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Are Viral Foods Like The Sushi Donut Killing The Restaurant Industry? [The Katchup Podcast]

Are sushi donuts killing the restaurant industry?

That’s the major topic of the first episode of our BRAND-NEW podcast, “The Katchup. The discussion launches a weekly podcast discussion on the top trends in food. Given the viral success of the Sushi Donut, which generated over 80 million video views between ourselves and other food news outlets in the past week, it had to be the key discussion for this week.

This week, Foodbeast’s Editor-In-Chief, Elie Ayrouth, brought in Andy Nguyen, the owner of viral restaurant successes like Project Poké’s Sushi Donut and Afters Ice Cream’s Milky Buns, and Jason Quinn, owner of the Playground Restaurant in downtown Santa Ana, to discuss how social media virality is affecting customer eating habits at restaurants.

Since the Sushi Donut’s massive success was borne from Nguyen’s poké shop, the group also discusses the future of poké and of the restaurant industry. 

The podcast gets extremely real when Elie brought up e-mails he received regarding Foodbeast’s coverage of these items:

“I have quotes on two chefs, at least two chefs in my inbox, that have said: ‘Fuck you Elie, stop promoting sushi donuts, and stop promoting shit with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos on it.’ “

Definitely give the podcast a listen, as it provides in-depth commentary as to how items like the Sushi Donut are affecting the future of restaurants and their menu offerings.

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Double Playground Burger with Foie Gras

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Photo by Phillip Reardon

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Restaurants

Chef Jason Quinn Talks Playground Restaurant, Daily Menus, and Pissing People Off

“There’s a million restaurants that will cater to you, and we don’t really like any of those places,” says Jason Quinn, ex-Food Network personality, ex-Lime Truck chef, and current Playground restaurateur.

We’ve covered Chef Quinn in the past, we’ve covered his win on Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race, we brought to life his fiery responses to opinionated Yelp reviewers, we’ve even gawked and salivated at his restaurant’s delicious and adventurous menu.

So why are people — us included — still talking about him? Because his take on food reminds us of a cross between Gordon Ramsay, Mario Batali and…well…that crazy ass 25-year-old Jason Quinn. If you go to his restaurant, he won’t change a damn thing, he doesn’t serve ketchup, and when you sit down for dinner with him, he’ll give you his unfiltered opinion on anyone or anything in the industry, in life, or that diarrhea-inducing hot dog stand across the street.

So today, when he sat down with our friends at Orisue for a quick video feature, he did just that — he spilled his soul, for better or worse, about the uncompromising way he runs his restaurant.

Quinn often jokes about how a select few customers will get upset when he refuses to make a particular dish without its initially designed ingredients. The joking doesn’t end there — when customers threaten to go across the street to somewhere else when a dish isn’t changed to their specifications, Jason has to hold steadfast to his restaurant’s game plan, stating “Well we just do it differently. Are you gonna make me go across the street? Yeah, if that’s what you wanna do, yes, you’re gonna have to go somewhere else to eat.

The topic of chef driven restaurants remains a hot button issue for the foodie community. While many appreciate the idea of going to a restaurant and enjoying a dish the way the chef intended it, there remains a select few who expect the ‘have it your way’ experience and will subsequently be met with a brick wall when visiting restaurants like The Playground.

Quinn is still jovial in his pursuit, though. Their restaurant isn’t out to nickel and dime the customer, but rather, to win you over. Didn’t think lettuce would work with that dish? Try it, if you don’t like it, they usually will cover that part of the bill. There’s a certain level of respect that can be attributed to an outsider group of chefs who want to make sure that if you don’t like their food, it’s because the way they designed it had a fault, not because you added ketchup to that sashimi dish.

What’s your take on Jason Quinn, chef-driven food, and uncompromising menus?