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0 comments on “Janie Deegan, Founder of Janie’s Life-Changing Baked Goods”

Janie Deegan, Founder of Janie’s Life-Changing Baked Goods

In the realm of desserts, cookies and pies will always be at the top of the list. Imagine both of them combined into one type of dessert… Now THAT is a mouthwatering thought. Good news for you, it can be! After many trials and errors creating cookies, cakes, and pies in her home kitchen, Janie Deegan (founder of Janie’s Life-Changing Baked Goods)  created something special: her famous Pecan Pie Crust Cookie.

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But before we go into the details of this delicious cookie, Janie’s story needs to be heard. In her early 20’s, Janie was an alcoholic and an addict. Her addiction eventually lead her to being homeless and isolated, with no communication between Janie and her family and friends. Her life was at a standstill, and close relatives started to feel helpless after telling her multiple times to get sober. It was a dark time for Janie, who says that her problems with addiction had been building for years, due to her inability to deal with stress and anxiety. . But when Janie turned 25, something inside of her changed. She started to crave the desire to turn her life and to become sober one day at a time.

Janie found a job as a superintendent in a building in the East village where was taking people’s garbage out but “living life!”. She started to realize that she wanted to develop skills of her own and pursue a career. One thing was crystal clear to her though: in order to deal with her anxiety and stress as well as continue to combat her addiction, she needed to have control over the results in what she did. And that is why baking was perfect for her! She baked a lot of cakes as a child with her mom, so she knew she was good at it. And it turns out that baking is more than creating something sweet. Baking is accompanied with a broad amount of psychological benefits. Baking for Janie, and for many others, allows her to cope with stress, to express her love, to communicate better with others, and to give back to those who always loved and supported her. Baking gives Janie control in her life as well. It is a step-by-step process, always (well, most of the times) following the same metrics. If you put the right amount of sugar, butter and flour, you will always create that perfect cookie.

Years of gaps in her resume and very few work experiences were no excuse for Janie to not start taking her life back. “I mean, I wish I could put my sobriety on a resume because what I’ve learned from not drinking has totally changed my life. It is crazy for me to think of the person I was at 25 – always scared, meek, filled with fear and no concept of self love. What I have developed in the past six years is all about strength, courage and learning to follow through. I have found the real me – not the better me, not the worse me but the real me. And that is a huge blessing”.

Taking a leap of faith, Janie made her first investment in herself and purchased her very first $25 mixer. She started baking pies and cakes, the sweets that brought her the most joy as a child, and she would bring them to friends’ dinners and parties since it was all she could afford to offer. But people would immediately ask her where she bought these delicious treats! And they always kept asking for more. It was because of these friends and family that supported her that Janie started regaining her self-confidence and pride in her work that had been lost for many years.

“I was definitely scared to start since I did not go to culinary school. I would keep thinking: Who am I to think that I could be a business woman?! But it’s funny because whenever I think about what type of career I want, I always tell myself: one where I am able to work out in the middle of the day or grab lunch with a friend. But so you hear this word “entrepreneur” and it freaks you out because it is such a big word. But I’ve come to realize that if you are doing something you love, then you are already an entrepreneur”.

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And so right before turning 30, Janie decided to fully focus on growing her business. She stopped working as a superintendent and as a nanny, and committed to her dream of being an entrepreneur. Since she needed financial help, Janie applied for the Pepsi’s “Stacy’s Rise Project” and won the grant because of her story. This program was specifically focused on elevating women in the food industry through an entrepreneurship program – and that is exactly what happened. For the past two years it has been a nonstop mission for Janie to be completely genuine and dedicated with what she is doing. She wants her story to reach as many people to encourage those who have struggled with an addiction or those who lack the courage to build a business due to self-esteem. “I think that is why people keep asking for more. I mean, the cookies are great but people really relate on a personal level with what I am doing. You need to find something that sets you apart from the others; that is how you succeed”.

