What happened to Nate Appleman after he left Pulino’s? The answer is kind of extraordinary: A source told us that a week ago he started a corporate gig at Chipotle, and a call to the chef confirms that he’s working out of the chain’s Chelsea location. “I make burritos,” the Beard Rising Star chef says. “You can find me in the store making burritos day after day — that’s what I do.” Of course, it’s not that simple. Appleman says he’s “learning the system” with a larger goal in mind: Steve Ells has hired him full-time with an eye toward “improving the model, and focusing on cooking techniques and getting better ingredients.”
Appleman says that although he welcomed the opportunity to get out of the blogger spotlight (indeed when he heard from us, he told us “I’m not in the restaurant business anymore”), the main reason he took the gig is because it’s a larger-scale continuation of what he’s been doing his whole career, i.e., “finding good ingredients, raised the right way or grown the right way.” He tells us, “What led me to this was being able to make a change. I was just trying to figure out, ‘How can I make a difference?’ It’s one thing to be a really good chef and cook and it’s another to impact millions of people — from the farmers, ranchers, and everyone down to the 20,000 employees. As you get older and wiser, you’re looking for more fulfillment.”
Here’s hoping he finds it — this gig is pretty much the polar opposite of a star turn at a McNally joint. By the way, Appleman recently tweeted from D.C., where Chipotle is expected to open an Asian concept, but he says he won’t be involved in that.