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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 “Pasta La Vista, Winter! Hello, Spring!”

Pasta La Vista, Winter! Hello, Spring!

Spring is here and we couldn’t be happier to (finally) be going green! We were so inspired by the change of seasons that we decided to create a light and healthy pasta dish with Banza Chickpea Pasta that’s perfect room temp for an afternoon picnic or heated up for an evening dinner! Not only does the Banza pasta have more protein, more fiber and less carbs than regular pasta, it tastes just as good without the guilt!

This dish is an easy way to indulge after a long day of work and incorporates the spring veggies that we’ve been missing. Plus, it only takes about 30 minutes from prep to plate and there’s nothing we love more than a quick and simple yet delicious meal! Happy spring-ing 🙂

Our “Spring-ing into the Season” Pasta

Recipe serves 3-4

You’ll Need:

1 box Banza Chickpea Pasta

3 bulbs spring onion, chopped

3/4 cup peas

1/2 bunch asparagus, chopped

1/2 cup arugula

1 cup creme fraiche

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 package crimini OR baby portobello mushrooms, sliced

3 tablespoons chives, chopped

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

3 tablespoons olive oil

juice of 1/2 lemon

zest of 1 lemon

salt

pepper

First you’ll bring a pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the asparagus by cooking it for 1 minute then removing it from the boiling water and adding it to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Using the same pot of boiling water, cook the Banza Chickpea Pasta (according to the cooking instructions on the box) and once cooked, set aside. Save about 1 and 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid from the pot to mix in later.

Next you’ll heat the olive oil in a large pot or skillet. Once warm, add in the chopped spring onions and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then add in the sliced mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Next add in garlic and cook for 1 minute before adding in salt and pepper. It should be about a teaspoon of both salt and pepper but add a little at a time to combine with the onions, mushrooms and garlic.

Then you’ll add in the creme fraiche, 1 cup of the cooking liquid that you set aside earlier and the lemon zest. Bring to a simmer and mix well. Add in the cooked pasta and the other 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Cook for 2-3 minutes making sure that all of the pasta is coated. Add more cooking liquid as needed. Finally, add your peas, asparagus, lemon juice and salt and pepper (to your taste) and mix well. Plate pasta and garnish with arugula, toasted pine nuts and chives. 

Pro tip: Serve your pasta with grilled chicken or steak as your protein! There’s nothing better on a warm spring night than a light and tasty meal!

 

0 comments on “Arthur Palacio, CO at Dos Toros West Village: Part 2”

Arthur Palacio, CO at Dos Toros West Village: Part 2

This is Arthur Palacio, the Coach Operator (CO) at Dos Toros West Village. Arthur was raised in College Point, Queens and says that being in a Colombian family, food was always a part of his lifestyle growing up. His mom, grandma and dad cook every day and although he’s never had formal culinary training, he’s always felt that food was a part of his identity. He started working in the food industry during college at a bagel shop/bakery in Florida and continued to grow his cooking skills after college when he lived in Miami. When he moved back to New York, he worked as a server in a catering hall and then as a parking attendant when his friend, who was working at the first Dos Toros location in Union Square, told him there was an opening in the store and that he should apply to be a part of this new company. Arthur was attracted to Dos Toros because they focus on hiring people with good personalities rather than kitchen skills and he felt like this was a company that he could grow with. In 2011, two years after they opened their first location, Arthur started working at Dos Toros as a crew member and little by little worked his way up to Coach Operator, the highest position in their store. Not only has Dos Toros allowed Arthur to create his own path in the food industry, the opportunity that he was given to become a leader now motivates him to help create the same opportunities for other men and women.

Arthur says that the culture at Dos Toros is different from other restaurants because Leo and Oliver have created a fun but focused work environment since the company began. They don’t take any shortcuts with their food or their team and are known for teaching by example. Every so often they can even be found in one of their restaurants, working alongside their employees. They care so much about their business that they take the time to teach their employees to do things the right way and expect their Coach Operators to do the same. Even creating the title of Coach Operator, Arthur points out, makes them stand out from their competitors with what they expect from their team. Rather than a General Manager who only oversees operations, a Coach Operator works side by side with every member of their team every day, coaching them through changes going on in the store, teaching them about ingredients and making sure that they’re following the correct procedures, all while operating the store. It was this commitment to their employees that made Arthur interested in working for Dos Toros and what’s kept him at the company for the past eight years. After starting as a crew member, he got his kitchen certification and his line certification before getting certified as a coach. From there he decided to become an assistant manager (you can also become a kitchen assistant manager if you want to focus more on kitchen operations), a CO in training and then, finally, a CO for the entire store. The CO training process can take anywhere from six months to a year, depending on the person, but Arthur was committed to finishing his training because he knew from the day that he started that he wanted to grow with the company. He didn’t see any growth in the jobs he was doing before Dos Toros and saw potential in Leo and Oliver’s mission to bring California taqueria-style food to New York.

