Categories
Food

Watch: Marcus Samuelsson Dives Into the Heart of Seattle’s Filipino Food Community 

No Passport Required is back. The first episode of Season 2 airs tonight, Friday, December 13, at 9/8c.

In “Seattle,” host Marcus Samuelsson spends time with immigrant and second-generation Filipinos who are taking charge of their city’s food scene. As Filipino food gains more national, mainstream recognition, members of the community are working to tell the story on their own terms. In this episode, Marcus meets chefs and restaurateurs who have been serving Filipino food in the city for decades, including in Seattle’s iconic Pike Place Market. He also gets to know younger chefs and entrepreneurs and sees how they put their spin on their culture’s food traditions. From chicken adobo to ube cheesecake, with longganisa, arroz caldo, and lots of lechon in between, the food in this episode represents a community that’s proud of its history and its future.

Additional episodes: Each hour-long episode focuses on a different immigrant community in a new city: In addition to Seattle, the series travels to Los Angeles (January 20), where the largest Armenian community outside of the homeland resides; Houston (January 27), home to one of the highest numbers of West African expatriates of any U.S. city; and Philadelphia (February 3), where Italian Americans have thrived for generations. Other episodes focus on the Chinese American community in Las Vegas (February 10), which has grown tremendously over the last 20 years, and Boston (February 17), where Marcus explores Portuguese-speaking cultures and cuisines from three different locales: Brazil, Cape Verde and Portugal. The episodes air weekly on PBS, and all will be available for streaming on January 20.

Missed Season 1? Stream full episodes from the entire first season now, or check out recaps and more intel on No Passport Required here.

Online and on social: Tag @eater, @pbs, and #NoPassRequiredPBS if you share clips, pictures, or quotes from the show. Check back on Eater Seattle in January to see a map of the restaurants featured in the episode, and head to PBS to learn more about the show, find character bios, and get recipes to cook at home.


No Passport Required is produced for PBS by Eater and Vox Media Studios, part of Vox Media. Stream full episodes on Eater and PBS, or check local listings. Get more information on the show at pbs.org/nopassrequired.

Categories
Food

How Taco Bell Went From Stoner Fast Food Restaurant to Lifestyle Brand

When Christopher Ayres started as Taco Bell’s creative director, he didn’t realize just how passionately some people loved the fast-food chain. “I didn’t even know how fervent the fandom was,” Ayers says. But that enthusiasm is what allowed the brand to lean into a playful persona that doesn’t take itself too seriously. “I think that’s what gives us the permission to be fun.”

Ayres was part of the company’s major 2016 rebrand, which transformed a dated ‘90s logo into something more modern and minimalist. The updated logo was flexible enough to let Taco Bell, the fast food brand people long associated with stoner food and their college days, play around with different identities in recent years. There was the chic, Instagrammable Bell Palm Springs hotel, with pillows and pool floaties in the form of hot sauce packets. And who could forget the Taco Bell 2032 Demolition Man experience at San Diego Comic-Con in 2018, which fully committed to a futuristic restaurant with Baja Blast mocktails and robot servers?

Before designing for everything from activations to chalupa wrappers, Ayres was responsible for another big rebrand: Barry’s Bootcamp. The fitness studio was in dire need of a refresh, with its military camo walls and generic text slapped on a dog tag as its logo. As a member, Ayers took it upon himself to design an entirely new identity in his spare time and eventually presented his work to the company, which hired him. The result was a sleek boutique studio with sexy club lighting that makes for an environment worth sweating in. I talked to Ayers about his career path, taking matters into your own hands, and designing for a Taco Bell Cantina in Las Vegas where people can get married.


Image: Christopher Ayres

Who do you think is the target Taco Bell customer? Who are you designing for?

Well, we do have a clear target. We like to think of it as an eternal 25-year-old. But beyond just a person, I do think that there’s something to be said for just a rebellious, disruptive spirit, but always doing it with a wink, or some awareness and humor. The cool part about it is whoever is 25 now is not what a 25-year-old was like 10 years ago, so it’s kind of always changing. So that allows us to keep our eyes on what’s happening in pop culture.

