t be fooled by their modest appearance: The buns are hot, pan-fried to order and extra juicy with a good hit of spice. For about the same price, you can get the non-spicy pan-fried BBQ pork buns for HK$22.

      Wonton Noodles

      This cozy, brightly lit noodle place has been around for 60 years. The enduring specialty is the signature wonton noodles: Crinkled, tender dumplings stuffed with shrimp and pork, with eggy ribbon-shaped noodles in a fish-infused broth. A bowl costs about HK$34. Enhance it with a side order of greens.



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      Offended by Koreans eating dog? I trust youve never had a bacon butty | Chas Newkey-Burden

      Frightened animals being caged, killed and turned into food wed never dream of such evils in the western world, writes journalist and author Chas Newkey-Burden

      Offended by Koreans eating dog? I trust youve never had a bacon butty

      Frightened animals being caged, killed and turned into food wed never dream of such evils in the west would we?

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      Paul Bocuse, French Chef Who Became Cultural Star, Dies at 91

      Paul Bocuse, who became one of the 20th century’s most influential chefs by building on the traditions of French haute cuisine with a distinctive style that emphasized simplicity and freshness, has died. He was 91.

      He died Saturday at Collonges-au-Mont-d’or, the Associated Press said, citing a statement from French President Emmanuel Macron. Bocuse had Parkinson’s disease.

      In lending his name and advice to restaurants around the world, Bocuse fashioned a template followed by chefs such as Alain Ducasse, Joel Robuchon and Gordon Ramsay.
      Bocuse “started things for this modern era of the chef as cultural star,” Michael Ruhlman wrote in “The Reach of a Chef,” his 2006 book. “Bocuse was really the first to play to the media and begin to elevate the chef’s standing toward what it is today.’

      Yet he never lost touch with his roots, retaining three Michelin stars for more than four decades at his flagship establishment near his birthplace outside Lyon, France. Still on the menu is his most famous dish, Black Truffle Soup V.G.E.

      He opened a chain of eateries, Les Brasseries Bocuse, across France. Not content with being a star at home, he traveled the world, lending his name to restaurants from Florida to Hong Kong, and acting as an ambassador for French cooking. He set up a scholarship with the Culinary Institute of America and founded the Bocuse d’Or World Cuisine Contest as well as an institute for culinary arts. He was also the author of several cookbooks, including La Cuisine du Marche, in 1980.

      Bocuse said that he hadn’t revolutionized French cooking, only simplified it after a period marked by “the heavy meals and the rich sauces of the Escoffier school,” according to a 1972 article in the New York Times.

      “First-rate raw materials are the very foundation of good cooking,” he said. “Give the greatest cook in the world second-rate materials and the best he can produce from them is second-rate food.”

      Bocuse was born into a family of restaurateurs on Feb. 11, 1926, at Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or, in eastern France, where the main food market is named after him. It was there that he shopped for produce from local characters such as the cheese maker Mere Richard and the pork butchers Colette Sibilia and Gast. His ancestors had been known for their cooking as far back as in 1765.

      He went to work in 1942 in a restaurant in Lyon. In 1944, he enlisted in the First French Division and, in World War II combat, was shot in Alsace, where he received transfusions in an American field hospital. In later decades, especially as he became popular in the U.S., he enjoyed pointing out that he had American blood in him.

      In 1948, he began work under chef Fernand Point, whose reliance on the freshest products available each day shaped Bocuse’s views.
      In 1959, Bocuse saved the family restaurant from ruin and made L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges Restaurant Paul Bocuse a dining destination. It is there that you can still order Soupe aux Truffes Noires V.G.E., which Bocuse created in 1975 for then-President Valery Giscard d’Estaing at an Elysee Palace banquet.
      In 1966, a year after winning his third Michelin star, Bocuse succeeded in buying back his great-grandparents’ old restaurant and placing it under the family wing. He named it the Abbaye de Collonges.
      Bocuse was named a knight in the French Legion of Honor in 1975, and a commander in 2004.
      He was married for more than 60 years to Raymonde, but unashamedly kept two long-term mistresses and enjoyed other liaisons, according to an interview in the Daily Telegraph.
      “It would not be everyone’s idea of married life, but everyone gets on,” the newspaper quoted him as saying in 2005. “They are all happy, with me and with each other, and if I add up the time we have spent together as couples, it comes to 145 years.”
      “These days I feel best surrounded by nature, beside my lake, with my dogs and friends,” Bocuse said in the interview at Collonges. “I regret nothing, save perhaps the pain I may have given the women of my life. I hope they will forgive me.”

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        Atlanta Falcons Broke the Rules of Stadium Food and It Paid Off

        When the Atlanta Falcons announced the food prices at their new $1.5 billion stadium — $2 hot dogs and sodas, $3 nachos, $5 beer — fans loved it, and people in other cities started pushing their local ownership groups to follow suit.

        Falcons owner Arthur Blank had made a calculated bet that what the organization lost in markup, it would recoup in volume — fans would come earlier, stay longer and buy enough food to make up the difference.

        He was half-right. About 6,000 more fans per game entered the stadium earlier than they did in 2016, and in general, the venue sold as much food by the end of the first quarter of Falcons games as it did in full games in 2016. Fans also gave the Falcons the highest satisfaction rating in the NFL for food and beverages, up from No. 18 in 2016, and the highest rating for security satisfaction, in part the result of lines made shorter by all the early entries.

