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0 comments on “What Is CBD and Why Is It In My Food?”

What Is CBD and Why Is It In My Food?

No matter what field you’re in, no one can ignore the topic of CBD as it continues to make it’s way into mainstream culture. Every day a new product is being created that incorporates it’s pain-relieving chemicals to alleviate muscle pain or it’s soothing properties to combat insomnia; there’s even CBD oil for animals now.  CBD is a growing industry that only promises to get bigger since the signing of the Farm Bill in December 2018. This bill makes it legal to produce hemp, which contains levels of CBD. And although there’s still concerns as to how it will be regulated, CBD is already on the market. In order to educate ourselves about CBD, we decided to do some research into what this substance actually is and why it’s become so popular in the NY food scene.

What is CBD?

CBD (or cannabidiol) is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in the resinous flower of cannabis. It’s a safe, non-addictive substance that’s known for it’s therapeutic properties and unlike THC, which is also found in cannabis, it doesn’t make an individual feel intoxicated or “high”. THC is psychoactive while CBD’s properties create a feeling of relaxation and calm because it affects the receptors in the body and brain in a different way. CBD oil is created by extracting CBD from cannabis and then diluting it with a “carrier oil” such as coconut, or more commonly, hemp seed oil. 

What are the Benefits?

Although scientific research is still being done to determine if CBD can provide a natural alternative to pharmaceuticals, it has been shown to provide relief for a myriad of conditions but most notably for chronic pain, anxiety, depression and inflammation. Some studies even show that it can help reduce symptoms related to cancer and cancer treatments. But aside from the medical benefits, CBD and CBD oil have started to be sold at  health food markets and gas stations or incorporated into products at spas, cosmetic companies and even coffee shops and restaurants. So why add it to food? It’s a careful way to administer CBD and it allows the consumer to avoid inhaling through a vapor pen and irritating the lungs. When CBD is combined with food, it allows the substance to be released slowly, over long periods of time, while the food is digesting, allowing for a longer period of relaxation. Also, because most food has a specific serving size, there is a specific dose of CBD being added to food that you can measure. As opposed to inhaling CBD, which makes it difficult to measure how much CBD you’re getting each time, having it added to your food or drink makes it clear how much you’re putting into your body and allows you to understand how much you need to consume to achieve your desired result of calm or pain management.

The Jury’s Still Out.

Despite all of the noteworthy, positives effects of CBD oil, the consensus on whether or not it truly impacts the body is still unclear. Last year the FDA approved a CBD medication called Epidiolex for the treatment of certain types of pediatric epilepsy. And according to the drug exclusion rule, this means that “once a substance is the active ingredient of an approved drug, food containing that substance cannot be shipped in interstate commerce”.  So technically CBD cannot be added to any food or beverage. However, since CBD has never been proven to cause harm to an individual, the ban on CBD has never been enforced. The FDA has made minimal efforts to stop the commerce of CBD, which means that it now lives in a gray area where CBD products are created and sold but technically contain a Schedule 1 drug (listed as illegal because they have high abuse potential, no medical use, and severe safety concerns). But because studies are still being done on CBD, there’s no evidence that points to if it’s a severe safety concern or a therapeutic remedy. Many healthcare professionals, and even advocates for CBD, advise caution when taking the substance because, as of right now, there’s no way to concretely measure dosage, how it should be administered or how it will interact with other drugs. But due to what we know about the chemical nature of CBD, advocates hope that soon it will be re-classified and proven to provide only clear benefits, both medically and commercially.

 

Resources:
Picture courtesy of Blank Slate Coffee and Kitchen
https://www.projectcbd.org/cbd-101/what-is-cbd
https://www.health.com/pain/what-is-cbd 
https://objectiveintent.blog/2018/09/19/cannabis-and-the-often-overlooked-drug-exclusion-rule/#more-1124
https://www.philly.com/business/weed/cbd-legal-cannabis-weavers-way-fda-lietzan-health-food-fuel-kombucha-ice-cream-20190326.html
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cbd-oil-benefits
https://www.green-flower.com/articles/550/cbd-edibles
https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/26/success/cbd-entrepreneurs/index.html
0 comments on “Feeding Your Team with Purpose Attracts Talent and Improves Office Culture”

Feeding Your Team with Purpose Attracts Talent and Improves Office Culture

In January 2019, Managed by Q, a workplace management platform, released their 2019 Workplace Trends Report, which focuses on the belief that a human-centered office is the new trend on the rise in the corporate world. According to their research and their experience working with companies across the U.S., the growth of responsive, interactive technology and the ascension of the “millennial” generation into the workforce and subsequently into leadership roles, has created a corporate landscape where employees are demanding more from their employers than ever before. 

Millennials have been cited for creating a more interactive approach to work and their personal lives, coining the term “work-life balance” to explain the integration of the two. This new approach has caused millennials (as well as employees of every generation) to place a high value on community and purpose-driven work, which they’re actively seeking from the companies that they work for. Due to this shift in motivation within the workplace, in their report Managed by Q identified five trends that they believe companies must adopt “to effectively attract and retain top talent”. They are: the technological evolution of human-centered workplace design; the rise of co-working and the focus on workplace hospitality; flexible workplace policies; culture is essential for employee recruitment and retention; and diversity and inclusion are fundamental business practices. However, we believe that most important of these trends is the cultivation of office culture, which is where Managed by Q specifically referenced our company. Because at FoodtoEat, our concierge catering service helps to improve office culture in three specific ways.

Managed by Q’s research shows that today “individuals seek to cultivate a greater connection to one another”, which is why we advocate for team meals in every office. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, team meals help to foster a sense of community within the office. They bring together individuals from every department and allow them to discuss common interests, examine operations for areas of improvement and interact with and learn from individuals with differing opinions and beliefs. This exchange of ideas improves team work and invites creative solutions to issues that the company may be facing. Rather than being a “perk” that looms overhead, hinting that it could be taken away at any moment, building team meals into the fabric of office life encourages a collaborative environment where co-workers rely on one another for help and reinforces the idea that perfection isn’t realistic. Mistakes help employees learn and grow and allow them to think outside the box when problem-solving or finding ways to prevent future mistakes. 

Being that employees are the most valuable asset in a company, corporate catering is also a way to recognize and reward them. Celebrating holidays, birthdays and personal and professional milestones is a way for companies to show that they understand an individual’s value and are appreciative of it. Showing appreciation for someone’s work or personal achievement is a simple yet effective way to demonstrate that, as an employer, you are invested in their happiness and honor these moments as well. Whether it’s ordering their favorite dessert or sitting down for lunch together, creating that time during the day to make an employee feel seen and respected is key to showing your commitment to them as a part of your team. That recognition increases productivity because it incentivizes employees to continue to invest their time, energy and passion into the work that they do. As Managed by Q found, “employees want to feel like work gives them a personal purpose” and purpose can only continue to be a motivating factor when it is identified and applauded.

More than the connection created through team meals or the recognition of individuals in the workplace, our mission to work with immigrant, women and minority-run food businesses throughout NYC is what sets us apart from other catering services. Employees in the corporate environment want “an opportunity to be part of something larger than themselves” and by working with our service, they’re able to directly impact their local food community. Employees are looking for companies that not only appreciate them but also have a set of values as a company that guide their decision-making and positively impact the larger public. Because of the union of work and life that employees have become accustomed to, they want to be a part of a company that connects with their personal ethics and lifestyle choices. More and more, employers are being asked about how they’re creating a cycle of social good in their communities and being held to a higher standard by their employees. Working with our company, not only does an employer reward their own employees, they also send a clear message on what they value as a brand, which attracts individuals that agree with that message and creates a strong culture of like-minded people working towards a common purpose.

 

0 comments on “Feelin Lucky? Try Our Bangers & Mash!”

Feelin Lucky? Try Our Bangers & Mash!

St. Patrick’s Day is quickly approaching and although you may not be finding any pots of gold at the end of a rainbow this weekend, you will definitely be finding some delicious home-cooked Irish fare! Bangers and mash (aka sausage and mashed potatoes) is a traditional Irish dish that’s a staple on any menu you’ll find to go along with your St. Patrick’s day festivities (and it’s a good way to soak up a few pints of Guinness!). It’s a delicious and filling meal that you can prep and serve in under an hour and almost all of the ingredients can be found in your kitchen.

We thought that bangers and mash would be the perfect recipe to (sham)rock your weekend celebrations. However, instead of the traditional bangers that are made of pork, lamb or beef, we tried to keep things a little healthier by using Bilinski’s Chicken Sausage, which are all-natural and antibiotic-free. Try out our recipe below and let us know what you think! We hope that it keeps your Irish eyes smiling through every bite 🙂

Bangers and Mash

Recipe serve 3-5

You’ll Need:

Mashed Potatoes

2 large potatoes

2-3 tablespoons salted butter

1/2 cup of 2% milk

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons fresh chopped scallion

Onion Gravy

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 & 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 & 1/4 cup water

1 cup canned beef broth

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon pepper

salt

Chicken Sausage

1 package of cooked chicken sausage (we used Spinach with Spring Greens)

olive oil

First start with your mashed potatoes! Peel and cut your potatoes into 2 inch chunks and boil on low heat until fork tender (about 15-20 minutes). Once tender, drain the potatoes and add to a large bowl. Add in butter, milk (preferably warmed), salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and fresh chopped scallions. Mash ingredients together until your potatoes are at your desired consistency and set aside.

Next make your gravy. In a medium-sized skillet add vegetable oil and butter before adding your onions. Cook over medium heat until onions are soft and slightly browned (approximately 15 minutes). Add in flour and cook for 1 minute. Next stir in water, broth, Worcestershire sauce and pepper and simmer over low heat. Whisk until gravy is slightly thickened (about 10 minutes). Season with salt and additional Worcestershire sauce if desired.

Finally, prep your chicken sausage! Since it’s already cooked, your chicken sausage only needs to be browned before serving. Simply add olive oil to a pan over medium heat and cook until brown. Once ready, serve over a bed of mashed potatoes and top with gravy! Pro tip: save some chopped scallions from your mashed potatoes to use as a garnish on top!

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.

 

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 “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! 😋

0 comments on “Honoring Black History Month”

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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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)!

 

0 comments on “Food Festivals to Look Forward to in 2019!”

Food Festivals to Look Forward to in 2019!

As the weather continues to get colder, we’re daydreaming more and more about the warm weather that spring and summer bring. One of our favorite things to do from April to October is to get outside and eat some delicious (and mostly unhealthy) food!! And if you’re a New Yorker, you know that the best way to satisfy all of your food cravings is at a food festival. Not only do you get to try everything from BBQ to ice cream, food festivals are the best way to find the newest food trend as well as support the local, small businesses that commonly sell their products at these venues.

In order to help you start mapping out your 2019 schedule (or maybe just brighten your day with our thoughts of warmer weather, sigh) we’ve compiled a list of some of the best upcoming food festivals for you to keep on your radar. 

Smorgasburg: One of the largest open-air food markets in NYC, Smorgasburg began in Brooklyn in 2011 as a spin off of Brooklyn Flea. It attracts 20,000-30,000 people each weekend and it’s a must on any foodie’s festival list. Both the Williamsburg and Prospect Park locations re-open in April with their normal Saturday and Sunday schedule, respectively.

The World’s Fare: This Queens-based food festival celebrates the diversity of New York’s food industry with over 100 vendors representing 100 different cultures. It’s purpose is to remind us that everyone is equal around the communal table as we celebrate the unity of food. You don’t want to miss this 2-day event on May 18th and 19th.

NYC Vegetarian Food Festival: For all those looking to explore a plant-based lifestyle, this 9th annual event is fully vegan with over 100 vendors that focus on plant-based food and products. This festival will run for 2 days on May 18th and 19th with a full line-up of speakers, chefs and entertainers. 

New York Pizza Festival: Get ready to leave a pizza your heart at this 2-day festival that focuses solely on everyone’s favorite food! This is the second year you’ll be able to taste test pizza from the top pizza makers in the U.S. and Italy while sipping on beer and wine and listening to live music. Mark your calendars now for October 5th and 6th!

New York City Wine and Food Festival: Considered the largest food and wine festival in NYC, this weekend-long event runs from October 10th to the 13th. Hosted by the Food Network and Cooking Channel, it has more than 80 events to raise money to support the No Kid Hungry campaign and Food Bank For New York City.

New York Beer Fest: We couldn’t leave out our beverages! The New York Beer Fest is one day only but runs for two different sessions (12-4PM then 6-10PM) and features over 200 beers from 80 different breweries. This event takes over Citi Field and offers games and entertainment throughout the park. If you’re a beer connoisseur, buy your tickets now for May 4th!

Cherry Bombe Jubilee: Although this is more of a food conference than a festival, if you’re a woman in the food industry, this is for you! Cherry Bombe’s Jubilee is a day-long event that combines food and drink with inspiring conversation and meaningful connection. It’s female-focused but open to all genders and it’s all going down on April 7th.

 

0 comments on “The Keto Kraze”

The Keto Kraze

The Keto Diet. If you’re like us, at least one person you know is on it or talking about starting it. It seems like this diet has become more and more popular in recent years (we’re looking at you Vinny Guadagnino) so we decided to do some research to learn more about the diet itself and how it affects the body.

As it turns out, the Ketogenic Diet is not a recent fad, it was actually used by physicians in the 1920s to treat epilepsy. A diet rich in fat and low in carbs was proven to produce ketone bodies in the liver. The increase in ketone bodies causes a change in metabolism, which scientists believe allows the body to remove the toxins from the intestines that cause the convulsions that plague epileptics. However, although ketone bodies have proven to help in reducing symptoms for those suffering from epilepsy, scientists still don’t completely understand why. The ketone bodies seem to have an anti-electrical effect on the brain but why that is is still under investigation. As for the diet being used to aid in weight loss, that’s also under investigation, as doctors have mixed feelings about if the benefits outweigh the costs. However, it has proven effective when men and women commit to this lifestyle change, rather than using it as a quick weight loss fix. 

