Slated to open in the Financial District next spring, Restaurant Shelter is designed to give diners a fascinating glimpse of “urban destitutional dining” in a sleek, earth-toned post-modern setting.
“We know that the anxiety and stress of poverty can really help to build an appetite and we imagine that homeless people, when they finally do get something to eat, must really enjoy the experience.” said chef-owner Harlan Krupotke.
Shelter, the newest member of the Harlan Krupotke family of themed reality restaurants, attempts to “fully immerse diners in the authentic urgency and passion of the homelessness experience”.
At Shelter, chef Krupotke and menu-architect Kimberly Kay Winneford have combined their respective talents to create a dining experience uniquely designed to evoke the American homeless experience as seen through the eyes of Neo-realist designer Arlo Fiske.
Prior to opening, Winneford and Fiske spent two full weeks researching the menu by making visits to disadvantaged neighborhoods in seaside communities around the globe. The result was a two-tiered tasting menu that artfully showcases a combination of gritty Gourmet Survival Fare and classic American Institutional cuisine.
“Our starters menu,” explains Winneford, “feature the eclectic flavors you might expect to find while digging through a public waste receptacle. Our main courses, on the other hand, highlights the seasonal culinary delights of limited emergency assistance. No one leaves Shelter feeling hungry, that’s for sure. This is real poor-people’s food, not just rich food prepared poorly.”
Chef Krupotke, who also owns Le Clochard in St. Helena, is no stranger to poverty-themed dining. His passion for cooking was sparked at a young age when his nanny Consuela allowed him to help her bring food to the table.
“It was a truly transformative moment.”, recalls Krupotke. “It was the first time that I realized there was actual work involved in the preparation of food. From that point on I was hooked! I promised myself right then and there that someday I too would own a restaurant where, despite low wages and no right to collective bargaining, people could work with the same passionate intensity as the undocumented immigrant laborers who raised me.”