Dos Toros Line

As a CO, Arthur tries to make it fun to come to work, rather than being “the boss” whose telling his employees what to do. He recognizes that they all have a job to do when they get to the store every day but that you can still make the environment fun and inviting while getting the work done. He sees the CO position as not only being a coach, but also being a teacher and an adviser, so he works alongside his coworkers on the line or in the kitchen every day to motivate and inspire them with his commitment to the job. He trains his employees to understand and exude their three core values: respect (of each other, the food and the customers), genuine warmth (creating a positive experience for customers and each other) and uncompromising expertise (follow every procedure, no shortcuts) and tries to be an example of each of them, despite any difficulties that may arise. He creates personal connections with each employee and takes pride in hiring and training new employees who he feels are friendly and have a good attitude. Arthur wanted to become a leader at Dos Toros to give other people the opportunity to build their own career paths. He found that a lot of high school students or men and women working straight out of high school have difficulty finding a job because they don’t have any experience. Arthur looks to hire these people that like cooking or are interested in food and teach them the steps to take in order to succeed in the food industry. Even if they don’t want to work in food for the rest of their life, he tries to give them a chance to find a new path and make it fun for them to be part of the team. For Arthur, helping the staff grow in their career is the most rewarding part of the job. From asking him if they can get their line certification to actually achieving that first step and continuing from there, as a leader and a coach, there’s nothing more satisfying to him than watching them start that process and seeing it through.

The training process for new employees really encourages career growth, which is something that Arthur loves about Dos Toros. It’s a seven day training where they learn each process for the front of house and for the back of house and then work side by side with Arthur and his managers to master each process and get certified in different stations. However, before that process begins Arthur will sit down with the new hire on the first day to figure out if they have kitchen experience/are interested in working in the kitchen or want to work on the line, so that they can focus their role once they’ve completed their training. They have online training as a tool for new employees to use where they watch videos about each process and then get hands-on experience doing them. For Arthur personally, Dos Toros has improved his culinary skills, teaching him knife skills like chopping and cutting as well as how to butcher meat. For him, the training process shows how much Leo and Oliver care for their team because they want to teach you these skills, they don’t expect you to have them. They only want employees who are willing to work hard and are happy to create relationships with their coworkers and their customers.

Arthur admits that coming into the store with a good attitude every day is the most challenging part of his job. As with any job, you can’t let your personal life interfere with your work but especially so when you’re interacting with other people (coworkers and customers) on a continuous basis. As human beings, everyone has tough times that they go through and has personal things going on that other people don’t know about so “putting that on the shelf” until you get home can be difficult. But for Arthur, making sure that he has a good energy every day to transmit to the other employees is key and his ability to have a smile on his face no matter what, or at least pretend that he’s happy, is one trait that, as a CO, he hopes he’s able to pass on to his fellow mangers and employees. A lot of his staff are young and they’ll often come to him for advice, so he enjoys that his role allows them to see him as a peer and that he’s able to problem solve with them. If he senses that something is off with one of his coworkers, he or one of his managers will pull him or her aside to make sure that everything is okay and will change their position for the day if needed. He loves that Dos Toros has created an inviting environment where every employee can be open and really feels like he or she is part of a larger team, working towards a common goal. As for his advice for others looking to get into the food industry, he encourages anyone and everyone to come work for Dos Toros. Even if you don’t have any experience in food, he says “just do it and don’t be scared”. Especially at Dos Toros, they teach you everything that you need to know and once you understand the process behind the work, it’s pretty amazing and rewarding.

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

 

 

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Celebrating Earth Day as a Team!

Last year we wrote an article about the small changes that you can make at the office (or at home) to protect the Earth. This year we’re focused on advocating for actions that your office can take as a team to improve the Earth together! Whether you’re doing this on Earth Day (Monday, April 22nd) or any day in April, it’s important to take part in this global movement to preserve our planet and prevent the destruction of our plant and wildlife populations. Encourage your team to make an impact by organizing a company-wide event, even if it’s only for a few hours!

Below we’ve listed ideas of activities that your office can do to celebrate Earth Day. Although it may seem insignificant, doing a small act of green with your colleagues can make a much larger impact. And not only is it rewarding to give back to the planet we live on, you have another reason to celebrate with your coworkers! Email us at letseat@foodtoeat.com to order some custom Earth Day treats for you and your team to enjoy after helping to protect our planet!

1. Plant a tree. Planting trees is one of the easiest ways to fight climate change. Not only does it add beauty to the environment, trees absorb CO2 and other harmful gases and release more oxygen into the atmosphere. They also provide a habitat for birds and other animals.

2. Clean up a local park or beach. All this activity requires is gloves, garbage bags and free time! Choose a park or beach close to your office and spend an hour or two picking up trash that may be cluttering the area. Cleaning up parks and beaches helps to improve air and water quality and keeps animals from getting injured or killed by items such as plastic bags, string, cigarette butts and glass.

3. Schedule an outdoor activity. The best way to increase appreciation for the environment is to get outdoors! Book group workout in Central Park or plan a hike for your team at a nearby mountain. Being around nature will remind employees why it’s so important to take care of our planet and continue acts of green all year round.

4. Host a meat-less lunch! Can’t get out of the office? Organize a team lunch with vegetarian or vegan menu items only! According to the Earth Day Network, the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gases. Limiting your meat consumption, even one day a year, can help lower the amount of greenhouse gases emitted each year.

