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Q&A with Shake Shack's Mark Rosati

Q&A with Shake Shack's Mark Rosati


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Sure, In-N-Out has a head-start on Shake Shack, Danny Meyer’s growing, high-quality fast-food burger chain, but the Shack has been replicating: Citi Field, the Upper West and Upper East Sides, the Theater District, Miami, and soon, Washington DC and Dubai. But burgers aren’t the only things beloved by Shack fans. The frozen custard has people lining up too. Mark Rosati, Shake Shack’s sunny culinary manager, recently agreed to talk about custard where it all began, Madison Square Park.

How did you get into ice cream making?

I went to school to be in film, but I was a huge fan of Gramercy Tavern. I happened to meet Tom Colicchio and John Schaefer, and I told them how much I loved it. They were like, “You’re either insane or you’re just really into what we do.” They invited me to work in the kitchen and gave me about three buckets of onions to slice. The whole time I was just like, “I can’t believe I’m in this kitchen!” Six hours later I was still smiling and they were like, “Okay then, you’re serious about this.” I worked for three years as a cook, and I’d also hang out in the pastry kitchen where I learned a lot from people like Claudia Fleming and Nancy Olson. I came here as a manager.

How many flavors do you do a year?

About 70 to 80 flavors. We repeat some.

How many are there total?

There’s a database of about 300 flavors. They break down into three categories. Ones we don’t love, ones we still like to tweak, and then the outstanding ones, the ones that really, really pop. There are at least a hundred of those.

What are the Top 5 most popular flavors?

Salted Caramel, Coffee & Donuts, Mint Chocolate Chip (which is made with Valrhona), Sweet Corn, and Cinnamon Toast. Salted Caramel is the most popular, but Coffee & Donuts is really coming up strong.

Anybody whose ice cream you’ve been particularly inspired by?

Meredith Kurtzman’s Olive Oil Gelato. It’s an amazing, amazing gelato. Maybe the best in New York.

How do you come up with inspiration for flavors?

It’s about harnessing your inner child and taking you back to the experience of enjoying things for the first time.

How do you decide which flavors go on the calendar?

We like to have a couple of foodie flavors. I like to have something from the greenmarket, and some classic flavors. Each month we try to mix it up. We do three to four seasonal flavors. Salted Caramel we do three to four times a years. People are always e-mailing us to ask, “When’s it coming back?”

What’s your favorite?

Coffee & Donuts, and Thin Mint, our take on the classic girl scout cookie.

How is it that the Shack’s custard is so soft?

The custard recipe has a lot to do with it, but a lot of it is the machine, and the fact that it’s made fresh and doesn’t sit in the Shack for more than an hour or two so there are no ice crystals. It has a thickness and creaminess that you don’t always get with soft-serve. It really lends itself to milkshakes.

Can you tell us anything about the ingredients that go into the custard?

I can tell you that the milk is full on. We’ve tasted alternatives and you just can’t get the same product without whole milk.

Are there ingredients that you use in the custards that come from local businesses?

Buttercup Cake Shop makes the red velvet cake we use in our Red Velvet Custard. There are Doughnut Plant doughnuts in our Coffee & Donuts. That was a no-brainer. We used bacon peanut brittle from The Redhead, and chocolate from the Mast Brothers.

Do you ever create flavors based on peoples’ email suggestions?

Some are made that way, and there are some that the staff has suggested, but mostly it’s about us conceptualizing.

Any challenges involved with bringing the custard program to Dubai?

Yeah, there are some. We’re going to have the same calendar but we’ll remove two flavors every month and add two flavors that are relevant to the region. So for instance, the orange creamsicle will change to include rosewater. You’ll see other things like dates, figs, and some of the unique honeys and spices that you can find in the region. I’ll be going there next month. I’m really excited about the spices. It’s of a quality you’re really not used to.

What are the strangest flavors you guys have done?

The most bizarre was Heirloom Tomato. That was a difficult one to nail. What we learned was that it had to be made using really, really good heirloom tomatoes, with a little bit of basil and a little bit of almond. Raspberry Jalapeño. I liked it but some people said it was too spicy. Mint-cucumber was refreshing but we needed to use too many cucumbers to make it and there was too much water.

What’s with the all specialty items at other Shack locations, but no specials at the original location? Is it because the kitchen is smaller here?

Well, the kitchen is smaller here, but we did run a standing order at Madison Square Park. It’s really just that it’s so busy here. But I can tell you that we’re playing with some things for the cold weather. We may have some warm items coming your way.

Is there a question that you wish you were asked more about the custard program at Shake Shack?

Well, my favorite question is, “Is there gluten in the custard?” The answer is, there is not. But I guess the most important question is, “What is custard?” It’s simply fresh ice cream that’s rich and creamy in texture because there’s a little more egg and a little less air.

Any specials we can look forward to?

The Shackenstein, chocolate custard with candy corns. It’s going to be a deconstructed Hostess Cup Cake. It’s going to be dyed green and there will be frosting and cake in it and the custard base will have marshmallow in it. That will be available at all locations.


Shake Shack Responds to Criticism Over ‘Korean-Style’ Fried Chicken Menu Debut

Crowd-favorite burger chain Shake Shack has come under fire after a new, limited-time “Korean-style” menu of chicken sandwiches and sides drew accusations of cultural appropriation for its loose interpretation of Korean fried chicken.

The menu debuted nationwide one week ago and features a sandwich with gochujang-glazed fried chicken and a white kimchi slaw nuggets and fries served with a gochujang sauce and a black sugar vanilla shake. Shortly after the reveal, some people criticized the company online for appearing to engage in cultural appropriation. Other social media users argued that adding items like kimchi and a gochujang sauce to a couple of menu items and labeling it “Korean-style” fried chicken was a lazy interpretation of the beloved food. Others encouraged diners to visit local Korean restaurants in their neighborhoods instead. “Yes, slap some gochujang on something and it’s korean,” Giaae Kwon, a Brooklyn-based writer, tweeted.

Kwon, who first heard about the sandwich when it debuted at Shake Shack locations across South Korea last year, tells Eater New York that the menu launch in the U.S. looked “like the most basic way to go about doing a Korean fried chicken.”

Others echoed the sentiment. “It feels like white people slapping together a bunch of things because they perceive it as Korean and then profiting off of those things,” says Dash Kwiatkowski, a standup comedian and podcast host based in Providence, Rhode Island, who also tweeted criticism of Shake Shack’s new menu. “What makes it ‘Korean-style?’ Is it the fact that they put kimchi on a fried chicken sandwich? Because that’s not Korean-style fried chicken.”

The U.S. launch was an iteration on a popular gochujang fried chicken sandwich that had sold well at the chain’s 14 shops in South Korea last fall, according to the company. The sandwich recipe was adjusted slightly for the stateside launch, including adding a white kimchi slaw using kimchi from Portland, Oregon-based Choi’s Kimchi Co.

Kwiatkowski and Kwon both noted that it was nice to see the chain partnering with a small, family-owned shop to source the kimchi, but were disappointed to see that the hip, NYC-based chain — which often engages in buzzy chef collaborations — did not choose to partner with a Korean restaurant or a Korean chef to help launch the menu in the U.S.

In a phone interview, Shake Shack culinary director Mark Rosati said that his team, along with employees from SPC Group — a gigantic food company based in South Korea that partnered with Shake Shack in 2015 to help it expand in the country — toured a range of fried chicken restaurants in Seoul while they were developing the chain’s sandwich, including Hanchu, Hyodo Chicken, Ungteori Tongdak, and Jung-ong Sweet & Spicy Chicken. They also sourced information on fried chicken and Korean food in general from food writers and influencers Matty Yangwoo Kim (@hungrymatty) and Jason Kim (@mykoreaneats). But none of that information made it into the announcement for the U.S. launch.

“I would love to hear what that research looked like,” Kwiatkowski says. “If you’re going to try to package someone else’s culture as a fast-food item, the very least you could do is really elevate someone from that culture, elevate some specific chefs and specific restaurants.”

In response to the criticisms of cultural appropriation levied online, Rosati says that he could “definitely see how someone might think this here” with the new menu launch. “I can understand to a point but I can never fully understand it, because it’s not my culture,” Rosati says. “It’s something that we want to listen to, and understand.”

