0 comments on “It’s About to Get Reallllll Chili”

It’s About to Get Reallllll Chili

The weather outside may have finally turned frightful (ugh) but our turkey chili really IS delightful (we promise)! And it’s the perfect way to beat the cold as sweater weather commences. This chili recipe is simple to execute and really flavorful without requiring any fancy ingredients- everything you need is at your local grocery store! Our recipe makes about 6 servings, which is perfect for Sunday football with your friends or meal prep for yourself. Once you create this dish, you can freeze whatever you don’t use and reheat it as needed. It should last about 2-3 months in the freezer, making it the ideal meal for those crisp nights when you just don’t feel like cooking!

Try it out and let us know what you think on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook @foodtoeat! We can’t wait to see how you chili!

Turkey Chili

Recipe serves 6

You’ll Need:

1 lb ground turkey

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 can of crushed tomatoes (28 oz)

1 can fire roasted tomatoes (small)

1 can kidney beans

1 can black beans

1 can chickpeas

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat. Add in chopped onions and saute for 3-5 minutes. Add in ground turkey and cook for 3 minutes. Then add in your chopped garlic, salt and pepper. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Add in the rest of your dry seasonings (chili powder, paprika, dried oregano, cayenne pepper and ground cumin), mix together and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.

Once all of your dry seasonings are in the pot, add in crushed tomatoes and fire roasted tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Next add in your kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas and chicken stock (you can do more or less than 1/2 cup of chicken stock depending on how thick or thin you like your chili) and simmer for 30 minutes over low heat.

Ground turkey will be cooked through after 30 minutes. Remove from heat, mix in chopped cilantro and your chili is ready to eat! Add your favorite toppings (we suggest shredded cheddar cheese, scallion, sour cream and tortilla chips) and enjoy! Need a vegetarian option?! Leave out the meat and add your favorite root vegetables! We love potatoes, carrots and butternut squash- perfect for fall!

 

0 comments on “Zeeshan Ali, Co-Owner of Salad Pangea”

Zeeshan Ali, Co-Owner of Salad Pangea

This is Zeeshan Ali, the co-owner of Salad Pangea. He’s been in the food industry for most of his life but only recently purchased his first food business with his brother, Shadman Saeed. He grew up working in his father’s restaurant, Kabab King, which his father opened after emigrating from Pakistan in 1993 and realizing that there was a huge Pakistani/Indian community in New York that wanted halal food but had nowhere to buy it. Although Zeeshan worked in the industry for years, he was never set on making it a career until he got the chance to purchase Salad Pangea. Now, although he’s young (just 23 years old), this eager entrepreneur is committed to doing everything possible to make sure that his business is a success and that he can use his expertise to improve previous standards and redefine halal food service.

Zeeshan began working at his father’s restaurant when he was 13 years old. Throughout the years he worked heavily in their catering business, helping to execute catering orders for groups of 75-1,000 people and dealing with every aspect of logistics and operations from outreach to food prep to delivery. He worked for his father until he was 20 years old and then decided to branch out on his own and pursue other interests. He tried going down a few different paths: a food distribution business, medical school, but nothing seemed to be a good fit and it was important to him that he enjoyed the work that he was doing. Then one day he received an offer to take over a family friend’s catering business, Salad Pangea. The owner had decided to leave the restaurant industry and approached Zeeshan and his brother because he believed that they had the skills to take the business to the next level. Zeeshan says that it wasn’t a hard decision because this gave him the opportunity to work at something that he already had experience in and that he had a passion for. He and his brother purchased the business and have been running it for the last 8 months.

Growing up working for his father has allowed Zeeshan to watch how the restaurant industry works from a young age, understand it and improve it for his own business. Once they took over Salad Pangea, he and Shadman immediately began looking over business costs and cutting out any unnecessary expenses to make it more efficient. They have a small team of employees, including themselves, that work out of a food incubator, Pilotworks, in Brooklyn. They rent kitchen space for a few hours each day to prepare the food and do their deliveries so they’re able to keep their price point low, compared to other vendors like Chop’t and Just Salad that are larger operations with retail locations. Because they focus solely on catering, they’re able to go into different fields and expand, which is exactly what Zeeshan plans to do. He’s starting culinary school at the Institute of Culinary Education at the end of October and is hoping to bring what he learns there into practice at Salad Pangea and eventually evolve the business into a full scale catering company that provides halal food from all different cuisines around the world. Taking over Salad Pangea has allowed him to realize that there are so many other ways to provide customers with food and that there are so many more communities that he can introduce halal food service to.

Through his work in the food industry, Zeeshan believes that most restaurants, like his father’s, were created to fill a need. But he has a different way of looking at things. He believes that this generation of consumers is interested in trying something new, specifically in the halal community, and he wants to be the solution for them. He wants to change the perception of halal food, creating a need for a cuisine that he doesn’t believe exists yet: high-end halal dining. And he’s focused on making it a reality.  But he knows that this evolution will take time, which is why culinary school is an important step for him to be able to more deeply understand food, expand his ideas and recipes and eventually teach them to others. Although going to culinary school and running a business at the same time will not be easy, he’s focused on making it work saying, “In order for me to understand this industry, I need to have those skills. If I can’t do it, how am I going to explain it to anybody else?” As is it, he says he only sleeps about 3 or 4 hours a night but he enjoys having a lot on his plate and thinks that free time is a waste. His experience in the restaurant industry has taught him to work hard and he’s ready to hustle as much as he needs to bring his musings to life.

Zeeshan says that since taking over Salad Pangea his mind has shifted on how he should be doing business and he’s taking the necessary steps to create a new concept in halal food service focused on differentiation, quality and customer service. He knows that it will be tough, since older generations of halal restaurant owners focus on providing the food that they know, but he’s up to the challenge. For Zeeshan, the best part of the job is being able to execute a business plan as you see fit and change the plan if needed. And he’s happy to do that as he continues on this journey, as long as he’s doing it his way.

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

0 comments on “Spook-tacular Ways to Celebrate Halloween at the Office!”

Spook-tacular Ways to Celebrate Halloween at the Office!

When you think about Halloween the first thing that usually comes to mind is candy, candy, trick-or-treating and more candy! But Halloween doesn’t just have to be about the candy (unless you want it to be, then we fully support that) and it doesn’t just have to be for kids 13 and under. There are plenty of ways for you to celebrate the most frightening day of the year at the office without doing the same thing that you did last year, aka running out the morning of to buy decorations and overloading on sugar. Get creative this year and try something new! We promise it won’t take up too much of your time or energy because whether you’re throwing a monster mash or planning a simple treat for your team, we’ve got fang-tastic food ideas that every office manager can execute!

Ghoulish Breakfast: If you don’t have a huge budget or are looking to do something simple to get your office in the ghosting spirit, a lot of bagel vendors do orange bagels or orange/black swirl bagels to celebrate Halloween. This is a small but fun way to get your team excited when they walk into the office on Halloween morning! Not into bagels? Try some pumpkin spice pancakes or pumpkin muffins with cinnamon cream cheese to really spice things up!

Boo-tiful Lunch: A lot of people think that Halloween is all about snacks and candy but there are plenty of ways to incorporate Halloween colors and ideas into a terrifying lunch! If Halloween isn’t a huge celebration in your office but you do a team lunch once or twice a week, make it special by doing a Halloween-themed lunch! You can do grilled cheese with tomato soup syringes, “decomposed” salad, “bloody” chicken fingers, pumpkin bisque soup- any number of items can be dressed up or given eerie names to get your team excited to sit down together. And if you don’t do a weekly lunch, suggest a Halloween-themed lunch as a special event just for that week! Even if it seems silly, it’ll give your office something to look forward to and your coworkers will enjoy it (even if they don’t admit it!).

Blood-Curdling Snacks: Holiday themed snacks are always a safe bet when you’re feeding a bunch of people, especially when you need to account for different dietary preferences. Having a variety of frightening finger foods ensures that there are a few bites for everyone and that you have options that satisfy each restriction. And the best part about the snack option is that you can schedule it for a time during the day that works best for everyone in your office and make the celebration as long or as short as you would like! If Halloween is big in your office and you’re looking to take it a step further, have your team vote on their favorite horror movie and host a viewing party while enjoying your creepy eats! Talk about netflix and chill

Haunted Happy Hour: Not in the mood for food? We got you covered there as well. Set up a boo-zy after work party at your office and invite all the ghouls and goblins to attend! Sip on some “magic potions” (dry ice is key) and jam to your favorite Halloween tunes all night long! Really feeling the holiday spirit?! Make it costume party and have everyone select the best dressed of the night. You can reward the winner with a small gift, like a Starbucks gift card or a spooky candle, whatever you see fit! Just make sure you’re prepare for a night of gruesome delight!

