Stuffing your Roll


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. ✦