Stuffing your Roll
by Farley Elliott
One of last year’s hottest restaurants, CHPMNK is back with an entirely new menu that’s so photo-ready, it’s practically impossible to eat.
Sensing the shortfall between food on the plate and food on the ‘net, CHPMNK has taken to color correcting their dishes right from the kitchen. Eggs emerge with sunnier yolks, kale practically vibrates with its eye-popping green glow and sauces, all splashed in hot reds, are bright enough to warrant sunglasses. Even the space, formerly a tight, tile-lined box with one long communal table, has been redone. The room now sports ‘filter zones’ that alternate lighting and surrounding textures, making it easier than ever to evoke the perfect brunch photo.
Today’s CHPMNK operates less like a restaurant than a modern monument to photo-stylized foods. While the front of house image is one of serenity, endless time and perfect latte art, the kitchen has been squeezed to give more room to the antique barn furniture and dropcloths, meaning harried support staff must slip between hot steam pipes, an old cast iron boiler and some exposed electrical wiring just to run plates of saturated, colorized foods.
Bussed dishes (each with a cutesy flea market feel to them, naturally) return to the cramped wash station mostly uneaten, thanks to the heavy amount of acrylic dyes and synthetic polymers used to give the food its perfect gloss. What’s more, dishes routinely become stained with impossible blues and orange hues, a byproduct of the DayGlo meals being prepared. Dishes must be sanitized in nearly 100% bleach, leaving washers with soft fingernails and cloudy eyes from the fumes.
Still, business is better than ever. The increased social presence has led to a run of writers, photographers, actors, bloggers, influencers, mavens, gurus and know-it-alls descending on the small restaurant, each looking for the perfect hashtag to match the photorealistic food in front of them. Eating the food at CHPMNK is not just an afterthought — it’s not even the point. ✦