This particular launch marks the first time that Shake Shack has taken a menu item that has performed well at one of its international locations and reinterpreted it for a nationwide rollout in the U.S., according to the company. The sandwich has been a work in progress for the past five years, Rosati says, and it debuted at Shake Shacks in South Korea late last year. The recipe was developed in collaboration with SPC Group.

When the sandwich appeared at Shake Shack’s South Korea locations, the item was labeled as a “Gochujang Chick’n Sandwich,” attaching a straightforward title to the menu item. In the U.S., the nuggets and fries included in the new menu are labeled as “Korean Gochujang Chick’n Bites” and “Korean Gochujang Fries,” while the sandwich appears on menu boards as a “Korean-style Fried Chick’n.”

That broad, flattening name of the sandwich, employed as a catch-all term lacking nuance or context, missed the mark, says NYC Korean restaurant owner Bobby Yoon.

“If you think about wasabi, or teriyaki sauce, or some kind of a Chinese food, [it’s not labeled] as ‘Chinese-style,’” Yoon, the owner of Midtown Korean restaurant Yoon Haeundae Galbi, says. “They usually say, like, ‘teriyaki chicken,’ or ‘wasabi-flavored.’ But they don’t just put it as, like, ‘Japanese-style.’” In the same way, Korean food in the U.S. is so varied, Yoon says, that labeling a gochujang-sauced fried chicken sandwich with a blanket term like “Korean-style” does a disservice to the myriad flavors and preparations of Korean food.

“I’m not saying that anybody is doing a wrong thing,” Yoon says. “But I think that if they wanted to put it as the name [of the sandwich], I think that they should have put it as ‘gochujang’ or whatever they think that the Korean style is.”

Yoon Haeundae Galbi’s spicy fried chicken Yoon Haeundae Galbi [Official]

Shake Shack’s Rosati says that, moving forward, the team is “listening” to responses to the menu items, but they’re not implementing any changes based on what they’ve heard so far. “We call it ‘Korean-style’ because it’s our take on a traditional Korean fried chicken sandwich, and is a slight variation to the one served in our South Korea Shacks,” he says.

The company purposefully used “Korean-style” and “Korean-inspired” in all of the marketing for the launch in order to signify that the sandwich was not actually an example of Korean fried chicken, Rosati says, which is generally twice-fried and dressed with a range of sauces and toppings. “It’s such a broad category,” Rosati says. “For us, it’s important to say, this is a variation of it. This is something that we draw inspiration from. This is not definitive Korean fried chicken.”

For some, the menu may have been more well-received if “it looked like they had done more thinking, and it looked like they were not just trying to profit off of [Korean food], but using their platform to really open people’s minds,” Kwiatkowski says. “I’m just saying that people should be more thoughtful and more respectful and really try to figure out how to elevate marginalized voices.”


Shake Shack Responds to Criticism Over ‘Korean-Style’ Fried Chicken Menu Debut

Crowd-favorite burger chain Shake Shack has come under fire after a new, limited-time “Korean-style” menu of chicken sandwiches and sides drew accusations of cultural appropriation for its loose interpretation of Korean fried chicken.

The menu debuted nationwide one week ago and features a sandwich with gochujang-glazed fried chicken and a white kimchi slaw nuggets and fries served with a gochujang sauce and a black sugar vanilla shake. Shortly after the reveal, some people criticized the company online for appearing to engage in cultural appropriation. Other social media users argued that adding items like kimchi and a gochujang sauce to a couple of menu items and labeling it “Korean-style” fried chicken was a lazy interpretation of the beloved food. Others encouraged diners to visit local Korean restaurants in their neighborhoods instead. “Yes, slap some gochujang on something and it’s korean,” Giaae Kwon, a Brooklyn-based writer, tweeted.

Kwon, who first heard about the sandwich when it debuted at Shake Shack locations across South Korea last year, tells Eater New York that the menu launch in the U.S. looked “like the most basic way to go about doing a Korean fried chicken.”

Others echoed the sentiment. “It feels like white people slapping together a bunch of things because they perceive it as Korean and then profiting off of those things,” says Dash Kwiatkowski, a standup comedian and podcast host based in Providence, Rhode Island, who also tweeted criticism of Shake Shack’s new menu. “What makes it ‘Korean-style?’ Is it the fact that they put kimchi on a fried chicken sandwich? Because that’s not Korean-style fried chicken.”

The U.S. launch was an iteration on a popular gochujang fried chicken sandwich that had sold well at the chain’s 14 shops in South Korea last fall, according to the company. The sandwich recipe was adjusted slightly for the stateside launch, including adding a white kimchi slaw using kimchi from Portland, Oregon-based Choi’s Kimchi Co.

Kwiatkowski and Kwon both noted that it was nice to see the chain partnering with a small, family-owned shop to source the kimchi, but were disappointed to see that the hip, NYC-based chain — which often engages in buzzy chef collaborations — did not choose to partner with a Korean restaurant or a Korean chef to help launch the menu in the U.S.

In a phone interview, Shake Shack culinary director Mark Rosati said that his team, along with employees from SPC Group — a gigantic food company based in South Korea that partnered with Shake Shack in 2015 to help it expand in the country — toured a range of fried chicken restaurants in Seoul while they were developing the chain’s sandwich, including Hanchu, Hyodo Chicken, Ungteori Tongdak, and Jung-ong Sweet & Spicy Chicken. They also sourced information on fried chicken and Korean food in general from food writers and influencers Matty Yangwoo Kim (@hungrymatty) and Jason Kim (@mykoreaneats). But none of that information made it into the announcement for the U.S. launch.

“I would love to hear what that research looked like,” Kwiatkowski says. “If you’re going to try to package someone else’s culture as a fast-food item, the very least you could do is really elevate someone from that culture, elevate some specific chefs and specific restaurants.”

In response to the criticisms of cultural appropriation levied online, Rosati says that he could “definitely see how someone might think this here” with the new menu launch. “I can understand to a point but I can never fully understand it, because it’s not my culture,” Rosati says. “It’s something that we want to listen to, and understand.”

This particular launch marks the first time that Shake Shack has taken a menu item that has performed well at one of its international locations and reinterpreted it for a nationwide rollout in the U.S., according to the company. The sandwich has been a work in progress for the past five years, Rosati says, and it debuted at Shake Shacks in South Korea late last year. The recipe was developed in collaboration with SPC Group.

When the sandwich appeared at Shake Shack’s South Korea locations, the item was labeled as a “Gochujang Chick’n Sandwich,” attaching a straightforward title to the menu item. In the U.S., the nuggets and fries included in the new menu are labeled as “Korean Gochujang Chick’n Bites” and “Korean Gochujang Fries,” while the sandwich appears on menu boards as a “Korean-style Fried Chick’n.”

That broad, flattening name of the sandwich, employed as a catch-all term lacking nuance or context, missed the mark, says NYC Korean restaurant owner Bobby Yoon.

“If you think about wasabi, or teriyaki sauce, or some kind of a Chinese food, [it’s not labeled] as ‘Chinese-style,’” Yoon, the owner of Midtown Korean restaurant Yoon Haeundae Galbi, says. “They usually say, like, ‘teriyaki chicken,’ or ‘wasabi-flavored.’ But they don’t just put it as, like, ‘Japanese-style.’” In the same way, Korean food in the U.S. is so varied, Yoon says, that labeling a gochujang-sauced fried chicken sandwich with a blanket term like “Korean-style” does a disservice to the myriad flavors and preparations of Korean food.

“I’m not saying that anybody is doing a wrong thing,” Yoon says. “But I think that if they wanted to put it as the name [of the sandwich], I think that they should have put it as ‘gochujang’ or whatever they think that the Korean style is.”

Yoon Haeundae Galbi’s spicy fried chicken Yoon Haeundae Galbi [Official]

Shake Shack’s Rosati says that, moving forward, the team is “listening” to responses to the menu items, but they’re not implementing any changes based on what they’ve heard so far. “We call it ‘Korean-style’ because it’s our take on a traditional Korean fried chicken sandwich, and is a slight variation to the one served in our South Korea Shacks,” he says.