I feel like a lot of really fun innovations come from fast food brands. I remember Taco Bell made an Xbox that makes a “bong” sound when you start it up, and KFC made a Colonel Sanders dating sim game. Is there anything you’re working on like that in terms of digital, interactive experiences?

We do get a peek behind the curtain of what’s coming, but it’s really guarded, so I guess that’s my cop out. But when you bring up digital, we are thinking of different ways to rethink the consumer ordering experience. Whether it’s digital menu boards, or kiosks, or your mobile app, or the website, or, you know, “How do we reinvent a drive-thru?” On the surface that doesn’t seem as entertaining as a video game, but I actually think it’s really cool because if you look at the fast food industry, no one’s really innovated on how to make the drive-thru better, but we’re thinking through ideas on what could be the future of that. What can we get more efficient to make it faster, or give consumers more choices? Digitally, I would say a lot of our efforts focus on enhancing the user experience.


So while you’re working on user experiences and apps, I saw that you also worked on physical retail environments. Like Taco Bell Cantina in Las Vegas, which has a DJ on the second floor and people get married there sometimes! What is the secret to making people feel like this is a cool space that’s not like your mom’s Taco Bell?

Even our brand logo is kind of this vessel that we can pour into it whatever we want. So we kind of morph and meld depending on the different scenarios, contexts, and campaigns. I always like to say that you wouldn’t show up to your best friend’s bachelorette party in Vegas the same way you would at your grandma’s potluck. So I think Taco Bell is the same: we dress and act differently depending on which party we’re showing up to. So in Vegas, that’s how we look and feel and act with our consumers in Vegas. But that might not be the same for a standalone restaurant in Iowa. They’re still both us, but I think you tailor it to the different scenarios. And because we’ve iterated in that way over the years, I think we just have this permission to do so.

On the Vegas thing with the DJs and all that. I mean, why not? If that’s what our fans love and that’s what they’re doing, then I think we give ourselves the permission. And we don’t market to kids, right? There’s no Happy Meal or anything like that. So I could see how if we did do that, a DJ in Vegas seems disingenuous, there’s like a dissonance there. And so I think we’re always cognizant of who we are, and where we should belong.

That’s interesting. I never even thought about that. Like, there’s no Happy Meal for kids.

And I get it. A lot of people probably also associate Taco Bell with their college years, and we’ve stoked that flame over the years.


Image: Christopher Ayres

I know you worked on the Barry’s Bootcamp redesign. Living in New York, I’ve walked past it a couple times, and the gym looks and feels like a club. But I had no idea what it looked like before, with the whole military vibe. It’s really incredible because you worked on the redesign as a passion project in the beginning, and now it’s reality. How does something like that happen?

Let’s say you are just going through the motions every day and work whatever your job is. So, for me at that time in my life, I was really successful. And I was getting promoted and was working on all these really cool clients. So no complaints, but I just felt like there was something missing. For me, that passion project was just something I needed to get inspired. So I would encourage anyone just to find what that spark is for you and do it because you need to and you want to and you love it, not because you necessarily expect some kind of outcome. I didn’t expect an outcome. I just did it because it was something I loved.

How did that first meeting come about?

I was so friendly with the staff and so we went out for a night of drinks. And then I got drunk and told them about it. And they were like, “You should show the owners what you did.”

So I’m not telling people to go out and get drunk. (laughs) But don’t underestimate putting yourself out there and talking about what you love. Sometimes, it just finds a way.

Is there a Barry of Barry’s Bootcamp?

There is!

So you showed Barry what you did?

I did! It’s really cool, as they know what they do so well, but they didn’t have anyone who works for them at the time who knew design. So I think when they saw it, they were like, “Yeah, you, come help us. We need help with that.”


Image: Christopher Ayres

Is there anything that you look at now and you’re like, “I’m going to change that. I want to rebrand that”?