Whatever you’re looking for to celebrate Halloween, we’ve got a menu to fit your needs! Email us at catering@foodtoeat.com to get a custom Halloween-themed proposal for you and your team and let the bewitching begin!

 

0 comments on “Xiu Chen: Owner of Rice K”

Xiu Chen: Owner of Rice K

This is Xiu Chen, the owner of Rice K, an Asian fusion restaurant that offers Chinese-American cuisine, Japanese cuisine and Thai cuisine that caters to the varied clientele that they serve in Astoria. Xiu’s family has owned a restaurant in the neighborhood for over 22 years. Her father began learning how to cook after emigrating from China with Xiu and her mother and became a chef in the Bronx, cooking Chinese-American food. As he honed his craft and started improving his cooking skills, he decided to start his own restaurant and thought Astoria was a nice neighborhood and a good place for him to build his business. 20 years later, Xiu is carrying on her father’s legacy by continuing the family business. She effortlessly blends their established reputation and authentic recipes with modern food trends, allowing the business to continue to grow, while also raising her daughter and running the business on her own.

Xiu grew up working in the restaurant business from a very young age. She used to stand on a box on the floor at her father’s restaurant so that she could work at the register, so she knows a lot of people in the area that have watched her grow up. Although she enjoyed working there, she says she never planned on taking over the business. She studied marketing in college and after meeting her husband, they moved to China for 6 years to see how they could get involved in China’s quickly growing economy. They ended up starting a construction business and began creating a home in China. However, Xiu’s father was getting older and she felt that it was time for him to retire. At the same time, her daughter, Audrey, was getting ready to start school and she wanted her to begin her education in the U.S. Therefore, it made sense to Xiu that she come back to the U.S., take over the restaurant and set up a home in New York as well. So 2 years ago, she returned to Astoria and took over the business.

Xiu and team from Rice K

Although she never saw herself taking the business over from her father, Xiu says she really does enjoy her job, mainly because of the staff that she works with and the customers that she gets to meet. She says hearing people’s stories and getting to know each person in the neighborhood that comes in is the most rewarding part of the business. These are the people that keep her going, especially when the business gets tough. Xiu’s husband still lives in China and handles their construction business so she runs the restaurant on her own, which she admits gets difficult when you have to be responsible for everything from staffing to food prep to accounting. Most days she’s at the restaurant from 11AM to 11PM or later so it’s hard to balance her time at work and her time with her daughter but she does her best to make sure neither one feels like they aren’t her top priority. Her daughter (now in 1st grade) will come to the restaurant after school a few days a week and Xiu does homework with her and goes through her lessons before Xiu’s parents take over. Luckily they are able to watch Audrey while Xiu works, since her father is now retired, and although they have a good system, Xiu says it’s not something she necessarily wants to pass onto her daughter. “It depends in the future if she likes cooking and if she likes the restaurant business because it’s so much to encompass” but if it’s something she chooses, Xiu will support her. In the mean time, she tries not to put any expectation on her daughter because she knows how hard the business can be. When she took over the business, she knew it would be tough and it was a hard decision for her to make, but now that she has taken it over, she isn’t looking back. As she says, “you only look forward”.

Xiu’s focus now is figuring out her plan for the future and what she needs to do to keep the business growing. She’s very aware that she’s responsible for the business’s success and how that impacts herself, her family and her staff. Which is why she’s made updates to keep the business relevant with the younger generations that have been moving into Astoria in recent years. She’s made changes to the restaurant, remodeling the layout and adding a kid’s menu and most recently, adding karaoke on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. She notes that they’re “probably one of the only restaurants that does that” with a laugh, but unique additions to the business are what have helped her bring in new customers and differentiate themselves from the numerous other restaurants that surround them. However, when adding in these changes, Xiu has been sure to keep the core of the restaurant the same: a family run business that cares about its community. Xiu and her staff take the business very personally, greeting people by name if they can and making sure that each customer feels welcomed and taken care of. It’s these simple gestures and the genuine care that she puts into the business that has allowed Rice K’s legacy to live on.

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

0 comments on “October Vendor of the Month: To Spiti”

October Vendor of the Month: To Spiti

For anyone that needs a break from pumpkin spice, we got you covered! Our October Vendor of the Month is To Spiti and this month it’s all about GYROS! To Spiti’s food is made from scratch in their Brooklyn-based restaurant and offers all of the authentic Greek items that you crave: spinach pie, gyros, falafel, baklava, pita bread and all of the dips.. spicy feta, hummus, tzatziki and babaganoush. YUM! It’s the perfect fall comfort food that the whole team can enjoy with their variety of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free menu options!

For October only, To Spiti has created an amazing lunch package that includes one gyro (can be made on a gluten free wrap if needed), one side and one dessert for just $12 per person! They will be offering this package to FoodtoEat clients exclusively until the end of the month so book your next team lunch with To Spiti as soon as possible!

October Lunch Package

$12/person

Chicken, Lamb or Falafel Gyro

Come with Onions, Lettuce and Tomatoes

Choice of Tzatziki, Hummus or Babaganoush

Served with Spinach Pie and Mini Baklava

Alma To Spiti Photo

To Spiti opened in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 2015 and is owned by Alma Selmanaj, a Greek immigrant who brought her and her husband’s family recipes to NYC! Alma was involved in the food industry from a young age. She grew up in Greece working in her family’s restaurant so she’s always been aware of what customers are looking for in a meal and understood the ins and outs of the food business. After moving to the United States and working in a few restaurants, she decided to put her knowledge to the test and opened up her own restaurant.

Alma and her husband are the only two full-time employees at To Spiti so they prep, cook and deliver the food themselves, adding a personal touch to every order from this family-run business. Although the work is hard and the days are long, hearing customers say how delicious the food was makes it all worth it for Alma because feeding people truly makes her happy. It’s this desire, to serve customers amazing food and the quality of the food that they serve, that makes To Spiti stand out from other Greek restaurants!

 

0 comments on “Ashley Jaffe and Zach Israel: Co-Founders of Blank Slate Coffee + Kitchen and Blank Slate Tea”

Ashley Jaffe and Zach Israel: Co-Founders of Blank Slate Coffee + Kitchen and Blank Slate Tea

This is Ashley Jaffe and her husband, Zach Israel, the co-founders of Blank Slate Coffee + Kitchen and Blank Slate Tea. Ashley and Zach opened Blank Slate Coffee + Kitchen in November 2015 and took painstaking efforts in the layout, design and menu creation to make the café feel like an extension of the customer’s home or office. They wanted Blank Slate to be a place where guests could come to work, meet friends, relax; be the go-to spot for anything and everything. Hence the name, Blank Slate- a place for growth, creativity and unlimited possibilities, which is truly what this café has created for Ashley and her husband.

Unlike most restaurant owners, Ashley didn’t grow up in the food industry and she doesn’t have a culinary background. Ashley worked in Public Relations for 10 years, specifically covering celebrities and entertainment, but fell in love with food and beverage after landing on The Food Network account at her firm. She started doing food and beverage PR, covering restaurants, spirits and soft drinks, and met her husband, Zach, who had an extensive background in the hospitality industry. Both had a love for food and beverage and, at the time, saw a huge gap in the market for a café where you could get an awesome meal and a killer cup of coffee at the same place. After dreaming up this vision for an all-day café concept, where people could “just come in and hang” (a la Central Perk in Friends), Ashley decided to quit her job, become business partners with Zach and open Blank Slate.

Although Ashley says she had no idea how to run a restaurant when they started, she is now the key decision maker for the business and runs the day to day operations. She admits that she has run into one or two issues being a female business owner (mainly men asking her if she needs to consult with her husband before making a decision related to the business, which she laughs off as “silly”) but overall she has been extremely lucky with the support she has received, especially from other women, some of whom own their own business or come in specifically because it is a female-run business. For Ashley, it’s the relationships that she’s cultivated that have made the business so rewarding for her and that have also made the business so successful.

Blank Slate Group Photo

Ashley takes her time training each and every employee, personally sitting down with each person to explain how and why the business got started and allowing them to understand each part of the business and how it works. For her, it’s very important to take time with the onboarding process and “set each person up for success”. The personal touch is what makes her a unique and valued business owner- five of her staff members have been with her since day 1. Which is impressive in an industry with such high turnover. The solid relationships with her dedicated staff and regular customers allowed her to open Blank Slate Tea this past April, a passion project for her as an avid tea drinker. Ashley designed the space to be fun and girly and Instagram-friendly (which is where she says a huge chunk of her business comes from) as well as an event space, where they can host private events such as baby showers and bridal showers, without having to close down the café, which is just two doors down from the tea shop.

