Home » Eric Greenspan Bets Big On Festival Food With Three Coachella Stands

Eric Greenspan Bets Big On Festival Food With Three Coachella Stands

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“I’m one of those people who when I have a recipe or a dish in my head, I can’t get it out of my head until I exorcise the demon, until I execute it somewhere,” Eric Greenspan says. “When I was in Hawaii with my family two years ago, that dish was macaroni salad. I was obsessed.”

Greenspan, a prolific Los Angeles chef who ran buzzing restaurants like The Foundry on Melrose before becoming a ghost-kitchen pioneer (his latest Postmates sensation is Duck), is going big at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival this year. During both Coachella weekends (April 12-14 and April 19-21), Greenspan will run three Terrace North food stands that are specifically calibrated for festivals.

He’s cooked at Coachella and other major festivals before. He’s learned a few things about handling serious volume while serving serious food. He’s ready to upgrade festival flavors, to try out new dishes, to see how much smoke he can generate at Coachella while Lana Del Rey, No Doubt, Blur, Doja Cat, Blur, Dom Dolla and Peggy Gou bring the beats. And he’s here to see if he can turn his obsession with mac salad into a scalable business.

“I started to think to myself, wouldn’t it make sense to design a brand from the ground up that’s built for festivals?” Greenspan says. “It could be a better branded experience. It could be a more creative experience. The quality of the food could be better. And I could push significant volume where the prices don’t have to be crazy and everybody who wants to eat it can eat it. And in doing so, my goal is to raise the bar of what’s available in the general-admission concessions at festivals like Coachella. And what better place to start it?”

So now it’s time to see how viable this idea is.

New School serves a better grilled cheese.

New School

“I’ve never really done this before at this magnitude,” Greenspan says. “I don’t know. Do I have too many griddles? Do I have just enough griddles? Do I need more griddles?”

As for the aforementioned mac salad, that’s part of Grindz Hawaiian Plates, which is Greenspan’s ode to Hawaiian plate lunches. Grindz serves sweet-and-sour barbecue chicken, “grilled almost to the point of where it’s burned and then chopped,” he says. There’s also unagi-glazed slow-cooked pork and vegan teriyaki-glazed jackfruit.

“Whereas you normally find steamed white rice, I took crispy garlic and cilantro and butter and made cilantro garlic rice,” Greenspan says. “I made a macaroni salad, but I made it with a ton of fresh carrots and fresh celery because I love how refreshing it is and I wanted to play with the textures and the crunchiness. And then I glazed it with a little bit of pineapple puree. And then I seasoned it with salt and coarse black pepper, but then I added some red chili flakes to it because I feel like getting a little bit of heat into the mac salad is fun. To have a mac salad that’s not like one note was really important to me.”

Greenspan wanted to amp up slaw as well, so he made a sesame passion-fruit dressing for his mix of red cabbage and green cabbage, added a generous amount of toasted sesame seeds and folded in some chopped pickled ginger.

Greenspan also has his New School Quality Grilled Cheese stand at Coachella. This is a showcase for his own brand of American cheese. New School serves butter-grilled white bread with three slices of cheese and fillings like smoked brisket. Guests can choose between seasoned fries and cheese fries, of course.

Eric Greenspan is launching Chipapas at Coachella.

Chipapas

And then there’s Chipapas, a stand that serves Greenspan’s take on salchipapas, a popular South American street food that involves putting chopped hot dogs or sausages on French fries. For Chipapas, Greenspan seasons the fries with Tajin and Old Bay and then coats them in a New School American cheese sauce. Then he adds piles of fried hot dogs, chorizo, Beyond sausages or carnitas. Each option has its own sauce, like salsa verde or mayo ketchup, because Greenspan isn’t in this to create cut-and-paste food. Guests can add a sunny-side-up egg.

If all goes well at Coachella, Greenspan sees these three brands popping up at more festivals as well as arenas and performance venues.

“I want to continue in this field and continue to do things that make sense within the context,” he says. “I’m always into disruption, and I feel like this is an area that is ripe for and needs some disruption.”

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