Fancy Feast’s pop-up restaurant Purr-fect pushes the boundaries

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Fancy Feast’s restaurant pushes the boundaries of CPG pop-ups.

For two days in August, a temporary trattoria in New York’s Meatpacking District looked like something the cat had dragged around, literally. Purina’s Fancy Feast created a pop-up – for humans – that coincided with the launch of its new, globally-inspired Medleys line. The concept, dubbed Gatto Bianco, which means “white cat” in Italian, was a nod to the brand’s fluffy mascot.

Fancy Feast entrepreneur Amanda Hassner has teamed up with Cesare Casella, a Michelin-starred chef originally from Italy and now living in New York, to create dishes that mimic “the sensory experience of cats at mealtimes,” according to a press release. Their menu featured the new Medley flavors through gourmet (human) dishes such as Tuscan ribs, braised beef in wine sauce, and baked sea bass. Dessert included a lemon panna cotta and a heart-shaped almond cake covered in chocolate with cocoa sprinkled with paw prints crossing the plate.

“My role at Purina and at Fancy Feast is to focus on human food and pet food,” Hassner said in a statement. “I prepare and present human food experiments to my colleagues who then create new pet products inspired by these dishes.”

In terms of pop-ups, Gatto Bianco is far from the most salacious, especially compared to the dumpster supper clubs of summer 2016. This isn’t the first time a CPG brand has created either. its own themed restaurant. One of the most successful, at least for a time, was Kellogg’s NYC Cafe. In response to a continued decline in sales, the cereal maker tapped Christina Tosi of Milk Bar to create the menu for a Times Square pop-up in 2016. The concept was so popular that Kellogg’s opened a permanent location l following year, although its novelty eventually wore off, and the cafe closed in 2019.

Greek yogurt supplier Chobani also ventured into the restaurant space and at one point even had three locations, although only one remains (also in New York).

But Gatto Bianco breaks the mold on three fronts. First, it was designed as a fine dining experience rather than a casual cafe. Second, the pop-up, which hosted only eight guests in total, was a publicity vehicle rather than a foray into the restaurant business. And finally, it was a cat food product, not a human one.

Purina has given no indication that it will open another feline-themed concept in the future, but in the meantime, cat-loving foodies can try their hand at home with the Fancy Feast cookbook, which was launched last year and is, allegedly, the cat’s cat. Meow.

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