The company purposefully used “Korean-style” and “Korean-inspired” in all of the marketing for the launch in order to signify that the sandwich was not actually an example of Korean fried chicken, Rosati says, which is generally twice-fried and dressed with a range of sauces and toppings. “It’s such a broad category,” Rosati says. “For us, it’s important to say, this is a variation of it. This is something that we draw inspiration from. This is not definitive Korean fried chicken.”

For some, the menu may have been more well-received if “it looked like they had done more thinking, and it looked like they were not just trying to profit off of [Korean food], but using their platform to really open people’s minds,” Kwiatkowski says. “I’m just saying that people should be more thoughtful and more respectful and really try to figure out how to elevate marginalized voices.”


Shake Shack Responds to Criticism Over ‘Korean-Style’ Fried Chicken Menu Debut

Crowd-favorite burger chain Shake Shack has come under fire after a new, limited-time “Korean-style” menu of chicken sandwiches and sides drew accusations of cultural appropriation for its loose interpretation of Korean fried chicken.

The menu debuted nationwide one week ago and features a sandwich with gochujang-glazed fried chicken and a white kimchi slaw nuggets and fries served with a gochujang sauce and a black sugar vanilla shake. Shortly after the reveal, some people criticized the company online for appearing to engage in cultural appropriation. Other social media users argued that adding items like kimchi and a gochujang sauce to a couple of menu items and labeling it “Korean-style” fried chicken was a lazy interpretation of the beloved food. Others encouraged diners to visit local Korean restaurants in their neighborhoods instead. “Yes, slap some gochujang on something and it’s korean,” Giaae Kwon, a Brooklyn-based writer, tweeted.

Kwon, who first heard about the sandwich when it debuted at Shake Shack locations across South Korea last year, tells Eater New York that the menu launch in the U.S. looked “like the most basic way to go about doing a Korean fried chicken.”

Others echoed the sentiment. “It feels like white people slapping together a bunch of things because they perceive it as Korean and then profiting off of those things,” says Dash Kwiatkowski, a standup comedian and podcast host based in Providence, Rhode Island, who also tweeted criticism of Shake Shack’s new menu. “What makes it ‘Korean-style?’ Is it the fact that they put kimchi on a fried chicken sandwich? Because that’s not Korean-style fried chicken.”

The U.S. launch was an iteration on a popular gochujang fried chicken sandwich that had sold well at the chain’s 14 shops in South Korea last fall, according to the company. The sandwich recipe was adjusted slightly for the stateside launch, including adding a white kimchi slaw using kimchi from Portland, Oregon-based Choi’s Kimchi Co.

Kwiatkowski and Kwon both noted that it was nice to see the chain partnering with a small, family-owned shop to source the kimchi, but were disappointed to see that the hip, NYC-based chain — which often engages in buzzy chef collaborations — did not choose to partner with a Korean restaurant or a Korean chef to help launch the menu in the U.S.

In a phone interview, Shake Shack culinary director Mark Rosati said that his team, along with employees from SPC Group — a gigantic food company based in South Korea that partnered with Shake Shack in 2015 to help it expand in the country — toured a range of fried chicken restaurants in Seoul while they were developing the chain’s sandwich, including Hanchu, Hyodo Chicken, Ungteori Tongdak, and Jung-ong Sweet & Spicy Chicken. They also sourced information on fried chicken and Korean food in general from food writers and influencers Matty Yangwoo Kim (@hungrymatty) and Jason Kim (@mykoreaneats). But none of that information made it into the announcement for the U.S. launch.

“I would love to hear what that research looked like,” Kwiatkowski says. “If you’re going to try to package someone else’s culture as a fast-food item, the very least you could do is really elevate someone from that culture, elevate some specific chefs and specific restaurants.”

In response to the criticisms of cultural appropriation levied online, Rosati says that he could “definitely see how someone might think this here” with the new menu launch. “I can understand to a point but I can never fully understand it, because it’s not my culture,” Rosati says. “It’s something that we want to listen to, and understand.”

This particular launch marks the first time that Shake Shack has taken a menu item that has performed well at one of its international locations and reinterpreted it for a nationwide rollout in the U.S., according to the company. The sandwich has been a work in progress for the past five years, Rosati says, and it debuted at Shake Shacks in South Korea late last year. The recipe was developed in collaboration with SPC Group.

When the sandwich appeared at Shake Shack’s South Korea locations, the item was labeled as a “Gochujang Chick’n Sandwich,” attaching a straightforward title to the menu item. In the U.S., the nuggets and fries included in the new menu are labeled as “Korean Gochujang Chick’n Bites” and “Korean Gochujang Fries,” while the sandwich appears on menu boards as a “Korean-style Fried Chick’n.”

That broad, flattening name of the sandwich, employed as a catch-all term lacking nuance or context, missed the mark, says NYC Korean restaurant owner Bobby Yoon.

“If you think about wasabi, or teriyaki sauce, or some kind of a Chinese food, [it’s not labeled] as ‘Chinese-style,’” Yoon, the owner of Midtown Korean restaurant Yoon Haeundae Galbi, says. “They usually say, like, ‘teriyaki chicken,’ or ‘wasabi-flavored.’ But they don’t just put it as, like, ‘Japanese-style.’” In the same way, Korean food in the U.S. is so varied, Yoon says, that labeling a gochujang-sauced fried chicken sandwich with a blanket term like “Korean-style” does a disservice to the myriad flavors and preparations of Korean food.

“I’m not saying that anybody is doing a wrong thing,” Yoon says. “But I think that if they wanted to put it as the name [of the sandwich], I think that they should have put it as ‘gochujang’ or whatever they think that the Korean style is.”

Yoon Haeundae Galbi’s spicy fried chicken Yoon Haeundae Galbi [Official]

Shake Shack’s Rosati says that, moving forward, the team is “listening” to responses to the menu items, but they’re not implementing any changes based on what they’ve heard so far. “We call it ‘Korean-style’ because it’s our take on a traditional Korean fried chicken sandwich, and is a slight variation to the one served in our South Korea Shacks,” he says.

The company purposefully used “Korean-style” and “Korean-inspired” in all of the marketing for the launch in order to signify that the sandwich was not actually an example of Korean fried chicken, Rosati says, which is generally twice-fried and dressed with a range of sauces and toppings. “It’s such a broad category,” Rosati says. “For us, it’s important to say, this is a variation of it. This is something that we draw inspiration from. This is not definitive Korean fried chicken.”

For some, the menu may have been more well-received if “it looked like they had done more thinking, and it looked like they were not just trying to profit off of [Korean food], but using their platform to really open people’s minds,” Kwiatkowski says. “I’m just saying that people should be more thoughtful and more respectful and really try to figure out how to elevate marginalized voices.”


Shake Shack Responds to Criticism Over ‘Korean-Style’ Fried Chicken Menu Debut

Crowd-favorite burger chain Shake Shack has come under fire after a new, limited-time “Korean-style” menu of chicken sandwiches and sides drew accusations of cultural appropriation for its loose interpretation of Korean fried chicken.

The menu debuted nationwide one week ago and features a sandwich with gochujang-glazed fried chicken and a white kimchi slaw nuggets and fries served with a gochujang sauce and a black sugar vanilla shake. Shortly after the reveal, some people criticized the company online for appearing to engage in cultural appropriation. Other social media users argued that adding items like kimchi and a gochujang sauce to a couple of menu items and labeling it “Korean-style” fried chicken was a lazy interpretation of the beloved food. Others encouraged diners to visit local Korean restaurants in their neighborhoods instead. “Yes, slap some gochujang on something and it’s korean,” Giaae Kwon, a Brooklyn-based writer, tweeted.

Kwon, who first heard about the sandwich when it debuted at Shake Shack locations across South Korea last year, tells Eater New York that the menu launch in the U.S. looked “like the most basic way to go about doing a Korean fried chicken.”

Others echoed the sentiment. “It feels like white people slapping together a bunch of things because they perceive it as Korean and then profiting off of those things,” says Dash Kwiatkowski, a standup comedian and podcast host based in Providence, Rhode Island, who also tweeted criticism of Shake Shack’s new menu. “What makes it ‘Korean-style?’ Is it the fact that they put kimchi on a fried chicken sandwich? Because that’s not Korean-style fried chicken.”

