In this episode of "On Foodable Side Dish," we're going to the movies!
And pop corn and hot dogs are no longer the only staples you'll see at the big screens — major movie theater chains have been ramping up the culinary level in cinema, bringing in elements of fine dining for a flavorful food experience as high-definition as the films guests are watching. (In fact, so much so, that reports by the NPD Group Supply Track show that theaters have increased foodservice spending by 20 percent.) Host Agnes Chung heads to one of iPic Theaters' locations in Manhattan and kicks it back with the brains behind the theater's full restaurant experience, complete with chef-driven menus and high-quality cocktails!
At iPic, film junkies can munch on shrimp tacos, fried chicken, and filet mignon sliders. Who is the woman responsible for this blockbusting menu? James Beard Award-winning Chef Sherry Yard, who serves as chief operating officer of the restaurant division at iPic Entertainment, and who was formerly the executive pastry chef of Wolfgang Puck restaurants for more than two decades.
"We have to consider dining in the dark," Yard said when asked about her goals while designing the menu for iPic's theater rooms versus their dining rooms. "So never too crunchy, never too smelly, no forks and knives. So, it always has to be handheld. I can then transition it into something completely different when you go into our restaurants. Here in New York, we have The Tuck Room."
To her, the dining experience and movie experience go hand-in-hand. Yard said it was all about the community — people love to eat and laugh together. To make that happen, she's created what she calls one of their super secret recipes: tuna on crispy rice! The rice patties are cooked with a combination rice-wine vinegar and topped with tuna amped up with spicy sauce, jalapeño, sweet and sour sauce, fish eggs, a bit of greens, and a little scallion for crunch.
When it comes to the ultimate cocktail, iPic turns to Corporate Sommelier and Executive Bartender Adam Seger.
"My background was more fine dining.... From there, I took [a] fine dining kind of mentality as far as quality, ingredients, and preparation, and then brought that into the bar and really kind of took a chef's approach, a seasonal approach," Seger explained, adding that his intention was to bring fresh flavors to their theaters and restaurants with a lot of care, love, and technique.
He wants his cocktails to be worthy of a destination. In this episode, he showcases their Big Apple Margarita, made with a bourbon-barrel-aged tequila, Laird's Applejack (the oldest commercial distillery in the U.S.), fresh apple cider, agave, fresh lime juice, and apple salsa on top.
If movie theaters continue to elevate their menus, will that mean more competition for the restaurant industry? Or will hospitality and entertainment thrive as a whole? And are you hungry for more? Watch the full episode now!