 

Resources:
https://business.tutsplus.com/tutorials/how-to-celebrate-earth-day–cms-30959
https://www.earthday.org/take-action/
https://projects.ncsu.edu/project/treesofstrength/benefits.htm
https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/10-ways-celebrate-earth-day7.htm
https://inhabitat.com/10-awesome-eco-activities-to-do-this-earth-day/
https://education.seattlepi.com/littering-affect-environment-6802.html
0 comments on “Leo Kremer, Co-CEO of Dos Toros: Part 1”

Leo Kremer, Co-CEO of Dos Toros: Part 1

This is Leo Kremer (pictured left) and his brother, Oliver Kremer (pictured right), the founders and co-CEOs of Dos Toros. Although this fast casual taqueria now boasts 20 locations between New York and Chicago, Leo insists that because they didn’t know much coming into the food industry, they’ve kept their “beginner’s mindset” over the years, which has allowed them to see Dos Toros as a constantly evolving business, even as it’s success has grown. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay area, the brothers got really interested in burritos because they were delicious, affordable and available everywhere. It wasn’t until years later that they became aware that this wasn’t the case in other parts of the country and started digging into this idea. They began asking friends who lived in New York what options were available to them and did some scouting themselves. The more they looked, the more they realized that there was no really high-quality, California-style Mexican food outside of California. And although they had no experience in the food industry, it seemed like a really big opportunity for someone to take advantage of the market. Being that they were expert consumers when it came to burritos, they decided to create a business that appealed to their core customer: themselves. Since Dos Toros’ beginning to their present day operations, Leo and Oliver have continued to keep things really simple and really focused, uncompromising in their expertise and concentrated on being the best supplier of San Fransciso-style taqueria food, from their recipes to their service to the tightness of their burrito roll.

Leo says that he and Oliver were outsiders in the food industry when they decided to start Dos Toros (named for himself and Oliver, “the two bulls”) at the end of 2008 and officially opened their first location in October 2009. Leo was just transitioning out of his career as a musician (he had played for a few rock bands, including Third Eye Blind), which he says was awesome but ultimately didn’t fulfill all of his professional passions, and Oliver was right out of college. Both brothers were unsure of their next step and decided to pursue the burrito business idea that they had been talking about for years. They had always had a good relationship and always had the idea that they would try to start a business together but Leo says that it was the timing, their passion for burritos and the opportunity that presented itself that made it the perfect combination of factors to jump in with both feet. He doesn’t believe that either of them would’ve had the courage to do it on their own so they took a chance on it together and moved to NYC. They decided on a fast casual concept because it was similar to the taquerias in the Bay Area that they visited growing up where you order at the counter and sit down or leave. And also knowing that they didn’t know anything about food service, they didn’t want to overreach and add more complexity to the business than they could manage. Since they always thought of themselves as their main consumers, most of the restaurant design came from their own personal taste and aesthetic sensibility, which Leo says they got from their mom. Their mom is a visual artist so she’s very conscious of paying attention to how things look and feel around you, so they already had a vision in mind for their brand when they were opening their first location. They wanted to create a cool and inviting space that they would want to spend time in, in a neighborhood that they might find themselves in, so the location scouting and design process was very introspective. However, they did take a lot of other people’s opinions into consideration, showing friends and family locations that they were thinking about and design layouts and the logo that they were playing with, which was really helpful in getting to the final decisions that were made. But they knew that the core of the business would focus on the food and doing it really well. So whenever they could go simpler, they went simpler so that they could focus more on quality. 

They began reverse engineering recipes to create their menu, incorporating flavors that they grew up eating and visiting every taqueria that they could find to make notes about who had the best rice, beans, tortillas, hot sauce, etc. They spent countless hours taste testing different ingredients and understanding what they wanted each ingredient to do in the burrito before making a final decision. In some cases they were able to get the recipes pretty far just with their own testing and finding recipes and tweaking them but they did work with a couple of different chefs that they found before finding one chef in particular on Craigslist who played a big role in helping them develop their recipes. He helped them make sure that the recipes could scale up the right way and be repeatable for when they were cooking in large batches. He also helped them understand what equipment they would need to cook the food and what that cooking process would need to be since the professional equipment allows you to create heat really fast. However, Leo says that they continue to tweak recipes and introduce new items (like their habanero hot sauce and the farro, their whole-grain alternative to rice) because it’s the details that add up to the big differences. They constantly try to get feedback from customers on what they can improve or what’s bugging people the most that they can fix. But no matter what, they always focus on keeping their ingredients and menu items simple. They believe that doing a few things the best way possible is what makes them a cut above their competitors.