The U.S. launch was an iteration on a popular gochujang fried chicken sandwich that had sold well at the chain’s 14 shops in South Korea last fall, according to the company. The sandwich recipe was adjusted slightly for the stateside launch, including adding a white kimchi slaw using kimchi from Portland, Oregon-based Choi’s Kimchi Co.

Kwiatkowski and Kwon both noted that it was nice to see the chain partnering with a small, family-owned shop to source the kimchi, but were disappointed to see that the hip, NYC-based chain — which often engages in buzzy chef collaborations — did not choose to partner with a Korean restaurant or a Korean chef to help launch the menu in the U.S.

In a phone interview, Shake Shack culinary director Mark Rosati said that his team, along with employees from SPC Group — a gigantic food company based in South Korea that partnered with Shake Shack in 2015 to help it expand in the country — toured a range of fried chicken restaurants in Seoul while they were developing the chain’s sandwich, including Hanchu, Hyodo Chicken, Ungteori Tongdak, and Jung-ong Sweet & Spicy Chicken. They also sourced information on fried chicken and Korean food in general from food writers and influencers Matty Yangwoo Kim (@hungrymatty) and Jason Kim (@mykoreaneats). But none of that information made it into the announcement for the U.S. launch.

“I would love to hear what that research looked like,” Kwiatkowski says. “If you’re going to try to package someone else’s culture as a fast-food item, the very least you could do is really elevate someone from that culture, elevate some specific chefs and specific restaurants.”

In response to the criticisms of cultural appropriation levied online, Rosati says that he could “definitely see how someone might think this here” with the new menu launch. “I can understand to a point but I can never fully understand it, because it’s not my culture,” Rosati says. “It’s something that we want to listen to, and understand.”

This particular launch marks the first time that Shake Shack has taken a menu item that has performed well at one of its international locations and reinterpreted it for a nationwide rollout in the U.S., according to the company. The sandwich has been a work in progress for the past five years, Rosati says, and it debuted at Shake Shacks in South Korea late last year. The recipe was developed in collaboration with SPC Group.

When the sandwich appeared at Shake Shack’s South Korea locations, the item was labeled as a “Gochujang Chick’n Sandwich,” attaching a straightforward title to the menu item. In the U.S., the nuggets and fries included in the new menu are labeled as “Korean Gochujang Chick’n Bites” and “Korean Gochujang Fries,” while the sandwich appears on menu boards as a “Korean-style Fried Chick’n.”

That broad, flattening name of the sandwich, employed as a catch-all term lacking nuance or context, missed the mark, says NYC Korean restaurant owner Bobby Yoon.

“If you think about wasabi, or teriyaki sauce, or some kind of a Chinese food, [it’s not labeled] as ‘Chinese-style,’” Yoon, the owner of Midtown Korean restaurant Yoon Haeundae Galbi, says. “They usually say, like, ‘teriyaki chicken,’ or ‘wasabi-flavored.’ But they don’t just put it as, like, ‘Japanese-style.’” In the same way, Korean food in the U.S. is so varied, Yoon says, that labeling a gochujang-sauced fried chicken sandwich with a blanket term like “Korean-style” does a disservice to the myriad flavors and preparations of Korean food.

“I’m not saying that anybody is doing a wrong thing,” Yoon says. “But I think that if they wanted to put it as the name [of the sandwich], I think that they should have put it as ‘gochujang’ or whatever they think that the Korean style is.”

Yoon Haeundae Galbi’s spicy fried chicken Yoon Haeundae Galbi [Official]

Shake Shack’s Rosati says that, moving forward, the team is “listening” to responses to the menu items, but they’re not implementing any changes based on what they’ve heard so far. “We call it ‘Korean-style’ because it’s our take on a traditional Korean fried chicken sandwich, and is a slight variation to the one served in our South Korea Shacks,” he says.

The company purposefully used “Korean-style” and “Korean-inspired” in all of the marketing for the launch in order to signify that the sandwich was not actually an example of Korean fried chicken, Rosati says, which is generally twice-fried and dressed with a range of sauces and toppings. “It’s such a broad category,” Rosati says. “For us, it’s important to say, this is a variation of it. This is something that we draw inspiration from. This is not definitive Korean fried chicken.”

For some, the menu may have been more well-received if “it looked like they had done more thinking, and it looked like they were not just trying to profit off of [Korean food], but using their platform to really open people’s minds,” Kwiatkowski says. “I’m just saying that people should be more thoughtful and more respectful and really try to figure out how to elevate marginalized voices.”


Shake Shack Responds to Criticism Over ‘Korean-Style’ Fried Chicken Menu Debut

Crowd-favorite burger chain Shake Shack has come under fire after a new, limited-time “Korean-style” menu of chicken sandwiches and sides drew accusations of cultural appropriation for its loose interpretation of Korean fried chicken.

The menu debuted nationwide one week ago and features a sandwich with gochujang-glazed fried chicken and a white kimchi slaw nuggets and fries served with a gochujang sauce and a black sugar vanilla shake. Shortly after the reveal, some people criticized the company online for appearing to engage in cultural appropriation. Other social media users argued that adding items like kimchi and a gochujang sauce to a couple of menu items and labeling it “Korean-style” fried chicken was a lazy interpretation of the beloved food. Others encouraged diners to visit local Korean restaurants in their neighborhoods instead. “Yes, slap some gochujang on something and it’s korean,” Giaae Kwon, a Brooklyn-based writer, tweeted.

Kwon, who first heard about the sandwich when it debuted at Shake Shack locations across South Korea last year, tells Eater New York that the menu launch in the U.S. looked “like the most basic way to go about doing a Korean fried chicken.”

Others echoed the sentiment. “It feels like white people slapping together a bunch of things because they perceive it as Korean and then profiting off of those things,” says Dash Kwiatkowski, a standup comedian and podcast host based in Providence, Rhode Island, who also tweeted criticism of Shake Shack’s new menu. “What makes it ‘Korean-style?’ Is it the fact that they put kimchi on a fried chicken sandwich? Because that’s not Korean-style fried chicken.”

The U.S. launch was an iteration on a popular gochujang fried chicken sandwich that had sold well at the chain’s 14 shops in South Korea last fall, according to the company. The sandwich recipe was adjusted slightly for the stateside launch, including adding a white kimchi slaw using kimchi from Portland, Oregon-based Choi’s Kimchi Co.

Kwiatkowski and Kwon both noted that it was nice to see the chain partnering with a small, family-owned shop to source the kimchi, but were disappointed to see that the hip, NYC-based chain — which often engages in buzzy chef collaborations — did not choose to partner with a Korean restaurant or a Korean chef to help launch the menu in the U.S.

In a phone interview, Shake Shack culinary director Mark Rosati said that his team, along with employees from SPC Group — a gigantic food company based in South Korea that partnered with Shake Shack in 2015 to help it expand in the country — toured a range of fried chicken restaurants in Seoul while they were developing the chain’s sandwich, including Hanchu, Hyodo Chicken, Ungteori Tongdak, and Jung-ong Sweet & Spicy Chicken. They also sourced information on fried chicken and Korean food in general from food writers and influencers Matty Yangwoo Kim (@hungrymatty) and Jason Kim (@mykoreaneats). But none of that information made it into the announcement for the U.S. launch.

“I would love to hear what that research looked like,” Kwiatkowski says. “If you’re going to try to package someone else’s culture as a fast-food item, the very least you could do is really elevate someone from that culture, elevate some specific chefs and specific restaurants.”

In response to the criticisms of cultural appropriation levied online, Rosati says that he could “definitely see how someone might think this here” with the new menu launch. “I can understand to a point but I can never fully understand it, because it’s not my culture,” Rosati says. “It’s something that we want to listen to, and understand.”

This particular launch marks the first time that Shake Shack has taken a menu item that has performed well at one of its international locations and reinterpreted it for a nationwide rollout in the U.S., according to the company. The sandwich has been a work in progress for the past five years, Rosati says, and it debuted at Shake Shacks in South Korea late last year. The recipe was developed in collaboration with SPC Group.