Being husband and wife as well as co-business owners is difficult for some people but Ashley says that she and Zach have varying strengths, which is actually an asset for the business. Zach is the “down and dirty operations guy” that can solve a problem without hesitation while her PR/Marketing/social media skills, attention to detail and charisma have allowed her to create a mission-driven business with its own unique personality. Coming from an extensive food and beverage background, Zach is also a great support system for her, since he’s more comfortable dealing with the ups and downs of the industry. He keeps her calm, even during insane periods of stress and anxiety, reminding her to trust the system she’s put in place and to just keep chugging along. In a business that relies on relationships with customers and staff that they seem to have mastered, it’s also the relationship between Ashley and Zach that makes Blank Slate a refreshing dining experience that fits every taste.

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

0 comments on “Healthy Alternatives to Conquer Your Caffeine Craving”

Healthy Alternatives to Conquer Your Caffeine Craving

You just hit it. The 3 o’clock slump. We all know it- the fogginess, the headache, the irritability and the desire to stop all of the work that you’re in the middle of, put your head on your desk and just take a nap. Trust us, we understand! But when you sprint out of your office to get a latte or a frappuccino or a macchiato at Starbucks or Dunkin or your preferred coffee vendor, you may get a temporary jolt of energy but you’re actually causing harm to your body in the long run.

Coffee itself isn’t bad. Since it contains caffeine, which is a stimulant, it can increase energy levels, improve memory, enhance brain function and break down body fat. It’s also the number one source of antioxidants in the U.S. and can help protect against various diseases such as type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s and liver cancer. However, it’s when we add sugar and syrups to our coffee that we add in calories and fat and create a need for more sugar. Added sugar is one of the most highly addictive ingredients in the modern diet. When we consume added sugar, dopamine is released in our brain, creating a “high” that our body registers as a reward, causing it to crave more. As we give our bodies more and more added sugar, it builds up a tolerance and releases less dopamine, which causes us to consume more of it to experience the same “high” as before. Unlike natural sugar found in fruits, veggies and proteins, added sugar can cause weight gain, increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer and actually drains your energy faster, because it causes only a temporary spike in blood sugar that drops soon after. Which is why every day at 3PM, your craving for sugar will hit again and you feel the need to quench it with a sugary coffee, creating a vicious cycle of highs and lows.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends no more than 200 calories (50 grams) of added sugar each day. Although too much sugar can be harmful, it’s still necessary to give us energy to keep our bodies and brains moving. But every once and a while, we all need a boost. Between work, families, friends.. we all have reasons why we don’t get as much sleep as we should or would like to. So next time you’re feeling the slump, instead of ordering that PSL (which contains 50 grams of sugar aka the amount you’re allotted for one day!), try out one of our suggestions below! It will still give you the caffeine boost that you need, without comprising on the added sugar.

Green Tea: Although green tea has a lower caffeine content than coffee, it will still give you the boost you need without making you feel wired or jittery. It also has a lot of health benefits- it’s high in antioxidants, helps to boost your immune system and decreases the risk of diabetes. The best part about green tea is that most coffee shops sell it and it’s also easy to find green tea bags in your local grocery store to make it on your own!

Matcha: Matcha is a type of stone ground Japanese tea that comes in a powder form. Unlike other green teas whose leaves get steeped in hot water, matcha is created from actual tea leaves that have been ground up. Again it doesn’t have as much caffeine as coffee, but it helps with memory and focus while still being energizing. However, matcha does have a naturally bitter taste so some places will sweeten the powder with added sugar. If you’re interested in matcha, make sure that the tea you’re getting is a good quality matcha.

Unsweetened Iced Tea: Fresh brewed tea is high in caffeine and rich in antioxidants, making it one of the best alternatives to coffee. It helps reduce the risk of stroke and improves heart and gut health. The great thing about unsweetened iced tea is that you can sweeten it naturally (if needed) by adding sugar substitutes such as honey or lemon, which will make it less bitter as you get used to the taste.

Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate has only a small amount of caffeine in it, but it’s a good substitute if you find that you crave the sweetness of coffee more than the coffee itself. Rather than reach for a sugary drink or dessert, dark chocolate is a good way to curb the craving because it also reduces cholesterol, lowers blood pressure and is rich in nutrients.

Black Coffee: If you love the taste of coffee and just can’t avoid it, simple black coffee can always be a fall back option. As we mentioned above, it can increase energy levels, improve memory, protect against a number of diseases and is high in antioxidants. So if you want to keep the coffee taste, try cutting out the added sugar, syrups, milk and cream. That way you’re getting the natural benefits of the coffee and, of course, the caffeine.

 

 

Resources:
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270202.php
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-13-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coffee#section1
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coffee-good-or-bad#section9
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-ways-to-make-your-coffee-super-healthy#section4
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/too-much-sugar#section8
https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/experts-is-sugar-addictive-drug#2
https://www.thrillist.com/drink/nation/best-coffee-drinks-starbucks-menu
http://www.healthfitnessrevolution.com/top-10-healthiest-sources-caffeine/
https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/resources/DGA_Cut-Down-On-Added-Sugars.pdf
https://www.earlytorise.com/7-natural-caffeine-sources-arent-coffee/
https://hellogiggles.com/news/caffeine-alternatives-coffee/
https://www.health.com/nutrition/what-is-matcha
0 comments on “Tom Birchard: Owner of Veselka”

Tom Birchard: Owner of Veselka

This is Tom Birchard, the owner of Veselka, and the son-in-law of Wolodymr Darmochwal, the original owner who founded the East Village landmark in 1954. Although their menu is now full of rich, authentic Ukrainian and Polish dishes, when the store was first purchased by Wolodymr, it operated as a candy store/newsstand with a small lunch counter and a limited menu of soup and sandwiches. It wasn’t until Wolodymr asked a few women from the neighborhood to come to the store at night and cook him some simple, homemade Ukrainian dishes that the newsstand began to evolve into a restaurant. These dishes were supposed to be for Wolodymr to eat as he worked but he began sharing them with customers and then, when he noticed how much they loved them, he began selling them. And the menu that Veselka is known for today was born.

Wolodymr always had an entrepreneurial spirit and an interest in the food industry. He was a middle manager at an agricultural co-op in Ukraine before World War II started and he and his wife were forced to flee to a displaced persons camp in Germany. After the war ended, they were re-settled in New York and moved to the East Village because it was a predominantly Ukrainian neighborhood. A lot of people from Ukraine and Poland had settled there after World War I and had established banks, churches, coffee shops, etc., creating a community reminiscent of the homes that they had lost. Both Wolodymr and his wife started working menial jobs when they arrived in New York but in this new home he saw an opportunity to become an entrepreneur. He had always wanted to own his own business and had management experience in food, so when he saw the small shop on 2nd Avenue for sale, he took the little money he had saved and bought it.

Tom was introduced to Wolodymr, Veselka and the East Village in 1966 by Wolodymr’s daughter, Marta, who he had met at a frat party at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and would later marry. Although he didn’t know anything about the East Village or Ukrainian food, he immediately fell in love with the neighborhood’s energy and diverse people as well as the ethnic food that was an intrinsic part of his new family. Tom began working for Wolodymr and saw the potential to turn Veselka into a larger operation. They purchased one of the adjoining storefronts on East 9th Street and made it into a dining room, working together closely before Wolodymr’s sudden passing in 1975. After his death, Tom took over the business and ran it as a diner/luncheonette until they were able to do a major expansion in 1996 and turned Veselka into the East Village institution it is today.

As Veselka has expanded over the years, Tom has made sure that they keep the traditional feel of the restaurant, keeping the original tin ceiling and wood paneling, so that customers don’t feel like the character of the establishment has been lost. For him, it’s been the most challenging part of the business but he understands the importance of balancing the old and the new, because so many customers can trace some part of their heritage back to Eastern Europe and have a strong emotional connection to Veselka and the style of food that they serve. Which is why it’s also important to him to be respectful to the original recipes that he says get more and more popular each year. The homemade, traditional Ukrainian and Polish dishes that his father-in-law started off serving (beef stroganoff, borscht, stuffed cabbage, pierogis) are still the best selling items on the menu, all of which are made from scratch. They have a team of 4 full time Polish and Ukrainian grandmas making pierogis by hand 5 or 6 days a week, making 1,500-2,000 pierogis a day and 2,500-3,000 a day during the holiday season. According to Tom, one of the best compliments that they consistently get is “your food reminds me of what my grandmother used to make”.

