Food and Drink

Why I Can't Stop Snacking on This Togarashi Crunch

West~bourne, the new pantry line by Camilla Marcus, is as tasty as it is transformative.

Photo courtesy of West~bourne
Photo courtesy of West~bourne
Photo courtesy of West~bourne

It’s been a while since I discovered a snack so good, I had to begrudgingly pace myself because finishing the bag all in one go would mean days spent without it.West~bourne’s Togarashi Crunch is a divine combination of corn crisps, smoked almonds, kettle-puffed rice, and chili-rubbed quicos. It’s tossed in a spice blend inspired by togarashi, the ubiquitous Japanese table condiment, but makes use of more global ingredients, like urfa and espelette peppers. This fancy Chex Mix, which is derived from the furikake renditions in Hawaii, is crunchy, smoky, and the right amount of greasy-a savory snack lover’s dream.

The Togarashi Crunch was a fan favorite at the zero-waste West~bourne restaurant in Manhattan’s SoHo, which closed down after the onset of the pandemic in September 2020. But Chef Camilla Marcus figured out a way to retain the restaurant’s mission-driven spirit, with a line of plant-based provisions inspired by the original menu. The pantry essentials, which include everything from spice blends to pancake mix, come in fully compostable packaging and are available exclusively on the website.The West~bourne products are inspired by Marcus’ Los Angeles upbringing, which was defined by fresh produce, global flavors, and sustainable living. “We were regularly shopping at farmers’ markets before it was commonplace,” Marcus says. “Growing things at home, thinking about our impact on the environment-that was very much a part of everyday life.”

In fact, Sandy Gooch, the natural foods entrepreneur who paved the way for stores like Whole Foods Market, lived on Marcus’ block. “Seeing where health and natural food was going at such a young age, I didn’t realize how much I grew up in a bubble until I went to college on the East Coast,” she says.Another hit on the West~bourne lineup, Fuyu Persimmon Butter was created with family traditions in mind, since Marcus grew up eating fruit-based butters around the holidays. “My dad worked in Japan most of my childhood, and I loved persimmons,” she says. “They’re a very daunting fruit for people to cook with, even though they enjoy eating them.”

The elegantly spiced spread, which is great on scones or sliced apples, epitomizes Marcus’ strategy-taking a nutrient-dense, somewhat niche ingredient, and making it approachable.

Photo courtesy of West~bourne
Photo courtesy of West~bourne
Photo courtesy of West~bourne

When Marcus was 22, she got her first gig in the restaurant industry, as an intern at New York City’s Dell’Anima. Her environmental mission began early on, as she implemented the restaurant’s first composting program, as well as an energy efficiency plan for their electrical system.

Marcus notes how other industries, like retail, were quick to move towards conscious capitalism, but food and hospitality had always lagged behind. “And yet, we make more purchase decisions about what we eat and drink in our daily lives than anything else,” she says.

West~bourne products are labeled with tree-free paper, opting for an unbleached, sugarcane variety. Pouches are made from wood cellulose rather than plastic, and jars are sourced from local, family-owned businesses who specialize in carbon-friendly glass-ideal for reuse. Everything is packed with recycled boxes and stuffing.And on top of that, Marcus works with the Garcia River Project to keep West~bourne’s carbon footprint neutral. “No matter how zero-waste or carbon-neutral the product, if you’re getting something at your door, it’s taking up carbon. We’re reinvesting it,” she says. For every product purchased, West~bourne puts money towards the redwood forest preservation and management project in Northern California.

This drive for change also exhibits itself in Marcus’ involvement with restaurant worker activism. As a co-founder of Restaurants Organizing Advocating Rebuilding, ROAR, and a founding member of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, IRC, Marcus hopes to lead the charge to save restaurants during COVID-19.

When West~bourne closed down, Marcus wrote an impassioned essay for CNN about the gut-wrenching act of handing over her keys. The core philosophies that defined the restaurant-communal seating to bring neighbors together, scaled down cooking spaces to encourage collaboration-ended up working against her. Not being able to meet operating costs, and receiving no aid, she was forced to shut the restaurant down.”The country seems to have no clue or consideration that our industry is not only massive, it’s critically important to other jobs, like our supply chain, and our farming system,” she explains. “Lawmakers didn’t seem to pay attention. And yet we’re the second-largest industry in this country next to healthcare. Who do you think was feeding the healthcare workers? Who do you think was risking their lives on subways, getting out of the house when everyone else was staying home?”

