0 comments on “Flavoring the Resistance: Our Q&A with Amy Larson of Overseasoned”

Flavoring the Resistance: Our Q&A with Amy Larson of Overseasoned

Being a woman-owned business, it’s important to us that our blog highlights not only the work that we do, but also the work of other women that inspire us. In honor of Women’s History Month, we decided to start featuring other female entrepreneurs that are using their passion and tenacity to empower others. 

We were lucky enough to chat with Amy Larson, the founder of Overseasoned, about how she started her website and how she pivoted her business into the retail space after coining the awesome phrase “smash the garlic and the patriarchy”. Amy is using her platform to create exposure for other women in the food industry and to promote a balance between men and women where cooking is celebrated regardless of gender. In our conversation with her we discussed how she got into the food industry, where the inspiration for her famous slogan came from and her advice to other women just starting their careers in food. Check it out below!

Tell us about your background. I grew up in Portsmouth, Rhode Island and went to UMass Amherst for my undergraduate degree, where I majored in hospitality and business management. During my time at UMass, I studied abroad in Perugia, Italy and got to study sustainable food and food business (along with Italian). After college, I worked at a few restaurants in Warwick and Newport before deciding to switch my career focus to marketing. I moved to Boston, which is where I live now, and started working in marketing in the tech industry.

How did you learn how to cook? I grew up around food. I was always cooking with my mom, grandma, sister, aunts- that’s the way it was in our family, so I was interested in food and cooking from an early age. I worked in bakeries and restaurants throughout high school and college but never had any formal training. I did take a few food classes in pastry and pizza making as well as knife skills but most of the cooking abilities that I have come from what I learned growing up or what I taught myself.

How did you get into the food industry/how did Overseasoned begin? Although I love my job in marketing (I still work there full-time), I realized that I had a lot to share with the food world. Colleagues, friends and family would constantly ask me for recipes or had questions on dishes that they were making and I wanted a creative outlet to share my recipes with them and the world! So in May 2016 I started producing a monthly cookbook called Overseasoned with 10-12 recipes that I would create and test out and choose which ones should make the cut. I would write out the recipes by hand, take photos of the finished product, create watercolor illustrations on the pages and then mail them out myself. I absolutely loved the whole process of coming up with recipes for others to make at home and creating the cookbook itself. So for two years I continued creating a monthly publication with recipes that I developed but also featured guest recipes if someone had a seasonal dish that I really loved or something unique that I hadn’t featured yet. I created over 20 issues and over 200 recipes. But as much as I loved it, creating the cookbook each month while working full-time became very time-consuming and difficult. So I decided to shift from a handmade publication to sharing my recipes on my website. However, once I had cultivated this space online, I realized that recipes weren’t the only way that I could interact with my community. I recently launched a photo series on my website where I profile women in food from different parts of the country so that my audience can get a better understanding of what it means to be a female entrepreneur. I ask them about how they stay motivated and find success, what community means to them, what milestones they’re most proud of…. I believe that profiling these women is creating more representation in the food industry and hopefully, change.

How did you come up with the phrase “smash the garlic and the patriarchy”? What was the motivation behind this? I came up with the phrase and design after the first Women’s March in 2017. I believe that the patriarchy is holding back progress across the board, but especially within the food industry. You see a lot of celebration around male chefs but not female chefs and I wanted a way to create female empowerment through food. To me, this phrase celebrated women and feminism at the same time. I was seeing all these cool posters and clever slogans that were creating mini-movements among women and I felt inspire to share mine with others.

Tea Towel from Overseasoned

What does “smash the garlic and the patriarchy” represent to you? And what do you think it represents to your customers? For my customers, I believe it brings power to cooking because it gives them control over their selves and their kitchen. And for others, I think it’s just a fun way for them to send a message. Customers will tell me “I LOVE garlic and I HATE the patriarchy”, so it’s the perfect crossover. For me the meaning is two-fold: I want more female chefs to be recognized and celebrated through food. I don’t want the success of men to be the only thing the food industry honors. But I also want it to represent creating a more balanced home kitchen where men feel empowered to support women and get into the kitchen as well. Since I started my website, I’ve had a lot of men reach out to me and say that they used my recipes as an introduction to cooking and are excited about cooking now. I believe that cooking shouldn’t be gender specific, it’s a creative process that should be celebrated regardless of your sex and there’s a way for us to create that balance together.

Your blog is mainly focused around content creation, so how did you make the switch to creating material goods (tote bags, tea towels, t-shirts, sweatshirts) with this message? I never planned on being a retailer but once I came up with the slogan and design, I found that it was a way for people to connect with the message even if they’re not cooking regularly. It was a way for me to reach a new audience of people who may not love cooking but love what it stands for. But creating the products themselves was all trial and error. I started with the tea towel and customers loved it so I expanded the merchandise line further. I’m looking to come up with more product ideas down the line.

What’s the biggest challenge of being a woman-owned business? A lot of the businesses that I work with are woman-owned so I haven’t faced many challenges. I’m surrounded by other strong women!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten from another woman? Go with what you’re good at. And it’s true! I believe that whatever you’re doing that’s different from other people is what you should go all in on. I worked in different areas of the food industry before receiving this advice and once I heard it, I decided to focus on growing Overseasoned and, down the road, the “smash the garlic and the patriarchy” campaign.

What advice would you give to other women trying to get into the food industry? Don’t expect anything of it, just start doing it. If you’re a food blogger, just start writing, or if you’re a chef, start practicing your cooking skills. You can’t wait on things to be perfect to get started because they never will be. Just start going and see where it leads. I feel like I’ve been making it up as I go and it’s really helped me to discover my niche.

What do you see for the future of Overseasoned? I still do some recipe creation on the website when I have a new dish that I’ve been working on and that’s something that I’ll always keep doing for my own enjoyment. I’ve been working on Overseasoned for three years but it’s still my side hustle so I’m being very intentional in the steps that I take. This week, I released a publication called “How to Smash the Garlic and the Patriarchy” in collaboration with GRLSQUASH, which is really exciting! GRLSQUASH releases two publications a year so this was a special edition that I worked on with the founder, Madison Trapkin. It focuses on women in the food and beverage space in Boston and discusses food or food adjacent topics in order to create more exposure for women. We made it a point to use only female photographers, artists and even found a female printer to work with. This is a project that I never thought I’d be involved in when I first started Overseasoned but it’s amazing to see how things have evolved and eventually I hope to be in the food industry full-time. I’m not sure how I’ll get there yet but it’s these projects that keep me working towards that goal.