What is the Keto Diet?

The Ketogenic Diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. The purpose of the diet is to reduce carb intake and replace it with fat. The reduction of carbs from your system puts your body in a metabolic state called ketosis, which tricks your body into believing that it’s starving so it begins to efficiently burn fat for energy. 

What are the do’s and don’ts? 

The main focus of the keto diet is eliminating foods that are high in carbs, such as sugars and starches, and adding more proteins, vegetables and natural fats to your diet. However, it does allow for limited carb intake, depending on how strict you choose to be. A true ketogenic diet suggests under 20 grams of carbs a day but if that’s difficult for you to start out with, aim for staying under 100 grams of carbs a day. This will give your body more time to adjust to the diet and then limit the carbs from there, if you would like to. We’ve listed the common do’s and don’ts of the diet below. 

Do Eat/Drink:

Meat

Fish and Seafood

Eggs

Natural Fats (butter, olive oil, cheese and yogurt)

Vegetables (leafy and green vegetables are best: cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, zucchini, avocado)

Nuts in moderation (pecans, almonds, peanuts, walnuts)

Berries in moderation (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)

Water

Coffee (without sugar and limited milk or cream)

Tea

Bone Broth

Don’t Eat/Drink:

Sugar (candy, cakes, cookies, candy bars, doughnuts)

Starch (bread, pasta, potatoes, sweet potatoes, potato chips, french fries)

Grains (rice, quinoa, bulgur, barley, oats)

Beans (kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans, lentils)

Fruit

Soda/Soft Drinks

Juice

Beer

Cocktails

Pros of the Keto Diet:

Quick weight loss

Decreased appetite

Increased energy

Lowers risk of heart disease

Lowers blood sugar

Reduces insulin levels and inflammation

Cons of the Keto Diet:

May reduce muscle mass

Causes headaches and nausea 

Digestive issues such as constipation

May increase risk of coronary disease

Difficult to commit to following the diet

If you’ve done your research into the diet and are interested in trying it out, we’ve got the perfect meal to get you started: our keto quesadilla! The recipe is below along with step by step cooking instructions. Test it out at home and let us know if you’ve become a #ketoconvert.

Keto Quesadilla

Recipe serves 1

You’ll Need:

2 Siete almond flour tortillas

shredded Mexican cheese (use as much or as little as you’d like)

1 tablespoon ghee

1/4 lb ground turkey

1 clove fresh garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon olive oil

Heat skillet on medium heat. Add the teaspoon of olive oil as well as the minced garlic. Next add the ground turkey and all spices. Mix until cooked through. Once cooked through, remove from heat and set aside.

Wipe down your skillet with a paper towel (you can wash the skillet if desired but wiping with a paper towel should be enough to remove all of the turkey mixture). Return skillet to medium heat and add the ghee. Once the ghee has melted, add one Siete tortilla and cover in shredded Mexican cheese. Next add the cooked ground turkey and cover the ground turkey with more shredded cheese. Then place the second Siete tortilla on top. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until both sides are crispy. Pro tip: add avocado slices to make your quesadilla even more delicious or add a side of your favorite salsa and sour cream for dipping!

We served ours with sauteed purple cabbage and kale (which we sauteed with olive oil, fresh chopped garlic, salt, pepper and a dash of chili powder) but a mixed green salad or roasted vegetables are also good alternatives!

 

Resources:
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ketogenic-diet-101
https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/keto/foods#keto-diet-food-list
https://www.news-medical.net/health/History-of-the-Ketogenic-Diet.aspx
https://perfectketo.com/ketosis-for-epilepsy/
https://perfectketo.com/ketogenic-diet-foods-to-avoid/
https://eatsmartproducts.com/fitness-and-wellness/the-pros-and-cons-of-the-ketogenic-diet/
0 comments on “January Vendor of the Month: The Picnic Basket”

January Vendor of the Month: The Picnic Basket

Happy 2019! We hope that everyone enjoyed their time celebrating the end of 2018 and the beginning of the new year with friends and family. This month we’re kicking off the new year with a new Vendor of the Month special for January from The Picnic Basket!

The Picnic Basket is known for it’s high quality ingredients and it’s unique twist on the office staples: sandwiches, soup and salad. Their Mediterranean-inspired cuisine brings new life to lunch meetings and team meals with their fresh and local components. From now until the end of January, FoodtoEat clients are able to order a discounted lunch combo of one full sandwich and one soup from The Picnic Basket’s wide selection of menu items! Kick off the new year right with a lunch the whole office can enjoy! Inquire now!

January Lunch Combo

$13.50/person

Choice of One Sandwich + One Soup

Sandwich Options:

Mediterranean Turkey

Wood smoked turkey, hummus, Mediterranean pickles, fresh greens and tomatoes

Classic Mediterranean

Hummus, eggplant, hard boiled eggs and Middle Eastern chopped salad; Vegetarian

Chicken Amarillo

Grilled chicken in traditional Peruvian hot sauce with Parmesan flakes, fresh greens and tomatoes

Filet of Roast Beef

Roast beef, Swiss cheese, sauteed onions, fresh greens, tomatoes and house mayo

French Goat Cheese

Goat cheese, sun-dried tomato pesto, grilled zucchini, figs, tomatoes and fresh greens; Vegetarian

Turkey and Swiss

Wood smoked turkey, Swiss cheese, fresh greens, tomatoes and date mustard

Veggie

Hummus, eggplant, fire roasted red peppers, cucumbers, alfalfa sprouts and tomatoes; Vegan

Chimi Chicken

Grilled chicken filet, mild Chimichurri sauce, fresh greens, tomatoes and house mayo

Crunchy Tuna

Tuna with Mediterranean pickles, corn, chopped carrots, mayo, fresh greens, tomatoes and house mayo

Fresh Mozzarella

Mozzarella, fire roasted red peppers, alfalfa sprouts, fresh greens, tomatoes and balsamic vinaigrette; Vegetarian

**Sandwiches can be made on gluten free bread upon request & will result in an additional charge**

 

Soup Options:

Lentil (Vegan, GF)

Chipotle Sweet Potato (Vegetarian, GF)

Roasted Vegetable (Vegan, GF)

Turkey Chili (GF)

Hungarian Mushroom (Vegetarian)

Tomato Garden (Vegan, GF)

**Soups can be modified to accommodate dietary restrictions upon request & may result in an additional charge**

sandwich_box_8181

Owners and creators of The Picnic Basket, Yariv Stav and David Vacnich believe that freshness makes the difference, which is what sets The Picnic Basket apart from its competitors. When developing the menu over seven years ago, they were determined to provide the highest quality food possible to their customers. And in doing so, have been successful in growing their business every day since The Picnic Basket was founded in 2012. They serve only handmade bread, which is delivered daily to their locations in Midtown and the Fashion District, along with their vegetables, cheeses and many other ingredients. All food is prepared on site and to the highest food standards.

The Picnic Basket menu combines simplicity with unique and distinctive tastes. They merge flavors from the Mediterranean, Italy and Asia to create a diverse menu with an intriguing amount of variety and edge. They offer more than fifteen different types of sandwiches as well as a selection of delicious soups, sides and salads with homemade signature dressings. They regularly update and increase their menu selections so that their offerings are always new and enticing and they pride themselves on the fact that they can appeal to any palate with their ability to customize their menu items to satisfy common dietary restrictions, such as vegan, vegetarian and gluten free. The Picnic Basket takes the mundane sandwich and elevates it to a new level, creating a one of a kind experience that you must taste to believe!

 

0 comments on “To Our Customers and Vendors…”

To Our Customers and Vendors…

We wanted to take a moment to say thank you to all of our amazing clients and vendors who made 2018 so special. We truly would not be where we are today without the hardworking business owners that we represent and the thoughtful customers that value our mission and are helping us to create a more diverse food community throughout New York City!

We’re so proud of everything that we accomplished this year with the help of our loyal clients and dedicated vendors who create the delicious food that we’re able to showcase during team lunches, office happy hours and so much more. Thank you for continuing to support our team and giving purpose to our journey. We appreciate all of you!

We hope that everyone is enjoying this holiday time with friends, family and of course, some delightful food! We’re looking forward to continuing to improve our concierge catering service in 2019 and can’t wait to see what this next chapter brings!

From everyone at FoodtoEat, we wish you happy holidays and a happy and healthy new year! 

The FoodtoEat Team

 

0 comments on “Spread Holiday Cheer with Our Shepherd’s Pie Recipe”

Spread Holiday Cheer with Our Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Tired of the serving the same food every holiday season? Switch things up with our lentil shepherd’s pie! Although it’s typically a dish that you make in March around St. Patrick’s Day, the flavor and warmth that this feel good food provides makes it the perfect meal to indulge in during the winter. And we’ve got a simple and straightforward recipe that will make creating it a breeze!

Instead of doing the traditional ground beef or lamb, we made our recipe with lentils and mushrooms, which is a crowd-pleaser for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Plus you get the added bonus of this recipe being somewhat healthier for you (what can we say, it still has a layer of mashed potatoes…) while also tasting delicious! So next time you’re looking for some comfort food when the temperature drops, try it out and have some friends over to taste test your work! Slainte!

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Recipe serves 6

You’ll Need:

For the Filling

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

5 large carrots, chopped

3 stalks of celery, chopped

1 lb mixed mushrooms, sliced (ex: shiitake, cremini, mini portobello, white button)

4 large cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup red wine (ex: cabernet, merlot, chianti)

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons flour

3 cups vegetable broth

1 lb cooked lentils

1 cup frozen peas

2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley

1/2 cup tomato sauce

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons pepper

For the Topping

4 large potatoes

1/2 stick of butter

1 cup whole milk

3 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped 

2 teaspoons garlic powder

salt 

pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees while you make the filling! First, heat olive oil in a large skillet (we used a cast iron skillet for easy stove top to oven transfer) then add in onions, carrots and celery and saute for about 10 minutes. Next add in the mushrooms, garlic, herbs and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook for about 8-10 minutes until mushrooms have softened. Once the mushrooms are cooked down, stir in tomato paste, red wine and Worcestershire sauce, scraping the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spatula. Continue to cook for another 10 minutes or until the wine is almost completely absorbed. Then stir in flour, vegetable broth, cooked lentils, tomato sauce, frozen peas, parsley, pepper and remaining salt and cook for 5 minutes. Once cooked through, turn off stove and set aside.

Next you’ll make the topping. Bring a large pot of water to a boil while you peel and cut the potatoes into large chunks. Once the water is boiled, add the potatoes and cook until they are fork tender. When the potatoes are tender, remove from heat and drain the water. Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl and add the milk, butter, garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Mix or mash the ingredients, being sure to add the milk 1/2 cup at a time so that the potatoes don’t get too watery. Once the potatoes are smooth and creamy, add the fresh chopped chives and mix.

Once your topping is complete, you’re ready to put both parts together! Spread the mashed potato topping over the filling mixture that you prepared in your skillet. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes and then broil on high until the top of the mashed potatoes are lightly browned and the filling is bubbly (should be about 4-5 minutes, depending on your oven). When the topping is at your desired crispiness remove from the oven and serve for a delicious Meatless Monday…. or Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday or Friday or Saturday or Sunday 🙂

 

0 comments on “8 Techniques to Beating the Winter Blues”

8 Techniques to Beating the Winter Blues

Winter is coming here. And although the holiday season is filled with reasons to celebrate, the longer and darker days of winter can often make us feel lethargic and sometimes cause a shift in mood, often referred to as the “winter blues”. This shift is caused by the reduced number of daylight hours and the colder temperatures that we experience for up to three or four months in New York. Which is why it’s important to make sure that you’re stay active during this time and planning activities with loved ones or on your own to keep your energy levels high!

Below we’ve compiled a list of some of the best ways to combat the winter blues to make sure that you’re feeling good all season long! We hope that these suggestions allow you to create a more positive environment for yourself and keep you from falling into bad habits before the snow hits.

Host a dinner party with friends. The best way to improve your mood is to spend time with family and friends that make you smile and laugh. So why not set a time for everyone to get together and bring a dish to share while enjoying each other’s company?! Or keep it simple and order in! Even better, make the dinner a weekly or monthly occurrence so that you have something to look forward to throughout the winter months!

Exercise. We know that this is a pretty standard suggestion and that regular exercise during the winter is tough, especially when there’s so much to binge on Netflix. But studies show that physical activity boosts your brain’s dopamine production, which increases happiness and improves your mood. Exercises also helps to reduce anxiety as it gives your body an outlet to release any tension being held in the muscles.

Book a staycation. Sometimes the best way to shake that melancholy feeling is to get yourself out of your normal surroundings. But getting away doesn’t have to mean that you’re flying somewhere. Money gets tight for everyone around the holidays so why not try a budget-friendly staycation?! Book a night at a hotel with a friend or significant other and spend the day taking advantage of nearby activities or relaxing on a massive bed in a plush robe. Take some time away to do as much, or as little, as you want!

Help others. Helping others in any way improves our own happiness because it makes us feel connected to other people and it causes our brain to release dopamine, which improves our mood. Volunteering at a soup kitchen or an animal shelter are two examples of ways that you can help in your community. However, the key to helping others is finding something that you’re passionate about so that there’s genuine love and care behind the help that you’re giving, making it more personal.

Get outside. Going for a walk during the day, even for a few minutes, can improve focus and lower stress levels. Although this is hard to do when the temperatures get really cold, get in the habit of getting away from your desk and going for a walk at a time every day that works for you. Work it into your schedule so that you know there’s a dedicated period of time when you’re away from the office that you can look forward to.

