It's an unnerving time inside the world of food. With restaurants closing at a record clip and the beleaguered economy still gasping for air, I've had to accept – with bemused resignation – the need for restaurants to lower the bar to turn a profit.
Out of this bankruptcy of innovation has sprouted a reductive fad that threatens to strap working-class communities firmly in the back seat to finer dining utopias like Chicago, New York and San Francisco. The fad is a concept known as "classic with a twist."
The idea is that you take a throwback that everyone knows and loves and you put a modern spin on it. It makes sense and is sometimes profitable but often lacks the actual "twist." And let's be honest; restaurateurs are loath to consider being on the cutting edge before revenue.
While the intention may be self preservation, Milwaukeeans, as a result, sometimes find themselves eating a suspiciously twist-less mac 'n' cheese while the rest of America's metro areas enjoy the spry and invigora...
It may surprise you to know that many chefs go out for lunch. It's not that we don't want to eat our own food, but working an open-to-close shift often leaves some time in the middle of the day, and who doesn't like a change of scenery?
Once food orders are placed and lunch service is wrapped up, I might take a drive or a walk to any one of a number of local, not fast food, but let's say quick-food joints. I like the soft tacos at Chipotle Mexican Grill. I also enjoy the tuna and the cheesesteak at Cousin's Subs. Occasionally, after ordering my food, the high school girl at the cash register will glaringly survey my attire – a chef's coat emblazoned with the words "Justin Johnson, Executive Chef" – and with a screwy face, ask, "Why are you eating here?"
I usually chuckle and say something like, "A chef's gotta eat too."
But why do we eat at these places? Why do we buy the things we do at the grocery store? Relax, it's not an existential query. We already know why. It's fast. It's cheap. A...