What impact do you hope your business and campaign have on other women? I hope the slogan/campaign personally inspires people more than anything. In regards to the business itself (recipes, the photo series and the new publication (How to Smash the Garlic and the Patriarchy)), I want the impact to be larger. I want it to help other women find connections within their community. In our field guide, How to Smash the Garlic and the Patriarchy, we included a map that shows where woman-owned businesses are within Boston (and a little outside of it) so that other women can identify and support these local, woman-owned businesses. Even if someone outside of the Boston area was to see this map, I want it to make them realize that it’s something they can do in their own community to create awareness and to support female entrepreneurs.

 

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Lily Brynes, Founder and CEO of SPOTS NYC

This is Lily Brynes, the founder and CEO of SPOTS NYC. A native New Yorker, Lily was only 23 years old when she started SPOTS, a company that she created almost unwittingly. Lily had always been a big fan of baking and for fun liked to make large-scale cakes, like the Nike box cake for which she had purchased an edible printer off Amazon in order to make the famous Nike “swoosh” logo. In February 2014, she had decided with her boyfriend (now fiance, Samson) that for Valentine’s Day that year they would exchange personal gifts instead of material ones. She had the idea that it would be cute if she could bake him cupcakes with a picture of them on top. So she dusted off the edible printer from her Nike cake, made the personalized Valentine’s Day cupcakes and liked the finished product so much that she posted a picture of them on her Instagram. Immediately she got a message from the PR person at her sister’s clothing company asking her where she had gotten them. When Lily said she had made them, she asked her if she could make them for all of her magazine contacts as a unique Valentine’s Day treat. Lily had time off from work so she decided to do it. She didn’t have the pre-cut circles for the cupcakes at the time so she was cutting them all by hand, adding the edible images, using packaging from The Container Store and delivering them the each office herself. She realized that other people may be interested in ordering her SPOTS so she made a gmail address and an Instagram account called SPOTS NYC and magazines like Marie Claire and Lucky began posting about them. Within a few days, she got an email from Marie Claire’s corporate team asking her to make 500 cupcakes for their spring press preview the next day and from there, the business took off. Although Lily had a full-time job that she was preparing to jump into, she thought she would regret not pursuing SPOTS and decided to turn down the job. She took advantage of an opportunity to pursue a passion project and now helps her customers tell their own story with her personalized mini cupcakes. 

Lily says that she always had aspirations of being an entrepreneur but it wasn’t until college that she found her true passion in food. Her stepfather owns Neuman’s Kitchen (a large catering company in NY and Philadelphia) so she worked front of house and back of house there throughout high school and into college. However, freshman year of college she interned for Danny Meyer at Union Square Hospitality Group and had such an amazing experience that she continued to intern there every winter and summer break until she graduated and then accepted an offer to join their team full-time. However, looking back now, she says it wasn’t a role that she should’ve accepted. They had created a position for her where she would help with the corporate catering at KKR (a private equity company) and worked directly out of their office with one other colleague. Therefore, she wasn’t a part of the culture at USHG, which was really the part of the business that she had fallen in love with, and didn’t feel that the role she was in was a good fit for her. But she had a great mentor at USHG who she voiced her concerns to and who helped her transition to working on the Super Bowl pop up in early 2014 that Danny Meyer was opening in partnership with the NFL. She helped open and run the restaurant in NY the week before and the week of the Super Bowl and once it finished, they asked her to do the management training program at Shake Shack, which was starting in March 2014. It was during the month between the Super Bowl and the beginning of training at Shake Shack that SPOTS was born. Once Marie Claire had posted about her product, she spent the month doing orders for magazines and brands as a side project, not really realizing that it could be a business. She was still planning to do the training at Shake Shack and use it as a stepping stone in her career but as she got closer to the start date and orders kept coming in, she felt that SPOTS would fuel the entrepreneurial spirit that she had always had. So she decided to leave USHG and to take a leap of faith with SPOTS.

For the first year after she launched the business, Lily was baking the cupcakes in her apartment kitchen, delivering them herself and handling all sales, marketing and billing. She says that when customers used to call and ask for her marketing manager, she would put them on hold and then pick up and pretend she was someone else within the company. After a few months, she started working with a kitchen that produced all of the cupcakes for Crumbs (now out of business) and would create “naked cupcakes” for her and deliver them to her apartment every day so that she could print the image/logo and decorate them before delivery. Although it was easier not creating the cupcakes, she was still constantly grinding and eventually her operation got too big for her kitchen at home. She began renting kitchen space from the bar Slate NY on 21st Street in NYC and started hiring employees to help her bake and create the cupcakes, finally realizing that it was too hard to keep doing it by herself. She rented space from Slate NY for about two years until she ran into a problem one day when she went into the restaurant to start baking and found their racks broken and packaging thrown on the floor. The next week she moved out of Slate NY and into her current office, where she built a prep kitchen so that her team could create the product in their own space. In hindsight she recognizes that she made the mistake of not acknowledging that she needed help sooner, but despite the large volume of orders coming in, she believed that she could do it on her own. However, she did realize pretty quickly that they needed custom packaging because they were getting a lot of inquiries about shipping. So she spent nine months completely building the packaging from idea to creation to produce a custom made package for her mini cupcakes since they didn’t fit in the “traditional cupcake” packaging. This is the same packaging that they use today in her commissary kitchen in Long Island City, where her baking staff works, since they outgrew her office in Manhattan. All of their production takes place in their commissary kitchen and her four person office team handles all incoming orders.  

The most interesting thing about SPOTS is that the product hasn’t really evolved much since that original batch. Lily knew when she first created them that she didn’t want the cupcakes to muffin top because she needed them flat to print the image and was able to figure out the best baking process. It’s also always been the same size for the mini cupcakes (mini whoopie pie halves) and always the same four flavors: birthday cake, red velvet, vanilla and brownie batter. She came up with pricing for the cupcakes by doing research on companies that were offering a similar product and figuring out what labor and delivery/shipping costs would need to be added. Fast forward 5 years and SPOTS NYC is now an established business that sold over 300,000 cupcakes last year.  Lily‘s humble enough to say that she owes a lot of her success to Instagram, since it was the platform that helped her launch her product, and Marie Claire, for promoting it. But the truth is that she was able to carve out a niche in the market and promote her product through the right channels. Which is why her advice to other entrepreneurs looking to get into the food industry, especially female entrepreneurs, is to own your product or idea and network with the right people, no matter how daunting it seems. She believes that there’s enough room in the industry for more creative food ideas and for collaboration among “competitors”, which is why she created ALPHA, a female founders club where women can network with other female business owners as a way to empower one another. She found that in the food industry, it’s hard to gain the respect you know that you deserve as a woman-owned business so reminding each other that they all deserve a seat at the table is necessary for everyone’s success. For Lily, competition never seemed to be a challenging part of the food world because it’s such a huge industry that she believes there’s enough business for companies to share. “If anything”, she says, “that means that there’s room in the industry for more”.