Veselka has become a refuge for many, for its inclusive atmosphere and for it’s simple, honest, filling, good food that they work very, very hard to create. And that is the charm of Veselka- it blends generations of people together, capturing the essence of Eastern Europe in a modern setting: the heart of New York City. It was founded to be a piece of home for a displaced, immigrant community and continues to be one today for customers that are looking for a connection to their ancestors. Even more so, it has become a melting pot, serving customers from all walks of life and employing an incredibly diverse staff of Ukrainian, Polish, Bangladeshi, American, Tibetan, Latin, Mexican and Ecuadorian men and women. With over 100 people working there around the clock (Veselka is open 24/7), it has become a big family, where, regardless of where you come from or what language you speak, everyone gets along, becomes friends and feels at home. 

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

0 comments on “Fall Parties You Can Host at the Office!”

Fall Parties You Can Host at the Office!

It’s party season, people! We have officially entered the period of time during which parties and events start happening more and more frequently to celebrate holidays, cultural events, work anniversaries, the new year… you name it, a party is being planned. And personally, we’re pretty stoked about it! What’s better than getting away from your desk for a few hours during the day or after work and enjoying free food and/or drinks with your team?! Nothing. Cause it’s fo free.

But since Halloween is usually the first big party to plan and it’s still more than a month away, we didn’t want you to feel like you had no reason to celebrate right now! There are plenty of ways to liven up the office this season and we’ve got some awesome suggestions to keep your team happy at work.

Keep it culturally relevant. All of the best parties (that we know of) usually have a theme. Whether it’s a holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve) or a cultural event (St. Patrick’s Day, the Oscars, the finale of the Game of Thrones) a theme gives you an idea of what to expect at the party. Focusing the theme around cultural events that are happening in the U.S. or around the world during that time is a great approach because it makes the party more interesting and exciting! People don’t really know what they’re gonna get when they show up, which makes it different from the other parties they’ve been to for years before. Here are our top picks for themes that are culturally relevant right now:

Okoberfest: This German festival runs from September 22nd to October 7th so you have two weeks to get your pretzels, bratwurst and potato pancakes together and prost with some German beer!

Office Tailgate for Monday Night Football: Luckily football is around for about 5 months so there’s no time limit on this party! And Monday Night Football is a great way to get your team hanging out together on a week night at the office (while they enjoy some wings and sliders and chips and guac of course).

Comic Con: Comic Con comes to NYC from October 4th to the 7th! Break out your favorite super hero shirt (or costume) and host a viewing party at your office of the best superhero/action movie from this year. Have your team vote on the choices in the weeks leading up to the party and reveal the winner that night!

It’s all about the bars! Another great way to get your colleagues away from their desks is with any type of “build your own” bar. Build your own is more exciting than a standard lunch or happy hour because you get to be creative and interact with your coworkers as you each make your own designs or dishes! Also, everyone can customize their own meal or drink based on their own tastes, so no one will feel excluded or that there isn’t an option for them. Below are examples of some of our favorite fall-themed bars that you can set up at your office:

Hot Apple Cider Bar: There’s nothing better than a hot drink as the weather starts getting colder. Class up your hot apple cider by adding a cinnamon stick, caramel, or any spice like cloves, nutmeg or ginger! You can keep this virgin or spike with bourbon, whiskey or rum for happy hour 🙂

Top Your Own Chili Bar: Chili is a great option because it can be made with or without meat so you can have an option for vegetarian and meat eaters. Spoon chili out into a bowl and mix in a variety of toppings: shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, crushed tortilla chips, salsa.. the possibilities are endless!

Popcorn Bar: Pop those kernels and mix in literally anything that your heart desires: M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces, nuts, chocolate chips, etc. Make it cute by using some old school popcorn boxes or bags!

Make it for a good cause. We know we said that free food/drinks is the best way to get attendance at a party but sometimes the best way to get your team to come together is to give them a mission and to raise a little money! Using your free time to help others is an uplifting experience that will also bond you as a group. And there are so many worthy causes that need our help! Whether you want to host a fundraiser at the office with all of the proceeds going to a specific cause like Breast Cancer Research (October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month) or donate to a local charity or soup kitchen, hosting a event that creates a positive impact on your community is an amazing action that will make your party matter on a much larger scale.

Board Game Tournament: This is a simple and cost effective way to raise money! Have a few people in the office bring in their favorite board games and charge $10 for each person to participate. Create a bracket so that the schedule is easy to follow and people can play throughout the day. Use a small part of the participation fee to reward the winner with an Amazon or Starbucks gift card and donate the rest!

Trivia Night: Similar to the board game tournament, you can charge a participation fee, but instead of playing alone, have your office create teams of 3 or 4 people (each person paying their own fee)! All of the teams will play at the same time and win points based on every correct answer. The winning team can get a small reward or a “free work from home day” that can be used whenever they want. The rest of the money can be donated to a charity or cause of your office’s choosing.

Canned Potluck: Host a potluck lunch/dinner with your team and have them bring a dish that they made to share, along with a canned good/boxed food that can be donated to a food bank in your area after the meal is over! The team meal will create bonding time for your office and will provide support to local charities that need help, especially around the holiday season.

 

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Adam Wile: Co-Founder and Director of Operations at Distilled NY

This is Adam Wile, one of the co-founders of Distilled NY and the Director of Operations at the Tribeca restaurant. Distilled NY was the brainchild of CEO, Nick Iovacchini, and his cousin, Shane Lyons, who had spent years in the food industry and were ready to take a leap of faith and start their own restaurant. They wanted to “redefine the public house”, make every guest’s visit as enjoyable as possible and to create a place where you would feel surrounded by friends as soon as you walked in. So that’s exactly what they did. They reached out to friends who they knew had worked at other people’s restaurants and had an idea of how they could do it better, which is how Adam got involved.

Adam started his food career cooking meals for himself as he was growing up but really found his love for it in college when he realized that he liked to feed his friends and see their reactions to the food that he made. After college, he was planning to go to law school but still had the idea of being a chef in his head. So, prompted by his father to make sure that he knew what he was getting himself into and that was confident in his choice, he spent the summer working in a kitchen. Although he knew nothing, got yelled at constantly and ruined a lot of dishes, he absolutely loved it and decided to pursue his dream. It was while he was working as a cook at Momofuku Noodle Bar that he met Shane Lyons and Noah Millrod, one of the other original founders, and they all became friends. So when Shane and Nick came up with the idea for Distilled NY in 2012, both Noah and Adam came on board.

The group of friends immediately started raising capital and doing tastings to raise awareness about the business (they even did a pop up for Bravo TV, Top Chef Kitchen) but then Hurricane Sandy struck NYC and things got tough. They were flooded twice during the hurricane, the first time with 4 1/2 feet of water and 2 feet of water the second, causing them to have to move all of their kitchen equipment into their dining room and cutting a huge chunk out of their restaurant space. Rather than give up on the restaurant, they problem-solved and for the next few months during the holiday season, they operated as an event space to keep the business going and make sure that the lights stayed on. And it worked. 

Distilled Chef

In June 2013 they officially opened their restaurant and they focused on differentiating themselves by creating a menu that was the best version of the items that their customers were familiar with: burgers, wings, steak, even popcorn. They concentrated on making a dish different from what you might be used to eating but just as delicious and enjoyable. And they’ve succeeded the past 5 years by learning to listen to customers about what works and what doesn’t and by recognizing when it’s time to reinvent their menu.

As Adam says they “gave it the old college try”, because none of them had opened their own place before Distilled NY. But this group of friends has created a space that’s exactly like what they envisioned: a comfortable place where you’re among friends; where you feel like you can just hang out and escape what’s going on in the outside world with some drinks, some laughs and some amazing food. And it’s not only due to their menu and their welcoming staff, it’s also due to the kitchen move that almost made them close their doors. The open kitchen and the general open layout of the restaurant makes it feel like you’re at a friend’s house and they’re throwing a dinner party where you can watch them cook from your seat. It’s a unique and memorable dining experience that has made Distilled NY a staple in their community and has also allowed a group of friends to accomplish what they set out to do: make people happy for a living.

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

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Fall-ing in Love with Grain Bowls this Season!