Purchase a light box. Since our bodies are exposed to less sunlight during the winter, a light box can help regulate your body’s melatonin and improve your mood. Light boxes are flat screens that produce full-spectrum light and help you reset your biological clock so that you don’t feel the prolonged sleepiness your body interprets from the darkness outside. If you can’t get outside during the day and expose yourself to natural light, a light box is a good but somewhat expensive option.

Meditate. Meditation is a great way to improve your mental health. Similar to exercising, it causes the pituitary gland in our brand to release endorphins, which elevates our mood, reducing stress and anxiety. The concentration on your breathing teaches the body discipline, making you more focused and efficient.

Treat yourself to a warm snack. Since none of our other techniques have focused on food, our last suggestion is to remember to treat yourself! We’re not saying to indulge every day (the increase in sugar will end up making you feel worse), we’re simply saying that if you’re having a bad day or feeling tired, it’s okay to warm yourself up with a hot drink and/or a snack. It’s a temporary fix but sometimes a little indulgence is just what you need to brighten your mood 🙂

 

0 comments on “December Vendor of the Month: Hokey Poke”

December Vendor of the Month: Hokey Poke

The holiday shopping craze is well underway but don’t forget to treat yourself this month! One food trend that’s becoming more and more popular is poke which is why we’re treating you to a special poke offer with our Vendor of the Month for December, Hokey Poke!

If you’re not familiar with it, poke (pronounced poh-kay) is a native Hawaiian cuisine that centers around raw fish that’s diced and marinated. It’s typically served in a bowl or burrito with greens or rice and assorted mix ins, such as edamame, red onion, fresh pineapple and macadamia nuts. But there are a variety of ways to mix and match ingredients to make a poke bowl or burrito that’s perfect for you! And now for the month of December only, Hokey Poke will be offering a discounted lunch package exclusively to FoodtoEat clients! Don’t miss out on your chance to try something new this holiday season! Email us at catering@foodtoeat.com to take advantage of this special. Your team will thank you for it 😉

December Lunch Package

$13/person

Choice of One Pre-Made Poke Bowl + Complimentary Miso Soup

Bowl Options:

Ahoy There

White Rice, Shrimp (poached), Scallions, Cucumber, Radish, Edamame, Red Cabbage, Cilantro, Fresh Pineapple, Spicy Ginger Vinaigrette, Wakame Seaweed Salad, Masago, Pickled Ginger and Pumpkin Seeds

Maui Ahi

Zoodles, Ahi Tuna, Scallions, Red Onion, Wasabi Shoyu, Shredded Nori, Imitation Crab Meat, Crispy Shallots and Black Sesame Seeds

Glazed Kolomona

White Rice, Salmon, Broccoli, Sauteed Shiitake Mushrooms, Daikon Sprouts, Roasted Sesame Cream, Lotus Chips, Pickled Ginger and Crispy Garlic

Spicy Atlantic

Brown Rice, Spicy Salmon, Shrimp (poached), Radish, Red Cabbage, Scallion, Hokey Aioli, Chili Infused Ponzu, Hijiki Seaweed, Shredded Nori and Roasted Cashews

Pineapple Express (Vegan)

White Rice, Sweet Chili Tofu, Sauteed Shiitake Mushrooms, Fresh Pineapple, Pickled Jalapeno, Sweet Chili, Roasted Cashews, Pumpkin Seeds and Roasted Sesame Seeds

+ Many More!

Hokey Poke Vendor of the Month Blog

Hokey Poke is the creation of owner, Nir Kahan. He credits the restaurant as being a combination of influences that he’s experienced throughout his life. Born in Israel, he decided to travel the world in his early 20s and ended up living in Japan for about six months. It was there that he was introduced to the quality of fresh fish and started to value it in a way that he never had before. In 2009 he moved to the U.S. and after working in a few different industries, began working in food. About two or three years ago, he noticed that poke was becoming popular in New York and he saw the opportunity to blend his love of fresh fish with the more aggressive flavors and mix ins that poke is known for. He decided to transition out of the business that he was involved in and open a fast casual restaurant where he could combine traditional poke with contemporary flavors.

Hokey Poke officially opened in February 2016. In order to set himself apart from his competition, which focused on replicating traditional poke, Nir used his background to incorporate some Israeli influences into his cuisine. His time in Japan also played a part in the development of his business. Because he had a firsthand knowledge of the locally sourced, high quality ingredients that were available to him, he decided that he would only provide customers with the highest quality items that he could find in New York. Rather than using frozen fish like other poke restaurants, Hokey Poke uses sushi grade fish that is only found in high end restaurants throughout NYC. Although this choice severely impacts their profitability, he and his team are committed to providing an unforgettable dining experience that combines fresh, healthy and delicious menu elements and flavors. It’s this dedication to providing customers with the best selections possible that gives Hokey Poke a unique taste that customers can’t get elsewhere. 

 

0 comments on “Hanukkah Musts for Any Meal!”

Hanukkah Musts for Any Meal!

Hanukkah is the eight-day festival of lights that commemorates the re-dedication of the Temple by the Maccabees. It’s celebrated by the Jewish community with prayers, the lighting of the menorah and of course, food! It begins this Sunday, December 2nd and ends on Monday, December 10th. So, as any good party planner knows, it’s time to start menu planning and meal prepping to make sure that you have everything you need to celebrate with family and friends. Although everyone has their own traditions, below we’ve broken down the staple menu items that are typically found on the table when celebrating Hanukkah. So whether you’re hosting or attending a Hanukkah celebration, you’ll know exactly what dish or dishes to create for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert!

And if you’re looking for ways to celebrate at the office, we’re here to help! Our vendors are able to create a Hanukkah spread that includes any and all of the traditional or non-traditional food items that you love. Email us today at catering@foodtoeat.com for a custom proposal built for you and your team!

Breakfast/Brunch:

Latkes: Latkes, or potato pancakes, are made from shredded or mashed potatoes and fried in oil. Although they can be eaten with any meal during Hanukkah, if you top them with smoked salmon and sour cream, you can make this traditional Hanukkah food a fancier breakfast item.

Poached Eggs: Always a crowd pleaser, poached eggs are commonly served on latkes during Hanukkah, similar to an Eggs Benedict. However, they can always be served separately over some spinach and roasted veggies.

Apple Fritters: Apple fritters are made by slicing and deep frying apples and topping with powdered sugar. They’re an easy way to sweeten up breakfast or brunch and since they contain no yeast, you can make them in less than an hour!

Lunch:

Matzoh Ball Soup: A traditional soup served during Hanukkah, matzoh balls are soup dumplings made from matzoh meal, eggs, water and fat and served in chicken broth with carrots, parsnips and fresh dill. The matzoh balls typically absorb the chicken broth, giving them the flavor that people love.

Gefilte Fish: Gefilte fish is made from a mixture of ground, deboned fish, such as carp, whitefish or pike. Usually served chilled with a dipping sauce of choice, it can also be served on crackers or bread to make it more filling.

Challah: A Kosher loaf of braided bread, it’s simply made with eggs, water, flour, yeast and salt. Typically used for dipping during a meal or as bread for sandwiches, it can also be used to make french toast for breakfast.

Dinner:

Slow Cooked Brisket: Another classic Hanukkah food, brisket can be used to create a hearty stew or served as an entree with roasted potatoes and green beans.

Kugel: An egg noodle casserole, kugel can be served savory or sweet, depending on your taste buds. If you’re trying to make your kugel unique this year, try mixing in fruits and nuts, such as pecans, almonds, raisins, apricots and cranberries.

Salmon: As an alternative to brisket, many Hanukkah meals also offer basked or roasted salmon as an entree option. It can be seasoned many different ways but typically it’s done with thyme and a honey mustard glaze or more simply with sage and parsley.

Dessert:

Babka: Babka is not bread, although it is loaf-shaped. It’s a dense wheat cake that’s typically swirled with chocolate and cinnamon but can also be made with apricot, raspberry and even cheese!

Rugelach: A bite-sized pastry or cookie made with cream cheese dough rolled around a variety of fillings. Most commonly it is done with nuts, chocolate or jam.

Sufganiyot: A traditional Hanukkah dessert, these deep fried doughnuts are usually filled with custard or jelly and topped with powdered sugar.

Gelt: Although they’re a simple addition to any party, no Hanukkah celebration is complete without gelt! These are chocolate coins, wrapped in silver or gold foil and used as money when playing the game of dreidel.

Photo Credit: Baz Bagel & Restaurant

 

0 comments on “Whose Your Plus 1? Unique Ways to Impress at Your Next Holiday Party!”

Whose Your Plus 1? Unique Ways to Impress at Your Next Holiday Party!

In need of a plus 1? We’ve got some suggestions! And no, we’re not talking about impressing others by bringing a cute date. We’re talking about the gift you bring to a party to show your appreciation to the host or hostess. It can range from a bottle of wine to a homemade dessert and when you’re attending a holiday party with friends, family or your coworkers, it’s a must. But let’s be honest- you’re most likely drinking the bottle of wine that you brought and the cookies will be eaten in under five minutes. Which is why we suggest forgetting the frantic search for a date and focusing your time pre-party on finding a gift that shows someone you care for how much you appreciate them this holiday season!

The best thing about saying “thank you” to someone is that even a small gesture can speak volumes. Majority of the time, the most meaningful gifts are the ones that show that you put a lot of thought into what would make the other person happy. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive, it’s more important that you choose a gift that appeals to the individual’s personality and relates to what they enjoy doing.

Below we’ve broken down some different personalities that you can come across in a host or hostess and put careful consideration into interesting gifts that they might enjoy receiving from a guest at their party. However, these are merely recommendations. We encourage you to take the time to examine what would make your colleague/friend/mother/brother/aunt feel special and gift accordingly. Your host or hostess will appreciate you acknowledging their hard work and your gift will definitely stand out from the rest!

For the Host/Hostess “With a Brand”: Personalized cookies or cupcakes! This is a great gift for someone who runs their own business or is trying to create their own brand. Logos, pictures, symbols, words- most branded dessert companies give you the option to print whatever you’d like on top. Not only is it a delicious, one-of-a-kind treat, it’s also a great way for them to promote themselves to the world on social media!

For the Host/Hostess “Always on the Go”: Anything caffeine-related! If you’re someone who is constantly running from meetings to events to workouts, caffeine is usually your best friend. Something small like a $15 Starbucks gift card or a bag of their favorite brand of coffee beans is a great way for you to recognize their hustle and support their busy lifestyle!

For the Host/Hostess that “Loves to Relax”: An aromatherapy candle or essential oils! Both of these options use plant extracts to naturally calm your nervous system, ease stress and anxiety and improve sleep. This is a great idea for someone who loves spending time alone to wind down after a long week OR someone who you think needs to spend more time taking care of them self. 

For the Host/Hostess that “Loves Working Out”: For this person it’s always good to lean towards a gift that’s focused around an activity that you know they love. Such as a yoga bag for yogis or hand wraps for boxers. However, it’s always a safe bet to go with a gift card to a workout class or paying for an introductory class at a new studio or gym they’ve been wanting to try out.

For the Host/Hostess that “Loves Being Creative”: An art supply kit! Creative people love designing when inspiration hits. Whether it’s pencils, paint, markers or oil, an art supply kit gives them all of the tools needed to translate their craft at any moment from their mind to their canvas.

For the Host/Hostess that “Hates the Cold”: A cute throw blanket or a new winter hat! If you hate the cold, you seek things that will keep you warm at all times. Hence, two items that will keep the cold at bay both inside and outside your home. Plus, these are two items that you can never have too much of.

For the Host/Hostess that “Loves to Entertain”: A cheese board or a wine decanter! Wine and cheese, the perfect combination for entertaining guests. Which is why either of these options is great for someone who enjoys host parties and frequently invites friends and family over. Although cheese boards are more common, a wine decanter is something most people don’t have at home, so it’s a great way to learn more about wine and the purpose behind decanting, if that’s something they’re interested in.

For the Host/Hostess that “Loves to Decorate”: A houseplant or picture frames with pictures of friends and family! The great thing about houseplants is that they purify the air we breathe as well as being a bright addition to any room. A succulent is a great houseplant option because it requires very little care and it’s unique design makes it an interesting piece in a room. If they’re not into houseplants, another idea is buying picture frames to decorate their walls with pictures already inserted. This is super helpful in cutting down the amount of time they would usually spend buying frames, finding pictures to fit them, printing out the pictures… and sends them right to the final step- hanging them up!

 

0 comments on “Oh, Kale Yes! The Stuffing Recipe You Need to Use This Thanksgiving”

Oh, Kale Yes! The Stuffing Recipe You Need to Use This Thanksgiving

April showers bring May flowers and May flowers bring… pilgrims! (dad joke users unite!) We’re getting ready for our favorite holiday and there’s no way that we can give thanks without one of the key pieces of our Thanksgiving meal: the stuffing! Which is why we’re sharing our favorite stuffing recipe as you begin your menu planning for November 22nd. It’s super easy to make and is ready in an hour and a half, so you can cook it the morning of Thanksgiving in case you forgot that you promised your mom you’d bring a dish to your aunt’s house…

All jokes aside, Thanksgiving is a time to gather with friends and family to recognize and appreciate all of the things that we have been blessed with in our lives. We hope that this dish will be shared with loved ones in your life and represent our gratefulness to all of our amazing customers who continue to support FoodtoEat and the immigrant, minority and female-owned food businesses that we represent. We hope that you all have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving! 🙂

Chicken Sausage and Kale Stuffing

Recipe serves 8

You’ll Need:

1 large Italian baguette

1 multigrain loaf

1 lb chicken sausage, casing removed (turkey sausage can be used as an alternative option)

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1/2 cup of celery, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

3/4 cup parsley, finely chopped

1 lb kale, chopped and stems removed

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1 teaspoon fresh sage

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary

1 cup low sodium chicken stock

3 eggs

1/4 stick of butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup of pine nuts (optional)

Salt

Pepper

First, cut Italian baguette and multigrain loaf into 1 inch cubes. Place on baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes at 375 degrees until bread is no longer soft. Once finished baking, put aside until needed for mix.