        They also bought more food — sales were up 53 percent — and each fan spent, on average, 16 percent more on concessions. It wasn’t enough to offset the drop in prices, though. The team made less on concessions in 2017 than it did the year before, according Steve Cannon, chief executive officer of AMB Group, the company through which Blank owns the team.

        “Sure, we could shake out a few more dollars of margin under the old model, but we believe that the direction we’ve taken, given all the other positive benefits, is the bigger revenue play, period,” Cannon said.

        Atlanta’s pricing, part of a unique partnership with concessionaire Levy Restaurants, is a dramatic departure from standard prices in NFL stadiums. At $2, hot dogs at Falcons home games cost less than half the league average $5.19, according to the 2016 Team Marketing Report. The league’s average price for a beer was $7.38, with the San Francisco 49ers charging over $10.

        While no other major sports franchise has replicated the plan, they are taking note. Cannon said “dozens” of team owners and venues have called asking for more details on the pricing strategy.

        The team’s 2018 goal is to improve efficiency and expand the menu. Cannon said he believes that eventually, the Falcons’ food and beverage profit will eclipse its 2016 numbers. “This is just a first report card,” Cannon said. “And it says that we changed the dynamic inside of an industry that was fairly set in its ways, it’s having an amazing impact on our fans’ satisfaction, and, oh by the way, spending per person did go up. The system-wide impacts are great.”

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          Charles Manson, Imprisoned Mass-Murdering Cult Leader, Dies

          Charles Manson, the imprisoned wild-eyed cult leader who masterminded the 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and six other people in Los Angeles, has died. He was 83.

          Manson died of natural causes at 8:13pm Pacific time on Nov. 19 at Kern County Hospital, according to a statement from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He was serving a life sentence at a state prison in California.

          A career criminal, Manson persuaded a drug-induced flock of followers — the so-called Manson family — that he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and that they would survive and rule the world after a racial apocalypse he called “Helter Skelter.” The name came from a Beatles song he viewed as prophetic.

          Manson’s followers may have killed more than two dozen people by some reports, but criminal trials against him and his group focused on the savage killing spree that became known as the Tate-LaBianca murders.

          With a focus on killing Hollywood celebrities, Manson ordered followers Charles “Tex” Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia “Katie” Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian to invade a Los Angeles home on Aug. 9, 1969, and kill its occupants.

          Death Toll

          In addition to Tate, the 26-year-old pregnant wife of film director Roman Polanski, those killed from multiple stabbings and gunshots were writer and actor Wojciech “Voytek” Frykowski and his partner, the coffee bean heiress Abigail Folger; celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring and Steven Parent, a friend of Tate’s gardener. Polanski was in London working on a film.

          Kasabian acted as the lookout and became the star witness against Manson, whose role in the killings was discovered by police while investigating other crimes. She was offered immunity for her testimony.

          The killing of Tate, who starred in films such as “Valley of the Dolls,” was particularly gruesome. She was stabbed in the stomach by Atkins despite pleas to spare her unborn child, whose delivery date was near. Atkins used Tate’s blood to write the word “pig” on the front door.

          The next night, Manson took Watson, Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten to the home of supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, who were also murdered.

          The trio stayed in the house for a while, eating food from the LaBianca’s refrigerator and playing with the couple’s dogs.

          Intended Victims

          Atkins told fellow prisoners that the Manson family planned to kill other Hollywood stars to help trigger the racial apocalypse Manson predicted. She died in a women’s prison in 2009.

          Manson’s trial began in June 1970. After a trial characterized by the giggling and grimaces of the defendants, Manson was convicted of first-degree murder in January 1971.

          He was sentenced to death. California’s supreme court later ruled capital punishment illegal, and he was re-sentenced to life imprisonment. Manson, who carved a swastika into his forehead while in prison, was denied parole more than a dozen times.

          “There’s no murder in a holy war,” he told Charlie Rose in a 1986 interview on “CBS News Nightwatch,” referring to Tate’s slaying.

          Charles Maddox, whose crazed deeds would spawn a series of books, movies and documentaries, was born Nov. 12, 1934, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Kathleen Maddox, a 16-year-old alcoholic prostitute and Walker Scott. After her marriage to William Manson, Charles was given his step-father’s last name.

          Career Criminal

          He made a living through crime, spending half of the first 32 years of his life behind bars. Manson was put in jail for armed robbery, arson, burglary, assault, mail theft, drug possession, forgery, credit-card fraud, receiving stolen property, pimping, grand theft auto and numerous parole violations.

          After his release from prison in 1967, he became a cult guru in the San Francisco area as a prophet of the apocalypse and tried to pursue a career in music.

          He was befriended by Dennis Wilson, the drummer in the Beach Boys band. Through this association, Manson got an opportunity to audition for record producer Terry Melcher, the son of singer and actress Doris Day. Melcher, who had rejected Manson’s bid to make a record, was the previous occupant of the Los Angeles house Polanski and Tate had rented, which was the site of the first murders.

          In 1955, Manson married Rosalie Willis and had a son Charles Manson, Jr., who committed suicide in 1993. After their divorce, he married Leona Stevens and had a second son, Charles Luther Manson. He had a third son, Valentine Manson, with Manson family member Mary Brunner.

          “The name Manson has become a metaphor for evil, and evil has its allure,” the prosecutor of the Tate-La Bianca case, Vincent Bugliosi, co-wrote in the best-selling book on the Manson case, “Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders.” “Some people have the same fascination for Jack the Ripper and Hitler.”

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