In the same way that they’re focused on simplicity from a recipe perspective, Leo and Oliver focus on simplicity from a team perspective as well. From training to on-boarding to career advancement, they want to make every process as straightforward and accessible to every employee as possible, because they believe that people are the key to success in business. Every employee in every store is cross trained across every different part of the restaurant. Not only does this make employees more flexible with their skills, it also keep things fun and interesting because they’re able to do different tasks and jobs throughout the day, which keeps it from getting boring or frustrating. Also, Leo says, it doesn’t seem fair to have one person stuck washing dishes all day and not interacting with customers. Leo admits that they’re getting better at training employees and helping them get on a career path without making employees have to guess about how they can grow from their current positions. They’ve started offering formal certification opportunities for employees to learn new skills, get certified on them, get a raise and get promoted. They also have a whole video training site that they use for employees to practice their skills. Each store has a CO (coach operator) rather than a GM (general manager) whose responsible for hiring new team members, training them and promoting them. They call them COs because they believe that coaching is the key piece of leadership and they empower their employees to train and coach their coworkers in a positive way, rather than from a power standpoint. The COs are then assisted by the distract manager, who oversees multiple locations and works one on one with the CO in a collaborative way when and if more complex issues arise that the CO needs help handling. Leo and Oliver are very focused on their team and creating a positive work experience because they realize that beyond the recipes and the store locations and the designs, it’s all about the people on your team and inspiring them and making them excited to be a part of the business. Employees that are happy at work and excited about what they do will only transfer that joy and excitement to customers, which creates a real relationship between the employee and the guest.

For Leo, the most rewarding and the most challenging part of the business is the people. It’s so rewarding for him to see an employee whose so good at their job and inspiring to other team members grow with the company. “Promoting people who really deserve those promotions is the best feeling you can get, I think”, he says. And then also seeing a guest whose a really excited about the food, who comes back a few times a week, who your staff really enjoys seeing and who enjoys seeing them is so rewarding as well. Building themselves into someone’s life and having people use words like “love” when they’re talking about their product or their staff is very meaningful to him. However, it’s also a challenge for Leo to push for excellence but be realistic. Every time he walks into one of their locations, it’s hard for him not to notice every little thing that’s wrong and want to fix it immediately. But communicating that to the team in the proper way and getting them to focus on these little things without seeming unappreciative of everyone’s hard work is a difficult line to walk. As a business owner, it’s hard for him to navigate that balance, especially as they grow and things are being communicated down a chain of command, rather than directly from him to the team. As a leader, he’s constantly working on that balance to make sure that things are being communicated properly but that he’s still leaving room for empowerment and improvisation among his employees. He and Oliver were both concerned that as the business grew, it would become too corporate or reduce their authenticity. Alternatively, they’ve found that their growth has actually increased the strength of their culture. Their food has also gotten better (creating better recipes, using better equipment, sourcing better ingredients) and they’ve only gotten better as leaders. As the business continues to grow, these are all factors that they hope they can preserve.

Identifying what’s right for you and your business is pivotal to Leo and he urges other entrepreneurs to stay true to their passion and their mission when starting a business. However, he advises, it’s not enough to be skilled or passionate, you need to have really identified a need that’s not being met or not being done to the level that you think it could be done. If you only have a desire to be your own boss, that can often get you into trouble. You need to make sure that there’s a case for the business that you’re getting started and that you have a clear plan to meet that need. If you keep a focus on your core customer and make sure everything you do goes back to solving a problem for that customer, then the growth will happen naturally. As for the future of Dos Toros, Leo says they’re really excited for the growth that they’re seeing and the best part about it is the opportunities that it creates for their team members to grow as well. They’re hoping to keep growing at a sustainable rate in their current markets and organically expand into new markets nearby. Right now they’re interested in areas like Philly, DC, Boston, Nashville, Austin, Charlotte, Miami and Dallas but there are so many cool places where they think Dos Toros would be a good fit. The most important thing to them is that they succeed wherever they go, so they’re focused on getting it right with their location choices and going at the right pace for them.

Interested in learning more about Dos Toros?! Check out our blog next week to read the second part of our #IMadeYourFood feature where we will be highlighting one of their longest tenured COs!

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

 

 

0 comments on “April Events You Should Be Celebrating… with Food.”

April Events You Should Be Celebrating… with Food.

Unfortunately spring hasn’t sprung so we’re still waiting to celebrate the change of seasons with some fresh fruit and veggies and a glass of sangria (talk to us in a few weeks). But winter is coming. And so is baseball season and the last round of March Madness. And in order to prepare for these exciting April events, we’re breaking down not only what you should be celebrating but also the appropriate foods to celebrate with. Because you’ll need something to chew on during those anxiety-ridden moments other than your nails!

Final Four: The final games of March Madness will be this Saturday, April 6th before the NCAA National Championship game on Monday, April 8th. And regardless of who you have in your bracket, making sure that your snacks are on point for your watch party is a must. Below are our picks for the best food from each team’s home state and how you can re-create them for game day snacking!

Game of Thrones Premiere: The eighth and final season of GOT premieres on Sunday, April 14th and we have zero chill (pun intended). As we prepare to watch the living and the dead battle it out, there’s nothing better than taking a food-filled trip down memory lane with dishes that highlight all of the craziest moments from this iconic show. Because who doesn’t want to kill, bake and serve Walder Frey’s sons to him like Arya?!

Baseball: Baseball season has already started, with both New York teams having their home opener games within the last two weeks. And though most people think hot dogs and peanuts when they think of baseball, the options have gotten much more diverse in the last few years. So if you’re catching the game IRL, these are our go-to foods at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.