For Lily, the best part of running her own business is that she genuinely gets to make people happy with her product. Seeing the reactions people have when they get the cupcakes, especially when their face is on them, creates such a personal connection to the food that she loves. She loves helping clients tell a story with her edible branding, which is what she hopes her customers associate SPOTS NYC with. In the upcoming years, she wants to make SPOTS a household name and wants it to be the go to edible branding company. Similar to how a customer thinks of Edible Arrangements when they want a bouquet of fruit, she wants customers to think of SPOTS NYC when they think of something edible with a photo. Eventually she does see herself selling the business down the line but right now she’s experimenting with experiential service through on demand printing. Ideally she’d like to create kiosks where you could order the SPOTS cupcakes and have them printed on site. It would cut out the need to order in advance and create an experience for the customer. She believes that everything is moving towards experience-based interactions with businesses and wants to be ahead of the curve of incorporating this technology into her edible branding, making it even more personalized and unique.

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

 

0 comments on “Building Companies with Purpose”

Building Companies with Purpose

Millennials need to feel passion in their work. According to Deloitte, two-thirds of Millennials believe that businesses have no ambition beyond wanting to make money, and less than half believe that corporations behave ethically. There’s a disconnect in the workplace, with the newer generation of workers increasingly in favor of prioritizing people before mere financial performance. Milliennials want to build companies with an ethical ethos from Day 1.

Incorporating this sense of purpose into your organization starts with a couple of simple questions: why did you (or do you want to) start your business in the first place? Which stakeholders’ (employees, customers, investors, your community) circumstances are you trying to improve?

How it all started

FoodtoEat is the culmination of many years of work in the community.

For me, my sense of purpose and involvement started waaaaaay back in middle school. I was fortunate that my school incorporated community service as part of our curriculum. Once a week, I had the chance to go into a classroom with disabled preschoolers and learn more about their world. It was a startling reminder of my own privilege, of how I wouldn’t face a fraction of the challenges that kids less than half my age had already faced.

From then on, thinking about ways to better the lives of those around me – especially those in underrepresented communities – became a critical part of my DNA. I needed to instill a sense of purpose in every action and strive towards that headline goal of improving my community.

My college years were defined by working on political campaigns at the local and federal level. By getting directly involved in working for candidates who shared my sense of purpose, I hoped to play a larger role in creating social change and shaping the world in accordance with my principles.

Post-college, I decided to play an even more active role in impacting my community and started FoodtoEat. I just didn’t see enough companies out there aimed at people who looked like me – minorities and immigrants. And an overwhelming number of these people were in the food business, hustling 18 hours a day to feed droves of hungry people.

And while technology was being used to help hungry diners find more convenient ways to get their food (Seamless or Grubhub), there was a distinct lack of technology to help food operators grow and scale their businesses. More importantly, many of the food operators I met with in my early days were minorities and immigrants, and I felt strongly that they too should share in the benefits that technology has to offer.

This has been our ethos from Day 1 – empowering local food operators by amplifying their voices (most recently through our I Made Your Food campaign) and growing their business via access to catering opportunities at large corporations with a local presence. This community-minded message has been a key part of our growth for close to the last decade – it gives both our vendors and corporate customers a firm handle on what we stand for, why they do business with us, and what we can deliver to each of these external stakeholders.

Including internal stakeholders

As I mentioned at the top of the post though, we also need to embody a unified purpose and vision for our internal stakeholders, like our employees and shareholders. As an example, when I became pregnant with my first child, I was shocked to learn how my community lacked a support system for expectant mothers. Adequate corporate family leave policies were essentially nonexistent (a friend of mine only got one paid week off!), and the Federal Medical Leave Act (FMLA) only offers 12 weeks off, unpaid. How many people do you know that can afford take a few weeks – let alone 12 – without pay?

That’s why I’ve recently started drafting a family leave policy at FoodtoEat that provides expectant parents ample time off with pay. Having lived through it, I know how important it is for both parents to have ample time to bond with their newborn and adequately prepare for life as a parent. And as their employer, I have a duty to ensure their physical and mental well-being, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because I know that it’s right for my business as well.

As founders, it’s essential for us to think about purpose in our organizations. We have an obligation to build companies that stand for something for all our stakeholders. Not just because the future generations we hope to recruit increasingly demand it, but also because aligning our goals and incentives with their own is just a sound business practice. Every company brags that their people are their greatest asset. As the founder of a purpose-driven businesses though, I’m able to back up these words with actions that help the my team, my organization, and my community thrive.

 

0 comments on “Gopal Singh, Head Chef and Co-Partner of Mint Masala”

Gopal Singh, Head Chef and Co-Partner of Mint Masala

This is Gopal Singh, the head chef at Mint Masala, an Indian restaurant that he runs with his business partner, Shekhar Gowda. The duo met while working at an Indian restaurant on the Upper West Side (Gopal was the chef and Shekhar was the manager) and quickly realized the other’s expertise in their respective areas of restaurant operations. They worked together for about a year until they decided to open their own restaurant. Both had been in the hospitality/food industry for years at this point, working at various establishments, and wanted to make one final move to a business where they could control every factor of the service. For Gopal, he believed that he had enough experience as a chef to open his own place where he could be in charge of the kitchen rather than working for someone else. So in 2013, they opened Mint Masala on Macdougal Street in Greenwich Village. Although Gopal admits that the first year and a half was difficult because it took them a year to get approval from the Department of Buildings to expand the kitchen after renting the space, they were able to use their individual skills to create a restaurant where atmosphere and food quality are the top priorities. Now, with a combined 80+ years of experience in the food industry, Gopal strives to differentiate their restaurant from their growing list of competitors by providing high-quality food whose difference you can taste.

Gopal grew up in India, where his career in food service began. He had no background in food (his father was in the army and his mother was a housewife) but he became interested in the industry because one of his friends had started working in a restaurant and was making good money. He saw the food industry as an area of opportunity for him and after graduating high school, decided to forgo college and see where this new path could take him. He began working in restaurants, getting insight into their daily operations and understanding the different parts of the business. However, he really got interested in cooking when he began working in an army cafeteria/mess hall. It was during this time that he learned a lot about Indian food and his passion for food grew. He realized that this could become a career for him and decided to enroll in culinary classes. After culinary school and getting a little more experience under his belt as a chef, Gopal opened his own restaurant in New Delhi. He was running the business for about 7 years and working as the head chef when a friend of his, who lived in the U.S., sent him a visa application form to emigrate to New York. After considering all of his options, he decided to move to the U.S. because he believed there would be more opportunities available to him. So he sold his restaurant and emigrated to the U.S. in 1990.