I do it all the time. I usually snap a photo. If I’m walking around and see something, I’ll be like, “That looks bad.” I joked to my session [at Adobe Max] that in New York there were these flyers all around Manhattan that were advertising to teach you Photoshop, but it wasn’t designed well. I was like, “Ugh.” I almost wanted to go home and redesign it because it bugged me.

Is there any example of a company that you think does branding really well?

Here’s a controversial one: the new Paris Olympics logo. Everyone’s come out and said they hate it, and I don’t. It looks very French to me, and it looks like it’s celebrating femininity, which I think is the right time for us to be doing that. So I’ll be the one designer that goes on record and say that I like it.

It didn’t really stick with me, but what did stick with me was this designer’s rendition of the Tokyo Olympics logo. It went viral, but it wasn’t even the official logo.

I love that logo, it’s really good. But with both those examples, regardless of whether it’s real or not, I can’t even imagine the pressure a designer would be under to brand the Olympics. It has so much baggage. That’s a hard challenge.

What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on at Taco Bell, like a product, or maybe an experience like The Bell Palm Springs Hotel, or the Demolition Man activation at Comic-Con?

I love that you brought up The Bell Hotel and Demolition Man because in both instances, it’s an immersive experience. It’s not just about designing something like, “Here’s a pretty package” or “Here’s a pretty logo.” It’s about how an overall environment makes you feel. So you’re designing at the hotel wallpaper and “Do not disturb” hanging plaques and things that people live and interact with. And in Demolition Man, we got to do that for a restaurant that didn’t exist, that’s in the future in 2032. So you get to springboard off this great imagination and come up with really interesting things that I feel delight people in new ways that we haven’t done before. That’s the stuff that gets me excited because we are bringing the brand to people in different ways, and you don’t get bored with that. Both of those are my favorites because it’s like tailoring and designing every aspect of it.

My friend was at the Demolition Man activation and she said somebody proposed there.

Yeah, that’s amazing. At The Bell hotel, there was a couple that was going on their honeymoon to Bora Bora. And they got reservations to the hotel, so they canceled their honeymoon.

It was very exclusive! I wanted to go.

(laughing) I couldn’t even get an invite!

Categories
Food

The Pie Keeper That Will Make You the Holiday Party Hero

This post originally appeared on December 11, 2019, in Add to Cart — the weekly newsletter for people who love shopping (almost) as much as they love eating. Subscribe now.


We’re deep in gift-giving season, meaning at this point we’re all buried in gift guides. But I have to say, I’ve been enjoying the many guides this year, less for gift-giving purposes than for educational ones. Did you know that, in London at least, Aesop soap is so yesterday, and now it’s all about Mahala? Or that there’s such a thing as a cucumber basket, shaped perfectly for carrying your freshly harvested cukes? And it’s called a “trug”? Also that, for just $30, there’s a gadget that will remind you to drink water? I’m really learning so much.

Another thing I’ve learned: Turns out the thing that excites me the most this time of year is baked goods — hence today’s baked goods edition of Things to Buy.

Things to buy

  • Schlepping prepared food to someone’s home is an undeniable pain in the ass, which is why I appreciated this roundup of containers and carriers for transporting baked goods. This pie keeper from the Container Store is especially smart.
  • Three words: Republique gift baskets. The LA destination is curating gift baskets with its signature baked goods — the bounty of options includes panettone, salted caramel chocolate cake, fruit tarts, and Basque cheesecake — as well as treats from other brands, like Verve coffee and Terre Bormane olive oil.
  • A baked goods icon on the opposite coast, Levain Bakery cookies are also shippable for the holidays (along with alllllll these other baked goods).
  • For a hit of sugary goodness that won’t actually fill you up, might I interest you in a stroopwafel face mask? The self-heating masks are apparently like rubbing melted caramel directly on your face, if that sounds like something you’re interested in. (H/T to Marian Bull, who shared these on Insta.)