Marcus enacted employee-first initiatives even before the pandemic started. She offered her team free childcare. She didn’t hire porters or dishwashers, but instead cross-trained employees across all positions. She worked integrated meditation into pre-shifts. There was an “embrace your side hustle fund,” which gave employees $35 a month to use towards anything that enriched their development-whether that be a yoga class or pottery course-and it still exists today.Marcus views these practices and her environmental efforts in the same way she does voting, deeply trusting in the power of the collective.

“Think about how much you eat and drink in your life-how much you consume daily to nourish your body. That is very far from a drop in the bucket,” she says. “If all of us made a little bit more of a mindful choice in each of these small decisions, I actually think we could move mountains.”Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Jessica Sulima is a staff writer on the Food & Drink team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram

Food and Drink

How Talking Terps Has Influenced Cannabis Hype Culture

The origins and optimism behind the cannabis brand that sells out drops within minutes. Canabis...

Photo courtesy of Buckle Your Brain
Photo courtesy of Buckle Your Brain
Photo courtesy of Buckle Your Brain

Many cannabis brands describe themselves as “lifestyle brands” and “cultural disruptors.” Few of them actually impact lifestyles or broader cultural trends. Only one of them has figurines up on Stock X right now.

“For OG Terp Crawford to be featured amongst Nike, Jordans, Supreme, BAPE, and PS5s is really sick,” says Hope Lord, co-founder of cannabis lifestyle brand Talking Terps. “Stock X is not taking everyone who makes a toy and putting it up there.”Between their psychedelic graphics, cannabis-adjacent accessories, and famous OG Terp Crawford figurine, Talking Terps has established a cult following amongst cannabis enthusiasts, hypebeasts, and beyond. On paper, it’s a lifestyle brand interested in both cannabis and psychedelics. In action, Talking Terps is an alternative universe that bridges the gaps between toy culture, cannabis culture, psychedelic culture, and American pop culture.

The brand was established as a concept in 2015 by Leor Feit aka Hope Lord, Flatbush Zombies member Antonio Lewis aka Zombie Juice, and Flatbush Zombies spiritual adviser Phil Annand aka PTA Haiti 3000. One year later, the phrase “talking terps” popped in a Flatbush Zombies song, referring to terpenes, a compound found in cannabis.

“We had a show at Red Rocks in Colorado,” Lord recalls. “I had a friend that was part of Blue River Terpenes who brought us the first sample of cannabis-derived terpenes. Then Juice and Erick made a song with it in the chorus.”

Talking Terps
Talking Terps
Talking Terps

Once Talking Terps emerged as a phrase, the graphics, accessories, apparel, events, and, of course, toys were soon to follow. By 2017, the phrase was spotted on one of Snoop Dogg’s t-shirts. In 2019, the concept of Terp Crawford was born, launching the brand towards the collectible toy game.

While the first Terp Crawford was technically a plush pillow, the first toy-named OG Terp Crawford-came in March 2020. The 6-inch tall vinyl sculpture of a humanized weed nug with a joint in his hand and a smile on his face is meant to embody everything Hope, Juice and PTA stand for.

“Our message is to love each other and be happy,” Lord says. “Tread lightly and disrupt nothing.”OG Terp Crawford drops sell out in actual seconds and resell on sites like Stock X for over double their retail price. More than a simple toy, he’s a figure that Talking Terps hopes will evolve into a full-on cartoon character.

“As time goes, the idea for Terp Crawford is for him to be a Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny type figure from our world that can cross over,” Lord says. “There should be no reason one day that Terp Crawford’s not throwing a football in some skit on Monday Night Football.”

That’s not just a high aspiration-the team is currently working with 3 Hearts Entertainment to develop a TV show around him. The goal is for Terp Crawford to go global and for Talking Terps to go meta. With their vast graphic library and club of TT enthusiasts, virtual collectibles like NFTs only make sense (though the team can’t let the terp out of the hat just yet).

“I can see Terp Crawford in Japan, speaking in Japanese on TV,” Lord muses. “Once we take him somewhere else, we could do big sculptures, like at KAWS level, maybe. I think we’ll get a TV show. I can’t speak too much on what we’re working on for the metaverse, but it’s got a lot of components. I can say that we’re building a whole new platform called the meta-forest.”

It’s safe to say there will be a sold-out waitlist to get into that forest.
Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat!

Danté Jordan is a freelance writer, video producer, and media consultant specializing in cannabis culture and education. Follow him on Instagram.

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