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The Week in Ideas, September 7, 2012

Table-side potty training. Plant-based McDonald’s. The anti-breastaurant. Kenny G., and more, in this installment of the Week in Ideas.

Idea #1: Potty train at the table. One Utah mom thought this was a good idea at the Thanksgiving Point Deli. She put her toddlers’ potties on the chairs at the table, while diners ate around them. Stripped the kids down and let them do their business while they ate. Picture to prove it.

Idea #2: Vegetarian McDonald’s. Yes, you read that right. The standard-bearer of cheap fast hamburgers has gone totally plant-based with two new outlets in India. While McDonald’s restaurants in the country already avoid beef and pork (to appeal to Hindus and Muslims), two new units located near holy shrines have gone completely green. McSpicy Paneer, anyone?

Idea #3: A steakhouse for her. Actress Eva Longoria is opening a new steakhouse in Las Vegas called SHe, which will cater to the feminine carnivore. A press release says the restaurant will be “an updated interpretation of the gilded age when wealth and excessive opulence ruled America’s upper-class combined with a modern version of art deco to create a feeling of empowerment, especially for female guests.” Plus: a catwalk.

Idea #4: Kenny G.=fewer calories. A new study claims that soft music and lighten lead to diners eating fewer calories. The insights were generated not by wiring study participants in a lab setting but by taking a Hardee’s in Illinois and giving part of it a makeover to make the dining area warmer and comfier. Patrons who ate their burgers and fries in that section tended to stay longer, eat less, but enjoy it more, according to the data.

Idea #5: Use chefs as ambassadors. That’s a new State Department plan. The Diplomatic Culinary Partnership—in association with the James Beard Foundation—aims to “elevate the role of culinary engagement in America’s formal and public diplomacy efforts,” according to a mission statement. “Top Chef” contestant Mike Isabella is one of the first chefs on deck.

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