In brief

  • CHFTY Pizzas is an NFT project from chefs Tom Colicchio and Spike Mendelsohn.
  • The Ethereum NFTs serve as an access pass to the community, with various perks and larger-scale plans to come.

Celebrity chefs Tom Colicchio and Spike Mendelsohn today launched their first Ethereum NFT collection, CHFTY Pizzas, in an effort to build a Web3 community around culinary creators and their fans. But as the chefs told Decrypt this week, they initially started down this path as the restaurant industry was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The industry was upended in the early months of the pandemic, with the impact of shutdowns forcing an estimated 110,000 restaurants in the United States alone to close permanently. Those that remained in business struggled to retain staff amid plunging revenue, and had to embrace alternative service models as they waited out the storm.

Mendelsohn, the chef behind restaurants including We, The Pizza and PLNT Burger and a past contestant on Bravo’s long-running “Top Chef” TV series, said that it “was a struggle to survive” for restaurant owners. He began to consider different ways to embrace technology to connect with customers and fans.

“Our industry was looking at how to reach consumers at their homes, because people couldn’t come to the restaurants anymore,” Mendelsohn told Decrypt. “I felt very left behind in the Web2 world, where we were forced to rely on third-party delivery systems like UberEats and GrubHub.”

Colicchio, head judge and executive producer on “Top Chef” and the man behind Craft and other…

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