It’s fall in NYC, which means it’s time for comfy sweaters, pumpkin spice everything and heartier meals! And we’ve got the perfect recipe to keep you warm all season long, without making you feel like you’re getting ready to hibernate!

Our fall grain bowl recipe combines the best of summer and fall: it provides light and healthy ingredients that fill you up but don’t give you the heaviness that you might feel with soup or stew. It also gives you the chance to incorporate some of those autumn veggies back into your diet: sweet potatoes, kale, cabbage, etc., that you may have forgotten about during the summer. The recipe is best served warm and only takes about 45 minutes from prep to plate, so it’s ideal if you’re looking for an easy meal on a chilly afternoon or evening. Also, if you’re into food presentation, the colors in the dish make it as appetizing for your eyes as it is for your stomach! See for yourself by checking out our Instagram highlights: @foodtoeat! Happy eating!

BYO Fall Grain Bowl

Recipe serves 4-6

You’ll Need:

2 cups lucinato kale (also known as dinosaur kale or black kale)

2 cups spinach

2 cups escarole

2 cloves minced garlic

2 bags Uncle Ben’s brown rice (or any instant brown rice or grain)

2 sweet potatoes (large)

6-8 carrots

1 head purple cabbage (small)

1 package of chicken tenderloins (large, at least 10-15 pieces)

olive oil

garlic powder

onion powder

paprika

chili powder

salt

pepper

First step is to roast your veggies in the oven while you prepare the rest of your ingredients! Preheat the oven to 425 and cut your sweet potatoes into 1/2-1 inch cubes. Place in a large bowl and coat with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add in 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and toss. Line a sheet pan with tin foil and spray with non-stick baking spray. Transfer sweet potato pieces onto lined sheet pan and spread evenly to bake. Bake for about 25 minutes.

Once your sweet potatoes are in the oven, begin cutting your carrots into 1 1/2 inch pieces (or smaller if you’d like). Repeat the process that you did for the sweet potatoes. Place in a large bowl and coat with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add in 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and toss. Line a sheet pan with tin foil and spray with non-stick baking spray. Transfer carrots onto lined sheet pan and spread evenly to bake. Bake for about 25 minutes at 425.

Next, prepare your pulled chicken! Remove chicken tenderloins from package and rinse. Place on paper towels to remove the moisture, pat dry. Season chicken with 1 teaspoon of pepper, 1 teaspoon of paprika and 1 teaspoon of chili powder. If you have it, heat your cast iron skillet on medium/high heat. If not, a regular non-stick skillet works as well! Place seasoned side of chicken down on skillet first, then season the other side. Cook for about 8-10 minutes or until cooked through. Place on plate and let cool. Once cool to the touch, shred chicken with your hands and toss with your favorite BBQ sauce (we used Stubbs BBQ Sauce).

Once your chicken is done, move onto your greens and cabbage! Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add in 1 large clove of minced garlic. Add in lucinato kale, spinach and escarole (feel free to use just one type of green or your favorite green if you don’t want all 3) and saute for 3-5 minutes. Once the greens are wilted, remove from heat and set aside in a bowl. Cut cabbage into quarters and then into thin slices. Repeat the process that you did for your greens. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add in 1 large clove of minced garlic. Add in sliced cabbage and saute for 3-5 minutes. Set aside in a bowl until you’re ready to build your grain bowl!

The final step is to create your grain! We love Uncle Ben’s instant brown rice because you simply add water and microwave. However, you can use your favorite grain as your base. We suggest brown rice, farro or quinoa!

Once all your ingredients are ready, combine in a bowl and enjoy! Pro tip: top with pumpkin seeds for an added crunch!

 

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Alma Selmanaj: Owner of To Spiti

This is Alma Selmanaj, the owner of To Spiti, a restaurant that she opened with her husband in 2015 after emigrating from Greece to the United States. Alma grew up in the food industry, working in her family’s restaurant in Greece for most of her life. So it was only natural for her that after arriving in the U.S. she began working in a restaurant before deciding to open her own Greek restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, using the recipes that were passed down through both her and her husband’s families.

The business is family run. Alma and her husband are the only two full-time employees so their days are long. As Alma says, they work “two days in one”. They wake up at 5AM every day to begin cooking the food for that day’s catering orders, do deliveries until 12 or 1PM, rest for a few hours and then return to the store at 5PM to get ready for their dinner rush. From 7PM until 12:30AM they are constantly serving customers on their way home from work or on their way out to the bars nearby. Once the last customer is served, they clean up for 30-45 minutes and then drive 30 minutes to their home, usually getting home around 1/1:30AM.

IMG_1929

The most challenging part of running her own business is being responsible for every part of the business. She is the cook, the delivery person, the social media manager, the accountant.. the list goes on and on. She deals with so many different things on a daily basis that she says a lot of the time she forgets to eat, because she’s busy running from one delivery to another or back to the store to start prepping for that evening. Another tough part of being a restaurant owner? “You cannot sleep”. With so many different areas of the business to be in charge of, Alma says she doesn’t sleep more than 4 or 5 hours a night, even on a rare day that they close the store for a day off.

However, as much as being a restaurant owner is a “tired job” (as she says), she likes it too much to stop. She has always liked to work and is used to the fast pace of the food industry. And for Alma and her husband, all of their hard work pays off when a customer tells them how delicious the food is or how great the catering presentation looks. When that happens, she says, it erases how tired she is, because she loves making customers happy.

When asked if she would ever considering closing the storefront to focus on catering and give herself a break from the long days she works, Alma simply replied, “No, no, it’s my job, there is no other job. This is me.”

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

0 comments on “September Vendor of the Month: Jaa Dijo Dom”

September Vendor of the Month: Jaa Dijo Dom

September is here and it’s back to the grind, people! But don’t be too upset! Jaa Dijo Dom is our Vendor of the Month for September and this amazing African food is the perfect way to boost office morale if your team is feeling some real post-summertime sadness! Jaa Dijo Dom’s focus on good, healthy eating and it’s commitment to providing the most authentic African food, even sourcing it’s peppers and herbs directly from Africa and grinding them in house, will turn a lunch meeting into a meal you will never forget!

Don’t miss this opportunity to taste the delicious food they will only be offering to FoodtoEat clients during the month of September! Check out the menu below and email us at catering@foodtoeat.com today to book your next office meal with Jaa Dijo Dom!

Entrees:

Malawian Spiced Chicken Curry 

Bobotie

Senegalese Fish Yassa

Lentil Dhal with Vegetables (V)

Chickpea, Eggplant and Mushroom Tangine (V)

Vegetables and Sides:

Coconut Rice (V)

Charmoula Potatoes (V)

Chakalaka (V)

Mango Couscous Salad (V)

Tomato and Green Pepper Salad (V)

Charles from Jaa Dijo Dom

Charles Chipengule is the owner and chef behind Jaa Dijo Dom! He was born and raised in Botswana, Africa and growing up he always had a passion for food and loved to cook. After graduating high school, he was able to save up just enough money to open a breakfast food stall, which helped him fund his technical college and culinary courses. However, due to the dire economic conditions in Botswana, Charles eventually had to permanently close down his breakfast stall and after a lot of hard work and perseverance, was able to emigrate to the United States.

After arriving in the U.S, Charles worked at various restaurants and took culinary classes in New York to pursue his cooking dream. It was during this time that he was inspired to open Jaa Dijo Dom (an African name that means “a place to eat”) with the idea of bringing together the various cuisines of African nations to a wider audience. He wanted to share the food that he grew up eating and took the time to select the best dishes and flavors from different countries to create a diverse and flavorful dining experience. All of the unique entrees and sides that he creates have been handed down through generations and are currently being prepared all over Africa on a daily basis.

Since the beginning, Charles’s goal has always been to “create a place where all nations can taste the cuisine from all over Africa” and while doing this, he places a top priority on each customer’s dietary preferences and restrictions. But more than anything else, Charles has created a unique brand and amazing food whose goal is to “leave you satisfied and begging for more”, which it certainly does!

 

 

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The Best Beach Foods to Celebrate LDW: We’re Shore of It!

Labor Day Weekend 2018 has (unfortunately) arrived much sooner than expected. Which means that we only have a few days left to enjoy the sun and the sand, because there’s no better place to say “so long” to summer than at the beach! But don’t show up empty-handed! We’ve come up with some of our go to beach foods that go perfectly with the salt water. So whether you’re snacking, eating dinner or just enjoying a few good drinks, you’re ready to take on LDW with the perfect fare to share with your friends and family!