While the bread is baking, add butter and olive oil to a large saute pan over medium heat. Add in onion and celery as well as some salt and pepper and cook for 5-10 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add chicken sausage, garlic, thyme, rosemary and sage to saute pan and cook until chicken sausage is about 85% cooked through. Next add the chopped kale to the saute pan and cook until wilted. If desired, add salt and pepper to your taste.

In a large bowl, combine the toasted bread cubes, chopped parsley, eggs, chicken stock and chicken sausage/kale mixture from your saute pan. If mixture looks dry, add a few more dashes of chicken stock. Mix together thoroughly. 

Once mixed through, transfer to oven safe baking dish and top with grated Parmesan cheese and a few pine nuts for some crunch. Cover dish and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until top is brown. Serve with turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and corn bread… or whatever additional items are on your Thanksgiving menu!

 

0 comments on “November Vendor of the Month: Eight Turn Crepe”

November Vendor of the Month: Eight Turn Crepe

The weather is starting to cool down but we’re heating things up with a unique Vendor of the Month for November! Eight Turn Crepe is a Japanese-style creperie that’s perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Whether your preference is sweet or savory, these rice flour crepes come in a variety of flavors that are as appealing to the eye as they are delicious! 

Only for the month of November, Eight Turn Crepe is offering a special, discounted lunch package that combines their signature crepes and a side salad to create an out of the box office lunch experience that your whole team will enjoy! Interested in getting rid of your tired sandwich and trying something new?! Email us at catering@foodtoeat.com to place your order with Eight Turn Crepe!

November Lunch Package

$13/person 

Choice of One Crepe + Side Salad

Chicken Thai Crepe

Sliced chicken breast, mixed greens, cucumbers, julienne carrots, cilantro, Thai dressing, sweet chili sauce, sesame seeds

Eight Turn Lox Crepe

Gourmet smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomatoes, baby spinach, capers, sliced red onion

Yuzu Strawberry Salad Crepe

Sliced strawberries, yuzu citrus compote, mixed dressing, carrots, raisins, goat cheese, balsamic dressing; Vegetarian

Strawberry Nutella Crepe

Strawberries, Nutella spread, chocolate custard, whipped yogurt, hazelnuts; Vegetarian, Contains Nuts

Strawberry Banana Crepe

Strawberries, banana, whipped yogurt, custard cream, crushed almonds and pistachios; Vegetarian, Contains Nuts

Banana Nut Chocolate Crepe

Banana, chocolate sauce, house-made chocolate truffles, whipped yogurt, chocolate custard cream, almonds; Vegetarian, Contains Nuts

Served with Mixed Green Salad 

Mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, julienne carrots, corn, cucumber, raisins and a side of Italian dressing; Vegetarian

Eight Turn Crepe store

Eight Turn Crepe was brought to NYC in 2012 by Hiro Nishida, a Japanese business owner who lives in New York and wanted to share an extremely popular part of Japanese culture with a new audience. Perfect for the fast paced environment of NYC, it’s a grab-and-go meal served in a cone. Eight Turn Crepe stands out from other crepe vendors due to their attention to detail. Each crepe is created with carefully sourced ingredients and designed with specific item proportions to make sure that you have a meal that’s filling without being overly indulgent.

Nishida originally opened a storefront in Soho but due to rising rent prices, had to move their operation to DeKalb Market Hall in Brooklyn, which is where they currently serve their customers. Due to the high foot traffic in this food hall, Nishida’s focus now is to bring more awareness to the brand, educate new customers about the different styles of crepes and to change the narrative about what’s considered an “normal office lunch”. But whether you consider these rice crepes normal or exotic, the quality of these hand-crafted meals speak for themselves. Try it out today!

 

 

0 comments on “Your Holiday Party Planning Survival Guide”

Your Holiday Party Planning Survival Guide

If you haven’t already, it’s time to start thinking about your office holiday party. We know that it isn’t even Halloween yet, but once you brush away those cobwebs on November 1st, holiday season will officially be upon us and it’s important to get the ball rolling before schedules start booking up (both yours and the vendor’s)! And because we also know that coordinating an office full of people is a nightmare, we’re breaking down all the tricks of our trade to help you survive holiday party planning. You ready? Let’s get to work!

  • The Event: First thing’s first when you’re party planning- you need to figure out what you’re looking for. Will the event be drinks and small bites? Buffet style and soft drinks? A sit down meal? Is the party going to be at your office or are you going to rent out a space? Should there be food at all? There are a lot of factors to consider and it’s important to determine what you have in mind for the party and then confirm with your boss or your coworkers that you’re all on the same page. For most holiday events, people expect appetizers and drinks but it varies company to company on how light or heavy the food and drinks will be. So it’s key to decide what’s right for you and your team and then figure out what your next steps should be. Once you’ve determined your vision for the party, it’s much easier to sort out the rest of the details. 
  • Budget: Your vision for the event and the budget really go hand in hand. Since there’s a fee associated with each part of your event (except the space if you’re hosting it in your office) it’s really important to sit down with your boss and/or coworkers to get on the same page, as we mentioned above. If you have a specific vision for your event, it’s good to do a little research into pricing and get an idea of how much the event will cost. You can then approach your boss or manager with a general outline and walk through what’s realistic on their end. Your budget has to be concrete and clear from the beginning so that you can figure out what you can afford in regards to space, food, drinks and any additional costs, like staff or rentals.
  • Date, Place and Time: This will most likely be the trickiest part of the process because it requires you to coordinate multiple people’s schedules and find one night that every person is available for at least 3 hours. Generally holiday parties are scheduled on a weeknight from the beginning of December until the end of January but again, it’s all about what works for you and your coworkers. Place isn’t as difficult of a factor because it’s usually decided by your budget. Larger companies tend to rent out spaces for holiday parties because they may not be able to fit all of their employees in one office or they have a bigger budget and can afford to go outside the office. Those event spaces commonly book up 3-6 months out from the event (depending on the space) so if you’re planning to go outside the office, definitely start reaching out to event spaces and restaurants as soon as you can to determine their availability. If you’re renting out a space, this will also help you zero in on a date since you will be coordinating with the space’s schedule as well. However, a lot of companies that have tighter budgets or that are looking for something more intimate will do events in the office so that they can put more money towards food and drinks and be in a comfortable setting. Also, hosting the party at your office takes much less coordination and puts the ball in your court for determining timing, since you’re not going off of the space’s time frame. Timing is the final scheduling issue that you need to determine. Most holiday parties run from 6PM to 9PM or 5PM to 9PM, but it really depends on the employees at your company. It’s important to be cognizant of your colleagues’s personal lives (kids, spouses, travel time) and take that into consideration when setting your start and end times. Most of the time the party will start at the end of the work day or 30 minutes after (in case you need to travel to the event space) and end 3 or 4 hours later. However, you don’t want it to end too late and have people be exhausted at work the next day. With timing, it’s good to discuss what people are comfortable with and strike a happy medium.
  • Food and Drinks: Once all of the logistical issues have been determined, it’s time to focus on food and drink. If your team decided to rent out a space, you may be all set as some event spaces have catering on-site and include food and drink menus for a set amount of hours. However, if you’re hosting the event in your office, you have more leeway to figure out if you want a full meal or appetizers and beer, wine, cocktails or soft drinks. In regards to food, most holiday events don’t provide full meals because it’s hard to chat with others while holding a huge plate of food. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the event will be going on during normal dinner hours so your coworkers will be looking to eat. A good way to break it down is pieces per person and work from there. Generally a normal event estimates about 3-4 pieces per person per hour, which if you have a 3 hour event means you’ll need about 9-12 pieces per person to keep them feeling satisfied throughout the party. However, make sure that you’re including options for everyone and considering any food allergies or dietary restrictions when putting the menu together. If you’re not sure about allergies or dietary restrictions, it’s always a good to include a cheese and cracker platter or crudites and dip as an option that almost everyone can eat. Next focus on the drinks. If your company is allowing alcohol to be served, beer and wine are usually the easiest beverages to coordinate. Cocktails are a little more risky because without a bartender everyone will have to pour their own drinks and it’s hard to determine how much you’ll need. Drinks are determined in the same way food is, about 1-2 drinks per person per hour. Once you have an idea of the number of drinks you need, you can then break it down between beer and wine (1 beer is 1 drink, 1 bottle of wine is usually 4 drinks). The safest way to do so is to split it 50/50 and estimate that half of the people will drink wine and half of the people will drink beer. If one runs out before the other, they can always switch over. It’s also good to make sure that you include soft drinks such as water, soda, or juice, into the mix along with the alcohol. Generally we say about 1-2 soft drinks per person during an event. It’s always good to include options in case someone wants to break up their drinks or doesn’t want to drink at all but wants something to sip on throughout the night.
  • Additional Things to Think About, i.e. Staffing, Rentals and Decorations: These ideas are just some additional points to think about and definitely not required for any holiday event. They are extra costs that can or cannot be included with your party, depending again on the event itself and your budget. Staffing is always something to consider, especially if you’re interested in serving drinks at your party. You can hire a bartender to pour wine and beer or a mixologist to create cocktails. You can also have servers at the event passing around appetizers, cleaning up any dirty plates or spills and generally just helping out to make sure that the event runs smoothly. Bartenders and servers usually cost a flat rate and work for 4 or 5 hours. Rentals, such as glassware, tables, linens are another option to consider. If you’re looking to make your party a little more upscale, you can rent wine glasses rather than using plastic cups or cover tables with white linen tablecloths for a nicer presentation. Rental cost differs between rental companies but each place tends to have a minimum amount that you need to spend in order to have them deliver to your office or event space. However, every rental company can give recommendations on what you’ll need depending on the number of people you have and what you’re looking for. Finally, although some decorations can get cheesy, they are a cost effective way to make an event a little more exciting. Incorporating some small items into the mix like lights, streamers and signs can really transform a room and get people into the holiday spirit.

There are a lot of different components to keep in mind when planning a holiday party. But as long as you have an idea of what you want your party to be and your budget is set, it’s easy to make the other details fit around that. And if you don’t feel like considering any of these factors, let us do the work for you! We’ll examine your event requirements, budget, headcount, dietary restrictions, etc. and suggest menu options specific to you and your team. Email us at letseat@foodtoeat.com to receive a custom proposal for your next holiday party! 

**For a limited time only, clients who book their holiday party with us before November 16th will receive 10% off their order of $350 or more!**

(Offer good until Friday, November 16th. Offer good for one holiday party of choice. One per company)

 

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 “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 “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 “Kristine Quattrone, Owner of Q Events”

Kristine Quattrone, Owner of Q Events

This is Kristine Quattrone, the owner of Q Events, a catering and event planning company that she’s been running, almost exclusively, for the last sixteen years. Kristine has had sales people work for her in the past who she’s trained on her approach to catering, the software she uses and her menu, but most of the time that she’s been in business, she’s been the one coordinating with each client directly, building custom menus and taking care of everything from the food to the flowers to the DJ. Kristine started cooking at a very young age. She grew up sitting in the kitchen with her grandmother helping her cook and learned the basics of cooking from her grandmother and her mother. She started working in the food industry at 12 years old, cooking hamburgers and hot dogs and scooping ice cream at a beach concession stand on Long Island. When she turned 16, she started busing tables and soon after she began working as a waitress and a bartender. However, despite all of her experience in different areas of the industry, she said that she never really realized how her summer and part-time jobs had tied into her love for hospitality and events until she got to college. Originally an accounting major, she ended up transferring from NYU to Montclair State University to pursue a degree in Commercial Recreation and Leisure Studies after enlisting ten of her friends to help her put together a keg party at her house and recognizing that designing and executing an event was her passion. The fact that this passion turned into a food catering and event planning business, she says, happened organically. The uncertainty of the hospitality industry has never been easy for Kristine and being a single mother in such a fast-paced environment presents it’s own set of challenges as well. But being responsible for her own future is what she loves most about her business and what drives her to keep moving forward.

After focusing on event planning throughout college, Kristine got a job as an administrative assistant at Calvin Klein. Within six months she was promoted to Special Events Coordinator, which was a position they created for her to be the liaison between the PR department, the marketing department and the facilities management department to set up for any event that was taking place internally or externally for Calvin Klein. After a few years she was promoted to Food Services Manager, where she was responsible for coordinating catering from their in-house food service department for on-site and off-site events and meetings as well as the wait staff that delivered the food. Since she was still working on all of the events with the facilities management team as well as managing this small food service department, Kristine had her hands in a little bit of everything that was going on in the building and says that she felt very much at home in this position because she loved balancing both sides of the job. However, in 2003, Calvin Klein was sold to Phillips-Van Heusen and the food service department was eliminated. Kristine was asked to stay and transfer to the facilities management team but after working in a role that she enjoyed so much, that combined her love of food and events, she decided to leave and start her own business. Kristine opened Q Events that same year (2003) and started out operating out of Guy & Gallard, which she used as her commissary kitchen. She says she basically took her food services department and turned it into her business because she already had the contacts at the rental company, a book of waiters that she had worked with in the past and personal connections with a florist and a DJ. Ironically, her first client at Q Events ended up being Calvin Klein after someone from the PR department called her for an event proposal and decided to give her a chance when she said that she had left Calvin Klein but had started her own catering and event planning business. She realized that she could leverage the contacts that she had already made and began reaching out to friends and colleagues who had been laid off from Calvin Klein to see if they needed catering or help planning an event at their new companies. Because they knew her work and how good she was, they booked her.