When the sandwich appeared at Shake Shack’s South Korea locations, the item was labeled as a “Gochujang Chick’n Sandwich,” attaching a straightforward title to the menu item. In the U.S., the nuggets and fries included in the new menu are labeled as “Korean Gochujang Chick’n Bites” and “Korean Gochujang Fries,” while the sandwich appears on menu boards as a “Korean-style Fried Chick’n.”

That broad, flattening name of the sandwich, employed as a catch-all term lacking nuance or context, missed the mark, says NYC Korean restaurant owner Bobby Yoon.

“If you think about wasabi, or teriyaki sauce, or some kind of a Chinese food, [it’s not labeled] as ‘Chinese-style,’” Yoon, the owner of Midtown Korean restaurant Yoon Haeundae Galbi, says. “They usually say, like, ‘teriyaki chicken,’ or ‘wasabi-flavored.’ But they don’t just put it as, like, ‘Japanese-style.’” In the same way, Korean food in the U.S. is so varied, Yoon says, that labeling a gochujang-sauced fried chicken sandwich with a blanket term like “Korean-style” does a disservice to the myriad flavors and preparations of Korean food.

“I’m not saying that anybody is doing a wrong thing,” Yoon says. “But I think that if they wanted to put it as the name [of the sandwich], I think that they should have put it as ‘gochujang’ or whatever they think that the Korean style is.”

Yoon Haeundae Galbi’s spicy fried chicken Yoon Haeundae Galbi [Official]

Shake Shack’s Rosati says that, moving forward, the team is “listening” to responses to the menu items, but they’re not implementing any changes based on what they’ve heard so far. “We call it ‘Korean-style’ because it’s our take on a traditional Korean fried chicken sandwich, and is a slight variation to the one served in our South Korea Shacks,” he says.

The company purposefully used “Korean-style” and “Korean-inspired” in all of the marketing for the launch in order to signify that the sandwich was not actually an example of Korean fried chicken, Rosati says, which is generally twice-fried and dressed with a range of sauces and toppings. “It’s such a broad category,” Rosati says. “For us, it’s important to say, this is a variation of it. This is something that we draw inspiration from. This is not definitive Korean fried chicken.”

For some, the menu may have been more well-received if “it looked like they had done more thinking, and it looked like they were not just trying to profit off of [Korean food], but using their platform to really open people’s minds,” Kwiatkowski says. “I’m just saying that people should be more thoughtful and more respectful and really try to figure out how to elevate marginalized voices.”


Shake Shack Responds to Criticism Over ‘Korean-Style’ Fried Chicken Menu Debut

Crowd-favorite burger chain Shake Shack has come under fire after a new, limited-time “Korean-style” menu of chicken sandwiches and sides drew accusations of cultural appropriation for its loose interpretation of Korean fried chicken.

The menu debuted nationwide one week ago and features a sandwich with gochujang-glazed fried chicken and a white kimchi slaw nuggets and fries served with a gochujang sauce and a black sugar vanilla shake. Shortly after the reveal, some people criticized the company online for appearing to engage in cultural appropriation. Other social media users argued that adding items like kimchi and a gochujang sauce to a couple of menu items and labeling it “Korean-style” fried chicken was a lazy interpretation of the beloved food. Others encouraged diners to visit local Korean restaurants in their neighborhoods instead. “Yes, slap some gochujang on something and it’s korean,” Giaae Kwon, a Brooklyn-based writer, tweeted.

Kwon, who first heard about the sandwich when it debuted at Shake Shack locations across South Korea last year, tells Eater New York that the menu launch in the U.S. looked “like the most basic way to go about doing a Korean fried chicken.”

Others echoed the sentiment. “It feels like white people slapping together a bunch of things because they perceive it as Korean and then profiting off of those things,” says Dash Kwiatkowski, a standup comedian and podcast host based in Providence, Rhode Island, who also tweeted criticism of Shake Shack’s new menu. “What makes it ‘Korean-style?’ Is it the fact that they put kimchi on a fried chicken sandwich? Because that’s not Korean-style fried chicken.”

The U.S. launch was an iteration on a popular gochujang fried chicken sandwich that had sold well at the chain’s 14 shops in South Korea last fall, according to the company. The sandwich recipe was adjusted slightly for the stateside launch, including adding a white kimchi slaw using kimchi from Portland, Oregon-based Choi’s Kimchi Co.

Kwiatkowski and Kwon both noted that it was nice to see the chain partnering with a small, family-owned shop to source the kimchi, but were disappointed to see that the hip, NYC-based chain — which often engages in buzzy chef collaborations — did not choose to partner with a Korean restaurant or a Korean chef to help launch the menu in the U.S.

In a phone interview, Shake Shack culinary director Mark Rosati said that his team, along with employees from SPC Group — a gigantic food company based in South Korea that partnered with Shake Shack in 2015 to help it expand in the country — toured a range of fried chicken restaurants in Seoul while they were developing the chain’s sandwich, including Hanchu, Hyodo Chicken, Ungteori Tongdak, and Jung-ong Sweet & Spicy Chicken. They also sourced information on fried chicken and Korean food in general from food writers and influencers Matty Yangwoo Kim (@hungrymatty) and Jason Kim (@mykoreaneats). But none of that information made it into the announcement for the U.S. launch.

“I would love to hear what that research looked like,” Kwiatkowski says. “If you’re going to try to package someone else’s culture as a fast-food item, the very least you could do is really elevate someone from that culture, elevate some specific chefs and specific restaurants.”

In response to the criticisms of cultural appropriation levied online, Rosati says that he could “definitely see how someone might think this here” with the new menu launch. “I can understand to a point but I can never fully understand it, because it’s not my culture,” Rosati says. “It’s something that we want to listen to, and understand.”

This particular launch marks the first time that Shake Shack has taken a menu item that has performed well at one of its international locations and reinterpreted it for a nationwide rollout in the U.S., according to the company. The sandwich has been a work in progress for the past five years, Rosati says, and it debuted at Shake Shacks in South Korea late last year. The recipe was developed in collaboration with SPC Group.

When the sandwich appeared at Shake Shack’s South Korea locations, the item was labeled as a “Gochujang Chick’n Sandwich,” attaching a straightforward title to the menu item. In the U.S., the nuggets and fries included in the new menu are labeled as “Korean Gochujang Chick’n Bites” and “Korean Gochujang Fries,” while the sandwich appears on menu boards as a “Korean-style Fried Chick’n.”

That broad, flattening name of the sandwich, employed as a catch-all term lacking nuance or context, missed the mark, says NYC Korean restaurant owner Bobby Yoon.

“If you think about wasabi, or teriyaki sauce, or some kind of a Chinese food, [it’s not labeled] as ‘Chinese-style,’” Yoon, the owner of Midtown Korean restaurant Yoon Haeundae Galbi, says. “They usually say, like, ‘teriyaki chicken,’ or ‘wasabi-flavored.’ But they don’t just put it as, like, ‘Japanese-style.’” In the same way, Korean food in the U.S. is so varied, Yoon says, that labeling a gochujang-sauced fried chicken sandwich with a blanket term like “Korean-style” does a disservice to the myriad flavors and preparations of Korean food.

“I’m not saying that anybody is doing a wrong thing,” Yoon says. “But I think that if they wanted to put it as the name [of the sandwich], I think that they should have put it as ‘gochujang’ or whatever they think that the Korean style is.”

Yoon Haeundae Galbi’s spicy fried chicken Yoon Haeundae Galbi [Official]

Shake Shack’s Rosati says that, moving forward, the team is “listening” to responses to the menu items, but they’re not implementing any changes based on what they’ve heard so far. “We call it ‘Korean-style’ because it’s our take on a traditional Korean fried chicken sandwich, and is a slight variation to the one served in our South Korea Shacks,” he says.

The company purposefully used “Korean-style” and “Korean-inspired” in all of the marketing for the launch in order to signify that the sandwich was not actually an example of Korean fried chicken, Rosati says, which is generally twice-fried and dressed with a range of sauces and toppings. “It’s such a broad category,” Rosati says. “For us, it’s important to say, this is a variation of it. This is something that we draw inspiration from. This is not definitive Korean fried chicken.”

