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Behind the Scenes: Mitchell Anderson of MetroFresh

5_6_mitchell“We are basically fast food restaurant, but we are giving people the flavor palate and health benefits that you would usually get in a fine dining establishment.”

-Mitchell Anderson, Owner of MetroFresh

MetroFresh has become a mainstay in Midtown, drawing people in to their case of vibrant, colorful salads like flies to a limelight. The offerings rotate daily based on what Anderson and his team feel inspired to create. They call it “improv cooking.”

After a career of 20 years acting in New York and Los Angeles, Anderson harnessed his passion for cooking. Here he shares the story of MetroFresh.

“Improv cooking.” Sounds like something inspired by your acting career?
I liked that food fostered conversation- it brings people around the table. Theater is also about a story. We have several things prepped every day and we decide- where in the world do we want to go with it.

That leaves a wide open slate for you. Is it difficult to come up with offerings?
It’s not for the faint of heart. You have to have confidence and we have incredible kitchen staff and creative team. We have a baseline of items always in the case: a fruit salad, chicken salad, green salad and three specialty sides, and we toss in herbs and spices based on different cuisines.

It’s a great concept. Where were you inspired?
When I moved to Atlanta, I worked for free at Souper Jenny for 6 months to see if cooking was something I wanted to do. I created menus, did ordering and worked from the ground up. After 2 years she pushed me out the door and said, “It’s time to open your own place.” With her blessing she taught me the approach of color.

I can see that you’ve taken that approach, because your menu items are always a rainbow of color.
It’s interesting because sometimes I’ll make a monochromatic green salad with fresh herbs, leafy greens and endive. I’ll think it’s one of the best things I’ve made, but it doesn’t sell well because there’s not a contrast in color.

Why do you think that is?
It shows how all our senses are connected. People waiting in line can see our menu, but when they get to the front and actually see the display case, they don’t know what they want anymore. Reading triggers different senses. People really eat with their eyes.

What has made MetroFresh so popular over the past nine years?
I came into the restaurant scene when people were thinking about what they were eating. It’s great that people consider what they put in their bodies. The trend is here for healthy, fast casual eating.

Last year the restaurant doubled in size. What was the main reason for the expansion?
We wanted it to have a nighttime feel. I want this place to be the random Tuesday night meal, where you and your significant other can come when you don’t want to cook at home, but you don’t want a huge dining experience. You want good service, but a certain non-intrusive dinner with a good glass of wine.

-By Alexa Lampasona for the Food & More blog

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