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As Washington, D.C.–based Taylor Gourmet approached its seventh anniversary, founder and co-owner Casey Patten knew he wanted to do something special for the customers, but he also had a desire to take it to the next level.
“We were thinking: What can we do that is actually better than just creating a hoagie for the customers to celebrate seven years? And that’s when we … said hold on: Why don’t we work with World Central Kitchen and why don’t we see if José has interest in putting something Haitian together to kind of make everything all play as one?” Patten says. “We were fortunate enough that those guys were super onboard and super pumped about doing it, and my team was just as excited.”
This wasn’t the brand’s first collaboration with World Central Kitchen, which seeks to end food insecurity in the U.S. and abroad, but it was the first time Taylor Gourmet had worked directly with the nonprofit’s founder and renowned D.C. chef José Andrés.
Patten’s staff at Taylor Gourmet and Andrés’s crew from his ThinkFoodGroup created a “Hoagies for Haiti” special. From November 9 to 15, proceeds from each special sold and an additional $1 will be donated to the World Central Kitchen.
The response has been exceptional. In the first 48 hours alone, Patten says, the stores were slammed trying to keep up with demand.
Andrés is most commonly known for his full-service establishments such as Jaleo, Oyamel, and Zatinya, but the celebrity chef made his first foray into fast casual with the veggie-centric concept Beefsteak earlier this year. Patten thinks that attaching the chef’s name to this LTO has helped drive traffic.
“He’s such an awesome guy, such a warm-hearted gentleman, an amazing chef with a great, great, great personality. You know when you hear ‘José,’ you think amazing food … especially in Washington, D.C. José really started his empire here,” Patten says.
The Hoagie for Haiti special gets its name—Griot Picklese—and its flavor profile straight from the island nation. Griot is spicy pork shoulder, and picklese is a spicy, vinegar mixture of cabbage and carrots. The Griot Picklese hoagie features sour orange and habanero–braided pork, pickled vegetable salad, and a caramelized plantain spread. Patten says Griot Picklese is a staple in Haiti, although it’s more often a plated meal than a sandwich.
To raise awareness for World Central Kitchen and the Haiti arm of its outreach, Taylor Gourmet is also raffling two tickets to the D.C. screening of the PBS and National Geographic documentary, “Undiscovered Haiti with José Andrés,” where the chef himself will be at hand.
When asked if Taylor Gourmet will collaborate with Andrés again, Patten says it is a possibility, if the right opportunity presents itself.
“The real fun part about this is that Jose’s staff gets to have a ton of fun with it. My staff has an amazing time with it. The customers get to try something that is new, that they may not necessarily have the chance to try,” Patten says. “It gets even better because our teams get to learn a few different techniques about food.”
In the meantime, Taylor Gourmet is gearing up for growth in 2016, when it plans to open five more D.C.-area locations. Meanwhile, Andrés will open his third Beefsteak location in Philadelphia next year.
By Nicole Duncan