Once he arrived in the U.S., Gopal began a long journey within food service, owning and working in a variety of Indian restaurants throughout New York City, Long Island and Connecticut. He started working at Diwan Grill on Long Island, a job that he was connected to by his friend who helped him obtain his visa, before moving to Connecticut in 1997. He had heard that there was a good market for Indian food at the time and decided to open his own restaurant. But he ended up closing the business about 2 years after because he didn’t like living in Connecticut. Not only was business slow, it was too quiet for him and he felt like there were never people around. He had gone into Manhattan for a day during this period to check it out (he had never been before) and felt much more comfortable there. He was used to the hustle and bustle of a city and thought Manhattan was a unique place where he could access anything that he might need. So he moved to Jamaica, Queens in 2000 and has been working in the city ever since. He found that most of the restaurants that he had worked at before opening Mint Masala were pretty similar to each other cuisine-wise, but each place had their own recipes for how they liked certain dishes to be prepared. Since these places were so similar, it made Gopal realize how important recipes are to the success of your business and how they can be the differentiating factor between you and your competition.

Therefore, when he and Shekhar decided to open their own restaurant, Gopal started writing down his own recipes, the same ones that he had created and used in his restaurant in New Delhi, which were more traditional than the Indian restaurants that he had been working at in New York. He wanted his recipes to reflect the home cooked meal that you would experience if you were in India. Since his recipes are more traditional, he uses much less oil, butter and cream than other restaurants. He found that when other chefs didn’t know how to flavor the dish with spice, they would overcompensate with butter and cream to give it flavor, which gave customers the impression that all Indian food is oily and heavy. It was important to Gopal that each recipe be the right combination of high-quality ingredients and taste, which is why he uses spices as flavoring rather than unhealthy additives. Their healthier recipes and subsequent better taste is what sets Mint Masala apart from other Indian restaurants, because you can taste the difference in quality. He believes that customers keep coming back to dine with them because they recognize the balance of ingredients and flavors and appreciate it, which is why it’s crucial to Gopal that the food they serve is always consistent. When a new employee joins their team, they are trained for 2-3 weeks and Gopal is very hands-on throughout the entire process to make sure that he/she is learning all of the recipes correctly. He makes sure that everyone in his kitchen is maintaining the high-quality food that they’re known for so that when he’s not there, all recipes are being made correctly and their excellence never wavers.

As the leader of the kitchen staff, it’s important to Gopal that he take the time to get each employee acclimated to the restaurant and create a personal connection with everyone on his team. A lot of his employees are actually people that he worked with previously in other restaurants and chose to join him when he opened Mint Masala. They had experienced how he ran his kitchen and were happy with the atmosphere that he creates, which is one of respect and trust. He’s flexible with his employees’ hours in case they have something going on in their personal lives that they need to take care of and pays his employees a salary so that they don’t lose money in case they do have less hours one week vs. the next. It’s rewarding for Gopal to have a kitchen team that’s happy and invested in their work because it trickles down to the customer and their experience. They always have a consistent flow of customers coming in and it feels rewarding to him that people are still coming in and eating the food that he and his team creates. A lot of people will try the food and write a review saying that they were happy with the food or the experience in general, which is another part of the business that he loves. He checks the reviews each night and reads through them to see if customers are still happy and if there are any specific ways in which they can improve. When you’re opening a business, you’re ever sure how people will react to it, but if people continue to come in and you’re making money, that’s success in Gopal’s mind.

Now that they’ve mastering casual dining with Mint Masala, Gopal and Shekhar are planning to open a fine dining restaurant in Manhattan in the next year or two. They want to create an upscale experience that incorporates their traditional food in a more formal setting with a full bar and more seating. Although this is a change from what they’ve done in the past, they both trust the knowledge that they’ve gained over years in the food industry as well as themselves. In the past, Gopal says, people have tried to give them advice about what they should do with Mint Masala because everyone has their own experience and own opinion on what works best in the restaurant business. However, they’re planning to focus on their own ideas and do what they need to in order to make the business successful. Whether other people think it’s right or not, as long as they continue to provide high-quality food to their customers that keep them returning, they’re happy.

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

 

0 comments on “This Shakshuka Recipe is Egg-cellent!”

This Shakshuka Recipe is Egg-cellent!

If you haven’t heard of shakshuka before, we’re about to introduce you to your new favorite food! Although it’s traditionally seen as a breakfast food, shakshuka is a dish that you can eat for any meal because it’s so flavorful and filling. A combination of eggs, tomatoes and spices, this recipe is delicious and something that you can customize to your personal taste- add some meat for extra protein or make it spicy with some hot sauce! Plus it’s really easy to make if you’re not too comfortable in the kitchen.

Whether you’re looking for a quick meal on a cold night or hosting a brunch at home with friends, shakshuka is a great way to mix it up and keep your cooking from getting boring. Continue reading for the ingredient breakdown and instructions to create this unique dish!

Shakshuka with Feta Cheese

Recipe serves 4-6

You’ll Need:

3-6 large eggs (depending on your preference)

1 can (28 oz) whole plum tomatoes 

5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)

1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced

3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

3 tablespoons parsley, chopped

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat (make sure that the skillet you use is oven safe!). Add in sliced onions and cook until very soft, about 15-20 minutes. Add in garlic and then stir in your spices (cumin, paprika, cayenne). Cook for about 1 minute or until your spices are all mixed in. Next pour in your tomatoes and break into smaller pieces once they’re in the pan. Season with salt and pepper and then simmer on low heat until the tomatoes thicken. This should take about 10 minutes. Next stir in your crumbled feta. Finally, gently crack 3-6 eggs (based on your preference) into the skillet over the tomatoes. We used 3 eggs for our recipe but you can do up to 6. Again, season with salt and pepper and then transfer into the oven.

Bake in the oven for about 7-10 minutes until the eggs are just set. Depending on the consistency you prefer for your eggs, baking for 7 minutes will make them runny and baking for 10 will make them firmer. Sprinkle on chopped parsley for garnish and enjoy!