Yankee Stadium:

  • Lobel’s Steak Sandwich
  • Bareburger’s Avocado Bites
  • Big Mozz’s Mozz Sticks
  • Mighty Quinn’s MQRib Sandwich

Citi Field:

  • Fuku Fried Chicken Sandwich
  • Emmy Squared Colony pizza
  • Shake Shack’s ShackBurger
  • Mister Softee Waffle Cone

Want to replicate these items at home? Here are the best recipes to make you feel like you’re at the ballgame… even when you’re sitting on your couch.

 

 

0 comments on “Jeremy Merrin, Founder & CEO of Havana Central”

Jeremy Merrin, Founder & CEO of Havana Central

This is Jeremy Merrin, the founder and CEO of Havana Central, a Cuban restaurant known for it’s large portions, live music and killer mojitos. A native New Yorker, Jeremy was working in e-commerce and looking for a career change when he decided to make a list of things that he was interested in pursuing and the idea for Havana Central, he says, “just took hold”. Even though he doesn’t come from a food background (in fact no one in his family had ever been in the food industry), he thought this idea presented the biggest opportunity and it was the one he was most excited about. The idea was inspired by a popular Latino restaurant that he lived next to called The Caridad. He started talking to a friend about the food and realized that, outside of Mexican food, there were very little full-service, high-quality restaurants serving the Hispanic market. So he started doing some research into the industry, interviewing Latino and Hispanic people as well as diners in general and eating at every Latin restaurants in the tri-state area to figure out what they were doing well and what could be improved. Through his analysis it became clear to him that there was an audience for this food and although there were a good amount of mom and pop restaurants in NYC, there weren’t any reputable, full-service concepts. So Jeremy decided to create a restaurant whose atmosphere is so immersed in the smells, sounds and tastes of Cuban culture that visiting it makes you feel like you’re taking a wonderful mini-vacation in Havana, Cuba.

Once Jeremy had identified this gap in the market, he started looking at what items were available to them, i.e. traditional Cuban dishes. He realized that since most dishes required relatively inexpensive ingredients, it would allow them to sell and deliver large platters of really good food for reasonable prices, which he thought was key for the economy in 2001. He hired a hospitality, restaurant and retail consultant, Arlene Spiegel, to help create a clear brand for the business and to get it up and running. They hired a food engineer, who helped them come up with the initial recipes for the menu but the real significant base of what they have on their current menu was created by Stanley Licairac, the first person that Jeremy hired to be a part of his team at Havana Central. Stanley was the executive chef at Havana Central for 11 years and was very talented with recipe creation, so most of their dishes are still ones that he put together. But it took about ten or eleven months of menu creation and business preparation before Jeremy was able to open their first location in 2002. And it would be a few years before he was able to fully transition Havana Central into the full-service operation that he knew it could be. 

For the first Havana Central location, Jeremy had purchased a little deli on 17th Street off of Union Square and converted it into a small restaurant with only counter service in about six weeks. The line was out the door the first day that they opened and business was so consistent that within the first three months, they were able to start doing dinner service. Dinner service very quickly became successful as well because they were selling a lot of alcohol from the small bar that they had added to the space. Jeremy realized that a lot of people were coming to the restaurant to drink and as that became a bigger factor, he began to pivot away from his initial plan of counter service. He had always wanted a full-service restaurant but their alcohol sales were so substantial that it made the bar and full-service dining more important than ever before and gave him the ability to transition from a fast- casual restaurant to a full-scale service. They reconstructed the bar in the front of the restaurant and closed off the counter at dinnertime for dinner service, eventually getting rid of the counter completely and making the entire space a full-service operation. As they continued to grow, Jeremy realized that the smaller space was no longer fitting into their capabilities, as they had become a much larger scale restaurant. And although Jeremy admits that their first location was really used as a laboratory, all of that experimenting allowed them to clearly determine what their concept was, upscale the food and to get a good handle on their operations. So by the time their 10 year lease had ended at the 17th Street location, they had already opened two 200+ person locations in Times Square (in 2005) and on the Upper West Side (in 2007).

Havana Central

Jeremy now has four Havana Central locations: Times Square, Yonkers, Long Island and New Jersey (the Upper West Side location is now closed) and at each restaurant he tries to create a family atmosphere, both in the restaurant and on the corporate side, especially because a lot of his employees have been there for 10+ years. So all of the employees are very friendly with one another and most of them have developed a group friendship where they go out together or hang out outside of work. He tries to create a collaborative environment and make sure that there’s no sense of “me against you” so that in the restaurant the back of house is working equally as well with the front of house as they are within themselves. At their core they’re a team and one can’t function properly without the other so he always promotes that belief at both at the restaurant and at their corporate office. For Jeremy, the people he works with are the best part of the job. They’re good people who he enjoys being around. However, the people is also the most difficult part of the job for him, because people are a factor that he can’t control. He can control food, labor and food costs (the basic financial variables) but he can’t control personalities, emotions and personal lives, which are much more complex. Also, there are so many different factors to consider with employees: finding the right people, making sure that they’re keeping customers happy, making sure they’re doing the right thing at the right time and making sure that they’re in positions where they can succeed. Figuring out the balance with your employees is a never ending process and an area that Jeremy is always trying to improve upon.

