Graham Humphreys, CEO of The Culinary Edge, describes the company as "small, but interesting," with emphasis on the latter.
Based in the Bay Area, the group is best labeled as an innovation agency for the food services industry, comprised of Michelin-starred chefs, food anthropologists and researchers, and experts in brand operations and design. Since its founding in 2002 by Aaron Noveshen, The Culinary Edge has worked with more than 25 percent of the top food and beverage brands and developed more than 30 new businesses, including some of its own.
One of the most recognized creations is Starbird Chicken, a premium chicken chain that recently notched a $12 million investment, led by KarpReilly. The company currently oversees nine locations, including five brick-and-mortar restaurants, two ghost kitchens, and nontraditional units in Levi's Stadium and San Francisco International Airport. Sales are supplemented by a suite of virtual brands, including Starbird Wings, Starbird Salads, Starbird Bowls, and plant-based Gardenbird.
Other examples include Roam Artisan Burgers, Bun Mee, Wild Cypress, and Dom's Kitchen and Market.
"We get asked to invent the future of what we eat and drink, which is a great job," Humphreys says. "In practice, that means we might be evolving the nextgen of a restaurant chain that we all know and love or we might be creating a new restaurant chain—the concept, the experience, the brand, and the design."
Check out the latest edition of QSR Uncut to learn more about The Culinary Edge, concept creation, trends, and how to tell fact from fiction when it comes to the next big thing in restaurants.