"America is in the beginning phases of a revolution," said Becker. "No longer are we looking for mass-produced foods. We are looking towards a healthier lifestyle. In our schools, in our workplaces and at home, everyone is more aware of what they eat."
A recent New York Times analysis of Chipotle's menu revealed sodium levels that would make undergrads surviving on ramen noodles and Kraft mac seem to be leading as healthy a lifestyle as barbacoa burrito salad fans. The average meal at Chipotle has more than 1,000 calories, "a full day's worth of salt and 75 percent of a full day's worth of saturated fat," the Times reported. Burgers and fries and caramel shakes speak for their own nutritional content. What both Chipotle and Shack Shake show is that using good ingredients isn't necessarily a recipe for a healthy lifestyle as much as partially healthy indulgence.
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Now in his mid-forties, Becker has been a regular on "Beat Bobby Flay", was a contestant on BRAVO's "Top Chef Masters," and The Food Network's "Iron Chef America," and has appeared on various popular morning shows like "TODAY" and "CBS This Morning." As corporate chef for EMM—a premier restaurant management company that hosts events attended by celebs from Jay-Z to John Travolta—Becker developed award-winning menu items for upscale eateries like Abe & Arthur's, CATCH and Lexington Brass. He was executive chef for fine-dining haunts like Capitale, Brasserie and Trinity at the Tribeca Grand. He received accolades from the notoriously stringent New York food critic Gael Greene, honorable mentions from John Mariani (formerly of Esquire) and others.
Backed by Aurify Brands, Becker's new venture, The Little Beet, is a complete departure from the restaurant investment group's traditional calorie-dense portfolio staples. Though The Little Beet falls into the fast-casual category, it attempts to differentiate itself from other fast-casual restaurants by offering consumers "Guiltin' Free" products with their largely gluten-free menu items.
"It's the first concept that we've developed that is actually healthy," said Aurify CEO John Rigos. "Five Guys we franchised. Melt Shop [in Manhattan] is artisanal, with great-quality, great-tasting ingredients. But at The Little Beet, we actually use the vegetables. You can actually taste the broccoli, cauliflower, string beans. Most times you can't, because they're smothered in sauce."