The newly opened concept restaurant by Chipotle called Farmesa hosted a class of special needs children from Santa Monica High School (Samohi) yesterday morning where Chef Nate Appleman gave a talk on healthy eating before providing a sizable buffet-style brunch to every hungry mouth in the room.

Susan Beech, who teaches the adult transition program at Samohi said, “My students are all learning life skills, which includes everything associated with independent living, like cooking and yes, even chores. And today we’ve been kindly invited by Farmesa to participate in learning how to prepare their food like a chef and then they can eat what they’ve made. So, we’re really excited about this.”

This represents the first, and so far only, outlet of the new healthy eating concept by the global Mexican restaurant chain. The Newport Beach-based fast food behemoth describes the idea as “a fresh, bold concept featuring delicious proteins, greens, grains and vegetables.” Located in the Kitchen United MIX food hall at 1315 Third Street on the second floor, the modest outlet serves both walk-in customers and offers a delivery service operated through marketplace apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats.

In-between serving food, James Beard Award-winning Appleman, the company’s Director of Culinary Innovation who has been contributing to Chipotle’s menu since the mid-2000s, remarked on how popular the carrots seemed to be. “That’s great, right? I added a dash of apple vinaigrette and I think that’s what’s doing the trick. There’s no gluten, no dairy and no nuts, so everyone can enjoy it.”

Nate also mentioned that the menu will be changing a little bit in the coming weeks, although he was not at liberty to say how exactly. The event proved not only very popular with the students, but also with many of their parents, who had come along to see what all the fuss was about.

Chef Nate Appleman prepares just a sampling of the healthy food on offer at Farmesa to the students with disabilities at Samohi
Photograph: Scott Snowden

All the students are aged between 18 and 22 and with a 504 plan, they’re entitled to go to school for an additional four years after high school graduation. “The adult transition program works in conjunction with our workability program. And that way, we have places for our students to learn how to do jobs,” says Elda Cruz, who teaches alongside Beech at Samohi.

“This event is about saying thank you, to everyone involved. Some of our team members have kids with special needs and we really wanted to reach out and share some love and share some amazing food,” Joella Hopkins, Director of Strategic Marketing for Branding Los Angeles. “Farmesa really wants to get involved in the Santa Monica community and it’s all about giving good people high quality food, right.”

Scott fell in love with Santa Monica when he was much younger and now, after living and working in five different countries, he has returned. He's written for the likes of the FT, NBC, the BBC and CNN.