Although they’ve opened locations pretty consistently over the last 17 years, Jeremy would like to speed up the process. He says that Havana Central is constantly in an state of improvement and he’s always looking for ways to grow and expand the business. Outside of fear of failure, which he admits is a big motivator for him, he really enjoys what he does for a living and still very clearly envisions what the future of Havana Central could be. There are other restaurants that have already done what he wants to do with Havana Central but since the Latin market is still somewhat untapped, there is a huge market available to them and those possibilities really excite him to get to the next level. In the future he hopes to expand Havana Central across the U.S. and make it like the “Latin PF Chang’s” or the “Latin Cheesecake Factory”. But for the moment, he’s happy building the Havana Central brand, making sure that every part of every restaurant that he operates is reminiscent of Havana, Cuba and makes the customer feel as if they’re sitting in a night club or restaurant there, even if they’re only taking a lunch break.

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

 

0 comments on “Bari Musacchio, Owner of Baz Bagel and Restaurant”

Bari Musacchio, Owner of Baz Bagel and Restaurant

This is Bari Musacchio, the owner of Baz Bagel and Restaurant. A sociology major in college, she says that the fact that she got into the hospitality industry was “totally random” since no one in her Jewish/Italian family was in food. But when her dad told her that she needed to get a job in order to live in his Manhattan apartment during summer break and that he had hooked her up with a job at Ceci Cela Patisserie, she obliged. She started working at the counter and enjoyed it so much that she continued working there, even when she had graduated college and could only work there one day a week since she had a full-time job. When she first started working at the French pastry shop, she says she didn’t really realize why she kept going back. She just knew that she loved learning people’s names and coffee orders, meeting different customers from the neighborhood and being able to walk anywhere and have to stop and say “hi” to someone she knew. In retrospect, she sees that it was during this time that she got “bitten by the food industry bug” because she loved the neighborhood feeling that the business provided. It’s the same atmosphere that she strives to provide in her cafe, which she describes as having a “Cheers vibe”. Everything from the restaurant’s design to the food to the music was deliberately chosen to make Baz Bagel a neighborhood place where every person feels comfortable and stopping in is just part of a customer’s routine.

It wasn’t until she started doing the accounting for the wholesale business at Ceci Cela Patisserie that Bari recognized that she could turn her love for the food industry into a professional career. She had always been very academic and liked being in a job where she was actively learning and continued to feel challenged. She enrolled in the French Culinary Institute (now International Culinary Center) because she felt that if she was going to commit to a career in food, she wanted to learn every aspect of the business. There she learned the basics of cooking and baking before becoming deeply interested in Italian food and wine (which she reveals is still a special passion of hers) and deciding to go to culinary school in Italy. She came back to New York for a few years after she finished her culinary courses, but later returned to Italy and worked there for a year because she loved the view of the culinary arts in Europe, “it was a whole different type of education”, she says. After returning from Italy the second time, she opened Rubirosa as the General Manager and worked there for about five years, helping to build it from the ground up. During this time, she kept noticing that there were no bagel shops on the Lower East Side, an area that she had lived and worked in for many years. Since she had grown up on Long Island, bagels were a huge part of her daily diet and she found herself traveling to the Upper West Side every weekend to get “good bagels” with her dad, which was a routine they had. She also kept remembering how often customers would come into Ceci Cela and ask if they had bagels and she would think “someone has to open a bagel place around here” because there was no routine available to their community. So in 2014, she started imagining spots in the area where she could open a bagel place and when a space opened up across the street from her apartment she decided to just take a look at it, thinking “maybe my bagel fantasy will come true”. Immediately when she walked in, she was able to envision how it could all work and decided to go for it.

Her family helped her in putting up the money to buy the restaurant but coming off of the success of Rubirosa, where they saw her work like it was her own place, they knew this endeavor was something she was extremely passionate about. Seeing the whole operation work is still one of the most rewarding parts of the business for Bari. She compares it to synchronized swimming, where everyone is moving on their own but working as a whole to create something masterful. The space she’s in has a 120 year old history. Originally an Italian deli and then a multitude of other things, it was an Italian restaurant for 10 years and then briefly a juice bar before Bari took it over. Her neighbor, Anna, used to work there as a girl when her family ran it as a luncheonette, which she showed Bari pictures of on the night that Baz opened, one of which now hangs on a wall in the restaurant. The space has been a part of the community for generations, which makes it even more special for Bari that she can continue adding to it’s history. Unfortunately the owners before her ripped out all of the original counters and fixtures so they had to bring back in the lunch counter and re-design everything. But she felt that bringing back touches of the original decor made the space even more charming and inviting. She was inspired by her trips to Florida to give it the luncheonette/diner feel rather than a grab-n-go bagel store because in Florida it’s normal to sit down, have some coffee and eat your bagel or breakfast sandwich at a table without rushing out. So she decided to create a Jewish diner that centered around bagels, even though grab-n-go may be faster and more efficient in New York. She loved the idea of sitting at a table and hanging out with friends while enjoying a delicious bagel and she wanted to create a place where she would want to hang out every day.