In 2004, looking for a new kitchen to run her business out of, Kristine attended a business card exchange where she met Eric Patel, the owner of a restaurant in Midtown called Bagel & Bean. Eric was looking for someone to help him with sales to expand his business and had extra kitchen space, so they decided to start working together. Kristine used his restaurant as her commissary kitchen for Q Events but also cooked and worked with Eric’s staff to help him expand his business from just breakfast catering to lunch and happy hour catering. It ended up being a great fit for both of them and Kristine continued working out of Eric’s restaurant on and off for the next fifteen years. Although Bagel & Bean was technically a competitor to Q Events, Kristine says she never looked at it like that. In fact, she says that she doesn’t look at any other catering company as competition. In the food industry, there’s always going to be competition no matter what, so she focuses on her own business and how she can increase her own sales rather than worrying about what everyone else is doing. She admits that she may check out other companies to make sure that her pricing is competitive but she strives to do her own research to stay on top of food trends and make sure that she’s meeting customer demand. When she first started Q Events, she created the entire menu (which includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, appetizers and desserts) herself and it’s been evolving since then. Kristine believes that what makes her unique from other catering and event planning companies is that she has a lot of fun with her menu items. Her food is delicious but not pretentious and is presented beautifully while also being filling. And she’s constantly coming up with new menu ideas, trying to be as creative as possible, especially when it comes to appetizers. She recently launched her “Kristini” Bar, which gives clients all of the bruschetta, cheese, meat necessary to build their own crostini. Kristine believes that at the end of the day, you’re only responsible for yourself, which is why she keeps trying new things that are fun and different from what everyone else is doing.

For Kristine, the most rewarding part of the business is when an event goes smoothly and she gets compliments on the food and everyone has a good time. When that happens she says that she really feels that she’s accomplished something and hearing compliments from clients reassure her that she’s doing it right. But the toughest part is the fact that she’s chosen the life of an entrepreneur so the risks are much higher, which can be scary, especially as a single mom. She briefly opened a cafe in Long Island City when she was pregnant thinking that it would be easier to consolidate her catering operations into her own location and because she had always wanted her own storefront. However, she quickly realized that both the cafe and her son needed 150% of her time and it was very difficult to do both. She ended up closing the business after a year and went back to focusing on catering. However, she says that being a single mother in this industry today is still an extremely difficult challenge that she faces daily. Her job entails long and often unconventional hours, which has made it a hard to find a babysitter as well as expensive when she is able to find one. So not having a set paycheck at the end of the week can become very stressful. But Kristine always tries to see this challenge in a positive way and make that her motivation. She’s constantly meeting with existing clients, networking to find new clients and improving her menu because she knows that she has to create her own business to be successful. As an entrepreneur, you’re always nervous and you’re always asking yourself how you can improve. Kristine says the key is staying active in your efforts as well as never giving up your belief in yourself if you’re doing something that you’re passionate about.

Kristine now works out of a commissary kitchen in Hell’s Kitchen that Eric introduced her to where five companies work out of the same space. It has a centralized purchasing department, a billing department and the entire kitchen is brand new. Kristine has been there for about a year and loves the fact that the cost is shared by herself and the other business owners because it helps her allocate those funds toward other projects she’d like to focus on, like her social media presence. Because she’s responsible for every facet of her business, it’s difficult to stay on top of everything at all times but she’s committed to not getting lazy when it comes to her clients. She recommends that anyone starting out in the food industry get comfortable attending networking events because selling your product to customers is all about the connections that you make. You have to constantly be in touch with your current clients and talking to new clients because there are always other caterers or restaurants looking to get their business as well. Kristine also recommends preparing yourself for a lifestyle change, not only in regards to the long hours that you’ll be working but also the way of life that starts once you become your own boss. She admits that you can’t really go back to a corporate job once you’ve worked for yourself because being your own boss is one of the best parts of the business. But it’s important to remember that the person that will hustle the hardest for your business is you and you need to put the work in to see the results. That’s the belief that Kristine has operated under since she started her business and it’s kept her and her business running for the last sixteen years.

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

 

 

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Reimagining Hospitality with WiHU

Women in Hospitality United, or WiHU, is a female founded organization that’s revolutionizing the hospitality industry. Created by Elizabeth Meltz, Erin Fairbanks and Liz Murray, they strive to challenge industry norms and provide women throughout the country with solutions to combat harassment and sexism. They’ve built a community where women are empowered to talk about the issues that they’ve faced and learn from each another so that they can find ways to make sure future generations of women don’t fall victim to the same cycle of inequality that has plagued this industry.

We were lucky enough to chat with Erin Fairbanks about the mission behind WiHU and what their organization is doing to create change in an industry that’s largely male-dominated. Not only were we impressed by the growth of their organization in such a short period of time but also by Erin’s passion for the work that she does and her commitment to reinventing how both men and women see the workplace.

How did you and your co-founders get into the hospitality industry? Elizabeth, Liz and myself have all made our way through a variety of positions in the industry. Elizabeth and I started as line cooks, her at Aureole and then Del Posto, myself at Savoy and then Gramercy Tavern. I went on to launch Farm Camp at Flying Pigs Farm and then joined Heritage Radio Network as its first Executive Director. Elizabeth created a department of food safety and sustainability for B&B Hospitality and now leads that program for Dig Inn. Liz got her start bartending in Mexico and as an expeditor at Dover and then managed people operations for Gramercy Tavern. She is now the Director of HR and Communications for the Marlow Collective.

How did WiHU start? In the fall of 2017, frustrated and outraged by the rash of #MeToo allegations across the restaurant industry, Elizabeth sent out an email to 100+ women in hospitality.  She and I organized a meeting and committed to hosting this group of industry stakeholders who could advance women-lead solutions. WiHU is an opt-in organization. To really be a part of what we’re creating, individuals need to show up and put in the work.  We connected with our third co-founder, Liz Murray, at the second WiHU meeting. It was Liz’s strong encouragement that lead to the formalizing of WiHU as a stand-alone entity.

What is the mission behind WiHU? Our mission is multifaceted. We work to build community by creating safer spaces to gather. We look for opportunities to foster leadership and champion the equitable advancement of all people through connection, mentorship, and resource sharing.  We empower our members by providing tools, training, advocacy, and support. Collectively our goal is to develop solutions and provide policies that set new standards for equity, accountability, and transparency in the industry.

Why did you feel there was a need for change in the hospitality industry? The #MeToo movement succeeded in shining a light on a long-accepted culture of harassment in the hospitality industry. We learned at the Solution Sprint (our signature event) that the challenge for our industry moving forward would be recognizing that you cannot effectively solve for harassment issues in a vacuum. To achieve true cultural change, the conversations around solutions must include a substantive look at the system’s shortcoming as related to: race, income distribution, access to resources, and power dynamics. We truly feel harassment is a symptom of the greater power imbalances that exist. We are working to dismantle and rebuild a a safer and more equitable industry.

What actions does your organization currently take to create that change? As a new non-profit we are working toward a vision of the future where WiHU training and consulting modules will be recognized as “must haves” for enlightened operators. We see WiHubs operating across the country, in partnership with other local or national groups, providing mentorship resources, creating region-specific best practice solutions, and acting as checks and balances for local hospitality communities.

We see the Solution Sprint happening across geographies, industry verticals, and being used as a mechanism for businesses to advance change. We anticipate a multitude of cross-sector and cross-industry partnerships designed to advance women of all races and orientations as we work toward achieving equity across all aspects of the hospitality industry. We see WiHU as the rocket fuel accelerating this change.

Our aim is to be a fiscally sound, thriving organization operating at a national level to serve the hospitality industry by developing solutions and providing policies that set new standards for equity, accountability, and transparency in the industry.  

Our focus areas for 2019 include:

  • The launch of a dynamic membership model that provides our community with an online network of supporters and access to tools, trainings and events while growing our national footprint.
  • Bringing our signature offering, the Solution Sprint, to conferences across the country to drive community-led solutions.   
  • Building out our board of directors and advisors and working to lay the strategic and financial framework to ensure the long term success of our work.

Why did this desire for change speak to you personally? I have long been dedicated to equity building through convening and experiential education. My work with WiHU is a natural extension of these efforts and a reflection of my personal north star–a vision of a future where all individuals, regardless of race or gender are able to thrive and bring their whole selves to work. You can learn more about my personal work history here.

What is the most challenging part of your work with WiHU? It’s important to remember that the change we are building toward is something that will happen on a generational timeline.  We are in a marathon, not a sprint. And it’s tough because the work feels incredibly urgent. We want to move toward change as quickly as possible but ultimately, to build a truly inclusive organization, we need to focus on listening, moving slowly and trusting the wisdom and insights of our members.  I truly believe our industry has the the talent and desire to create the change that we envision.

What is the most rewarding part of your work with WiHU? I love hearing directly from our members about how our work has impacted them. Notes like this one from Chef Meika Johnson in Houston, Texas really keep me going. “ You guys and the connections I’ve made through you guys have been such an inspiration to me. From the bottom of my heart thank you!!❤️”

*WiHU Founders Photo Courtesy of Bridget Shevlin

 

0 comments on “Carlos Barrera Duarte, Executive Chef at Hey Hey Canteen”

Carlos Barrera Duarte, Executive Chef at Hey Hey Canteen

This is Carlos Barrera Duarte, the executive chef at Hey Hey Canteen. Carlos grew up in Mexico City, Mexico and talked about going to culinary school and becoming a chef since he was 5 years old. He says that growing up in his house, everything revolved around food. Whether it was a special occasion, a sad occasion or anything in between, you could find his family gravitating towards the kitchen, where his mom and dad cooked on a daily basis. Carlos found cooking interesting and it became a source of comfort for him, especially as he got older and sitting in classroom became more and more difficult. He was restless in school but cooking gave him a process to focus on and he enjoyed it because he was good at it. He began spending his summers working at a bakery and then a sushi restaurant and then at 15, he started taking some kitchen classes. When he got older, Carlos says that he tried to enroll in culinary arts school a few times but once he had experience in the industry, he realized that most chefs never went to school so he would question why he was spending the money and talk himself out of it. But his dad saw the value in school and convinced him to pursue his degree, so Carlos ended up enrolling in a four year culinary arts program at a small school in Mexico. After he finished school, he wasn’t sure what to do with his degree so he lived on a vineyard in Mexico for three months learning how to make wine before moving to Spain and working at restaurants in San Sebastian, Barcelona and Madrid. After a few years, Carlos moved back to Mexico but he didn’t feel that there were enough opportunities in the food and beverage industry there for him to be successful. So he decided to emigrate to the U.S., where he believed he could start fresh and challenge himself. However, after almost giving up a few times, he says he feels lucky to be where he is today and that he owes his success to the people who have helped him along the way.

In 2012, Carlos got a work visa and moved to Chicago where some of his family was living. But once he got to Chicago, things got complicated because he spoke no English and didn’t have any connections in the food industry in the U.S. He ended up taking a job at McDonald’s and then worked in a factory folding boxes. After a few months, he started thinking about returning to Mexico and going to work for his dad, but then he got a call from a childhood friend of his mom’s who lived in the U.S. Although they had never met before, he told Carlos that he was a doctor in South Dakota and that he could help him get a job in the food industry there. Carlos didn’t have enough money for the flight so the doctor emailed him a plane ticket for the next day. Carlos had no option. He didn’t want to give up on his dream and move back to Mexico so he moved to South Dakota. Right when he got there, Carlos says the doctor became like his second dad. He got Carlos a job at a restaurant in Rapid City and let Carlos live with him for a year until he could afford his own apartment. Although no one could communicate with him because he still spoke very little English, he started off as a prep cook at the restaurant and within six months was promoted to head chef. He spent two years in South Dakota, helping the owner run his two restaurants, until the owner decided to close for renovations. It was supposed to be four weeks but it ended up taking two months and during his time off Carlos decided to go to New York to visit some friends from culinary school.

Carlos says that he fell in love with New York when he came to visit. It had so much more diversity than the cities he had been living in that it felt like home. When he returned to South Dakota, the doctor pushed him to move to New York permanently but Carlos didn’t feel ready. He had no savings and no plan for what he was going to do once he got there but the doctor insisted and ended up buying him a plane ticket for the following week. Carlos moved to New York in January 2015 and again, had no connections. All of his friends from culinary school had moved back to Mexico and he had nowhere to live so he started staying in a hostel. He tried to search for jobs but couldn’t find any and he began getting depressed and feeling very lonely. The move started feeling like too much for him and although he wanted to work in food, he didn’t feel he could be a chef in a place like New York. He stopped looking for jobs and slowly began running out of money. Finally his dad made him a deal: he gave him money to live in New York for one more month and said if he didn’t have a job by the end of the month, he had to move back to Mexico. As he was nearing the end of the month, he met his girlfriend on a dating app and it motivated him to stay in New York. He started looking for jobs again and got an interview at 2 Duck Goose, a Chinese restaurant in Gowanus, and ended up getting the job as a line cook. On his first day of work, there were a lot of different events going on in the city so his hostel got booked up and he didn’t have anywhere to stay. So Kay, the owner of 2 Duck Goose, let him stay in the restaurant and shower at her apartment. Carlos says that’s the moment he knew that he wanted to work with Kay, because she didn’t even know him and offered to help. He says that she’s supported him since day one.