Pro tip: Serve shakshuka with your favorite bread for dipping. Toast in the oven for a few minutes before serving for an extra crunch! 😋

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Ratsanee Suksawas, Owner of Le Viet Cafe

This is Ratsanee Suksawas, the owner of Le Viet Cafe, a restaurant on the Upper East Side that combines the best of Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. Ratsanee worked in the food industry in New York for 15 years before deciding to open her own place. Things had begun changing with the economy and working for someone else was too unpredictable for her. She wanted a change and to be in a position where she was responsible for her own security. Due to her experience in the food industry, she knew when opening the restaurant in September 2015, that being successful means standing out. So rather than making her menu strictly Thai cuisine, she asked her husband (the chef at Le Viet Cafe) to reach out to a friend that he used to work with that was Vietnamese to teach them how to make traditional Vietnamese dishes. She knew that offering banh mis and vermicelli noodles along with pad thai and green curry would differentiate them from other Thai restaurants in a very saturated market. Today, she says, the amount of competition has caused the landscape of the food industry to change even more. You can no longer wait for a customer to come to you, you have to go out and get them. So she continues to look for ways to grow her business by offering unique menu items and interactive meal experiences, while providing the same genuine customer service that her business has been known for since they opened.

Ratsanee started out in the food industry in 2000, when she emigrated to the U.S. from Thailand. She had no previous experience in food but was looking for a job and heard that you could make a lot of money working in a restaurant because people were spending a lot on food at that time and tipping well. Her plan was to work in the U.S. for a few years, save up some money and then move back to Thailand to open a small coffee shop. However, once she began working at SEA (a restaurant that’s now closed) and met her husband (she was a manager there, he was a sous chef), her plans started to change. She got married and had kids and it was important to her that her kids get a good education in the U.S. Now 8 and 11 years old, both of her children attend dual schools where they’re taught in English and Spanish, which she sees as a key requirement for success later in life. She’s raising her children to understand that just like in business, your unique assets and uncommon skills are what make you stand out.

Her children are also the reason why Ratsanee is so committed to her business and is always finding ways to survive among the competition. She recently began recipe testing for some new menu items while also planning out the logistics of operating a pop up experience for corporate catering. She feels that it’s not enough to wait for people to come to them, she wants to go directly to the customer by bringing their food into different offices and testing out various industries to see where customers are the most receptive. She sees this as the best way to introduce customers to the food currently on their menu and drive traffic to the restaurant as well as test some unique recipes that she thinks customers might like. Rather than only offering rice or rice noodles as bases, she is trying to incorporate spaghetti into the mix and create more opportunities with customer by offering these new items that come with a different sauce and a different consistency but a familiar item. She believes this is something that other Thai/Vietnamese restaurants aren’t doing yet and could interest customers that don’t like rice or rice noodles. So they’ve been testing recipes to include spaghetti as well as build your own options, which they’ve never done in the past. Right now it’s hard to know if clients will like the food or not so they’ll need to test it out before fully launching the menu and the pop up experience. But once they’ve found the dishes that they think customers will be receptive to, they’re planning to go to different businesses to see which markets would work for this new concept.

Team at Le Viet Cafe

Although finding unique ways to meet the customer and make her business grow is very exciting to Ratsanee, she recognizes that she’s still battling one factor that she can’t control: technology. Being on delivery apps like GrubHub, Seamless, MealPal and UberEats are a necessary evil for her, something that you need in order to gain access to more customers and more orders. But she gets particularly frustrated with Yelp because if someone has one bad experience, they can write a bad review, which other customers see as a fact rather than an opinion. People have more choices now so they don’t have to get to know you as a business owner or your food, which Ratsanee sees as unfair since 80% of her customers are recurring customers. “If people don’t like me”, she says, “they can just write a bad review”. She feels that Yelp removes the trust from the vendor/client relationship and is always painting the business owner in a negative light. Even when a customer is in the wrong and she has proof of it, they can still write a bad review and she can’t say her side of the story because it comes off as rude and customers get mad. If she does say her side, she says, no one really listens to it anyway, they listen to what they’re reading from others, so she’s stopped trying to defend herself. Ratsanee takes these negative reviews personally because she wants everyone to feel like part of their family when they eat her food, whether they’re visiting the restaurant or ordering delivery. She and her staff are friendly and genuinely care about the food that they create and the people that they serve. They don’t see them as customers who eat the food and that’s it, they see them as friends and family and try to make the restaurant as welcoming as possible. Which is why it’s so frustrating, because they have so many clients who they do have relationships with that will come to them directly if there’s an issue with the food. In these situations, she doesn’t have to worry about someone thinking that they’re good or bad, the customer knows that her team will fix it because they appreciate the feedback and are always trying to make their food better. If it is her fault, Ratsanee doesn’t mind giving a discount or free food because she knows she was wrong. However, when every negative review requires her to give a discount to make the customer happy, she doesn’t make any money, which makes it harder for her to take care of the people that work for her. Her employees are very important to her so making sure that they’re happy, getting paid enough and not getting frustrated with their job is even tougher when she has to factor in discounts, that are sometimes undeserved, on a limited budget.

Dealing with negative reviews and criticism on a regular basis is hard for Ratsanee but she has seen an increase in orders and new customers recently, which is very gratifying for her. A lot of the new customers are people that have tried them out through catering at their office and liked the food so much that they began ordering personally. Ratsanee loves that more customers are learning about her business and visiting the store, where she feels they really get a sense for the business and the positive atmosphere that she and her team create. On one of the walls in the store, “life is beautiful” is written out in books in both Vietnamese and English. Ratsanee hopes that that grateful, easy nature is what customers associate her business with, because she truly does create food from the heart. Moving forward, she’s eager to see how customers react to the new menu items and pop up experience and feels that these unique offerings will help the business immensely. Even if something doesn’t work, she says, they’ll continue testing out different ideas to make sure that they’re staying top of mind for customers. It’s a demanding industry, but she’s ready to fight for it.

 

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Stella Likitsakos, Owner of Mamagyro

This is Stella Likitsakos, the owner of Mamagyro. A Greek immigrant who moved to the U.S. with her parents and sister in 1974, food is a part of who she is and opening her own restaurant she says, “was always inside of her”. Stella’s parents owned a small store in Greece before moving to the U.S. so, like her granddaughters now, her life revolved around the store and watching her mother prepare food for their customers until she was a teenager. Once they moved to the U.S., Stella’s father worked as a dishwasher and her mother worked at a fur company making furs. Her father worked for a few years before retiring (there was a significant age gap between her mother and father) but her mother continued working, showing Stella that hard work is the key to success. “She’s the rock”, Stella says, referring to her mother, but this description can also be used when speaking about Stella. A woman who is at her restaurant every day helping to prepare the food and is so committed to providing her customers with an all-natural, clean meal that she doesn’t use butter in any of her recipes or stock in any of her soups, just like her mother. Stella now runs Mamagyro with her daughter, Vicki Giannopoulos, who manages all business operations and catering on top of raising her two young daughters and together they’ve made Mamagyro a staple in the NYC food community. However, more than carrying on their family’s tradition of creating all-natural, authentic and delicious food (which they do), this mother-daughter team is also an example for future generations of women of what hard work combined with passion can forge.

