WGBH's Henry Santoro interviews Sweetgreen co-founder Nick Jammet about their collaboration with Boston chef Ken Oringer for their new Toro bowl. Below is a slightly edited version of their conversation. To listen to the entire interview, click on the audio player above.
Henry Santoro: Tapping into the eating habits of millennials is not an easy thing to do. But when you do, it can prove extremely successful -- not to mention the fact that you're also tapping into the lifestyle of fans of fast casual dining and that is a really, really big group of people. Enter a Sweetgreen: a restaurant chain that is totally tapped into seasonal healthy food made from scratch and to order and served just the way you like it. There are many Sweetgreen locations in the Boston area and there are about to be several more. The company was co-founded by Nick Jammet, whose family ran the incredible Manhattan French restaurant, Le Caravelle, for 43 years. It was, for many years, the go-to place if you wanted authentic French cuisine. Nick knows his food and it's a pleasure to have him in our WGBH studios and here on 'Henry in The Hub'.
Nick Jammet: Morning.
HS: Before we talk about food culture of today let me ask you this: what was it like growing up in the world -- and it was its own world -- of Le Caravelle?
NJ: Yeah, you know, from a young age I grew up in that restaurant community in New York, and I think a lot of my sense of hospitality came from them and watching them.
HS: What are they doing now?
NJ: Now my mom is actually running a champagne brand by the same name- La Caravelle champagne, and my dad is at the Metropolitan Club in New York.
HS: So they're still very active.
HS: Let's talk about Sweetgreen. Where did you get the idea, and how long did it go from idea to actually unlocking a door?
NJ: So we started Sweet Green our senior year college at Georgetown University in 2007...
HS: ...Hold on, so this thing was born in a dorm room?
NJ: Yup! We were seniors there and we were kind of sick of eating all the dining options that were available -- both on and off campus. We didn't understand why there wasn't a place to eat food that was healthy, that you could connect with and made you feel good. So myself and my two co-founders Jonathan and Nate wrote a business plan.
HS: You are in Boston to launch something that's very exciting. It's a collaboration with a top Boston chef to create a limited bowl. Tell us who that chef is and what's in bowl.
NJ: Sure. So our menu is seasonal and regional. That means it changes five times a year and is different in every city based on the supply chain that we build with our farmers and producers. So every year we like to really have fun with these menu changes and collaborate with a like-minded chef or a partner that believes in the same food ethos. We met Chef Ken Oringer and as we were coming to Boston, we were just big fans of what he stood for and his food and the community he's built here. So this year we approached him and said, "hey, wouldn't it be fun if we did a collaboration together?" This is our first Boston partnership, so we couldn't be more proud to be doing this with Ken. We're really excited to launch it.
HS: And for this particular bowl, you added a couple of new ingredients that aren't necessarily found on the daily menu.
NJ: Yeah there is a new dressing. It's incredible. It's like a charred jalapeno yogurt dressing which really gives the whole thing a nice kick. And then there's this roasted corn and tomato mixture that also gets added to it.
HS: So if people want to get this incredible creation from Ken Oringer, they go into Sweetgreen and they order the Toro bowl, is that correct?
NJ: Yup. And they can get it online or in stores.
HS: That's great. The Toro Bowl is available only through June 12th. Nick Jammet is co-founder of Sweetgreen, the fast casual restaurant. Nick, so great to meet you. Thank you so much for caring about your product, caring about your customers and definitely caring about the environment.