For some, the menu may have been more well-received if “it looked like they had done more thinking, and it looked like they were not just trying to profit off of [Korean food], but using their platform to really open people’s minds,” Kwiatkowski says. “I’m just saying that people should be more thoughtful and more respectful and really try to figure out how to elevate marginalized voices.”


Shake Shack Responds to Criticism Over ‘Korean-Style’ Fried Chicken Menu Debut

Crowd-favorite burger chain Shake Shack has come under fire after a new, limited-time “Korean-style” menu of chicken sandwiches and sides drew accusations of cultural appropriation for its loose interpretation of Korean fried chicken.

The menu debuted nationwide one week ago and features a sandwich with gochujang-glazed fried chicken and a white kimchi slaw nuggets and fries served with a gochujang sauce and a black sugar vanilla shake. Shortly after the reveal, some people criticized the company online for appearing to engage in cultural appropriation. Other social media users argued that adding items like kimchi and a gochujang sauce to a couple of menu items and labeling it “Korean-style” fried chicken was a lazy interpretation of the beloved food. Others encouraged diners to visit local Korean restaurants in their neighborhoods instead. “Yes, slap some gochujang on something and it’s korean,” Giaae Kwon, a Brooklyn-based writer, tweeted.

Kwon, who first heard about the sandwich when it debuted at Shake Shack locations across South Korea last year, tells Eater New York that the menu launch in the U.S. looked “like the most basic way to go about doing a Korean fried chicken.”

Others echoed the sentiment. “It feels like white people slapping together a bunch of things because they perceive it as Korean and then profiting off of those things,” says Dash Kwiatkowski, a standup comedian and podcast host based in Providence, Rhode Island, who also tweeted criticism of Shake Shack’s new menu. “What makes it ‘Korean-style?’ Is it the fact that they put kimchi on a fried chicken sandwich? Because that’s not Korean-style fried chicken.”

The U.S. launch was an iteration on a popular gochujang fried chicken sandwich that had sold well at the chain’s 14 shops in South Korea last fall, according to the company. The sandwich recipe was adjusted slightly for the stateside launch, including adding a white kimchi slaw using kimchi from Portland, Oregon-based Choi’s Kimchi Co.

Kwiatkowski and Kwon both noted that it was nice to see the chain partnering with a small, family-owned shop to source the kimchi, but were disappointed to see that the hip, NYC-based chain — which often engages in buzzy chef collaborations — did not choose to partner with a Korean restaurant or a Korean chef to help launch the menu in the U.S.

In a phone interview, Shake Shack culinary director Mark Rosati said that his team, along with employees from SPC Group — a gigantic food company based in South Korea that partnered with Shake Shack in 2015 to help it expand in the country — toured a range of fried chicken restaurants in Seoul while they were developing the chain’s sandwich, including Hanchu, Hyodo Chicken, Ungteori Tongdak, and Jung-ong Sweet & Spicy Chicken. They also sourced information on fried chicken and Korean food in general from food writers and influencers Matty Yangwoo Kim (@hungrymatty) and Jason Kim (@mykoreaneats). But none of that information made it into the announcement for the U.S. launch.

“I would love to hear what that research looked like,” Kwiatkowski says. “If you’re going to try to package someone else’s culture as a fast-food item, the very least you could do is really elevate someone from that culture, elevate some specific chefs and specific restaurants.”

In response to the criticisms of cultural appropriation levied online, Rosati says that he could “definitely see how someone might think this here” with the new menu launch. “I can understand to a point but I can never fully understand it, because it’s not my culture,” Rosati says. “It’s something that we want to listen to, and understand.”

This particular launch marks the first time that Shake Shack has taken a menu item that has performed well at one of its international locations and reinterpreted it for a nationwide rollout in the U.S., according to the company. The sandwich has been a work in progress for the past five years, Rosati says, and it debuted at Shake Shacks in South Korea late last year. The recipe was developed in collaboration with SPC Group.

When the sandwich appeared at Shake Shack’s South Korea locations, the item was labeled as a “Gochujang Chick’n Sandwich,” attaching a straightforward title to the menu item. In the U.S., the nuggets and fries included in the new menu are labeled as “Korean Gochujang Chick’n Bites” and “Korean Gochujang Fries,” while the sandwich appears on menu boards as a “Korean-style Fried Chick’n.”

That broad, flattening name of the sandwich, employed as a catch-all term lacking nuance or context, missed the mark, says NYC Korean restaurant owner Bobby Yoon.

“If you think about wasabi, or teriyaki sauce, or some kind of a Chinese food, [it’s not labeled] as ‘Chinese-style,’” Yoon, the owner of Midtown Korean restaurant Yoon Haeundae Galbi, says. “They usually say, like, ‘teriyaki chicken,’ or ‘wasabi-flavored.’ But they don’t just put it as, like, ‘Japanese-style.’” In the same way, Korean food in the U.S. is so varied, Yoon says, that labeling a gochujang-sauced fried chicken sandwich with a blanket term like “Korean-style” does a disservice to the myriad flavors and preparations of Korean food.

“I’m not saying that anybody is doing a wrong thing,” Yoon says. “But I think that if they wanted to put it as the name [of the sandwich], I think that they should have put it as ‘gochujang’ or whatever they think that the Korean style is.”

Yoon Haeundae Galbi’s spicy fried chicken Yoon Haeundae Galbi [Official]

Shake Shack’s Rosati says that, moving forward, the team is “listening” to responses to the menu items, but they’re not implementing any changes based on what they’ve heard so far. “We call it ‘Korean-style’ because it’s our take on a traditional Korean fried chicken sandwich, and is a slight variation to the one served in our South Korea Shacks,” he says.

The company purposefully used “Korean-style” and “Korean-inspired” in all of the marketing for the launch in order to signify that the sandwich was not actually an example of Korean fried chicken, Rosati says, which is generally twice-fried and dressed with a range of sauces and toppings. “It’s such a broad category,” Rosati says. “For us, it’s important to say, this is a variation of it. This is something that we draw inspiration from. This is not definitive Korean fried chicken.”

For some, the menu may have been more well-received if “it looked like they had done more thinking, and it looked like they were not just trying to profit off of [Korean food], but using their platform to really open people’s minds,” Kwiatkowski says. “I’m just saying that people should be more thoughtful and more respectful and really try to figure out how to elevate marginalized voices.”


Shake Shack Responds to Criticism Over ‘Korean-Style’ Fried Chicken Menu Debut

Crowd-favorite burger chain Shake Shack has come under fire after a new, limited-time “Korean-style” menu of chicken sandwiches and sides drew accusations of cultural appropriation for its loose interpretation of Korean fried chicken.

The menu debuted nationwide one week ago and features a sandwich with gochujang-glazed fried chicken and a white kimchi slaw nuggets and fries served with a gochujang sauce and a black sugar vanilla shake. Shortly after the reveal, some people criticized the company online for appearing to engage in cultural appropriation. Other social media users argued that adding items like kimchi and a gochujang sauce to a couple of menu items and labeling it “Korean-style” fried chicken was a lazy interpretation of the beloved food. Others encouraged diners to visit local Korean restaurants in their neighborhoods instead. “Yes, slap some gochujang on something and it’s korean,” Giaae Kwon, a Brooklyn-based writer, tweeted.

Kwon, who first heard about the sandwich when it debuted at Shake Shack locations across South Korea last year, tells Eater New York that the menu launch in the U.S. looked “like the most basic way to go about doing a Korean fried chicken.”

Others echoed the sentiment. “It feels like white people slapping together a bunch of things because they perceive it as Korean and then profiting off of those things,” says Dash Kwiatkowski, a standup comedian and podcast host based in Providence, Rhode Island, who also tweeted criticism of Shake Shack’s new menu. “What makes it ‘Korean-style?’ Is it the fact that they put kimchi on a fried chicken sandwich? Because that’s not Korean-style fried chicken.”

The U.S. launch was an iteration on a popular gochujang fried chicken sandwich that had sold well at the chain’s 14 shops in South Korea last fall, according to the company. The sandwich recipe was adjusted slightly for the stateside launch, including adding a white kimchi slaw using kimchi from Portland, Oregon-based Choi’s Kimchi Co.