Since she was surrounded by food throughout her childhood, Stella was immediately drawn to the food industry once she started working. She met her husband working at a supermarket that he owned and once they were married, she began running the stores with him. They ran three supermarkets on the Upper East Side and every two years or so, Stella would add something new to the markets, expanding them and slowly turning them into gourmet markets offering everything from fruits and veggies to meat and cheese and prepared food. However, they were still small stores so once large chains like Whole Foods and Fairway started opening and delivery services and online ordering became popular, they started losing business. Their stores were unique with a lot of good quality products but consumers were looking for the “one stop” shopping experience that they couldn’t provide and they had to begin closing the stores. Also during this time, Stella’s husband got in an accident and hurt his neck and was unable to continue running the stores. Stella was in a difficult position and wasn’t sure what to do next. Then one day, as she was walking to Lenox Hill Hospital to visit her husband, she saw a storefront for sale on 77th street and thought, “why can’t I open a little homemade gyro shop here?” It had always been her dream to open her own restaurant and since the supermarkets weren’t doing well, she thought it was time to do something different in the food industry. So she bought the storefront and opened Mamagyro in 2011.

Stella was running Mamagyro for about a year and a half before Vicki joined the business. Vicki had been working at PR company but knew it wasn’t a place she could stay if she wanted to started a family, so she approached her mom and asked her if they could open another store together. So in 2013 they opened their second Mamagyro location on Broadway in Union Square. However, the clientele in Union Square was much different from what they were used to at their flagship store. It was mainly teenagers and young adults who didn’t know them and didn’t want to spend money on good quality food as opposed to the regular customers whose neighborhood they were a part of on 77th street. The lack of steady business combined with staffing issues forced them to close the Union Square store not long after it opened. Soon after closing their Union Square store, they started looking for a commissary kitchen to cook out of because they didn’t have enough space at the 77th street store. However, bad luck struck in 2017 when the building their restaurant on 77th street was in was sold to a new owner who decided to demolish the entire building and kicked out all of the tenants. They now operate solely out of their kitchen space on 106th street, which they were able to turn into another fast casual restaurant. Although they miss their location on 77th street, they’re working on improving the space they’re in now and believe that there is a lot of potential in their new community. The people in the area are very happy to have a new food option available to them and Stella and Vicki see it as an opportunity to expand their reach in a new environment.

If you ask Stella, their all-natural, homemade food is the most important part of their business. And if you ask Vicki, Stella and her hospitality are what customers associate the business with. But both are vital components of what makes this fast casual concept work. All of the recipes for their food are Stella’s mother’s recipes that were passed down to her and now Stella has passed them on to Vicki. It was very important to Stella when creating the menu that everything be high-quality and authentic. They don’t use any canned items in the restaurant. Everything is either made from scratch by them and their team or imported from Greece. They even have their own pita bread recipe, which they have a bakery mass produce for them. For Stella and Vicki, the most rewarding part of the business is knowing that they’re one of the few restaurant in NYC that actually serves good food with clean and fresh ingredients and it’s something that their customers appreciate. To them, it feels good knowing that they’re giving customers all-natural items rather than cheating them with bad ingredients just so they can make more money, which some restaurants do. It would be easy for them to cut corners but they wouldn’t feel right giving customers food with fake ingredients and it’s not the way they want to run their business. It’s this commitment to their food and their passion to keep their brand from becoming commercialized that customers are drawn to as well as Stella’s hospitality. Stella believes that when customers are making a conscious effort to come to their store and buy their food when there’s so many restaurants to choose from, she needs to make it the best experience possible for them and give them more than just food. Vicki says that the way Stella is at home is the way she is in the restaurant. She wants everyone to be comfortable and get the best dining experience possible, which is why they have loyal customers that come in every day and thank them for food that’s been the same great quality since they started.

Although this mother-daughter team is lucky in the fact that they have one another to lean on, they recognize that having a team of people who are dedicated to the business is key for success in the food industry. And it’s an issue that they’ve struggled with in the past. One of the most challenging parts of the business for them has been finding reliable staff that are as committed to the Mamagyro brand as they are. Even though they have each other, there are a lot of different areas to handle when running a business and you need to have team members that have different strengths so that you’re not doing it all on your own. You need to have people behind you that are willing to go through good and bad times with you and continue to push you to do better. That’s the only way your business will grow and it’s something that Stella and Vicki are still working on. However, for the time being they’re excited to see how their business increases in their new location and are considering taking some of the Mamagyro products wholesale (spanakopita, dips, yogurt). They see a need for preservative-free, all-natural food in grocery stores and they feel that taste is being lost with the artificial products that are on shelves now. Stella says she would also love to open a sit-down Greek restaurant in the coming years that focuses on traditional Greek food and seafood. But these are both ideas that they’d like to focus on down the line. Right now their main focus is improving Mamagyro and creating a successful business that Vicki can one day pass on to her daughters.

 

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Honoring Black History Month

February is Black History Month, a time during which we recognize and honor the contributions of Black Americans throughout our country’s history. Not only is it essential to use this month as a way to commemorate the lives of leaders of the Black community, it also allows us to reflect on the history of the U.S. and to appreciate the changes that have been made to better our society. However, we still have a long way to go. As Americans, we each make a commitment to tirelessly fight for equality and opportunity for all. Remembering and celebrating the impact of these Black Americans in the face of such adversity  is a critical part of that commitment. 

The History of Black History Month

The idea of formally celebrating the achievements of Black Americans originally came from historian Carter G. Woodson in 1915. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland, a prominent minister, founded the ASNLH (the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History) in order to dedicate time to researching and acknowledging the accomplishments of Black Americans that weren’t be represented in American society. In 1926, their foundation sponsored a national “Negro History Week” during the second week of February to honor the men and women who were pioneers of change as well as to connect the event with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. This first celebration inspired communities across the country to organize their own festivities and to begin hosting performances and lectures that highlighted Black culture. These celebrations continued annually in cities nationwide, eventually evolving into a month of commemoration until 1976 when President Ford officially recognized Black History Month as a month-long observance.