Things to know

  • The brand that is Alison Roman continues to grow, this time with a “Nothing Fancy Bundle” of products on the cookbook personality’s website (including a “Nothing Fancy” Baggu bag, custom matchbooks, and a “custom upstate turmeric dyed tea towel” that’s just… tie dye) that sold out in like 20 minutes.
  • Also sold out: Qdoba’s queso candle.
  • “Cool thing if you live in NYC” alert: Air’s, the glam Champagne-and-caviar destination, is selling tins of caviar for the holidays. You have to pick them up in-person at Air’s, and they’re not cheap, but the packaging is appealingly cheeky and fancy-feeling enough to inspire a trek.
  • Eater’s own Hillary Dixler Canavan was featured by Trunk Club this week, sharing some fashion advice (because what you wear to a restaurant really can matter).

Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.

Categories
Food

David Chang’s Slider Restaurant Will Open in Vegas in January

Chef David Chang’s big Majordomo Meat & Fish opens on December 30 at the Palazzo, but that’s not all he has planned for Las Vegas. Chang also plans to open Moon Palace, more of a quick, casual place to grab a bite, in January 2020 across from Majordomo Meat & Fish with a menu of Tastys, his ode to the White Manna, the slider burger institution in New Jersey, with beef or Impossible burgers served on King’s Hawaiian rolls. Other dishes include fried potato chips dubbed hot chips, and half dips with two pillowy pancakes sandwiched around marshmallow fluff and half-dipped in chocolate.

Chang is also the chef behind Momofuku at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas along with the Netflix series Ugly Delicious and more than a dozen restaurants spanning from New York to Los Angeles.

Disclosure: David Chang is producing shows for Hulu in partnership with Vox Media Studios, part of Eater’s parent company, Vox Media. No Eater staff member is involved in the production of those shows, and this does not impact coverage on Eater.

David Chang Takes on the Slider When He Opens Majordomo in Vegas [ELV]

All Coverage of Majordōmo Meat & Fish [ELV]

Majordōmo Meat & Fish

3325 Las Vegas Blvd. S. , Las Vegas, NV 89109

Visit Website

Moon Palace

3325 Las Vegas Boulevard S. , Las Vegas, NV 89109

Categories
Food

How I Got My Job: Becoming a Go-To Food Authority in Rome

In How I Got My Job, folks from across the food and restaurant industry answer Eater’s questions about, well, how they got their job. Today’s installment: Katie Parla.


Rome has such an abundance of stellar drinking and dining options that navigating the city can be a bit daunting. That’s why food obsessives turn to Rome-based journalist Katie Parla to get an insider’s perspective on where to hit during their visits. Parla has been Eater’s go-to expert for years, most recently serving as consulting editor on Eater’s Guide to Rome. She’s written for the likes of the New York Times and National Geographic Traveler, and published two cookbooks, Tasting Rome and Food of the Italian South. She also consulted on the Italy-based episodes of the Netflix series Master of None, calling it one of the coolest projects she’s ever done.Spending two weeks immersed in the food of Modena was a dream, and, because it’s such a small city, even a short time was long enough to become a regular at wine bars, restaurants, butcher stalls, and coffee shops,” she says. “It was a fun break from Roma.” Through it all, Parla somehow finds the time to lead culinary walking tours and host a podcast about food, too.

But food journalism wasn’t always part of Parla’s life plan. Growing up in New Jersey, she didn’t even realize you could make a career out of writing about Italian cuisine. In the following interview, Parla discusses how she became an authority on dining in the Eternal City through a combination of education, curiosity, and relentless hustle.

Eater: What does your job involve?

Katie Parla: I live in Rome, Italy, where I am a freelance food and beverage journalist, culinary guide, cookbook author, and co-host of the podcast Gola. Everything I do is related to food and drinks, so I spend a lot of time researching those topics, eating and drinking, and telling people about what I discover.

What did you originally want to do when you started your career?

I just wanted to survive on writing about food and drinks and the people who make them, and was totally open to every possible medium, from online publications to newspapers to mobile apps.

Did you go to culinary school or college? If so, would you recommend it?

I did my master’s degree in Italian Gastronomic Culture at Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata” and the Italy-centric sommelier certification course offered by FISAR (Federazione Italiana di Sommelier, Albergatori e Ristoratori), both in Italian. For me, education is so important, and I learn best in a classroom setting with structured lessons and assigned readings. Education gave me a solid base to build on, but I think really hard work, relentless travel, and intense curiosity have been better teachers for me.