Kwiatkowski and Kwon both noted that it was nice to see the chain partnering with a small, family-owned shop to source the kimchi, but were disappointed to see that the hip, NYC-based chain — which often engages in buzzy chef collaborations — did not choose to partner with a Korean restaurant or a Korean chef to help launch the menu in the U.S.

In a phone interview, Shake Shack culinary director Mark Rosati said that his team, along with employees from SPC Group — a gigantic food company based in South Korea that partnered with Shake Shack in 2015 to help it expand in the country — toured a range of fried chicken restaurants in Seoul while they were developing the chain’s sandwich, including Hanchu, Hyodo Chicken, Ungteori Tongdak, and Jung-ong Sweet & Spicy Chicken. They also sourced information on fried chicken and Korean food in general from food writers and influencers Matty Yangwoo Kim (@hungrymatty) and Jason Kim (@mykoreaneats). But none of that information made it into the announcement for the U.S. launch.

“I would love to hear what that research looked like,” Kwiatkowski says. “If you’re going to try to package someone else’s culture as a fast-food item, the very least you could do is really elevate someone from that culture, elevate some specific chefs and specific restaurants.”

In response to the criticisms of cultural appropriation levied online, Rosati says that he could “definitely see how someone might think this here” with the new menu launch. “I can understand to a point but I can never fully understand it, because it’s not my culture,” Rosati says. “It’s something that we want to listen to, and understand.”

This particular launch marks the first time that Shake Shack has taken a menu item that has performed well at one of its international locations and reinterpreted it for a nationwide rollout in the U.S., according to the company. The sandwich has been a work in progress for the past five years, Rosati says, and it debuted at Shake Shacks in South Korea late last year. The recipe was developed in collaboration with SPC Group.

When the sandwich appeared at Shake Shack’s South Korea locations, the item was labeled as a “Gochujang Chick’n Sandwich,” attaching a straightforward title to the menu item. In the U.S., the nuggets and fries included in the new menu are labeled as “Korean Gochujang Chick’n Bites” and “Korean Gochujang Fries,” while the sandwich appears on menu boards as a “Korean-style Fried Chick’n.”

That broad, flattening name of the sandwich, employed as a catch-all term lacking nuance or context, missed the mark, says NYC Korean restaurant owner Bobby Yoon.

“If you think about wasabi, or teriyaki sauce, or some kind of a Chinese food, [it’s not labeled] as ‘Chinese-style,’” Yoon, the owner of Midtown Korean restaurant Yoon Haeundae Galbi, says. “They usually say, like, ‘teriyaki chicken,’ or ‘wasabi-flavored.’ But they don’t just put it as, like, ‘Japanese-style.’” In the same way, Korean food in the U.S. is so varied, Yoon says, that labeling a gochujang-sauced fried chicken sandwich with a blanket term like “Korean-style” does a disservice to the myriad flavors and preparations of Korean food.

“I’m not saying that anybody is doing a wrong thing,” Yoon says. “But I think that if they wanted to put it as the name [of the sandwich], I think that they should have put it as ‘gochujang’ or whatever they think that the Korean style is.”

Yoon Haeundae Galbi’s spicy fried chicken Yoon Haeundae Galbi [Official]

Shake Shack’s Rosati says that, moving forward, the team is “listening” to responses to the menu items, but they’re not implementing any changes based on what they’ve heard so far. “We call it ‘Korean-style’ because it’s our take on a traditional Korean fried chicken sandwich, and is a slight variation to the one served in our South Korea Shacks,” he says.

The company purposefully used “Korean-style” and “Korean-inspired” in all of the marketing for the launch in order to signify that the sandwich was not actually an example of Korean fried chicken, Rosati says, which is generally twice-fried and dressed with a range of sauces and toppings. “It’s such a broad category,” Rosati says. “For us, it’s important to say, this is a variation of it. This is something that we draw inspiration from. This is not definitive Korean fried chicken.”

For some, the menu may have been more well-received if “it looked like they had done more thinking, and it looked like they were not just trying to profit off of [Korean food], but using their platform to really open people’s minds,” Kwiatkowski says. “I’m just saying that people should be more thoughtful and more respectful and really try to figure out how to elevate marginalized voices.”


Shake Shack Responds to Criticism Over ‘Korean-Style’ Fried Chicken Menu Debut

Crowd-favorite burger chain Shake Shack has come under fire after a new, limited-time “Korean-style” menu of chicken sandwiches and sides drew accusations of cultural appropriation for its loose interpretation of Korean fried chicken.

The menu debuted nationwide one week ago and features a sandwich with gochujang-glazed fried chicken and a white kimchi slaw nuggets and fries served with a gochujang sauce and a black sugar vanilla shake. Shortly after the reveal, some people criticized the company online for appearing to engage in cultural appropriation. Other social media users argued that adding items like kimchi and a gochujang sauce to a couple of menu items and labeling it “Korean-style” fried chicken was a lazy interpretation of the beloved food. Others encouraged diners to visit local Korean restaurants in their neighborhoods instead. “Yes, slap some gochujang on something and it’s korean,” Giaae Kwon, a Brooklyn-based writer, tweeted.

Kwon, who first heard about the sandwich when it debuted at Shake Shack locations across South Korea last year, tells Eater New York that the menu launch in the U.S. looked “like the most basic way to go about doing a Korean fried chicken.”

Others echoed the sentiment. “It feels like white people slapping together a bunch of things because they perceive it as Korean and then profiting off of those things,” says Dash Kwiatkowski, a standup comedian and podcast host based in Providence, Rhode Island, who also tweeted criticism of Shake Shack’s new menu. “What makes it ‘Korean-style?’ Is it the fact that they put kimchi on a fried chicken sandwich? Because that’s not Korean-style fried chicken.”

The U.S. launch was an iteration on a popular gochujang fried chicken sandwich that had sold well at the chain’s 14 shops in South Korea last fall, according to the company. The sandwich recipe was adjusted slightly for the stateside launch, including adding a white kimchi slaw using kimchi from Portland, Oregon-based Choi’s Kimchi Co.

Kwiatkowski and Kwon both noted that it was nice to see the chain partnering with a small, family-owned shop to source the kimchi, but were disappointed to see that the hip, NYC-based chain — which often engages in buzzy chef collaborations — did not choose to partner with a Korean restaurant or a Korean chef to help launch the menu in the U.S.

In a phone interview, Shake Shack culinary director Mark Rosati said that his team, along with employees from SPC Group — a gigantic food company based in South Korea that partnered with Shake Shack in 2015 to help it expand in the country — toured a range of fried chicken restaurants in Seoul while they were developing the chain’s sandwich, including Hanchu, Hyodo Chicken, Ungteori Tongdak, and Jung-ong Sweet & Spicy Chicken. They also sourced information on fried chicken and Korean food in general from food writers and influencers Matty Yangwoo Kim (@hungrymatty) and Jason Kim (@mykoreaneats). But none of that information made it into the announcement for the U.S. launch.

“I would love to hear what that research looked like,” Kwiatkowski says. “If you’re going to try to package someone else’s culture as a fast-food item, the very least you could do is really elevate someone from that culture, elevate some specific chefs and specific restaurants.”

In response to the criticisms of cultural appropriation levied online, Rosati says that he could “definitely see how someone might think this here” with the new menu launch. “I can understand to a point but I can never fully understand it, because it’s not my culture,” Rosati says. “It’s something that we want to listen to, and understand.”

This particular launch marks the first time that Shake Shack has taken a menu item that has performed well at one of its international locations and reinterpreted it for a nationwide rollout in the U.S., according to the company. The sandwich has been a work in progress for the past five years, Rosati says, and it debuted at Shake Shacks in South Korea late last year. The recipe was developed in collaboration with SPC Group.

When the sandwich appeared at Shake Shack’s South Korea locations, the item was labeled as a “Gochujang Chick’n Sandwich,” attaching a straightforward title to the menu item. In the U.S., the nuggets and fries included in the new menu are labeled as “Korean Gochujang Chick’n Bites” and “Korean Gochujang Fries,” while the sandwich appears on menu boards as a “Korean-style Fried Chick’n.”

