It’s an icon of Mexican food, famend for its chameleonic charms. Its dexterity in the kitchen outshines that of its pepper peers and evokes chefs to create salsas, soups, rubs, and cakes. Its flavor, while now not the showiest among capsaicin, is robust and steady — it’ll in no way disappoint. That’s why, even though it’s possibly more exalted than it ought to be, the chipotle is a prince amongst its friends.

It is also a phony. The term “chipotle pepper” is a misnomer. A chipotle is only a smooth, green jalapeno baptized by way of the fireplace right into a shrunken curlicue. The dried product bears no hint of what it once was. Where the jalapeno is tangy and spicy, a chipotle’s taste is smoky and almost candy. But the chipotle comes out higher for the burn: a pepper that died so it could live.


It’s an icon of Mexican food in the United States, renowned for chameleonic charms. Its kitchen’s dexterity outshines that of its friends and conjures up enthusiasts to create forever and ever customizable food. Its flavors, while no longer the showiest, are strong and steady. That’s why, although it’s possibly extra exalted than it should be, Chipotle remains a prince among its friends.

Or, it once was. Because Chipotle has grown to become out to be a phony. And its as soon as-zealous fan base is disillusioned.

For almost 25 years, the second-largest Mexican eating place organization inside the United States proclaimed to each person who could pay attention that it was the Mexican Chain Different, gracias to its plenty-ballyhooed “meals with integrity” mantra — the concept that Mexican meals become cheap in terms of nice, nutrients, rate, and philosophy until Chipotle came alongside.

Yet the past couple of years have shown that perhaps Chipotle isn’t so distinct. Outbreaks of foodborne ailments at outposts throughout the use of a made international information, sunk profits, tarnished the business enterprise’s luster and led to the departure of founder Steve Ells as Chipotle’s CEO.

Ells’s alternative, Brian Niccol, came from Chipotle’s intended antithesis, Taco Bell. He promptly relocated the employer from its Denver home base to Orange County, California, the fast-meals safe area for the corporate headquarters of In-N-Out, El Pollo Loco, and — yep — Taco Bell.

Chipotle is now just every other NYSE-indexed behemoth. But a cursory study Niccol’s strategy shows that he’s maintaining Chipotle alive. Last 12 months become the chain’s exceptional considering 2013, as it’s stock fee rose nearly 50 percent and is inching returned up toward preceding heights. Today, in spite of Chipotle’s latest issues, it employs more than sixty-four,000 people and opened its 2, five hundredth region this February — and Niccol is aiming for five,000.

The newish boss seems to be doing to Chipotle what humans do to make a chipotle: roast it in order that it may transform and live. When I interviewed him for this tale, he was quality, if liable to company-speak, assuring me that plans for a virtual push, endured growth, and new menu objects supposed the chain’s brightest days have been nonetheless to come back.

He knew his script, and no way became I going to ride him up. Except for my last query, when I requested him to give an explanation for how Chipotle is like a chipotle. Both he and the PR spokesperson who listened in on our interview at once laughed. Loud. Not only had nobody ever asked him that, Niccol had never even taken into consideration it.

“You win, Gustavo,” he stated, before speakme his manner into a solution. “I suppose it’s a complex, scrumptious taste which you’re capable of taking into a whole lot of special instructions. That’s what occurs at Chipotle. You get to create the flavor revel in that will become your burrito, your bowl, and taco.

“It makes you smile when you say ‘chipotle,’ and [our] food makes you smile,” he concluded.

His answer was great, if saccharine. But I become amazed that he had in no way taken into consideration evaluating Chipotle with a chipotle. If he had, Niccol would have recognized that Chipotle can study much training from its namesake’s history within the United States, lessons he can follow within the organization’s combat to continue to exist.

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