Top celebrity chefs launch Ethereum NFTs to build Web3 Culinary Community

Tom Colicchio and Spike Mendelsohn’s CHFTY pizza Ethereum NFTs arrive today, with plans to bring in more celebrity chefs and perks.
Top celebrity chefs launch Ethereum NFTs to build Web3 Culinary Community | Coinscreed
Tom Colicchio and Spike Mendelsohn have launched the CHFTY Pizzas NFT collection.

In summary,

  • CHFTY Pizzas is an NFT project by celebrity chefs Tom Colicchio and Spike Mendelsohn.
  • Ethereum NFTs serve as community passports, with a range of benefits and bigger plans.

Celebrity chefs Tom Colicchio and Spike Mendelsohn today launched their first Ethereum NFT collection, CHFTY Pizzas, with the goal of building a Web3 community around food creators and their fans.

But as the chefs said in a news conference this week, they went down this route because the restaurant industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The culinary industry was turned on its head in the first few months of the pandemic, with the impact of restaurant closures resulting in an estimated 110,000 restaurants being permanently shut in the United States alone.

Those that stayed in business struggled to retain staff amid falling revenue and had to adopt alternative service models while waiting for the storm to pass.

Mendelsohn, the chef behind restaurants like We, The Pizza and PLNT Burger, as well as being a former contestant on Bravo’s TV series, Top Chef, said “it was a struggle for restaurant owners to survive the pandemic.”

He started thinking about different ways to use technology to connect with customers and fans.

“Our industry wanted to reach consumers at home because people couldn’t go to restaurants anymore,” Mendelsohn said in his speech.

“I felt very left behind in the world of Web2 where we were forced to rely on third-party delivery systems like UberEats and GrubHub.”

Colicchio, chief judge and executive producer of Top Chef, and the man behind Craft and other restaurants, was also impacted by the pandemic, just like Mendelsohn.

With more free time as a result of the pandemic, he began consuming more financial media and subsequently heard about NFTs early last year as the market started to grow.

And according to him, it wasn’t always positive news about something he was beginning to get interested in.

“When I saw a lot of respected media companies, especially financial companies like CNBC, making fun of NFTs, I was like, ‘Okay, that’s something worth watching out for,’” Colicchio said.

“Usually when someone makes fun of something that is kind of threatening and new, it’s like, ‘Hey boy, get off my lawn’ and stuff like that”, continued Colicchio.

Colicchio said he began spending quality time listening to Twitter spaces about NFTs, striving to understand the technology, and absorbing the fast rising culture around them.

Mendelsohn, meanwhile, saw parallels between artists and the way chefs create their recipes, and the potential for chefs to retain the intellectual property created by publishing their own digital content.

When the chefs, whom Mendelsohn labelled “crypto curios,” connected last year, they realized they both wanted to explore the possibilities of NFTs.

Rather than launching their own individual collections, they decided to work together on a project that could, over time, attract many other chefs as well.

Where CHFTY Pizzas comes in

Enter CHFTY Pizzas. Launched with a much publicized mint today, the Ethereum NFT Chefs Collection includes 2,777 profile pictures, each featuring the image of an anthropomorphic and cartoonish pizza slice with random characteristics.

At the time of writing this article, each is being sold for 0.07 ETH, or around $210.

As with many of these projects, the image attached to the NFT is only part of the value equation.

Each CHFTY Pizzas NFT acts as an access pass of sorts, allowing holders to connect to an exclusive Discord community that also includes other big-name chefs like Rocco DiSpirito, Cat Cora, Jeff Mauro, Andrew Zimmer, and Top Chef winner, Kristen Kish.

You’ll also unlock future benefits like streaming cooking classes from chefs and live events like the one coming up in Washington D.C. the next month.

The chefs also plan to open pop-up pizza joints across the United States, as voted for by NFT owners.

There is also a charitable component. Each mint and side sale will donate a portion of the funds to Big Green DAO, the decentralized food-focused self-help organization recently founded by Kimbal Musk, yes, Elon’s brother.

Colicchio knows Musk from the restaurant industry, and donations are made automatically through CHFTY Pizzas’ NFT smart contract (i.e., the self-executing computer code that makes things like NFTs work).

Colicchio and Mendelsohn said in a report that they’ve been working on the project for about nine months and that it was originally scheduled to be released well ahead of the December reveal.

However, they realized they had much more to learn about the NFT industry and how to implement a project that could support an active and growing community.

“We probably could have released something four or five months ago, but we realized we weren’t ready yet. We were far from done,” said Colicchio.

“You don’t go in there and come out halfway because people will know and see.”

Finally, when the developers changed mid-project, considering the economics and potential for future expansion, they reduced the number of NFTs available at the Mint (from 8,888 to 2,777).

According to Colicchio, CHFTY Pizzas offers chefs a chance to “get their feet wet” with NFTs and then explore plans on a larger scale.

“Starting this NFT project is very similar to starting a restaurant,” said Colicchio.

It can take time to refine a restaurant formula and overcome the initial problems, but ultimately it’s a starting point to build on.

“The worst day in the life of a restaurant is the day you open it,” he added. “But eventually, it gets even better.”

Cooking up in the Metaverse

After launching CHFTY Pizzas, Colicchio and Mendelsohn will eventually expand the community with the CHFTY pass, an NFT pass associated with greater ambitions in space.

All Pizza NFT owners can claim a free CHFTY pass at launch, but additional passes will also be sold as the team aims for 10,000 total.

Chefs describe the CHFTY Pass as a way to bring even more creators into the community and use CHFTY as a platform for adjacent projects from chefs, food brands, and more.

Coliccho compared it to Art Blocks, Ethereum’s generative art platform that hosted drops from hundreds of artists, but for cooking-related communities with multiple benefits.

This would be a way for other well-known industry leaders and personalities to launch NFT and Web3 projects without all the technical work and infrastructure that the CHFTY team has had to build over the past few months.

They have already onboarded other leaders into the NFT space, such as those already part of the CHFTY community to help them understand the opportunities there.

And as the metaverse takes shape in the years to come, they also want to help bring the culinary world to life in digital spaces.

Colicchio envisions a future where his restaurant sends a customer a physical package of food, so they wear virtual reality or augmented reality glasses and eat the real food in a digital replica of the restaurant with other customers.

You don’t have to be in a culinary hub like New York or Las Vegas. But whatever the form of the metaverse, he doesn’t want to be a passive spectator.

“Who knows how it will be? I have no idea but I feel like I don’t want to wait to find out and do it,” he said.

“I want to get involved and be a part of it.” It may be a long road, but Colicchio and Mendelsohn have dug deep into the NFT scene over the past few months.

They are ready to continue building to expand the CHFTY community and add more benefits and bring more of the culinary world to Web3.

“For me, the most successful projects continue layering, layering, layering,” said Colicchio. “We are here for the long term. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t really like it.