That broad, flattening name of the sandwich, employed as a catch-all term lacking nuance or context, missed the mark, says NYC Korean restaurant owner Bobby Yoon.

“If you think about wasabi, or teriyaki sauce, or some kind of a Chinese food, [it’s not labeled] as ‘Chinese-style,’” Yoon, the owner of Midtown Korean restaurant Yoon Haeundae Galbi, says. “They usually say, like, ‘teriyaki chicken,’ or ‘wasabi-flavored.’ But they don’t just put it as, like, ‘Japanese-style.’” In the same way, Korean food in the U.S. is so varied, Yoon says, that labeling a gochujang-sauced fried chicken sandwich with a blanket term like “Korean-style” does a disservice to the myriad flavors and preparations of Korean food.

“I’m not saying that anybody is doing a wrong thing,” Yoon says. “But I think that if they wanted to put it as the name [of the sandwich], I think that they should have put it as ‘gochujang’ or whatever they think that the Korean style is.”

Yoon Haeundae Galbi’s spicy fried chicken Yoon Haeundae Galbi [Official]

Shake Shack’s Rosati says that, moving forward, the team is “listening” to responses to the menu items, but they’re not implementing any changes based on what they’ve heard so far. “We call it ‘Korean-style’ because it’s our take on a traditional Korean fried chicken sandwich, and is a slight variation to the one served in our South Korea Shacks,” he says.

The company purposefully used “Korean-style” and “Korean-inspired” in all of the marketing for the launch in order to signify that the sandwich was not actually an example of Korean fried chicken, Rosati says, which is generally twice-fried and dressed with a range of sauces and toppings. “It’s such a broad category,” Rosati says. “For us, it’s important to say, this is a variation of it. This is something that we draw inspiration from. This is not definitive Korean fried chicken.”

For some, the menu may have been more well-received if “it looked like they had done more thinking, and it looked like they were not just trying to profit off of [Korean food], but using their platform to really open people’s minds,” Kwiatkowski says. “I’m just saying that people should be more thoughtful and more respectful and really try to figure out how to elevate marginalized voices.”


Shake Shack Responds to Criticism Over ‘Korean-Style’ Fried Chicken Menu Debut

Crowd-favorite burger chain Shake Shack has come under fire after a new, limited-time “Korean-style” menu of chicken sandwiches and sides drew accusations of cultural appropriation for its loose interpretation of Korean fried chicken.

The menu debuted nationwide one week ago and features a sandwich with gochujang-glazed fried chicken and a white kimchi slaw nuggets and fries served with a gochujang sauce and a black sugar vanilla shake. Shortly after the reveal, some people criticized the company online for appearing to engage in cultural appropriation. Other social media users argued that adding items like kimchi and a gochujang sauce to a couple of menu items and labeling it “Korean-style” fried chicken was a lazy interpretation of the beloved food. Others encouraged diners to visit local Korean restaurants in their neighborhoods instead. “Yes, slap some gochujang on something and it’s korean,” Giaae Kwon, a Brooklyn-based writer, tweeted.

Kwon, who first heard about the sandwich when it debuted at Shake Shack locations across South Korea last year, tells Eater New York that the menu launch in the U.S. looked “like the most basic way to go about doing a Korean fried chicken.”

Others echoed the sentiment. “It feels like white people slapping together a bunch of things because they perceive it as Korean and then profiting off of those things,” says Dash Kwiatkowski, a standup comedian and podcast host based in Providence, Rhode Island, who also tweeted criticism of Shake Shack’s new menu. “What makes it ‘Korean-style?’ Is it the fact that they put kimchi on a fried chicken sandwich? Because that’s not Korean-style fried chicken.”

The U.S. launch was an iteration on a popular gochujang fried chicken sandwich that had sold well at the chain’s 14 shops in South Korea last fall, according to the company. The sandwich recipe was adjusted slightly for the stateside launch, including adding a white kimchi slaw using kimchi from Portland, Oregon-based Choi’s Kimchi Co.

Kwiatkowski and Kwon both noted that it was nice to see the chain partnering with a small, family-owned shop to source the kimchi, but were disappointed to see that the hip, NYC-based chain — which often engages in buzzy chef collaborations — did not choose to partner with a Korean restaurant or a Korean chef to help launch the menu in the U.S.

In a phone interview, Shake Shack culinary director Mark Rosati said that his team, along with employees from SPC Group — a gigantic food company based in South Korea that partnered with Shake Shack in 2015 to help it expand in the country — toured a range of fried chicken restaurants in Seoul while they were developing the chain’s sandwich, including Hanchu, Hyodo Chicken, Ungteori Tongdak, and Jung-ong Sweet & Spicy Chicken. They also sourced information on fried chicken and Korean food in general from food writers and influencers Matty Yangwoo Kim (@hungrymatty) and Jason Kim (@mykoreaneats). But none of that information made it into the announcement for the U.S. launch.

“I would love to hear what that research looked like,” Kwiatkowski says. “If you’re going to try to package someone else’s culture as a fast-food item, the very least you could do is really elevate someone from that culture, elevate some specific chefs and specific restaurants.”

In response to the criticisms of cultural appropriation levied online, Rosati says that he could “definitely see how someone might think this here” with the new menu launch. “I can understand to a point but I can never fully understand it, because it’s not my culture,” Rosati says. “It’s something that we want to listen to, and understand.”

This particular launch marks the first time that Shake Shack has taken a menu item that has performed well at one of its international locations and reinterpreted it for a nationwide rollout in the U.S., according to the company. The sandwich has been a work in progress for the past five years, Rosati says, and it debuted at Shake Shacks in South Korea late last year. The recipe was developed in collaboration with SPC Group.

When the sandwich appeared at Shake Shack’s South Korea locations, the item was labeled as a “Gochujang Chick’n Sandwich,” attaching a straightforward title to the menu item. In the U.S., the nuggets and fries included in the new menu are labeled as “Korean Gochujang Chick’n Bites” and “Korean Gochujang Fries,” while the sandwich appears on menu boards as a “Korean-style Fried Chick’n.”

That broad, flattening name of the sandwich, employed as a catch-all term lacking nuance or context, missed the mark, says NYC Korean restaurant owner Bobby Yoon.

“If you think about wasabi, or teriyaki sauce, or some kind of a Chinese food, [it’s not labeled] as ‘Chinese-style,’” Yoon, the owner of Midtown Korean restaurant Yoon Haeundae Galbi, says. “They usually say, like, ‘teriyaki chicken,’ or ‘wasabi-flavored.’ But they don’t just put it as, like, ‘Japanese-style.’” In the same way, Korean food in the U.S. is so varied, Yoon says, that labeling a gochujang-sauced fried chicken sandwich with a blanket term like “Korean-style” does a disservice to the myriad flavors and preparations of Korean food.

“I’m not saying that anybody is doing a wrong thing,” Yoon says. “But I think that if they wanted to put it as the name [of the sandwich], I think that they should have put it as ‘gochujang’ or whatever they think that the Korean style is.”

Yoon Haeundae Galbi’s spicy fried chicken Yoon Haeundae Galbi [Official]

Shake Shack’s Rosati says that, moving forward, the team is “listening” to responses to the menu items, but they’re not implementing any changes based on what they’ve heard so far. “We call it ‘Korean-style’ because it’s our take on a traditional Korean fried chicken sandwich, and is a slight variation to the one served in our South Korea Shacks,” he says.

The company purposefully used “Korean-style” and “Korean-inspired” in all of the marketing for the launch in order to signify that the sandwich was not actually an example of Korean fried chicken, Rosati says, which is generally twice-fried and dressed with a range of sauces and toppings. “It’s such a broad category,” Rosati says. “For us, it’s important to say, this is a variation of it. This is something that we draw inspiration from. This is not definitive Korean fried chicken.”

For some, the menu may have been more well-received if “it looked like they had done more thinking, and it looked like they were not just trying to profit off of [Korean food], but using their platform to really open people’s minds,” Kwiatkowski says. “I’m just saying that people should be more thoughtful and more respectful and really try to figure out how to elevate marginalized voices.”


Watch the video: US vs UK Shake Shack. Food Wars (May 2022).