Breakfast

The first thing that you want to keep in mind with any food that you’re bringing to the beach, is that it will inevitably get sandy (dun, dun, dun). So we recommend bringing food that can be wrapped, especially for breakfast and lunch. For breakfast, bagels and egg sandwiches are always good options and, if you’re buying for a group, both are easy things to get in bulk for a relatively cheap price. If you know that some of your friends or family are healthier eaters, include some sliced fruit or individual yogurts if they have them!

Snacks

Pretzels, chips and popcorn are easy beach snacks because they’re crowd-pleasers and almost every store has them. So if you happen to forget to pick up that dessert that your mom asked you to bring…. you can always pop into a convenience store and avoid getting yelled at for not bringing anything. But if you’re trying to step up your snack game, chips and guacamole, hummus and pita or a charcuterie board are great ways to impress at a party or make your beach day a little fancier. The charcuterie board will take more effort than chips and guacamole or hummus and pita, since you can get those items at a store (if you don’t want to make your own guacamole or hummus) and a charcuterie board will require more arrangement on a platter or cutting board. But showing up with a unique snack, or any snack really, is always appreciated at the beach!

Lunch

Wraps and sandwiches are pretty common beach lunches because, as we mentioned, they can stay in the tin foil and out of the sand. Plus they’re easy to hold or eat from a plate in your lap. They’re also a great option because they don’t take much prep work! Bread, wraps, protein, cheese, lettuce, tomato, condiments… that’s all you really need if you’re meal prepping before the beach. And everyone can customize their own! If you’re short on time, calling a local deli and picking up a sandwich or wrap platter is an efficient way to take care of lunch and make sure that there’s a bunch of variety for your group to choose from.

Dinner

Wraps and sandwiches can always work for dinner as well but if you’re able to set up a table on the beach to create a buffet later in the day (hopefully the seagulls will be gone by that point), some of our Labor Day faves are obviously burgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, grilled veggies and grilled corn, if you have access to a grill. If not, skewers are a great way to prepare a protein beforehand, cook it and then serve it room temp later in the day when it’s time for dinner! You can do steak, chicken, shrimp and caprese or assorted veggies for vegetarians. Pasta salad, grain salad and green salad are great side dishes that can also be served room temp and go great with pre-cooked items or with food fresh off the grill.  Of course, if you don’t feel like cooking or leaving your spot on the beach, there’s always our favorite fall back option: pizza! Order a few pies from your local pizzeria and have them delivered to you on the sand. This is a great way to enjoy a casual dinner on the beach and, seriously, who doesn’t like pizza??

Drinks

Sangria is always our go to choice for beach drinks! Not only does the fruit in the drink make it feel more tropical, it’s also one of the easiest drinks to create, especially in a large batch. You don’t need a blender and it takes little more than 6 or 7 ingredients to make (depending on the recipe you follow): red or white wine, fruit (apples, oranges, peaches, strawberries), lemon, lime, brandy, schnapps, sugar and club soda. Here’s a recipe we love for white sangria! However, something else that we recently discovered that could be a unique addition to your Labor Day party is fireball peaches! Again, these are super easy to make since you’re simply soaking the peach slices in fireball overnight but if you’re not a fan of whiskey, these definitely aren’t for you. If you want to try them out, be sure to make a lot since these fun treats will go quick!

 

0 comments on “Lettuce Tell You About Our Asian Chicken Wraps”

Lettuce Tell You About Our Asian Chicken Wraps

ROMAINE CALM!!!! We know you’re dying to learn more about our Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps and we’re here to tell you that they’re as delicious as they look and creating them is a breeze. With minimal ingredients, you have a healthy and flavorful meal in less than 20 minutes. 

As usual, the lettuce wraps can be customized to fit your needs: served with or without rice; chicken, beef or tofu as the protein; and topped with hot sauce or keep it plain! It’s up to you! And unlike the lettuce wraps you’re getting from a restaurant, you know exactly what’s going into the wraps that you prepare: only simple ingredients that you can feel good about. Served hot or room temp, these wraps are perfect as a meal prep lunch option or pretty enough to serve to guests if you’re hosting a happy hour! Whatever you prepare them for, these Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps are always a hit!

Asian Ground Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Recipe serves 4

You’ll Need:

1 lb ground chicken

2 teaspoons olive oil

5 tablespoons hoisin sauce (we use Soy Vey hoisin sauce with garlic)

1-2 tablespoons soy sauce (we use low sodium soy sauce)

1-2 teaspoons sriracha (optional)

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon honey

2 large cloves of garlic minced

1 tablespoon of ginger minced

3 scallions sliced

1 pack of baby portobello mushrooms chopped

1 large head of bib or romaine lettuce

1/4 head of thinly sliced purple cabbage

pepper

Heat olive oil in skillet on medium heat. Add scallions and ginger to skillet and cook for 3 minutes. Add ground chicken and mushrooms to skillet and season with black pepper, to your preferred taste. Use a spatula to break down the chicken into crumbles and cook for 3 minutes. Add in minced garlic and cook until ground chicken is fully cooked through. While chicken is cooking, combine hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sriracha, rice vinegar, sesame oil and honey in a bowl and whisk together. Once the chicken is cooked through, pour sauce on chicken mixture and mix well (for a stickier sauce, add more hoisin sauce). Serve warm chicken in a lettuce wrap and top with fresh sliced scallions, thinly shaved purple cabbage and sriracha for a little kick!

Want to make this meal more filling?! Add brown rice to the lettuce wrap before topping with scallions, cabbage and sriracha or serve it on the side! We suggest Uncle Ben’s 90 second brown rice. 2 bags should be good to serve 4 people!

 

0 comments on “The Top 10 FoodtoEat Favorites for Team Lunch Outside the Office”

The Top 10 FoodtoEat Favorites for Team Lunch Outside the Office

Team lunch is a perk that we suggest all offices get in the habit of doing on a weekly or monthly basis! Not only does it improve your office culture by bringing everyone together, it also provides an avenue for collaboration between departments that can give birth to new projects, solutions to existing issues and re-invent outdated processes. We advocate for it so much so that we even do it ourselves! Every Thursday our team gets together, orders lunch from a restaurant that we love or want to try and discusses everything and anything from work to our personal lives to the most recent Cardi B clapback on Instagram.

However, work can stressful and overwhelming for everyone and sometimes just getting out of your office can give you that reset that you need to renew your focus and handle tough situations. Which is why every once and a while, if we need a pick me up during a tough week or if we’re celebrating a birthday or a big work anniversary, we’ll take team lunch out of the office, venturing to a restaurant to get some time away from our desks! Although going out to lunch may be a normal occurrence for different people in your office, getting the whole team together and sitting down for a meal is a simple way to make each person feel valued. Even if it’s only once a quarter or twice a year, getting away from your desk for an hour or two and interacting with co-workers outside of your office walls can foster a sense of community within your office and keep up morale!

Based on the lunch ventures that we’ve gone on as a office, we’ve compiled a list of our top 10 favorite restaurants to go to for team lunch! All of them are great for a group (some more than others depending on the size of your group) and, of course, the food is delicious! Check out some of our favorites below!

1. The Smith. This restaurant is on the pricier side but the food quality is always good and every meal is delicious. There’s always a great atmosphere with friendly staff who are willing to give recommendations if you’re stuck between a burger or pasta. We love the Midtown location because when the weather is nice, they’ll open the doors in the front so you can people watch while you dine. Also, this location is crowded but big enough that when you walk in with a group, you can usually combine a few tables to fit everyone in your party.

2. Carmine’s. This place may get a bad reputation for being too touristy because it’s better known location is in Times Square but being in business almost 30 years, they must be doing something right! This restaurant is awesome for a group because it’s strictly family style Italian, which means you can order for about half of your group and everyone will still get fed (depending on their appetite..) and the food is great as well! You can make a reservation for up to 20 people, which is a huge plus, but both locations do get very busy during lunch and dinner so we highly suggest making a reservation before stopping in. 

3. Blockheads. Blockheads has 5 locations throughout NYC so you’re never too far away from one (unless you’re in the West Village… sorry!). But the best part about this casual restaurant is it’s pricing. $10 lunch for an entree and a soda?! You just can’t beat it. The food isn’t gourmet but it is filling and definitely worth the visit. However, the restaurant does get pretty packed because of their awesome lunch/happy hour deals, so it might be hard to sit down if you have a bigger group. 

