Dec 28, 2021 • 11M

Why Rice Is Having a Moment

Unlike the parboiled enriched rice on market shelves, new crop rice is good for us, says JJ Johnson, founder of fast-casual restaurant, Fieldtrip.

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Melissa McCart
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Chef JJ Johnson. Photos courtesy of Fieldtrip

JJ Johnson’s Fieldtrip in New York is expanding in a big way: With locations in Harlem, Rockefeller Center, and Long Island City, the chef is on track to open six to eight new locations, thanks to an infusion of capital, Crain’s reported earlier this month.

When his fast-casual rice bowl spot debuted, Johnson made a choice to move away from parboiled enriched bleached rice that’s notoriously bad for us — and instead uses new crop rice, including Carolina Gold, white, red, Texas brown rice, Chinese black rice. He also uses aged basmati from India and Laotian sticky rice that’s flash-frozen, he says.

“I think rice is having a moment,” says Johnson. “People are very eager to learn about it. I think a couple points: I have to give Fieldtrip credit for awareness. Also, ‘High on the Hog,’ their episode there…. Today show just did that article that Carolina Gold rice can make you live a hundred years. Anson Mills called me and said, ‘Please don’t place an order because we can’t keep up with the demand from consumers.’”

“I think what’s really occurring is this thing around rice where we’ve been told it does this to us, but we realize it’s this type of rice and not THIS rice. And … this rice story of freshly milled rice, small-batch farmer story, of like, ‘Oh, wow: I love rice — and now I can eat it again?’ I think is something really big.”

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