One thing that separates Sweetgreen from other healthy-eating restaurants is its popularity with high profile chefs. The California-based restaurant has collaborated with a number of famous names, including Dan Barber (New York’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns), David Chang (Momofuku), and Jessica Koslow (Sqirl in Los Angeles), Michael Solomonov (Zahav in Philadelphia), Danny Bowien (Mission Chinese in San Francisco), and Nancy Silverton (Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles).
“The chef collaborations for us have been an amazing way that we’ve been able to tell really cool stories and have some fun with our menu,” Nicolas Jammet, co-founder and chief concept officer, said in a recent episode of CultureMap’s “What’s Eric Eating” podcast. “It’s a great opportunity for us to tell a really cool story around our food.”
In Houston, the restaurant enlisted James Beard Award winner Chris Shepherd to create the Southern Chop Bowl. Shepherd tells CultureMap he considered several possibilities for his creation — such as a Mediterranean option from the most recent version of One Fifth or something in the steakhouse style of Georgia James — before developing something that utilized some of Sweetgreen’s signature ingredients with a Southern twist.
“I wanted something they could produce every day,” Shepherd says. “Overall, we want something that will speak to people here and be very familiar with the ingredients and the flavor combinations.”
A riff on the classic Caesar, the salad includes blackened chicken thighs, apples, raw corn, tomatoes, shredded cabbage, red onions, organic arugula, and chopped romaine. Then Shepherd adds some Southern flavors with pimento cheese, pecans, and a vinaigrette made with Steen's Cane syrup. Priced at $11.95, Sweetgreen will donate $1 from every bowl sold to the Southern Smoke Foundation’s Emergency Relief Fund, which provides financial assistance to people in the food and beverage industry.
“At the end, it was what do I want to eat,” he says. “It’s exactly what I wanted it to be. I’ll walk across the street to get it all the time.”
Shepherd's creation will be available at both Houston locations beginning October 10 or one day earlier via the restaurant's app.
The Montrose location will celebrate its grand opening Saturday, September 21, from 12:30-3:30 pm with music, a live mural painting by Ohni Lisle, “customizable swag,” and more. RSVP online. [Update: The event has been postponed.]