Today the ASNLH is known as the ASALH (the Association for the Study of African American Life and History). They continue the work of Dr. Woodson to “promote, research, preserve, interpret and disseminate information about Black life, history and culture to the global community”.

2019: Black Migrations

Every year the ASALH announces a theme for Black History Month to be the focus point during their month-long observation. This year the theme is Black Migrations to “emphasize the movement of people of African descent to new destinations and subsequently to new social realities”. The migration of Black families and individuals throughout the U.S., and globally, has resulted in more diverse populations, the establishment of new religions, and the genesis of new forms of music and visual & literary art. This movement allowed communities to evolve in new and unique ways, and laid the foundation for the society that we live in today.

The FoodtoEat Community

At FoodtoEat, we strive to unite all people around a communal table and seek to add diversity to the local food community by highlighting the immigrant, women and minority-run food businesses that we represent. We believe that every person’s history is essential to who they are and contributes to every aspect of their lives, including the food that they create. For those reasons, we’re so excited to kick off Black History Month by highlighting some of the Black American vendors that we work with and telling their story about their business and the mission behind it. If you’re interested in supporting these business this month (or any month!) please email us at catering@foodtoeat.com to inquire about pricing for your next meal or event!

Novar Excell, Owner of Excell Kingston Eatery: Excell Kingston Eatery is a Jamaican style catering company that was created in 2014 by chef Novar Excell and his wife Keelia Excell. The duo are originally from Jamaica and migrated to Brooklyn, New York in 2014. They use authentic, homemade recipes that will transport you to the Island after just one bite. Based in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn, they service all five boroughs of New York City, catering any event from birthday parties to corporate lunches to large food festivals.

Yemisi Awosan, Owner of Egunsifoods: Yemisi  is the chef and owner of Egunsifoods, which she created to introduce others to the diverse, delicious and flavorful cuisines of West Africa. She was born in Nigeria but raised in New England and wanted to create a farm to table company that honors her background, while also focusing on flavor, taste and nutrients. She sources her ingredients from locals farms in New York as well as partners with farmers in Africa to source their raw materials. Her mission is to actively give back to African farmers and artisans, creating a long-term impact through social entrepreneurship instead of short-term donation through philanthropy.

Charles Chipengule, Owner of Jaa Dijo Dom: Charles 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. After graduating high school, he was able to save up enough money to open a breakfast food stall, which funded his technical college courses in engineering and culinary courses. However, due to the dire economic conditions in Botswana, he eventually had to close down his breakfast stall and emigrated to the U.S. After arriving in the U.S., Charles worked at various restaurants and took culinary classes in NYC to pursue his dream of becoming a chef. 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. Today he takes the time to select the best dishes and flavors from different countries in Africa in order to share the food that he grew up eating and to create a diverse and flavorful dining experience.

Yaya Ceesay, Co-Owner of The Soul Spot: Yaya is the chef and co-owner of The Soul Spot, a fast casual restaurant that combines the best of African, Southern Soul and Caribbean food. Although this may seem like a unusual mix, Yaya serves a unique array of food that represents the food that he grew up eating and the food that learned how to prepare through research during his time in the U.S. Yaya came to the U.S. from West Africa when he was 17 and worked as a chef in Manhattan for many years before opening The Soul Spot in 2003. Although people doubted him when he first started his business, he’s been a staple in his Brooklyn community for 16 years and believes that the passion he sows into his food is what his customers continue to be drawn to and trust.

 

Resources:
https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-month
https://thewitnessbcc.com/5-reasons-you-should-celebrate-black-history-month/
https://asalh.org/asalhs-2019-theme-black-migrations/

 

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Edward Song, Owner of Korilla BBQ

This is Edward (Eddie) Song, the owner of Korilla BBQ, a fast casual restaurant that strives to advance Korean cuisine through innovation. Eddie’s entrepreneurial aspirations began in 2008 when he was graduating from Columbia University in the midst of the Great Recession. There weren’t many job opportunities available so he thought it was a better time than ever to be your own boss. However, unlike many entrepreneurs in the food industry, Eddie’s interest in the hospitality/restaurant business didn’t come from a strong focus on food throughout his childhood. He, like many other people in 2008, was looking for the safety and comfort that was lacking in the midst of the financial crisis and started thinking a lot about what made him feel comfortable and safe. He immediately started reminiscing about going out to eat on the weekends with his family, which, because everyone was so busy, was the only time they had to get together and catch up. So he decided to open a food business that could fill the need for comfort in others as it did for him. He enrolled in a free four month culinary program offered by Kingsborough Community College in conjunction with The Restaurant Opportunities Center United but quickly realized that he wasn’t a good cook. So when everyone else in his program began thinking about specializing in baking vs. cooking and interviewing at restaurants, he started thinking about food concepts. After trying out a bun concept that never took off (the idea was to take the Chinese pork bun and make it more internationally appealing), he began realizing that there weren’t many restaurants focused on creating Korean food. Of course there were communities throughout New York where you could find amazing Korean food but it wasn’t as widely represented as he believed it should be. So he decided to take Korean food and make it more mainstream and readily accessible to the American public through the Korilla BBQ brand.

Korilla BBQ started as a food truck with a menu that Eddie says came through a “series of fortune events”. He wanted Korilla BBQ to represent the aspects of Korean food that he loved as well as the other foods that he and his siblings grew up eating. Growing up in Queens, there were many cultures on a single block so mixing Korean food with Mexican and hints of Southern BBQ and American fare seemed very natural to Eddie and he was able to find a chef who understood his concept. Although the chef was Japanese, he was also from Queens so he had grown up eating Korean food and was familiar with the flavors that Korean food is known for. They began pulling their favorite elements of dishes (proteins, flavors, textures) from Korean food as well as other cuisines, visiting Korean restaurants that Eddie liked and seeing how they could make their items better. Then Eddie got lucky and met a Korean restaurateur who owned a quintessential Korean restaurant in Flushing that was extremely popular. He liked the concept that Eddie was working on and allowed them to observe and work with his chef to learn how to make all of the best Korean foods that they had grown up eating. Through their own research and the help of this restaurateur, they were able to cobble together their first menu, mixing the recipes that they had been taught and the ones that they had reverse engineered.