Carlos & Team from Hey hey canteen

Similar to his time in Rapid City, Carlos started from the bottom at 2 Duck Goose and after six months, there was some changes to the staff and he was promoted to sous chef. Now that he was finally in a position at a restaurant he was happy with, he decided to take some time off and go back to Mexico with his girlfriend so that he could show her his country. While he was on vacation, Kay emailed him that the concept wasn’t doing well and that they were going to have to close the business. When he got back to New York, Carlos already had ideas for a new concept that he wanted to start with Kay because he enjoyed working with her. They met and started brainstorming and both had similar ideas of wanting to create a healthy menu with Asian flavors that was accessible for everyone. They wanted to continue to provide delicious food to their customers but at a lower price point, so they decided to make it a fast casual restaurant. Together they spent six months coming up with the concept for Hey Hey Canteen- creating the menu, working on dishes and coming up with the branding. It was a whole new experience for Carlos because he had never been involved in the opening of a restaurant before. But since he had created the concept with Kay, he became the executive chef on the project and says that Kay gave him the support and the freedom to figure out what worked. He says that they changed the menu a lot before it could get to where it is now. In fact, the Caesar salad is the only dish they kept on the menu from the beginning and everything else is new. They try to work with seasonal ingredients to keep everything fresh but also keep the dishes simple and cook them in the right way, using the right techniques to make sure that the taste is correct. They also try to stay very detail-oriented to stand out from their competitors because there are so many health-focused bowl/salad places in New York that they have to be unique to differentiate themselves. One of the key ways that they do this is with their homemade dressings, which they make from scratch each day. Carlos says that focusing on the details is very important to him because the care that they put into their food is evident to their customers.

The most rewarding part of working at Hey Hey Canteen, Carlos says, is his team. He believes that the team they have now is pretty solid, especially since in most kitchens they’re always rotating people in and out. Every one of them came into the new concept that he and Kay created so they’re always bringing in new ideas for a dish or feedback on how an item can be improved. Because they’re such a small team (only ten people), they have the confidence to be honest with one another but they also support each other when things are happening outside of work. So having a team he can rely on is huge for him. He knows everyone that he works with is very responsible and they all trust each other to get their job done. He doesn’t feel it’s helpful to be on top of people telling them what to do but it’s also taken them years to find the right people that are committed to the concept and have the same goal of making the restaurant succeed. Everyone on their team has been together for at least a year and everyone brings their own strengths to the menu. Now that they have found those people, it makes work much easier because they’ve created a positive environment where people enjoy coming to work. Carlos has worked with most of theses people for a few years at this point and he says that he “definitely considers these people my family”. They’re a diverse group and since they’re all immigrants from different parts of the world (Mexico, Tibet, Nepal, Hong Kong), they’re all so close because most of them don’t have families here to rely on, they’re each other’s family. He personally tries to keep in touch with everyone every day and know what’s going on with them both inside and outside of work. He feels close to his team because he feels like he knows what’s happening in their lives the same way they know what’s happening in his. And it’s nice to know that someone is looking out for you, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed in such a stressful environment like the kitchen.

Carlos believes he’s “super chill” as a chef because he doesn’t believe in yelling at people and creating more stress in a high-stress environment. He says that he’s seen those strict chefs who run very strict kitchens and always promised himself that when he started running his own kitchen, he wouldn’t make the same mistakes that he thinks these chefs made. And his advice for other cooks or chefs just starting out in the industry is to not think there’s only one way to work as a chef because there’s definitely no one set way to do things. He believes that it’s important to care for the people you work with and to create a relationship where there’s respect on both sides so that you know that the people who work below you care for your problems the same way you care about theirs. If you treat people like machines rather than human beings, they’re not going to be invested in the job and eventually they’ll leave. Carlos and his team have a close relationship so they’re all invested in Hey Hey Canteen, which Carlos calls “his baby”. It’s been three years since they re-opened their Gowanus location as Hey Hey Canteen and now they’re focused on trying to gain more exposure in Manhattan with their new location at Turnstyle Market. Moving forward, Carlos says he’s excited to expand their menu offerings and open more locations so that customers can enjoy Hey Hey Canteen as much as he’s enjoyed creating it.

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

 

 

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FoodtoEat’s Favorites: Places to Dine in NYC During the Summer

If you’re like the FoodtoEat team, the warmer weather and sunshine has you dying to be outside all. day. long. Living in New York, it always seems like winter lasts six months and summer lasts two weeks so we try our best to take advantage of every sunny day. Whether that means going for a quick walk during lunchtime or lounging in the park after work, we really try to soak in all of the benefits of the summer months. And one of the best benefits is going out to eat, which also happens to be our favorite pastime!

We don’t know what it is about the summer but the longer days seem to make it more socially acceptable to eat out for every meal and the beautiful weather is an easy way to justify why our wallets are getting much, much lighter. But, as we all sadly know, summer is a fleeting season so we’ll continue to enjoy wining and dining ourselves while we can. And we hope that you’ll join us!

Below we’ve listed our top recommendations for summer spots to enjoy a meal with friends or coworkers in NYC. These restaurants always have an amazing atmosphere and even more delicious food that will keep you coming back again and again. So check them out and start planning your visit. And make sure to tag us with your favorite dish @foodtoeat!

Tracey’s Pick: Brooklyn Crab (Red Hook, Brooklyn). Although the restaurant itself isn’t super fancy, you won’t find fresher seafood than Brooklyn Crab. It’s a large place with indoor and outdoor seating, games and great views of the New York Harbor. The vibe of the restaurant is very laid back and casual so if you’re looking to relax with a group of friends, it’s a great spot to check out. But get there early- it tends to get crowded early on the weekends in the summer!

Jaimie’s Pick: Boulton & Watt (East Village, Manhattan). This American gastropub has something for everyone with it’s wide mix of dishes, from kale and quinoa salad to mahi mahi fish tacos. It’s known as a big neighborhood hangout where you can find people drinking a beer and watching the game as well as sitting in a corner eating brunch and sipping on some unique cocktails. The best thing about this restaurant is their large windows, which cover three of their four walls, bringing in a lot of natural sunlight and (hopefully) a breeze when they’re opened up during the summer. 

Ciara’s Pick: Beebe’s (Boro Hotel in Long Island City). Located in the lobby of the Boro Hotel, Beebe’s is a must if you’re looking for consistently delicious food in Long Island City. Known for their “old school” thin crust pies and homemade pasta, this restaurant has a great balance of your favorite dishes in a modern setting with floor-to-ceiling windows and outdoor seating. The best part about Beebe’s is that it serves as the hotel’s main restaurant, so if there aren’t any tables available, you can always head up to their rooftop bar while you wait and enjoy some amazing views of Manhattan.

Deepti’s Pick: Supper (East Village, Manhattan). Although most people recommend rooftop eateries during the summer, the food at Supper is too tasty not to visit all year round. This authentic Italian restaurant is known for it’s super fresh ingredients and handmade pasta that makes each dish more flavorful than the next. It’s a smaller space but the ability to watch the chefs work their magic from multiple angles in the restaurant is what makes this place so unique. (Plus they do have a handful of tables outside the restaurant if you’re lucky enough to get them!)

 

 

0 comments on “Corey Samuels, Co-Owner of Kashkaval Garden and Leisa Arndt, General Manager of Kashkaval Garden”

Corey Samuels, Co-Owner of Kashkaval Garden and Leisa Arndt, General Manager of Kashkaval Garden

This is Corey Samuels, the co-owner of Kashkaval Garden, and Leisa Arndt, the general manager. Corey and his business partner, Daniel Assaf, have been friends since they were 13 years old and both moved from Montreal, Canada to New York in the late 90’s after finishing university. After working in New York for a few years, Corey and Daniel began looking for a passion project to focus on outside of work. But apart from being avid customers of restaurants and gourmet food stores, they had no knowledge of the food industry or food service (Corey is a software engineer and Daniel is a gemologist) until they met an older gentleman they now fondly refer to as the “cheese man”. He owned a cheese shop in their Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood and they became friendly with him from frequently visiting his store. It was during this time that they realized that there were no bars or restaurants in the area that focused on serving wine and small plates (cheese, Mediterranean tapas, etc) and started speaking with him about this concept. They thought that it was a unique idea and something that they themselves would like as customers. The “cheese man” agreed and offered them another storefront location that he owned in Hell’s Kitchen to open the operation with him. In 2004, they opened Kashkaval Cheese Market and Wine Bar, which acted as a gourmet deli in front, where they sold their tapas and cheeses to go, and in the back had a wine and fondue room with a long bar and waiter service. And although Kashkaval has changed over the years to focus more on their Mediterranean influences, it has remained a staple in the Hell’s Kitchen community for the last 15 years due to their high-quality food and their ability to understand their customer and create a cozy, inviting environment that customers continue to want to return to.

When they opened their market and wine bar in 2004, Corey says that there was nothing like the concept in their neighborhood and that the idea of a “wine bar” had just started making it’s way into New York’s food scene and becoming popular. They knew it would be risky getting into the food business but were hoping that other consumers, like themselves, would enjoy a new way to eat out. It did take a couple of years for the idea to catch on but once it did, it became very popular and allowed them to expand to a second location two doors down. They opened Kashkaval Garden, a more elevated dining experience, in 2013 and operated both locations for about a year before losing the lease in their original space and consolidating everything into their new location. They decided to get rid of the market aspect of the business because it didn’t make sense in the new space and to focus their menu on more healthy, flavorful, Mediterranean-inspired dishes. They added some new items to the menu but unfortunately, due to spacing issues, had cut back on their cheeses and tapas. Corey admits that he does miss the market from the original location because he loved the local feel that it gave him to see neighborhood residents coming in and out of the shop throughout the day and he was also very proud of the large variety of cheeses that they would stock (40 or 50 different types), sourced both internationally and domestically. But they made it a point during their transition from market to restaurant to keep their cheese and tapas programs, although limited, on the menu as well as their fondue, which remains a popular item. They also were able to incorporate the intimate feeling of their back wine and fondue room with a back dining room in their new space, which took them three years to construct and opened in 2016. It was originally the backyard of the building but Corey and Daniel hired an architect to build the room from scratch because they wanted a room that was more cozy and hidden and they love the “wow” factor that customers get when they see the room for the first time. Although they weren’t able to stay in both locations, they made sure to keep aspects of the market and wine bar that they loved so that they never lose their neighborhood feeling.

Wall at Kashkaval

Corey believes that the most unique thing about Kashkaval Garden is their ability to use healthy ingredients to consistently create an authentic and flavorful meal. They classify themselves as a Mediterranean restaurant but try to be really creative with what they offer and use a lot of spices that aren’t “typical” for Mediterranean food but make sense for the dish. Since Corey and Daniel don’t have any background in food, the recipes on their menu were created by two chefs who have worked with them over the years. The first chef, who created most of their recipes, is originally from Turkey and doesn’t have any formal culinary training. He was taught how to cook by his mother and grandmother so he created a lot of authentic, homemade recipes, which Corey attributes their unique flavor and spice to. Their second chef was also their first general manager, who came from a culinary background and had a more modern approach to their dishes. Their menu today is a combination of both chefs: the authenticity and earthiness from Turkey and the presentation skills and level of service expected from New York. And the creativity that both contributed to the menu works well for them. Of course they do seasonal changes and they’re open to adding to the menu if they go out and see a dish that they like. They’ll create it for their team then try it out as a special and see what the customer feedback is before adding it to the menu. They want their dishes to be filling but not make people feel heavy so they always challenge themselves to use the healthiest ingredients possible, bending towards organic and sustainable items. In order to stay on top of food trends, they do a lot of research on what’s popular and what the best things are to be offering health-wise. Focusing on healthier, yet tasty, options was always something that was important to them, especially when opening Kashkaval Garden. But in the last two years, Corey says that they’ve been challenging themselves even more so to find better quality ingredients for their dishes as well as packaging for delivery orders to reduce plastic waste, which is a personal value that Corey and Daniel both feel strongly about.

Corey and Daniel both still work full-time so they really rely on their managers to run the show at the restaurant. They’re usually there at night and on the weekends so Leisa, their general manager, takes care of operations on a daily basis. She has a background in management and hospitality was something that she got into during school but stuck with over the years because she loves it. She’s been working in the food industry for 10 years and met Corey and Daniel at a bar that she was working at at the time before moving over to work at Kashkaval Garden once it opened. She worked at the restaurant on and off for five years before taking over the general manager position this past fall. Now, as a leader at the restaurant, Leisa says that she stays motivated because every day is a new day and since she’s been in the industry for so long, she’s able to deal with issues that come up and let things roll off her back pretty easily. Not only does this allow her to keep a positive work environment, it also allows her to motivate her team by being a resource for them and making sure that the the staff has both the physical things that they need and the knowledge that they need to carry out their jobs. She believes that fostering a positive work environment means showing everyone how their contribution matters and how each person works together to create success because they’re working as a cohesive team rather than individuals. Creating this environment among employees helps to provide a positive experience for the guest and makes it easier for each person to do their job knowing that they’re all working towards the same goal and what they do has a direct impact on their coworkers. For both Leisa and Corey, one of the most rewarding parts of the business is the team that they work with. Although it’s generally a continual challenge for vendors to find good employees, they have really great people on their team and they love working with them because they’re good people that work really hard. For Leisa, it’s nice coming to work every day because they’re like a little family and even when the restaurant is packed and things get crazy, they still have fun with each other.

Corey believes that food is love. So if he can have a team that enjoys coming to work, produces good food and shares that food/love with customers who arrive happy and leave happy, then he’s done his job as a business owner. He works to cultivate a positive environment for both staff and clients because he believes that positive energy extends to the customers and back to the staff. So it’s all about creating positive energy to be circulating throughout your entire restaurant so that people feel comfortable at all times. For Corey, a positive review, either in person or online, is the best reward that he can get for the work he’s put into his business. However, he warns others who are looking to get into the food industry to be prepared because there’s a lot you don’t know and there’s a lot that you need to learn, which will only happen over time as the experiences comes up. In those situations, he advises to learn from your mistakes so that when it happens again (because it will) you’re better able to deal with it. Leisa’s advice to others looking to work in management, like her, is to develop a thick skin for the issues that will arise and if you want to succeed, be ready to put your whole soul into what you’re doing- don’t show up just to show up.

