Get the latest from TODAY
We've all heard of the "Little Drummer Boy" ... but what about the Little Onion Angel?
For the first time ever, Chipotle has combined two things people truly love — the holidays and burritos, of course — to create seasonally themed window displays using only edible decorations.
To accomplish the feat, the Mexican Grill chain recruited food sculptors Marie Pelton and Jim Victor to craft holiday masterpieces made with ingredients found on Chipotle's menu.
Bloomingdale's and Macy's may have elaborate scenes with luxurious fabrics, adorable stuffed bears and ornate snowflakes, but Chipotle's windows are going all out with corn, cheese, rice, peppers, salsa and avocado.
Of course, we just wanted to know the sculptors' trick for keeping the guacamole green.
"We’ve been really utilizing avocado skins — great for boots and hats — but according to Chipotle employees, the key to freshness [for the guac in store] is lime juice and pressing the guacamole into the container to avoid air bubbles," Pelton told TODAY Food.
Victor and Pelton are a husband and wife team based out of Philadelphia. On Monday, using just 51 base ingredients (all of which can be found in the restaurant's bowls, burritos and tacos) they created the first window display — a Christmas tree made from leafy romaine lettuce (yes, some of it is OK to eat now!) and juniper berries for ornaments.
But the team's work is not yet complete.
Every day, from Monday, Dec. 3 through Friday, Dec. 7, Victor and Pelton will create something new at the Chipotle location near New York City's bustling Columbus Circle. Chris Brandt, the chain's chief marketing officer, told TODAY Food that this particular location was chosen because it has oversized windows. Later in the week, the store will host more edible winter wonderlands and yummy holiday carolers for all Chipotle customers, fans of interesting holiday displays and random people just walking by.
There's just one rule: don't snack on the displays.
The food sculptures, according to Brandt, are reflecting Chipotle's continued commitment to using fresh ingredients, many of which are sourced from farmers in the U.S. and, when possible, locally — such as onions from the Minkus Family Farms in New Hampton, New York — one of which served as the head of the tree's angel.
According to Pelton, creating a totally new window display five days in a row requires a good deal of food.
The food artist told TODAY that to complete the set, Chipotle sourced "about 80 heads of romaine lettuce, a crate each of lemons, limes, tomatillos, tomatoes, more than 100 tortillas, large containers of fresh spices, 10 pounds of salt and pepper and moderate amounts of jalapeños, poblanos, onions, garlic, gypsum, avocado, cheese, corn, juniper berries, tomato paste and pinto beans."
And don't worry, the food isn't just being thrown into the trash after it becomes famous. After each display is deconstructed, all of the food used will be composted and then donated to local farms.
According to Victor and Pelton, the most difficult aspect of crafting sculptures like a Christmas tree and a rocking horse hasn't been the somewhat unpredictable edible materials. But, rather, it's the lack of time, since the artists have to create each display between between 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day.
While a rocking horse made from common kitchen spices will be one of the sculptors' more unique feats (that's certainly one way to use them up before they expire), there are some other fresh ingredients that were a natural — and much easier — fit, like using fresh tomatoes on the vine and whole lemons for ornaments on the tree.
While 2018 is the first year that Chipotle has ever used its food for decorating rather than just eating, Brandt told TODAY Food that if customers really, really enjoy these displays, they might just become a new holiday tradition.