There’s a lot of nostalgia sprinkled throughout the restaurant, from the design to the menu to the packaging. All of the decorations in the restaurant are things that influenced Bari growing up, specifically musicians like Barbara Streisand, Carly Simon and Carole King, which were always playing around her house. Bari’s grandmother grew up on the Lower East Side and went to high school with Barbara Streisand so there was always a connection to her and the empowering message that she stood for. Bari wanted to tie these childhood influences (the influences of her grandmother’s generation) into the menu, so she took some recipes from her grandmother when creating it. Her grandmother has a recipe box full of recipe cards that she and her friends from temple wrote down and put together so she was a able to get a lot of authentic recipes for items like latkes, chicken soup, matzoh balls and matzoh brei. However, for the bagels, Bari created her own recipe. She did a lot of research into bagels (eating many different kinds) to see what she liked or disliked about them and even worked at a bagel shop in New Jersey for free in order to learn how to make them. Once she knew the process, she hired bakers to start making them and then tweaked the recipe to incorporate different elements that she liked from certain bagels until she found the perfect balance. With their packaging, Bari tries to keep the personality of the restaurant and bring it into corporate offices for catering or delivery orders. Catering is usually a side operation for other businesses but for her it’s become just as important as the retail business because every time she caters, she introduces her product to 100 people that haven’t seen it yet. She puts different images on their coffee boxes: one of her grandmother, one of Barbara Streisand, one of her cousin, Gary, in a pink suit for his prom, just to make it fun. She tries to find the joy in simple things and uses her packaging to make an impression and to keep a smile on people’s faces.

For Bari, the most rewarding part of the business is seeing people laughing in the restaurant every day and having a good time. It was really important to her that she create a space where you could “take a date, a baby or your grandmother” and each person would feel like there was something there for them. Which is why she’s not concerned with finding a niche or carving out a space for her restaurant in the food industry. She just wants to be “the neighborhood hang”, which she is, as evidenced by the customers that come into her restaurant seven days a week. She loves that she’s seen kids grow up in her store and takes pride in the fact that when a customer comes in, they’re able to forget about whatever’s going on outside the restaurant. But even though Baz Bagel is an established restaurant in the neighborhood, she admits that there’s an obstacle every single day. Which is why her advice to other entrepreneurs in the food industry is to keep with it, saying “as long as you’re prepared to deal with the challenges and control everything else that’s controllable, you’re gonna be fine”. Perseverance is the key to success for Bari, whose dad and sister both run their own businesses. She believes that the drive to succeed is in her DNA and her dad has taught her that running a business is a game of both “putting your head down and working hard” and “lifting your head up and selling”. So when so many things are going wrong and she wants to quit, she just keeps pushing through it, believing it will work out, which it always does.

As for the future of Baz, Bari says she’s enjoyed expanding “out the backdoor” with their catering and wholesales businesses rather than opening many doors with other locations. She enjoys the charm of having one location but there is demand for them to expand so she’s in the process of figuring out what that looks like. One thing that is clear to her is that whatever expansion they do end up doing, she wants to make sure that it doesn’t effect their flagship store, which is the heart and soul of her business. It’s the place that made her believe that her vision was possible and even today, after five years in business, Bari continues to say that she can’t put her finger on what it is that makes her restaurant so unique. But just like her first job at Ceci Cela, which made her fall in love with food, Baz Bagel and Restaurant is a place where there’s a constant friendly, community feeling and as Bari puts it, “something just feels special about this place”.

 

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Kamola Akhmedova, Owner of Afandi Asian Grill

This is Kamola Akhmedova, the owner of Afandi Asian Grill. Afandi is a title shortened from Nasreddin Afandi, the name of a fictional character whose story of being a traveler on the Silk Road is very popular in Kamola’s native country of Uzbekistan. Kamola moved to New York in 2013 after meeting her fiance at The MET during a business trip for her parents manufacturing company. The company, which specializes in the manufacturing of ice cream and frozen foods, was looking to expand it’s product line and Kamola was meeting with clients in New York. Her husband, who is also originally from Uzbekistan, overheard her talking on the phone and struck up a conversation with her. Five months later, after dating long distance, they decided to get married and Kamola moved back to New York permanently. She says it was one of the biggest decisions she’s ever made because she had been a part of her parents company for most of her life and wasn’t sure what she would do for work in New York. But soon after getting married she got pregnant and she spent the next two years raising her son and continuing to work remotely for her parents. In 2015 her husband decided to open his own shipping company and she began helping with the business, doing the bookkeeping and running operations. However, after a while, Kamola started getting interested in the food industry again, since she had worked in it for most of her life. She began thinking about how much she loved Uzbek food but it was all so heavy and greasy; there was no modern Uzbek food that would appeal to the market in New York. So she decided to open her own fast casual restaurant that would focus on a new version of Uzbek food but still would be able to educate New Yorkers about her culture.