4. Westville. Westville is notorious for being crowded, since their tables always seem to be very close together,  which can be frustrating when you’re with a group. But the healthy options make it a fan favorite with our office. The menu is on the pricier side for a casual place but their focus on fresh, high-quality ingredients make it worth the few extra dollars. This place is also well-known for their market veggies and salads, so it’s a great place to try if you have a lot of vegetarians on your team.

5. The Park. The Park is a little more expensive in regards to lunch prices but the ambiance is really what you pay for here. Seating is available in both the main room and the garden, both of which are beautifully decorated; especially the garden where birds will be hanging out in the trees that are nestled every few feet in this enclosed space. As an added bonus, the food at this restaurant is varied and delicious, which makes it even more enticing! However, they cap the size for dining in these areas at 24 people and under, so if your office is 25 or more, this isn’t the best option for a big group.

6. Ippudo. Ippudo is one of the best ramen places in NYC, which is why it had to make our list, despite the fact that this restaurant doesn’t take reservations and the space is pretty limited. The restaurant recommends only a handful of people per table so a smaller team is ideal. However, the service here is always great. The staff is very friendly and welcoming and the food comes out pretty quickly, so even if you do have to wait for a table, your waiting will be rewarded with their insanely delicious noodles and broth! If you don’t have time to wait for a table at one of their locations, Ippudo recently launched Kuro-Obi (the quick service ramen bar), which is their “take out ramen recipe”, available at the Urbanspace on Lexington and 51st Street or the Urbanspace on Vanderbilt and 45th Street. The Urbanspace locations provide much more room for your team and allow you to experience Ippudo’s amazing food in a more comfortable setting.

7. Shake Shack. There are many Shake Shack locations throughout NYC but the one in Madison Square Park is the best for groups because it has so much seating available! Even if you can’t sit in their designated seating area, there is plenty of room on the grass for a team of any size because everything is outside at this location. Combine the space with the drool-worthy burgers, fries and milkshakes that they serve and you’ve got your office’s favorite spot for a cheat meal! Although this isn’t a sit down restaurant, it still ranks high on our list because it’s great food that isn’t too expensive and an interesting option for your team to try together.

8. The Bonnie. This Astoria hot spot is a little bit outside Manhattan but worth the trip for it’s delicious bar food and outdoor seating. It’s quieter than most places in Manhattan so taking over an area in the back with a larger group shouldn’t be a problem. The menu isn’t as extensive as we’d like it to be but everything we’ve tried has been amazing. The only downside is that it’s only open for lunch during the week on Fridays, 12 – 4PM. So you might be required to make it a late lunch and stay for their happy hour, which starts at 3PM, and try their wide array of beers and cocktails!

9. The Frying Pan. Technically this isn’t a restaurant… it’s actually a historic lighthouse that was built in 1929. But it does have a kitchen on board that creates delicious small plates, street eats, burgers, salads, fries, and of course, traditional fish & chips and lobster rolls for customers to order and enjoy a table! Because you can order at the counter and then sit down, this is a great place for a group to get a bunch of tables together and enjoy the beautiful views this spot offers. Again, it’s not a sit down restaurant so the vibe is a little more laid back but it tends to get pretty crowded the after work crowd descends so it’s better to go early and leave early. Also, disclaimer about The Frying Pan: it sits at Pier 66, on the water. So if you have any team members that get motion sickness or don’t do well on boats, we don’t suggest trying this out!

10. Roberta’s. Would this list even be complete without a staple pizza spot?! Roberta’s in Brooklyn has the best of both world with indoor and outdoor seating to be as formal or relaxed as you’d like. The indoor area has an option for group dining with a prix fixe menu that centers around family-style portions. However, it’s only available Monday-Thursday at 11AM, 12PM or 1PM. If you’re looking for something cheaper and more laid back, you can order from their take out counter next door and eat at the picnic tables outside which are first come first serve. To avoid half of your team standing, it’s better to get there early and take over a few tables! Or, if you can’t get to Brooklyn, Roberta’s pop up at the new Urbanspace on Lexington and 51st Street does the trick, although it lacks the hipster ambiance that the real location provides.

 

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August Vendor of the Month: Vien

August is here and we’re really committed to soaking up the remaining summer months! Which is why we’re keeping our clean eating kick going with our August Vendor of the Month: Vien!

Famous for it’s BYO bowl that includes a variety of healthy bases, clean proteins, unique garnishes and delicious sauces, Vien has recently launched their new plate menu, which mixes their well known entrees with some new sides and salads, designed with love by their team! With this new plate menu package you get a choice of one protein, one grain or salad and one side to create the meal that’s perfect for you. Mix and match until you’ve tried them all! Vien’s ability to create healthy items that are delicious, refreshing and fun makes it a new meal every time!

Choice of One Protein:

Roasted Lemongrass Chicken

Pan Roasted Ginger Hanger Steak

Turmeric Roasted Tofu

Slow Cooked Heritage Pork

Choice of One Grain or Salad:

Brown Rice

Jasmine Rice

Seasonal Green Salad

Shredded Cucumber and Carrot Noodle Salad

Choice of One Side:

Green Papaya Salad

Kale Salad

Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Broccoli

Honey Roasted Heirloom Carrots

**Please note: 15 person minimum required for catering orders**

Vien Store Photo

Vien was founded in 2013 as a casual Southeast Asian eatery with healthy and delicious hawker-inspired street fare. A focus on fresh ingredients and authentic tastes, Vien strives to bring the vibrant colors and exotic flavors of the countries in Southeast Asia (such as Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, etc.), to New York City.

Every part of the food creation process at Vien is focused around four key principles. 

  1. Food should be healthy and delicious.
  2. Every dish should be balanced and only use the highest quality ingredients.
  3. Love our customers and respect our neighbors.
  4. Cultivate sustainable relationships with the local food community and our purveyors.

From the person cooking the food in the restaurant to the person delivering the food to your office, these principles are the groundwork for everything that Vien does: the food, the service and the relationship with it’s community. Guided by these key principles, Vien stands out from its competitors by creating purposeful, mission-driven food that has made its mark on the West Village.

Now, Vien is preparing for the beginning of a new journey with the launch of their second location in Manhattan, opening in Midtown this month! We’re so excited to see this local business thrive in a new market and feed the inhabitants of Midtown Manhattan!

 

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Healthy Meal Prep at the Office

It’s hard to keep yourself on a healthy routine, especially during the summer months when the warm weather is constantly calling you outside to all of NYC’s amazing restaurants. With all of the delicious foods that we love to indulge in being available to us 24/7, it gets difficult to maintain a balanced lifestyle when it comes to food. However, it’s important to feed your body the nutritious foods that it needs and that keep you energized during the workday. The best way to make sure that you’re getting the sustenance that you need and to avoid unhealthy foods is to meal prep! The task may seem daunting at first but once you make it a part of your regime and get into the habit of meal prepping, it will make creating meals and eating healthy quicker, easier, more enjoyable and your body will thank you for it!

Make a Schedule: It’s important to be realistic about your schedule and figure out how many days a week you’ll hold yourself accountable to prep the meals that you’ll be eating at the office. If you know that you’re usually on the go on Fridays, focus on meal prepping Monday-Thursday and bringing options for breakfast, lunch, and snacks that you can eat at your desk. Pick one a day a week that you’ll go grocery shopping (we suggest Saturday or Sunday) and plan out your meals for the entire week so that you know exactly what you need when you go. Dedicating a specific time each week to get all your shopping done will keep you from getting overwhelmed and is much easier than trying to plan something out for the next day.

Our Suggestions for Healthy Meals: Every person has different tastes in what they like to eat and how they like to eat. Some people love a big breakfast in the morning and a small lunch and others skip breakfast altogether and go straight to a heavier lunch. We’ve found that skipping meals only makes us hangry, so we suggest prepping breakfast, lunch and 1-2 snacks throughout the day to keep you feeling full. However, it’s important to find what’s right for you and customize your meal prep based on your preferences! Below are some ideas of healthy foods we’ve found that are really easy to transport to the office and store in a fridge or at your desk until you’re ready to eat!

