Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 26, 2020

Michelin-star chef brings taco options to Hopkins

By CHRIS PARK | January 30, 2020

a2-tacos
COURTESY OF CHRIS PARK Noted chef and humanitarian José Andrés opened taqueria in Levering.

Celebrity chef José Andrés and ThinkFoodGroup opened Butterfly Tacos y Tortas in Levering Kitchens on Monday. Butterfly, a fast-casual taqueria, will be open to students and the public from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays.

Andrés is a Spanish American chef who holds two Michelin Stars. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, he also founded World Central Kitchen, a humanitarian organization.

The new restaurant serves four types of tacos, two torta items and salads — all under $10. Vegetarian and vegan options are offered, and Butterfly accepts Dining Dollars for Hopkins students, as well as credit card and cash.

The News-Letter interviewed several Hopkins students who visited the restaurant on opening day. 

Sophomore Gracyn Sollmann said she enjoyd the experience, although she wished she had the option to mix-and-match the different kinds of tacos.

“The tacos themselves were really good, especially the meat, but one thing is that there wasn’t much in the taco itself.... It was pretty much just the tortilla and the pork, besides pickled onions,“ Sollmann said. “I love that everything is gluten-free, and all the options are really varied and fresh.”

Sophomore Husain Hakim said that he was intrigued by the long line of people waiting to be served.

“As I walked through the line, I could see the very fresh ingredients,” he said. “Pricing was also very reasonable, especially for such a celebrity chef.”

In an email to The News-Letter, Senior Manager of Dining Programs Ian Magowan explained that the University’s partnership with Andrés was rooted in his commitment to social responsibility.

Magowan also noted that Bon Appetit, the main food service provider at Hopkins, was involved with the project. 

“Our decision to work with them was made in partnership with Bon Appetit as part of our efforts to identify underutilized cuisines and determine the best way to provide them to the campus community,” he said. “Bon Appetit worked with ThinkFoodGroup on finalizing the best menu mix, and Hopkins Dining was involved in final decisions on menu pricing.”

Bon Appetit will also be responsible for the procurement of products for Butterfly.

In an email to The News-Letter, a spokesperson for the ThinkFoodGroup said the restaurant is currently working with Baltimore’s Stone Mill Bakery and Whisked, a D.C. bakery.

“We source from the local community as often as possible and are always looking for new partnerships,” the spokesperson wrote. “We also use compostable and reusable products as often as possible.”

The spokesperson also echoed Magowan in noting the shared vision between the ThinkFoodGroup and Hopkins.

“Hopkins is an important part not only of our neighboring community of Baltimore but of D.C. as well,” the spokesperson said. “Through our partnership with Compass Group and Bon Appetit, we hope to continue to bring our concepts to other campuses.”

Freshman Laís Santoro, the Actions and Campaign Chair of Real Food Hopkins, viewed the opening to be a positive change from how Hopkins typically partners with big businesses like PepsiCo. She also noted the influence Andrés has and the humanitarian work he has done.

“There are a lot of problems involving food in Baltimore, such as food, literacy and food health,” she said. “It’d be cool if he could bring some of his humanitarian work he’s been doing in other countries to Baltimore.”

Santoro also noted that she does have concerns about the new restaurant.

“I hope that this influence that he has is used in the most positive way and not as a big powerful presence to show up in Baltimore and take over local presences,” she said. “I’m excited to see where this goes, but I think we have to be wary.”

Lana Weidgenant, the co-president of Compassion, Awareness and Responsible Eating, also expressed excitement about Hopkins partnering up with Andrés.

“I can see that Hopkins is trying to partner with someone who has done humanitarian work and has been considered for a Nobel Peace Prize,” Weidgenant said. “I believe all of that is an honorable effort.”

She also expressed her hope that Butterfly will be able to offer more environmentally sustainable and plant-forward menu items on campus.

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