4Food: Dejunking Fast Food for the Digital Age
Holes that fill a market gap, or what the iPad has to do with taking down Monsanto.
By Maria Popova
We all know the story — fast food is awful for us, dreadful for the environment, and one of modernity’s most gruesome addictions. Yet in a culture of constantly shrinking time budgets and an ever-increasing marketability of convenience, it’s increasingly difficult to reconcile our moral and nutritional ideals with our fast-paced workaholism. But it doesn’t have to be an either/or situation, at least not if it’s up to 4food — an innovative restaurant concept aiming to de-junk fast food for the digital age.
Founded by British serial entrepreneur and ex-music-exec Adam Kidron, former CEO of Urban Box Office, and rock musician Michael Shuman, 4food is equal parts good food and digital age fixtures. Not only are orders placed through iPad-based “Dynamic Menu Boards” or pre-ordered online, but they’re also fully customizable to your lifestyle and nutrition goals. The entire operation is designed with sustainability and ethical conduct at its core — from the local, organic, Monsanto-unaffiliated ingredients to the fairtrade worker compensation to the in-store recycling and composting programs.
We bring fast food that’s fresh, delicious, and nutritious to all ages, lifestyles, incomes, and ethnicities. No fads, fillers, or anything artificial. We’re revolutionizing counter culture, in real-time.”
The restaurant’s signature product is the W(hole)burger™ — a donut-shaped beef, lamb, pork, turkey, veggie, salmon or egg patty, paired with one of 25 ethnically and nutritionally diverse Veggiescoop centers, each with unique nutritional attributes. The “holes” from the patties are made into skewers for a perfect bunless, low-carb, shareable meal.
4food’s manifesto is a fantastic epitome of what every eatery should aspire to do and be:
- De-junked fast food is made of quality, natural ingredients and customizable to your taste and nutrition goals.
- Our foods don’t contain any hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats or oils.
- No artificial sweeteners. No preservatives. No artificial flavor enhancers.
- None of our food is fried.
- If it’s soy, it’s not Monsanto* — wherever possible we purchase whole ingredients that have neither been genetically engineered nor modified.
- Our chefs use simple and straightforward cooking techniques to prepare and cook your food to order.
- Our cows, pigs, and sheep are humanely raised while grazing and eating vegetarian diets.
- Our poultry and fish are fed heritage foods with no artificial growth hormones or antibiotics.
- You know (because we tell you) where all of our ingredients come from.
- We provide personalized nutrition facts, advice, and menu recommendations every day in—store, at www.4food.com, and printed on every receipt.
- We charge reasonable prices, when the rights of farm workers to earn a living wage, the integrity of our food preparation, and the quality of our ingredients are taken into account.
- Your purchases provide real world job training to individuals transitioning back into the work force—to earn more than minimum wage.
- We compost in-store and recycle. We employ sunscreen systems, LED lighting, and purchase renewable energy credits from alternative energy generators. We’re committed to increasing our use of sustainable power as we grow.
- We incentivize you to market your custom W(hole)burgers™ online, so that we don’t have to. The money we save on marketing enables us to purchase better quality ingredients and keep our prices down.
4food is part Apple store, part European coffeehouse, part Michael Pollan‘s wet dream. The first restaurant opens its doors at 40th & Madison in New York on September 7.
Published August 18, 2010