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

 

 

0 comments on ““Un-Rolling” Our Way to Memorial Day….”

“Un-Rolling” Our Way to Memorial Day….

It’s almost Memorial Day Weekend and we can’t wait to get out in the sun and enjoy the “official” beginning of summer! Although Memorial Day usually entails a lot of grilling (hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, etc), these items can get repetitive and for a lot of New Yorkers, Memorial Day often means being stuck in the city without access to a key part of the MDW meal creation: the grill! So we decided to change it up this year and kick off summer in a different way: with our un-stuffed egg roll!

It’s all of the ingredients that you love in an egg roll, without the roll! Not only is it a much healthier option (we see you working on that summer bod), it’s something that you can prepare in any apartment in under 30 minutes, giving you more time to enjoy that beautiful summer weather. Check out this simple and delicious recipe below and join us in celebrating MDW differently this year!

Un-stuffed Egg Roll 

Recipe serves 4

You’ll Need:

6 shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 cup shredded napa or green cabbage

1 cup shredded carrots

1 large zucchini (cut into 1 inch thick sticks)

1 lb ground turkey

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 teaspoon grated ginger

3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

3 bulbs of scallions, chopped

1/2 cup hoisin sauce

olive oil

black pepper

First whisk garlic, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce and hoisin sauce in a small bowl and set aside. Next you’ll add olive oil to a large skillet and heat on medium-high. Once hot, add in the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes. Then you’ll in the ground turkey and black pepper (to your taste) and cook until browned and cooked through.

Once the turkey is cooked through, stir in your carrots, zucchini, cabbage and 1/2 of the chopped scallions. Stir fry for about 2 minutes. Next drizzle your soy sauce/garlic/ginger mixture into the skillet and continue to stir fry for another 3-4 minutes or until all of your vegetables are crisp-tender. Once crisp-tender, plate and serve! If desired, sprinkle your leftover chopped scallions on top for an eye-catching presentation!

Pro tip: Spice up this “un-stuffed egg roll” with some delicious homemade hot mustard. All you need is ground mustard and water! Add 1/4 of the dry ground mustard to a bowl and 1/4 cup of water to a bowl and whisk. If you want it to be a little thicker, add more mustard and if you want it to be more watery, add more water. Drizzle on top of your dish or serve on the side for dipping! Either way you’ll be making this recipe again and again.

 

0 comments on “Armando Litiatco and Ahmet Kiranbay, Co-Owners of F.O.B. and Shindig”

Armando Litiatco and Ahmet Kiranbay, Co-Owners of F.O.B. and Shindig

This is Armando Litiatco and Ahmet Kiranbay, the co-owners of F.O.B. and Shindig. Armando is a classically trained chef who grew up in San Francisco in a food-focused Filipino family while Ahmet is originally from Ankara, Turkey and worked as an accountant before emigrating to the U.S. in 2006. And despite the fact that they’re from different countries where they grew up in much different environments, have different religions and different cultures, they believe that they were brought together by their love of food. The two met in San Francisco 13 years ago and have been working together ever since. Armando was working as a chef at Google when he met Ahmet and convinced him that they would make the perfect team to cater Google’s holiday party for 200 people. He told him, “You understand the numbers and I understand the food. Let’s help each other and do it together.” Within a week they had opened a catering company and secured the job at Google. And since that time, it’s always been that same dynamic: Armando in the kitchen and Ahmet managing the front of house operations and accounting. But now with their newest ventures, F.O.B. (their restaurant) and Shindig (their catering company), they’ve been working together to introduce New Yorkers to a cuisine that’s very close to both of their hearts: Filipino BBQ. Not only are they trying to educate customers about Filipino culture through their delicious food, they strive to create an environment in their restaurant that make customers feel like they’re eating at home.

Armando was raised around food. His father was a chef and wanted him to become a chef as well so he started working in the industry at a very young age. His first job was washing dishes at McDonald’s and his experience grew from there. He worked as a busboy, a server, a baker, a bartender- every job that you can do in any type of food establishment, he did. Until one day, he approached the chef at the restaurant that he was working at at the time and asked if he could work in the kitchen with him since he was always cooking at home for friends and family. The chef encouraged him to go to the California Culinary Academy (CCA) so that he could get proper culinary training rather than trying to learn it over years in the kitchen. So Armando applied, was accepted and went to culinary school for 2 years before starting his career as a chef in San Francisco. Ahmet’s path was little different. He had no experience in food before coming to the U.S. other than his appreciation for food, which came from his sophisticated palate. He was actually sent to the U.S. by his accounting firm in Turkey to learn English because he had told his boss that he was beginning to feel burnt out in his position. So they sent him to a language school in the U.S. for 2-3 months to help him clear his mind. It was during this time that he met Armando in San Francisco and decided to stay in the U.S. Ahmet says that he felt bad at the time and knew it was a huge risk to take, but he had gotten sick of only looking at numbers and talking to banks and was ready to make a change. And although their first event at Google really threw him into the industry and he initially felt uncomfortable, he felt it was something he could see himself doing long-term as a way to challenge himself and grow as an individual.

After growing their business in San Francisco to cater weddings, art gallery openings and corporate parties in Silicon Valley, Armando and Ahmet decided to move to Miami after visiting the city for vacation. They loved the lifestyle there (the weather, the beach) and it was easier to make a living because it was cheaper than San Francisco at the time. There they ran a variety of Asian fusion restaurants with Armando as the chef and Ahmet managing, and during their days off they would barbecue on the beach. Their favorite food to cook became Filipino BBQ, especially because most of the food was on skewers so it was easy to cook and eat as they sat in the sand. It was during their time in Miami that they started thinking about opening their own place and came up with the concept for F.O.B., drawing inspiration from their beach barbecues. They spent two years playing with menu items, perfecting recipes and finalizing the idea before they started looking at spaces to open the restaurant. They checked out Miami first and got a few offers but it didn’t feel right. There weren’t many distinct restaurants in Miami (a lot of places were doing a fusion of Asian cuisines) so they were concerned that they concept wouldn’t work there. They wanted to be somewhere with a little more diversity in it’s food community, where people were more open-minded and where they could focus on doing one cuisine really well. So they flew to New York and immediately it felt like that’s where they needed to be. Not only did it fit what they were looking for for F.O.B, they realized that they missed the city life that they had in San Francisco and were tired of the constant sunshine in Miami. Once they had settled on New York, they traveled back and forth for months looking for the right spot. Manhattan seemed too upscale and corporate but they liked the neighborhood vibe in Brooklyn where they felt like you could find more mom-and-pop places like theirs. One day in August 2016 they happened to be walking by a space in Carroll Gardens and noticed it had “for rent” sign out in front. They got in touch with the owner to see it and right when they walked in, they knew it was their place. They opened F.O.B. three months later in November 2016.

FOB Restaurant

Because Armando and Ahmet had a tight budget, they were looking for a space that was easy to open and were lucky enough to find a restaurant that didn’t need too many changes. They only needed to clean and paint and didn’t need any renovations, which allowed them to focus on making the space their own and embodying the homey, laid-back, comfortable culture that they wanted customers to notice right when they walked in. The design is very much a “beach town” feel, inspired by their time in Miami, combined with their home-style cooking. Many customers tell them it feels like they’re in their grandmother’s house, which Armando says is exactly the point. They want it to feel like you’re coming into a home when you enter their restaurant and that there’s no pressure to do anything except enjoy yourself. They decorated the space with bright colors, mismatched China plates on the walls and macrame plants, incorporating a lot of different styles that seem to work, just like at grandma’s house. Like their food, they wanted the restaurant’s environment to be very approachable and relaxed for customers, which has also extended into the working culture of their staff. Because they only have a small crew of 6 people, they try to make it more of a team atmosphere rather than “us” and “them”. Their management style, even in San Francisco and Miami, has always been very inclusive and focuses on leading by example, because they never want their employees to feel a separation between their work and the work of “the boss”. They believe that everyone is building the business together so they trust their employees to be as invested in the work as they are and want them to feel empowered in their roles.

Armando and Ahmet believe that continuing to learn- about food, about the restaurant industry and about your own business- is the best way for a chef or an entrepreneur to succeed in such a tough industry. They see it as a disservice when people work in food for a couple of years and want to open a restaurant right away. They believe that you need to learn as much as you can, either managing restaurants or spending time in the kitchen, before jumping into it. So that when you do open your own place, it won’t be such a huge shift that you’re not used to. Instead, you’ll know what to expect. Learning every part of your own business is another key ingredient to success for them. They suggest working every role in your restaurant, from dishwasher to salad station to server, so that you have firsthand knowledge of that job and what it entails. And so that you can answer any customer’s question regarding what happens at any step of their meal creation. This principle is, again, reflected in their staff and how they’re trained. Every employee goes through every station in training so that they’re aware of what’s going on in every role and can interact with customers confidently. They believe that you can’t explain something to a customer when you don’t understand it yourself so their method of cross-training gives all of their employees a solid knowledge of each person’s role on their team. And going back to leading by example, they encourage their employees to get comfortable doing other jobs, so their cooks will answer the phone and take reservations and Armando will wash dishes if someone is out. Not only is it a good way for them to learn, it also prepares their employees to own their own business in the future.

The toughest part of the restaurant business for Armando and Ahmet is how physically taxing it is to be on your feet and running around all day. Being a restaurant owner is a exhausting, especially when you’re working in the restaurant as well as coordinating catering orders and doing the deliveries. But being able to see a concept that you’ve worked so hard to develop come to life and be successful is the most gratifying feeling. And being able to educate people who have never tried Filipino food before on the food itself and the culture of it and watching them taste the food for the first time and love it, is amazing to see. Armando says that he loves knowing that NYC is so diverse and because of that, so many different people from so many different backgrounds are trying his food and being exposed to Filipino food. As business owners, both Armando and Ahmet aim to give off the same happiness that the Filipino people are known for and extend that happiness so that their customers feel it too. Even though the people in The Philippines may not be the richest in the world, they’re always smiling and enjoying themselves. Armando and Ahmet hope that they can infuse that happiness and their passion for Filipino food into the dishes that they create so that their customers always feels comfortable and at home.

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

 

0 comments on “Our Q&A with Georgene Huang, the Co-Founder and CEO of Fairygodboss”

Our Q&A with Georgene Huang, the Co-Founder and CEO of Fairygodboss

Ladies, if you haven’t already heard of Fairygodboss, we’re about to introduce you to your new favorite career community, designed for women by women. Fairygodboss was founded by Georgene Huang and Romy Newman, two women who recognize that it’s not always easy being a woman in the workplace and understand the value of deep career research. So they created a platform where women can post anonymous job reviews, find jobs at companies that have forward-thinking policies, discuss topics like salaries, work-life balance and motherhood and get advice from other women. Fairygodboss helps women answer the questions that are hard to ask and strives to create a world where women feel empowered to take control of their careers.

We were given the opportunity to talk with Fairygodboss co-founder and CEO, Georgene Huang, about her career, how she identified the need for a business like Fairygodboss and what she sees as the biggest challenge facing woman-owned businesses today. To say we were inspired by her outlook on work, life and motherhood would be an understatement. Check out our full conversation with this amazing female entrepreneur below!

Tell us about your background. How do you think your childhood shaped your career path? I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and I interned in Silicon Valley at startups. My father is an entrepreneur and I think because I was constantly surrounded by so much innovation, it made me excited at the idea of building something from the ground up. I moved to NYC when I finished law school and have spent most of my career in New York.

Walk us through your career pre-Fairygodboss. What was your first job and how did you transition into the jobs following? I studied Economics at Cornell University and after graduating from Stanford University, I started practicing law. In a few months, I realized that my passion didn’t lie in that area and I moved into investing roles on Wall Street at a few different firms. When the financial crisis hit in 2008, I started working at Bloomberg Ventures where I was in charge of helping to incubate and grow a few different businesses from the ground up. After that I ran the enterprise business at Dow Jones.

Where did you come up with the idea for Fairygodboss? The idea for Fairygodboss came to me after what I describe as a “very bad day” at work. On that day, I was suddenly fired from my executive role at a major company as part of a management shakeup. At the time, I was two months pregnant and hadn’t told anyone yet. So I was in this position of looking for a job and going on interviews — and feeling quite pressured to hide my pregnancy. While interviewing, I wanted to ask certain questions around benefits and policies like maternity leave and work-life balance — but feared being judged as less than fully committed to my career if I asked. I also wanted to hear directly from other women about their experiences and how they overcame similar challenges. So I turned to the internet for answers and was surprised by the lack of information I found, which is why we’ve formed the Fairygodboss Community. Today, FGB offers free resources as the only crowdsourced database of parental leave benefits and free, anonymous company reviews by women. Members can ask for or offer advice on a daily, interactive Fairygodboss feed.  

Why do you think Fairygodboss, as a platform, is necessary for women in today’s corporate landscape? When I was looking for a job while I was pregnant, I couldn’t ask important questions without feeling like I would face bias, assumptions and judgment. I also felt incredibly alone in my experience and wanted to talk to other women who’d become mothers and also had big careers, to get their advice. By creating more transparency about how women are treated in the workplace and connecting women with each other, I hope women can find more support and success.

Do you have a favorite Fairygodboss “success story”? This past March we closed on a $10 million Series A investment, co-led by GSV Accelerate and Signal Peak Ventures. While raising money isn’t the goal of our business, it is external validation of the strong product, business and team we have built.

How has Fairygodboss changed since it started in 2015 to now? When we first started it was literally me and my co-founder, Romy Newman, working by ourselves in our apartments (and a lot of cafes!). Now, we are a team of 50 and are continuing to grow. Today, millions of women turn to Fairygodboss for a sense of community and to connect with other women. We’re obsessed with improving the workplace and believe the No. 1 way to do that is through transparency and women collaborating with each other. Our product has evolved so much as well. Fairygodboss started with only free, anonymous reviews, but now we produce career-focused editorial content, publish data and research, and recently we’ve launched a daily feed which is the centerpiece of how our community interacts with each other. We’ve also launched virtual career fairs to help job-seekers connect directly with recruiters at employers who are trying to hire more women.

