Top Fast Casual Chefs in the Country  

Top Fast Casual Chefs in the Country  

Fast casual dining is huge all over the country, with some of the best chefs behind the concepts. Creating the perfect mix of quick service with quality food, it's clear why so many chefs are onboard and why diners are coming back for more. Here are some of the best fast casual chefs cooking up delicious gourtmet eats right now.

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Do Modern Restaurants Need Celebrity Chef Hype?

The restaurant industry is so saturated with openings, there has been talk of the "bubble" that is about to burst. A shortage of cooks and an abundance of new concepts — along with rising rent, increasing minimum wages, and a more demanding customer audience — is putting more pressure than ever on brands to stay relevant.

This challenge is no doubt much easier for a celebrity chef to tackle, considering they "aren't just people — they're majorly successful brands," as Cornell University School of Hotel Administration professor Alex Susskind told journalist Eileen Ogintz. With so many options to choose from, how many guests are restaurant risk-takers and how many prefer a brand that is tried-and-true?

"Having a reputation and a clientele that's developed over time really helps. It's a big advantage.... People want an experience that is proven. They come because they like the brand," Charlie Palmer, the brains behind the popular Aureole in New York, said to Fox News

 “Celebrity chefs tend to come with media buzz,” Avery Fletcher, who teaches at the NYU School of Professional Studies, said in the same article. "The more people talking about the restaurant, positively, the more people will want to try it…Attention tends to beget more attention…and business.”

Celebrity chefs have shaped what consumers watch and what they eat, but perhaps celebrity status does not guarantee success. Millennials have shifted the market, as they are seeking a more authentic, unique experience at a more convenient price point. As a result, upscale concepts have moved to casualization, giving birth to a more laid-back sister restaurant.

“This is something which many of the older and more famous brands have had a hard time in providing, as formulas that have worked in the past no longer work today,” Anderson Pugash of The Dorian and Palm House said. Read More

The Downside of Seattle's Culinary Empires

Celebrity chef culture throughout the country has resulted in chef driven restaurant empires that can span multiple states, all helmed by one dynamic  culinary force. In Seattle, these empires are run by some of the best, including Tom Douglas, Ethan Stowell, Josh Henderson Renee Erickson and Matt Dillon, to name a few. These chefs each own multiple restaurant concepts and any have plans to open more in the near future. Yet while these culinary empires may excite diners throughout Seattle, they come with a downside as well.

Restaurant owner Garrett Doherty of Kraken Congee explained how the current restaurant industry structure has made him, and others, feel like outsiders. "It's really hard to start a restaurant here," he told Angela Garbes of The Stranger. "There are five chefs who own something like 45 restaurants in this city, and if you're not part of that crew, no one talks to you."

Additionally, developers and financiers often favor established business owners over first timers, thereby limiting aspiring restaurateurs' access to finding and real estate. And finally, there is the argument that with the majority of Seattle's restaurants owned by only several chefs, there is the risk of homogenizing Seattle's restaurant scene. Read More