Breakfast: Oatmeal; Yogurt Parfaits; Green Smoothies; Overnight Oats; Fruit Salad; Egg Frittatas; Whole Wheat Breakfast Wraps; Avocado Toast; Breakfast Grain Bowls

Lunch: Quinoa with Grilled Chicken and Veggies; Shrimp and Vegetable Stir Fry; Lettuce or Whole Wheat Wraps; Salad; Brown Rice or Quinoa Bowls; Assorted Bean and Veggie Salad (no greens); Sweet Potato or Zucchini Noodles; Salmon with Lentils and Veggies; Chickpea Pasta Primavera

Snacks: Hummus and Veggies; Hard-boiled Eggs; Fruit; Nuts (almonds, pistachios, walnuts); Granola Bars; Dried Fruit; Roasted Chickpeas; Trail Mix; Whole Grain or Veggie Crackers; Air-Popped Popcorn; Almond Butter with Fruit or Veggies; Pumpkin or Sunflower Seeds; Granola; Dark Chocolate 

Keep Yourself Hydrated!!!!: One thing that we do suggest that is crucial to a healthy lifestyle is keeping yourself hydrated! The recommended amount of water that you drink per day is eight 8 oz glasses or about 2 liters, which most people don’t drink! Drinking water is the best way to get rid of waste in your body, help your body burn calories and keep you feeling full. People often confuse thirst with hunger and start snacking when their body is really craving water, since our body depends on water to survive. Drinking water during and between meals will make you full faster and keep you full longer. If you don’t want to be chugging water all day, green tea is another great option for keeping yourself hydrated between meals. It has a bunch of antioxidants and nutrients that your body craves and also improves brain function!

Think Outside the Box: The best thing about meal prepping is that you can get creative with the meals that you make. If you really love a specific fruit or vegetable, check out some recipes that include it so that you can find other ways to incorporate it into more of your meals! Interested in making zucchini noodles as a pasta replacement for lunch?! Research how it’s cooked and give it a shot! There are so many different ideas available to you for healthy meals that you can test out and see what you like or don’t like! You don’t want to get bored with the same meals day after day so be committed to trying out new foods that are delicious and still good for you!

Be Kind to Yourself: Even with your meal prep schedule and your best intentions, there will still be days that you just need pizza or tacos or fries for lunch. And then there will be some weeks where life/work gets really crazy and the meal prep just ain’t gonna happen at all. And that’s okay! A healthy meal prep also includes a healthy mindset, so it’s key to learn to accept when you slip up and move on from it rather than beat yourself up. Treat each individual meal or snack as a clean slate and a new opportunity to get back on your plan. But remember that you know your body and what it needs, so splurge every once and a while so that you don’t ever feel like you’re depriving yourself of something that your body wants. Be proud of the hard work that you put into your meal prep and allow yourself those cheat meals that you need! With food, it’s all about creating the balance that works best for you!

 

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Beat the Heat with Our 20 Minute Taco Salad!

The NYC humidity is no joke in July! With the temperature staying around 80/90 degrees the last few weeks, turning on the oven to cook these days is no longer an option. So we’re cooling it down with our delicious taco salad recipe that’s super easy to prepare and will keep you full for that post-work Pilates class or (who are we kidding?!) happy hour drinks! For our salad, we topped it with some zesty, seasoned shrimp but the best thing about this recipe is that you can customize it any way you want: include jalapenos if you’re feeling spicy, or top with tofu if you’re a vegetarian! Mix and match any ingredients that you want to celebrate Taco Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday/Saturday….. 😉

Taco Salad

Recipe serves 3 – 4

You’ll Need:

2 heads of romaine lettuce

shredded taco cheese

sour cream

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 jar medium salsa

1 avocado

cilantro

tortilla chips

Chop romaine lettuce and toss with salsa as a low fat and flavorful dressing. If desired, add a spoonful of sour cream to make dressing creamier. Chop red onion and avocado and add on top. Add cheese, cilantro, tortilla chips as desired.

Seasoned Shrimp

Recipe serves 3 – 4

You’ll Need:

1 tablespoon of avocado oil or olive oil

1/2 pound of fresh, raw shrimp (peeled and deveined)

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon fresh chopped garlic

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon fresh chopped cilantro

Combine dry seasonings except cilantro in a bowl. Add in shrimp and mix until shrimp is well coated. Heat avocado oil or olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add chopped garlic. Cook for 30 seconds and then add shrimp. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat or until shrimp is fully cooked. Turn off heat, add fresh chopped cilantro and mix. Once done, add shrimp to taco salad and enjoy!

If you’re looking for a side dish to complement the taco salad, our go to is always the classic Mexican rice and beans. Check out our 5-minute recipe below if you’re looking for something a little heartier to serve on the side or mix into your taco salad!

Mexican Brown Rice

Recipe serves 6 – 8

You’ll Need:

1 tablespoon of avocado oil or olive oil

2 bags of Uncle Ben’s 90 second brown rice

1 small can of sweet corn

1 small can of black beans (we used reduced sodium)

1/2 jar medium salsa

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

Cook both bags of Uncle Ben’s brown rice in microwave for 90 seconds. Heat avocado oil or olive oil in a large skillet or pot on medium heat. Add all of the ingredients listed above except for the cilantro, starting with the cooked brown rice, black beans and corn. Mix well. Cook for 3-5 minutes on medium heat. Turn off heat, add fresh chopped cilantro on top and mix!

 

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Improve Your Office Meals

If you’re like most offices in NYC, things tend to slow down during the summer months. Whether it’s because of the humidity that keeps New Yorkers from moving at their usual high-speed pace or the fact more people are out on vacation, June, July and August give you a chance to catch up on those projects that may have fallen by the wayside earlier in the year. One of the most important of those being the food. It’s time to take a look at what you’re feeding your office and how you can improve your meals and snacks to get yourself and your team eating and feeling good!

Send out a survey. Get an idea of what your team likes/dislikes for breakfast, lunch (dinner if applicable) and happy hours/snacks! Ask questions such as “Do you eat what is usually provided for breakfast meetings?” “What do you typically enjoy eating for breakfast?” “Which of the snacks that we have in house do you like or dislike?” “What kind of snacks would you like to see more of?” “Do you have any cuisine requests for team lunch?” “What do you think team breakfasts/lunches are lacking?” Getting this information will give you a better idea of what can be improved with the current meals that you’re offering in your office. It’s also crucial to know what dietary restrictions you’re working with and what your team’s eating preferences are when you’re ordering for everyone. Maybe HR recently hired 3 people that are vegetarian and your COO just decided to cut gluten out of his/her diet. Make sure that you include questions on the survey similar to “Are you a meat eater, vegetarian, vegan, other?” “Do you have any food allergies? If so, what are they?” so that you can get a clear breakdown of dietary restrictions to keep in mind when putting a meal together, especially if someone on your team has Celiac’s disease or a nut allergy. Finally, make the survey anonymous so that everyone can give their input without fear of judgement (food judgement is real, people!) and anyone in your office that does have a specific request that they want you to be aware of can include his/her name.

Read each survey and starting implementing! Take the time to go through each response that you receive and start making changes in your office based on your team’s comments. At FoodtoEat, we’ve noticed that a lot of companies want to eat healthier during the summer but don’t want boring options. An easy way to do this for lunch is to start introducing more unique cuisines that have proteins, veggies and low-carb starches that are delicious and will keep your team feeling full but aren’t too heavy, such as Vietnamese, African and Cuban. Or try something light and different like a build your own poke bowl! It’s important to also have healthy snacks around your office so that when people do start snacking (which they will), they are eating healthy snacks rather than chips, cookies, candy, etc. We suggest replacing chips with pretzel thins, air-popped popcorn or nuts (almonds, pistachios, peanuts), cookies with granola bars or dark chocolate and candy with low-calories ice pop and dried or fresh fruit.

Send out a meal feedback form post-meal. Once you’ve made the changes that your team requests and ordered a meal based on their suggestions, we advise sending out a meal feedback form to see what everyone thought of the food and gauge whether or not you’re on the right track. The easiest way to do this is to create a template for each meal type (breakfast, lunch, dinner, happy hour) and send it out to everyone in your office 30 minutes or an hour after they’re done eating. This way they can write what they thought while everything is still fresh in their mind. Majority of the time most people in your office probably won’t fill out this form but a handful will and will give you honest and constructive criticism. And once other coworkers start realizing that their feedback can have an influence on what is ordered, they’ll start speaking up as well!

Give yourself some credit (and others will too)! Once you’ve created your survey and feedback forms, make this a recurring process that happens after each meal so that people in your office get used to the emails and look forward to filling them out! Setting up this system will allow you to get the feedback you need to keep coordinating awesome meals for your coworkers and keep your team happy. However, make sure that you keep in mind that no matter what you do, you can’t please everyone. There will always be someone who complains about the food or wants something different. But at the end of the day, making an effort to order a meal that has something for each dietary preference or isn’t from the deli below your building won’t go unnoticed. It may require a little more work on your part but taking the initiative on an area that’s so pivotal to your office culture will make you look good and your coworkers will thank you for it!