Thursday, June 1, 2023

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The Dish

Fake meat, the ginseng problem, cannabis-infused cocktails and more


Late spring was a time of revolution and consternation in the food world. Meatless meat thrived on. Best known to the general public as Beyond Meat, the genre is now being compared to the dot com craze of the Clinton years. BM was trading at five times its IPO value after two months, 10 times that of Uber, which came out the same time to much more ballyhoo. Burger King reported 18 percent increases in gross revenue per store in one quarter after introducing its “Impossible Burger,” a plant-based fake meat sandwich that local food guru George Formaro has called the “best fake meat product yet.” Formaro also said that Burger King has contracted for so much of this product that it’s nearly impossible to find it anywhere else. Also on this subject, Tyson Foods launched its first plant-based protein brand. Beyond Meat, the company that took Wall Street by storm, moved into plant-based chicken.

On the other end of the fake/real spectrum, Israeli scientists created beer
and mead using yeasts extracted from Biblical era clay vessels. Northern Nut
Growers Association and North American Fruit Explorers will be meeting jointly
in Iowa City this month with scientists from four Israeli universities to study yeast
colonies spanning 6 millennia.

Iowa finally got tough on ginseng. Two Chicago Koreans pled guilty to
multiple crimes related to illegally harvesting ginseng in Geode State Park in
Iowa, as well as state parks in Wisconsin and Illinois. Thank God we are finally
cracking down on the dreaded ginseng problem. Others were caught in Jackson
County, Lamoni and Woodhurst with as many as 108 ginseng roots. According
to the Iowa DNR, supplies of wild ginseng have been dwindling due to intense
foraging and habitat loss.


The Iowa Restaurant and Tavern Association announced that its membership
passed 6,200 locations and that daily sales passed $12 million. Nearly six in
10 of all Iowa adults have worked in this industry, and one in three had their
first job there. Restaurant wage growth continues to outpace the rest of the jobs
industry as expansion continues. The biggest trend in this industry is the growing
percentage of restaurant meals that are eaten somewhere other than in the
restaurant. Hello, UberEats.

CNA - Stop HIV Iowa (June 2)CNA - Stop HIV Iowa (June 1)

David and Jean Thompson (Urban Grill and District 39) opened 180-seat
Urban Cellar Wine Bar, Grille and Market in the space previously occupied
by Legends American Grill and Market in West Des Moines with an Italian influenced menu and a cocktail list influenced by close ties with Buffalo Trace…
Nick Tillinghast, Kyle McClain and Ryan Hutchinson (Hello, Marjorie) readied
their Bellhop in East Village for opening with tiki trappings and Polynesian
flair… Stew’s Barbecue Shack (formerly Woody’s) in Des Moines was the latest
restaurant to carry on after the death of its charismatic owner – Steve StewartJimmy John’s expanded to a new location in the Bridgewood Center in Jordan Creek. It is the 28th local JJ’s in the metro. … Exile Brewing Company’s gold lager, Ruthie, is to be the first official craft beer of the Iowa State Fair.


After 26 years, Pete Leonetti announced that Noodles Pasta and Sandwich Shop will close on S.W. Ninth when August ends. Noodles was beloved particularly by seniors, and its passing will be a death in the family for its many customers.


According to the American Restaurant Association, the top five food trends
of 2019 will be cannabis-infused cocktails, cannabis-infused food, “zero waste”
cuisine (cooking with scraps), global inspired breakfasts, and globally inspired
kids meals… Alan Weiss (TRHS 64) was in town for his class reunion in June.
After 35 years as concierge at the Moscone Center Marriott in San Francisco, he
retired and lamented that the profession of concierge is doomed by social media
economics. He also revealed that the number of top floor (rooftop) restaurants in
the city has dwindled from 14 to four and similar dwarfing has occurred in hotels
offering room service, again due to social media economics. ♦

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Summer Stir (June 2023)