Hungry House, an Improvement on the Ghost Kitchen

My kingdom for a torta, a method of Mexican sandwich I’ve lengthy believed deserves broader adulation—puffy roll, quesillo (Oaxacan string cheese), avocado, recent chili, onion, refried beans, and a main-event ingredient, similar to milanesa de pollo (fried rooster cutlet), carnitas, and even chilaquiles with a fried egg, for a breakfast of champions. There are loads of tortas to be present in New York City, however they’re not often afforded the highlight. Is it potential that their second is nigh, thanks to Tony Ortiz, the Brooklyn-based chef behind Chile Con Miel, a self-described “online platform and brand that explores ancestral Mexican food practices through a queer lens”?

Last month, two of Ortiz’s Super Tortas had been added to the roster at Hungry House, a platform that explores the potentialities of takeout and supply. The different day, I ordered them each, a pair of beauties that nod to cemitas, as tortas are recognized in Puebla, named for his or her barely candy sesame-seeded rolls. Ortiz’s cemitas—Orwashers hamburger buns, technically—had been toasted and piled with guacamole, lemon aioli, pickled pink onion, quesillo, a smoky tomatillo-and-morita salsa, leaves of the powerfully herbaceous cilantro-adjacent Mexican plant papalo, and arugula. Each featured milanesa: pleasingly oily breaded rooster thigh on one, and craggy, comparatively mild fried maitake—from the Brooklyn natural mushroom farm Smallhold—on the different, no much less very good.

Ortiz deep-frying maitake mushrooms for a vegetarian model of the identical torta.

From left to proper: Ortiz; Hungry House’s founder, Kristen Barnett; and Woldy Reyes.

Hungry House was based final yr by Kristen Barnett, the former C.O.O. of an organization that managed so-called ghost kitchens, which put together meals solely for supply apps. “I became frustrated with what I was seeing in terms of brand creation in ghost kitchens,” she instructed me. “I felt like it was turning into this kind of commoditized, low-quality, chicken-wing universe. The potential was so much greater for chefs, and for storytelling.” She had turn out to be pleasant with Rawlston Williams, the chef-owner of the Food Sermon, a Caribbean-inspired counter-service restaurant that moved from Crown Heights to the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 2020 (and is now on hiatus). Williams invited her to make use of his kitchen; she facilitated the preparation and supply of his meals, and sought out different gifted cooks and entrepreneurs in want of back-end assist. For Season 1, she signed on Woldy Reyes, the Filipino American chef behind the boutique catering enterprise Woldy Kusina; the Indiana-based power-restaurateur Martha Hoover and her pandemic undertaking Apocalypse Burger; and Rachel Krupa, of the Goods Mart, a “socially conscious neighborhood convenience store,” in decrease Manhattan, specializing in packaged merchandise similar to vegetable-pulp chips.

Barnett and her group work with every resident to plot a small set of choices for pickup or supply in Brooklyn (she plans to broaden to Manhattan quickly), through Hungry House’s Web website, plus apps together with Seamless. (There’s additionally a customer-facing counter in the Navy Yard.) For Season 2, she added Chile Con Miel; Caffè Panna, Hallie Meyer’s superlative Gramercy ice-cream store; and Pierce Abernathy, a captivating recipe developer with a big social-media following.

It’s extremely satisfying to look at Abernathy make a chopped salad on TikTok, in an A.S.M.R.-heavy video, and much more satisfying to have one delivered to your door—endive and radicchio tossed with crispy chickpeas, feta, Castelvetrano olives, pickled onions, apple, celery, and cucumber, in a vibrant mustard French dressing. Reyes’s “chicharon,” created from Smallhold oyster mushrooms and impressed by Filipino chicharon bulaklak (deep-fried pig ruffle fats), is really spectacular: salty and candy, crisp and juicy, dipped in coconut milk and dredged in rice flour and potato starch, then fried, and served with a wealthy but zippy Fresno chili-coconut scorching sauce. For his sisig, the traditional pig components are changed with chewy cubes of fried tofu, coated in a “starter” from Omsom, a sauce-and-seasoning firm based by the Vietnamese American sisters Vanessa and Kim Pham: cane vinegar, garlic, calamansi purée, porcini powder, chili flakes—a murderers’ row of potential, fulfilled. (Dishes $6-$14.) ♦


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