What’s an initiative that you’re working on now at Fairygodboss that you’re really passionate about? Why? The daily feed we’re building is really exciting. We see women chiming in about all kinds of things, ranging from how to manage career change to difficult situations at work, or the best tips and tricks when it comes to managing their family responsibilities and workloads. There’s so much variety and diversity of viewpoints and genuinely fascinating looks into the inner worlds of so many women. The supportive community we’re building is very unique and I am really passionate about nurturing it.

What’s the biggest challenge of being a woman-owned business? I think owning a business is hard, regardless of your gender, but I think one uphill battle that women face is around getting VC funding. Recent data has shown that female founders only received 2.2% of venture funding in 2018 so if you’re starting a company whose products or services cater to women, you have to spend more time thinking about how to convince a potential investor (who is typically an older, white male) that you are solving a real and important problem. Imagine if you were starting a lipstick company, for example. While men understand what lipstick is and that many women wear it, it’s not solving a problem that they have experienced firsthand. Therefore, the whole premise of your business is foreign to them.

What motivates you as a business owner and a female entrepreneur? Knowing that we’re building something bigger than any one of us!

As a founder, what are some things you think about as a leader/actions you take to motivate your team? I believe it’s important to make sure everyone’s voice is heard so I make sure to take time every week to have one-on-one meetings with my direct reports. Creating clear lines of communication and ensuring that everyone feels comfortable sharing their opinions has helped to create a more collaborative and engaging workplace culture at Fairygodboss. I also really believe in leading by example. I believe that I work very hard but I also do so flexibly when possible, and I realize the importance of modeling behavior.

There’s a lot of conversation today around “work life balance”. Do you believe there’s such a thing and if so, how do you maintain yours? While there’s no formula that works for everyone, for me the key is ruthless prioritization and being present in whatever I’m doing. To help make sure I’m giving my full attention to the tasks at hand, I really rely on my calendar and build in time for not just meetings, but things like deep thinking, working out, and of course, having my evening to spend with my family (then, it’s back to work before going to bed!).

What do you think is the toughest part of being a working mom that men and women without kids may not think about? I like to think about it in terms of being a “working parent” because it shouldn’t just be a mother’s responsibility to take care of the child and a lot of companies are coming to that realization as well. I don’t think people without kids always understand how raising children can be a full-time job. This is true even with help from family or a nanny, so having a flexible job can be really important. If a sitter has to cancel or a child gets sick, it will make the parents lives much easier if they have the ability to work from home or take a day off.

As a mother, what impact do you hope that being a CEO of a company has on your kids as they grow? I hope they see that work can be meaningful, consuming and fulfilling. I don’t expect them to be exactly like me and I respect the fact that they may have very strong non-career interests. I love my work so I hope from my example that they know they shouldn’t settle for a job they don’t love.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten from another woman? The best advice I have ever gotten from a woman, happens to be from my co-founder, Romy Newman. She says “Seek out rejection. Seek out failure.” I love that because it’s so contrarian and what I take from it is the fact that growth requires putting yourself out there and there is nothing better than growth.

What’s been the most surprising part of running your own business? I’ve learned that my job changes every year or so (if not more than that). What I had to do in order to be successful in year 1 is not the same thing I should do to be successful in year 3, and so forth. That’s what makes startup life so challenging. In order to succeed over the long run, you really have to adapt very rapidly to the new situation and new role you play.

 

0 comments on “Matthew Lief, Co-Owner of Landhaus”

Matthew Lief, Co-Owner of Landhaus

This is Matthew Lief, the co-owner of Landhaus, a new American concept that combines the diverse backgrounds of Matthew and his business partners, Maria Dela Cruz and Michael Felix. Matthew grew up in New York City while Maria emigrated from the Philippines to Los Angeles when she was 12 years old, which is also where Michael grew up, raised by a Mexican father and a half Mexican/half Korean mother. So, Matthew says, they all have their own “food memories” and preferences that they bring together to play a part in the food that they create. “I would say it’s truly American food in that way”, says Matthew, because they’re three people with very different backgrounds that are looking to blend their tastes into seasonal comfort food. However, they’re also very respectful of the foundations of cuisine, which is why most of their dishes are simple items which they elevate to make in the best way that they see possible. Their unofficial slogan is “great food made by great people”, which is what Matthew says that he wants their customers to be reminded of when they think of Landhaus. The focus of their business is to keep food delicious yet uncomplicated by using the best ingredients available to them, creating amazing food and providing an enjoyable experience to their clients. Because at the end of the day, they believe that it’s all about delicious food.

As far back as he can remember, Matthew has always had a connection to food. He recalls his parents allowing him and his brother to cook dinner for them when they were 8 or 9 years old, or maybe even younger. He says that his parents cooked a lot at home and were really good about letting him and his brother play around in the kitchen, which is why he thinks he got sucked into food and hospitality from an early age. However, it was a case of mistaken identity that first started Matthew’s culinary training. He was doing community service, working at a charity event in high school, when he met the chef of a restaurant in Soho who approached him and asked when he was coming to his kitchen. Although Matthew is certain that the chef thought he was someone else, Matthew took advantage of the random opportunity and showed up at the kitchen the next week and started working. The chef took Matthew under his wing and allowed him to be his apprentice, teaching him all kinds of kitchen skills as he worked there throughout high school. After high school, Matthew’s family moved to Maine, where his parents opened a restaurant that served a mix of American food: lobster rolls, clam chowder, burgers, pasta, etc. And although Matthew says that looking back now, growing up with his parents restaurant was a special thing to be a part of, at the time he saw the lifestyle of restaurant work and wasn’t sure if it was for him. He wanted to do something different. So after he graduated college, he moved to South Africa and worked on an urban farming project at his brother’s non-profit. There he grew fruits and vegetable to be used in the kitchens to feed children that were orphaned or had HIV, but he kept finding himself cooking. Although he had tried to get away from the lifestyle that he didn’t think he wanted, it didn’t work. So he decided to get back into it. He moved to France and apprenticed there for a year before moving back to the U.S. and starting to work in restaurants again.

It was while he was working in different restaurants throughout NYC that Matthew met Michael and Maria. They were all sous chefs at Le Caprice, a restaurant in The Pierre Hotel in Central Park, and immediately hit it off. They discussed starting a food truck together but it never really took off and Matthew ended up moving to another restaurant in Little Italy. One day in 2011 he met up with a friend from college, Jacob, who told him about Smorgasburg, a new outdoor food market that was opening in Brooklyn. Jacob was working as a meat cutter at a farm in the Catskills at the time and they came up with the idea to make high-quality BLTs and sell them at Smorgasburg. So Matthew quit his job at the restaurant and began working in landscaping during the week so that they could be a part of Smorgasburg on the weekends. Although it was tough in the beginning because Matthew was doing most of the event prep himself (Jacob was still working upstate during the week and sending the meat to Matthew), eventually they were able to add a lamb burger and bacon on a stick to their menu and their business started growing. They started doing the markets in Prospect Park and DUMBO twice on the weekends and twice during the week and their bacon on a stick was becoming more popular than the BLTs. However, the coordination started becoming too much for Jacob and he ended up relocating further upstate. So Matthew reached out to Michael and Maria to see if they were interested in running the business with him and they agreed to come on board. They started doing concessions and even more events and eventually were able to rent out the back kitchen area of a bar in Brooklyn called The Woods, where they would sell food to customers at the bar. However, they soon realized that although their items were great for event-goers, they needed to create a more substantial menu for delivery/catering purposes and began creating a menu with modern, seasonal, comfort foods that could appeal to a larger audience.

Matthew says that they started creating their delivery/catering menu by working backwards. At an event or at their space at The Woods, customers were able to eat the food right when it came out. But for catering, they needed to factor in travel time, meal time (if the client would be eating right when the food got there or 30 minutes later), food temperature, etc. So they began trying to build recipes for dishes that would travel well and hold heat but that would also be delicious, interesting and exciting for clients in an office that are looking forward to their lunch. Matthew admits that it was difficult to create the recipes because he, Maria and Michael have different ideas about how things should taste, but they were able to come to a consensus on the items because they always went back to their focus on delicious food. Since they’re very close friends, no one ever got too serious about the menu and even today, if they’re adding on new items, they always concentrate on what the most flavorful option is, as long as they’re able to present it nicely. Even though they’re classified as “comfort food” they also wanted to keep things fresh and healthy at the same time. Which is also why, when building the menu, they put an emphasis on sourcing their ingredients as locally as possible. They source as much as they can directly from local farms and when they can’t, they go through retailers whose mission they connect with or who have really good guidelines about sustainability. For Matthew in particular, he’s always been interested in organic agriculture and urban farming sustainability, which makes it more enticing for him to get ingredients from local places. Not only does he believe that sustainable agriculture is the way forward for society on a larger level, to him food is more delicious when he knows it came from someone who truly cared about it. It increases his own enjoyment when buying this food and feeding it to others. For him, supporting other locals businesses makes his job even more fun and rewarding.

However, the most rewarding part of the business for Matthew is simply feeding people. He says that cooking and food is all he really thinks about on a daily basis: how to transform an ingredient or product into something delicious that highlights that item specifically or how he can improve a recipe to make the dish in the best way possible. His culinary training has allowed him to think about food in many different ways and it’s something he can really dive into. And once they have that perfect recipe set, seeing the gratification in a customer whose trying your food for the first time is awesome for him to see. Festivals and events are especially rewarding for him because there’s so many logistics that go into planning it: getting the equipment there, setting it up, making sure that they have enough food, cooking the food- it’s all very hard to coordinate. But when he’s in that moment where everything is set up and the food is flying out and everything is working, it’s very satisfying to know that you met the challenge and that people are enjoying the food. Creating a good experience for people is very important to him because he believes that not all parts of life are as easy or as enjoyable as a good meal in good company. So being able to facilitate that for others and allowing them to enjoy those simple moments is extremely rewarding.

The Landhaus team now works out of their own kitchen at Berg’n, a beer hall and event space in Brooklyn. And as tough as it is to run a business in NYC, Matthew believes that being a part of the food industry is worthwhile because of the support network that you create. Without that network, he admits, it would be so much harder to run your own business. In the food industry, you’re able to meet so many people that you can ask for advice and learn from and for him it’s awesome to have that resource. It reminds him that he’s not alone and that other people are going through the same challenges that he is or that he may have gone through already. Which is why he advises others looking to get into the food industry to be willing to ask questions and learn from other food businesses, even if they have a similar concept. He believes that everyone has their own lane and there’s enough of a market that all vendors can profit from. His other piece of advice is to try out the food industry before you jump into it, because it’s difficult financially and there are easier ways to make a living. If you don’t have passion for the business and you don’t enjoying feeding people as he does, it’s never going to work.

 

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Last Minute Mother’s Day Gifts for the Mom in Your Life!

This Sunday, May 12th, is Mother’s Day and if you’re like most people you probably didn’t realize that we’re already in the second week of May (when did that happen?!) or you’ve thought about a few gift ideas but haven’t quiiiiite gotten around to purchasing one. Well it’s time to get down to business because you only have a few days left and you don’t want to be the person that shows up empty-handed on Mother’s Day!

In order to help you narrow down your search (and be realistic about what gifts you can pick up before Sunday) we’ve compiled a list of suggestions that are our favorite go-to’s on Mother’s Day. Not only are all of these gifts things you can get within a limited time frame, they can fit into any budget because they’re all items that can be as inexpensive or as pricey as you make them. But let’s be honest, moms are superheros, so don’t you want to splurge a little?! Whatever way you choose to celebrate, the most important thing is that you choose a gift specific to the interests or passions of the mom that you’re honoring on this important day and, above all, let her know how much she’s loved.

Personalized Cupcakes: Nothing says “I love you” like a cupcake that literally says “I love you” or “Thanks Mom” or a cute message that only mom will understand. Personalized cupcakes or cookies add that extra little touch that elevates a dessert and makes it a little more special. Of course if you’d rather not customize your food, picking up her favorite dessert or a new treat that you know she’s been wanting to try is always a good way to mark a celebration! 

Gift Certificate for a Manicure/Pedicure or a Day at the Spa: TREAT YO MOM! There’s nothing that women love more than not paying for beauty treatments, especially ones that they wouldn’t buy for themselves. So skip ordering takeout for the next few days and save up some money to put towards a gift card for a manicure/pedicure at her favorite nail salon or a facial at the spa. When it comes to Mother’s Day gifts, allowing mom to relax and pamper herself is a great way to show her that you appreciate everything that she does for you and that you want her to spend some time taking care of herself.

Mother Day's Spots

Jewelry: Jewelry is always a solid gift option, as long as you know her taste (if not, make sure to get a gift receipt!). And it’s another way that you can get something that she normally wouldn’t get for herself. However, there are many options with jewelry- earrings, bracelet, watch, necklace, ring- so it’s important that you err on the side of caution and pick something that you know she would wear. If you’re not sure, try consulting with friends or family for their opinion. But if all else fails: always keep it simple.

Try an Experience: If you don’t think she’s interested in material items, gift an experience! This can be anything from a concert to a workout class to brunch to a trip to a museum. As long as you know that it’s something that she would enjoy doing, an experience can be a great way to spend quality time with your loved one or allow her to do something on her own.

Flowers: Although flowers may seem like a small gift compared to some of the other ones that we’ve suggested, don’t underestimate the power that flowers have to brighten someone’s day. Something as simple as a bouquet of her favorite flowers can be an extremely thoughtful gift that she’ll appreciate.