What would you have done differently or paid more attention to at school?

No complaints or regrets with my graduate studies, but I wish I knew food writing was a thing back in college. I was really into food from a young age and would have focused on food and topics related to it, if I had even considered writing as a profession.

Student loans are such a part of the conversation around higher education right now. Has your career trajectory been impacted by debt in any way?

Because I live in Italy, education is incredibly affordable. My master’s degree cost less than $3,000 for a year-long program. I worked full-time during my studies, so [I] was able to pay for the course in full as the bills came due. My American college loans took longer to pay off — about 12 years. During that same time, my alma mater, Yale’s endowment nearly tripled to $25 billion. That’s gross and fucked up.

What was your first job? What did it involve?

My first legal job was working at the Bagel Place in Plainsboro, New Jersey, in high school. I sold bagels by the dozen and made bagel sandwiches and pizza bagels. My first job in Rome was teaching Roman topography to freshmen at an international private school, a gig for which I was profoundly unqualified and criminally underpaid.

How did you get started covering the food and beverage industry?

I started writing about Rome in general in 2003, mainly for guide books at first, then websites and magazines. I began focusing on food and beverage over other topics in 2006.

What was the biggest challenge you faced when you were starting out?

I was based in Italy and didn’t really have any connections in journalism or to editors. Building relationships and getting on people’s radar took years.

When was the first time you felt successful?

When I published my first piece in the New York Times Travel section (shout-out to Dan Saltzstein, the best editor, for taking a chance on me). It was about Ponza, one of my favorite destinations near Rome. My mom framed the article. Success.

Did you have any setbacks? What were they?

I hired London-based designers and developers to create mobile apps “Katie Parla’s Rome” and “Katie Parla’s Istanbul.” They were massive projects that I self-funded at huge expense. They were pretty successful, and we were in the process of creating two more city apps when the developers disappeared, leaving me with code I couldn’t update myself. When Apple updated its operating system for mobile devices, the apps died. Other developers I interviewed to update my apps quoted such outrageous prices that I had to abandon my mobile babies.

What was the turning point that led to where you are now?

In 2006, after three years in Italy writing about everything I could — archeology, history, travel, wine, transport, restaurants — I decided to focus solely on food. I gave myself a year to determine if I could support myself making such a switch. I hustled hard, and it worked out.

What were the most important skills that got you here?

Surviving on three hours of sleep, which is actually not a skill but just one way some people live, and it’s the only reason I have any money in my bank account.

Do you have, or did you ever have, a mentor in your field? How has that made a difference?

Sadly, no. Italians aren’t big on the whole supporting and advising younger colleagues thing.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

The best part is learning recipes from the best teachers: farmers, bakers, wine makers, chefs, and home cooks.

What is something you didn’t know going into your job? Why?

Sometimes you have to chase invoices for a year or more! Finance offices hate freelancers!

How are you making change in your industry?

I think through my writing and the Gola podcast, which I co-host with my friend Dr. Danielle Callegari, I get people thinking about Italy in a way that transcends the romantic stereotypes and forces them to confront the realities of the food industry, from Nutella’s nefarious labor practices to fraudulent olive oil to the very real presence of agricultural mafias. This doesn’t change the travel or buying habits of enough consumers, though, unfortunately.

What would you have done differently in your career?

I should have been more confident in my abilities earlier, and I should have started writing cookbooks years before Tasting Rome came out in 2016.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?

Learn to take a vacation.

What advice would you give someone who wants your job?

Study. Academic credentials masked my complete and continuing inability to craft a compelling pitch, and this tactic can work for you, too!

Amy McKeever is a freelance writer based in Washington, DC.

Photo of Katie Parla by Cobey Arner.

Illustrations from the Noun Project: camera by Dhika Hernandita; covered dish by Made by Made; wine by Made by Made; lightbulb by Maxim Kulikov; hand writing by Pongsakorn.