Once the menu was created, Eddie was able to officially launch the first food truck in October 2010. He believed that the food truck would be the best way to bring their food directly to their customers and for the next three years, they were very successful. At one point they even had four different food trucks operating at the same time. However, in 2013 a lot of new food trucks began opening, increasing competition and aggravating restaurant owners with brick & mortar locations. They began complaining that food trucks were stealing their customers and blocking their store’s visibility and the police started getting involved to help resolve the issue. However, this meant that they would keep food trucks from parking in their usual spots on the street or they would make them move, typically during their lunch rush when it was impossible for them to shut down, move and find another parking spot to sell from. This started happening consistently enough that Eddie realized that he needed to accelerate their transition into a brick & mortar location. They opened their first location in the East Village in October 2014 and replicated the same “build your own” experience that they had on the truck inside the store. They also extended their trademark Korilla orange and tiger stripe motif from the truck to the store design. Eddie chose a tiger as the symbol for Korilla because it’s the national animal of Korea and it’s also very reflective of the food’s bold, fierce flavor. He kept the coloring of the trucks and stores bright and eye-catching to make sure that they stood out and enticed people to walk up to the truck or into the store and see what they were offering. Every location that they’ve opened since the flagship East Village store incorporates the same color palette and tiger motif but each one has it’s own layout. Eddie says that this was done on purpose because each store is an evolution of what he thought Korilla was at that moment in time, giving each location it’s own unique personality.

For Eddie, the most rewarding part of the business has been introducing others to Korean food. One of Korilla BBQ’s core mission statements is to advance Korean cuisine and to create more awareness of the 5,000 year old history of Korean food through the Korilla brand. So seeing customers come into the store who have never tried Korean food before and fall in love with the rich flavors and unique taste validates his mission. He believes that he is a part of a larger movement to take Korean food, which he saw as a relatively obscure cuisine in 2008, and bring it to the forefront of the food industry. Since the majority of Koreans started emigrating to the U.S. in the 70’s and 80’s, including his parents, Eddie sees the elevation of Korean food as his generation’s job. He recognized that no one was pushing Korean food into mainstream American culture not because it was a bad idea but because the only people who were able to do it were people like his parents who were working tirelessly to support their families. Therefore he’s trying to make Korilla BBQ a lifestyle brand that revolves around this movement and hopes that people can think of Korilla as a symbol for change, creating for them a sense of inner confidence and boldness, with which they can attack any situation. However, creating such a strong brand does have challenges, especially when it requires every person in the business having the same zeal and passion for the brand that he does. Eddie is constantly striving for perfection and always wants to provide an A+ experience to his customers every single time. But at the end of the day, he’s ultimately relying on other men and women to provide that experience, which due to so many external factors, may not always reach that expectation. So dealing with the variability of a food business can be very difficult as an owner.

Right now Eddie says he’s still in the process of creating the perfect blend of all four values that he believes are key to a successful business: quality, taste, speed and price. There are a lot of people that he sees in the restaurant industry that are willing to make value sacrifices and trade-offs to keep price low or sell food faster but he doesn’t believe in doing that. Which is why he advises other entrepreneurs to understand that what determines your success is what you’re willing to do or not do and as hard as it gets, you can’t give up, you have to keep on trying. In the food industry especially, you have to be passionate and determined enough that even if you keep getting the same results every single day, you can keep pushing to make it to the next day, the next chapter, the next year, because eventually you will get it. He also advises that every business owner has to be his or her own cheerleader and allow themselves to celebrate small victories. For Eddie, it’s the small victories that feed his passion and motivate him to keep moving forward.

 

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DIY Game Day Snacks!

The big game is right around the corner (ICYMI, the Super Bowl is this Sunday) and it’s time to focus on the most important part of the day: the food. If you’re not taking advantage of a  Super Bowl special at your favorite bar or restaurant, it’s time to get your menu ready for the snack-a-thon that Super Bowl Sunday is known for.

Lucky for you, we’ve taken the liberty of breaking down the recipes of some of our favorite football eats that are always a crowd-pleaser. Not only are these appetizers delicious, they’re easy to make and don’t take more than 30 minutes from prep to passing to your guests. Plus they’re lighter and less greasy than your typical football finger foods so they won’t make you feel as guilty for cheating on that New Year’s diet (we all do it, the diet gods forgive you). Check out the recipes below and start perfecting your touchdown dance, cause these snacks will have you #winning all game long!

Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls

Recipe makes 10-15 pieces

You’ll Need:

1 package egg roll wrappers

1 8 oz package cream cheese

1 cup Cheddar cheese

1/2 cup Buffalo sauce

2 chicken breasts OR 1 cup of shredded or diced chicken

1 egg

2 scallions (for garnish)

For this recipe, you have the option to buy a cooked rotisserie chicken and shred it OR buy raw chicken, dice into small 1/2 inch pieces and saute in a pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil- either way works! When your chicken is ready, add cream cheese, Cheddar cheese and Buffalo sauce in a bowl and mix until combined. Once you have your mixture, add 2 tablespoons to the center of the egg roll wrapper and roll (following the instructions on the egg roll wrapper package). In order to seal the egg roll, you’ll need to use the scrambled egg. Use a brush to dip into the raw egg and rub along the edge to secure it (if you don’t have a brush, your finger works as well). Once secured, bake in the oven at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Once cool, serve with your favorite condiment (we recommend Ranch or Blue cheese)!

Pro tip: If you have it, these Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls taste even better in the air fryer. Cook for about 8 minutes and enjoy!

Zucchini “Fries”

Recipe serves 4 

You’ll Need:

2 zucchini

1 cup Panko breadcrumbs

1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1 egg

On a flat plate, add the Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, Panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. In a separate bowl, scramble the egg. Next cut off the ends of the zucchini and slice into individual “fries”. Once the zucchini is cut up, dip in the raw egg and then in the breadcrumb/cheese mixture to coat the zucchini. Repeat until all of the zucchini are prepped. Set the oven to 425 degrees and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Plate and serve with your favorite marinara sauce or garlic aioli. Yum!

Pro tip: You can make the Zucchini “Fries” in the air fryer as well! Cook for about 6-8 minutes and serve!

Guacamole

Recipe serves 4-6 

You’ll Need:

3 avocados

1/2 small red onion

1 Cubanelle pepper

1 lime

1 small handful of cilantro

2 large cloves of garlic

2 plum tomatoes

salt

pepper

Chop red onion, Cubanelle pepper, garlic and tomatoes and place in a bowl. In a separate bowl, smash avocados up before adding to the bowl of vegetables. Add in chopped cilantro, salt, pepper and lime juice. Mix together until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips (for a healthier, grain-free option, we used Siete tortilla chips with lime) and indulge!

 

If you’re testing out our recipes, we want to see! Take a picture of your creations and tag us @foodtoeat. Happy eating (and footballing)!