Today, the New York Times broke the news that Chipotle is refining its tortillas, heading back to the lab to see if it can perfect a mass-market product with just four ingredients. Could this move be yet another game-changer for the chain, whose emphasis on sustainability and transparency has been hugely influential in the fast-food space? Here’s what we know thus far:
Photo: The Bread Lab / Kim Binczewski
1. A placed called the Bread Lab is leading the charge.
First and foremost, there’s a place at Washington State University called The Bread Lab, and it’s as magical as it sounds. “The goal of the Bread Lab is to combine science, art, curiosity, and innovation to explore ways of using regionally available grains to move the craft of whole grain bread baking and other grain usage forward,” according to its website. We can get behind this, and apparently, so can Chipotle.
2. The Pacific Northwest will be the test market for the new tortillas.
Chipotle plans to roll out the upgraded tortillas region-by-region, beginning around The Bread Lab’s homebase in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle and Portland, we’re super jealous.
3. The new, four-ingredient tortillas are whole-wheat.
The updated version includes only whole-wheat flour, water, oil, and salt. “We’re working with hard, white wheats,” a scientist told the NYT. “Those are really great because they’re light in color, so people who are naturally averse to whole wheat are less aware of them.” Very slick (and health-conscious), Chipotle.
Don Pancho in Salem, OR will be the first tortilla suppliers to try making Chipotle’s new tortilla.
4. Also, the new, four-ingredient tortillas are…sourdough?
Apparently, the best way to leaven the new tortillas is with a starter that’s sourdough-based. The resident baker at The Bread Lab believes the sourdough will “add the right flavor, make the tortilla dough smoother and give it a longer shelf life.”
5. The quest for the perfect tortilla.
Chipotle is only the latest (and most influential) in a long list of chefs and restaurants attempting to fine tune this dining staple. René Redzepi and Danny Bowien have dug into the powers of masa, and last year Alex Stupak chatted with us about Empellon’s fine-tuning of its flour tortillas:
Godspeed, Chipotle. We can’t wait to see (and taste) what comes from this.
[via New York Times]