What happens when a national fast food restaurant blends braised organic, non-GMO tofu with chipotle chilies, roasted poblanos and a blend of aromatic spices?

Sofritas at Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Sofritas salad at Chipotle made with Hodo Soy tofu

Sofritas salad at Chipotle made with Hodo Soy tofu

What happens when that chain sources its tofu from an Oakland artisan tofu maker, Hodo Soy?

Growth, jobs and more choices for vegans.

After a limited test, Chipotle is rolling out this new vegan offering at all Northern California restaurants. Eager to try, we popped into Chipotle’s Novato restaurant for a tasting of the spicy tofu, which can fill burritos, tacos, burrito bowls or salads. We (a couple of meat eaters) found the Sofritas not only edible, but something we’d return for – a chorizo-like crumbliness with a spicy kick, complementing our generous dousing of cheese and tomato salsa the staff had made that day (using as much local cheese and farm-direct produce no less).

Novato kitchen manager Melvy Ramos reports customer response to the Sofritas has been equally as enthusiastic. The sheer deliciousness of Sofritas relects Hodo Soy’s mission to get folks to eat our really innovative tofu products.

“Sure, tofu is a vegetarian protein that has great health benefits and a low impact on the environment, but ultimately, a tasting great product is what will draw people to try it and eat it,” Hodo Soy Founder, Director and Co-CEO Minh Tsai said.

Artisan tofu follows Chipotle’s sourcing credo

The partnership came about when Hodo Soy’s high quality organic tofu and innovative flavors came to the attention of Chipotle, which was founded by chef Steve Ells. The Sofritas’ recipe reflects two years of research and development with Chipotle’s chefs to make sure that the recipes meet Chipotle’s “Food With Integrity” mission, as well as Hodo Soy’s highest standards of quality.

“This partnership provides us with a platform to continue our mission to enlighten folks about delicious tofu,” Tsai said. “And yes, it may mean we can grow, expand and hire more employees as well.”

The company, based on Adeline Street, sources its organic soy beans from a grower co-operative in the Midwest, home to many soybean farms.

Sofritas will be available in all Chipotle restaurants in Northern California, including the East Bay, Sacramento and San Francisco in the next month or so.

Can we expect to see Hodo Soy in more restaurants?

“We’re open to work with any restaurant that is interested in organic tofu and innovative recipes,” Tsai said. “That’s our specialty.”

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