Uzbekistan is located in Central Asia so it has influences from both the Silk Road/the Western part of China and the Soviet Union, which makes both their culture and their food a very unique combination. Their breakfast food is most similar to the Soviet Union countries (pierogies, cheese pancakes, blintzes) but most of their traditional lunch and dinner dishes (Uzbek pilaf (plov), dumplings (manti) and noodle dishes (norin or lagman)) come from Western China and are very meat-heavy, containing either lamb or beef. Originally when she began pursuing a career in the food industry, Kamola did research into manufacturing, thinking that she could create a manufacturing business around Uzbek food. But she quickly realized that it would be too hard to replicate her parents’ operation without experience in the U.S. Her parents had been working in the manufacturing industry for years, first mass manufacturing ice cream and then expanding into frozen foods when she was 14, the same time that Kamola began working for them. She had started learning English in high school and since her parents don’t speak English, she would help them schedule meetings with their partners abroad. She attended an Australian university in Uzbekistan and continued her English classes, taking a bigger role in the company and travelling with her parents to international expos and conferences to help translate. Although her schedule was extremely full with work and school, she says she didn’t mind it because she was always passionate about being in business. She didn’t know exactly what field she would pursue but always knew she would get into some area of business and be a business owner.

Since Kamola had been surrounded by food from an early age and knew manufacturing wasn’t a viable option, she began thinking about the restaurant/cafe business because it was a smaller part of the food industry and a (seemingly) easier operation to run. She started doing research into food trends in New York and found that vegetarian and vegan options were very popular. She thought there could be a way to make Uzbek food lighter and healthier with vegan and vegetarians options; an “every day meal” that would attract recurring customers rather than a heavy experience that they splurged on every once in a while. However, although she knew how to cook and had business experience, she didn’t have any experience in the restaurant industry, so she spent the next year learning. She wanted to do her research into the business and decrease her risks as much as possible so she started going into different restaurants in Uzbekistan and asking chefs for help. She worked with these chefs to deeply understand and learn their recipes and then she made them every day until she learned how to create every dish. Then she started working backwards seeing where she could substitute ingredients for lighter, healthier and/or veggie-friendly options. She spent six months in Uzbekistan and six months in New York learning and working on the menu before deciding if she could even open a restaurant. But her research paid off. She constructed a simple menu that included some main, authentic Uzbek dishes as well as the vegan and vegetarian options that she had created. Once that was complete, she made a business plan and started looking for restaurant spaces in the East Village since it’s a traditionally Ukrainian area that customers are drawn to. She ended up finding a small space with a kitchen on 1st Avenue and her restaurant opened in September 2018. It’s one of the first Uzbek restaurants in Manhattan.

Afandi Store

Since her business has only been open for about six months, Kamola says there’s still a lot to be done to get more customers into the restaurant. She admits that it’s been difficult to gain interest from customers because it’s something new but she tries to explain the cuisine to every single customer that comes in so that he/she understands the influences that make it unique. She’s incorporated a lot of the Uzbek culture into the store design (statue of Afandi, Uzbek paintings, cups and bowls) but also tries to show the creation of her modern Uzbek food by depicting the meshing of New York City and Uzbekistan with the image of two American women wearing Uzbek hats. She’s also very aware of the impact of social media on food businesses and is trying to do more on Instagram and Facebook so that their audience will get to know her business and the mission behind it. She’s been inviting influencers to come to the restaurant and try the food for free in exchange for a social media post and even created a “green wall” to make the restaurant more picturesque for social media. However, as difficult as it’s been for Kamola to get her business to stand out in a saturated market, she says that the most difficult part of being a woman-owned business is being able to balance your family and your business. It feels like there’s never enough time in the day for her to manage both aspects of her life and that gets really tough. Her son is her biggest motivation to make the business successful but even when she’s thinking about the business throughout the day, she’s always thinking about her son. Although she really enjoys her job, she has to work to support her family and it’s always challenging trying to figure out how to balance everything. It frustrates her as a business owner and mother that there’s not one clear solution but she hopes that over time she can find a routine that works for her.

Kamola’s immediate plans for Afandi Asian Grill include expanding their menu to incorporate more food from other Soviet Union countries and starting to offer brunch on the weekends. But long-term she plans to open another restaurant that’s smaller with only counter service and grab-n-go food. She’d like to open a small manufacturing facility in Brooklyn where all of the Uzbek food would be cooked and then transported to these small restaurants that would eventually expand throughout the city. However, this operation requires more financing so she plans to do more research into the logistics to see what would be feasible in New York. She’s started going to more networking events and meet-ups to make connections and learn from people who have been successful in the food industry. Understanding how other women have grown their businesses and garnering their advice is very important to her. Kamola relies heavily on her research and being a new business owner, it’s one of her two pieces of advice for female entrepreneurs looking to get into the food industry: do as much research as possible and then get as much experience as possible. She doesn’t regret her path into the restaurant business but looking back she wishes that she knew more about restaurants and how many things you have to handle as a business owner before jumping in. She says if she had realized, she definitely would’ve worked in a restaurant to get more experience first, even if she had to work for free. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what cuisine you’re cooking, real life experience in a kitchen is more important than anything else.

 

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