As for what the future holds, Janie wants to continue doing corporate catering and selling at local markets but is looking to switch her products to consumer packaged goods to reach a wider audience. She knows that it will definitely get more challenging as the business grows since she is the chef, the sales person, the PR person, and everything in between. “It is hard to keep the business alive while trying to grow it. Seeing me on my Quickbooks is like pulling hair!” But New York City is the city to be when seeking business resources. There are so many programs for small businesses and people to connect with and Janie has found a lot of support in this community. The food industry, surprisingly enough, is very nurturing of each other – especially among female-owned businesses.

Past experiences have led Janie to value what is important for her, what her goals in life are and what it takes to pursue them. She intends to be a second chance employer, and work specifically with homeless shelter and halfway houses to be a resource for a community that she was once a part of. Janie is the perfect example that you do not need to have a particular degree to pursue a dream or discourage yourself if going through a rough time. Dedication, passion, and a genuine mission will get you far ahead of the game.

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Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

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. 

 

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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 “Gladys Shahtou, Founder and Owner of Sambuxa NYC”

Gladys Shahtou, Founder and Owner of Sambuxa NYC

Sudanese cuisine is as diverse as its geography and cultures. In Northern Africa, particularly in Sudan, samosas (also known as sambuxas) are one of the many food staples for this local cuisine. Samosas are traditionally made with a very thin pastry dough that is stuffed with sweet and savory fillings like ground beef or sweet potato. While they can be eaten at any time of the year, samosas are usually reserved for special occasions like holidays and weddings. But no matter the occasion, it is a must to gather around the communal table to prepare these lavish treats like Gladys’s family does.

samosas

Gladys is the owner of Sambuxa, a Sudanese food business in the NYC area. She was born in Sudan but moved at the age of five to Switzerland for her father’s job – a political activist. She went to college in Geneva where she studied International Relations. During this time, Gladys started preparing Sudanese dishes for her roommates which eventually led to a small catering business that helped pay for rent and other expenses. After college, Gladys started her master’s degree in International Management at the University of Bordeaux. She landed in a job in NY after, specifically at the UN, and then after a year and a half moved to D.C. She worked for the Democrats in 2017 right after the elections in the Marketing Department. But given the situation, Gladys did not have a chance in extending her contract.

After four months of sending applications but nothing in return, Gladys felt discouraged. “Even though for months is not much time, it was more of an ego thing for me. Having such an extensive resume (the UN, DMC, and others) and speaking five languages (French, German, English, Arabic and Swiss-German) I was really upset. I was between going back to Switzerland, Sudan, or looking for a different career path in NY”. After brainstorming and multiple conversations with colleagues, Gladys turned her situation into an opportunity. “I always wanted to launch a food business and this was a perfect time as I had no job and no immediate obligations. New York is also the perfect place to launch such business as so many people are willing to try different cuisines. And so I thought to myself, if I work so hard for someone else I might as well work hard for my own passion”.

sudanese sweet

Sambuxa has now been in business for almost two years. The menu offers a variety of Sudanese dishes – beef, chicken, pork, lamb, cheese, and vegetable samosas, stews, wraps, salads, lentils, sweets and more! As she thinks about the future, Gladys is going back to Sudan for the holidays to do some research for an upcoming project: her own business incubator. In Sudan, there are a lot of underprivileged people who have no education but work in any means they find. A business incubator in the capital will help combat this problem and allow people to maximize their skills – either programming, coding, design, food or any other interest. “I want to have a place where the youth can gather, exchange ideas and obtain the necessary resources to start launch their own business. It is tough but doable”. Her vision is to imitate the U.S. system of providing free business courses, events and programs that help those who want to strengthen their weaknesses. In Sudan, for example, it is very popular to drink chai tea. Nowadays it is a very simple activity where people sit on top of crates on the streets, drink their tea, and get back to their routines. “Chai vendors are the Starbucks of Sudan”. According to Gladys, it is so popular that it can be transformed into a larger concept like a cafe. But to make this happen, people need guidance and the right tools; that is why Gladys wants to create her incubator. “Concept stores are very successful in the capital so I want children from the slums to be able to tap into that market and start learning about business”.

The Sudanese people need greater business guidance, and this is what Gladys’s past work experiences helped her realize why she wants to be involved in politics. Greater programs and foreign representation for these people is needed. She figured that by doing this herself she can put the resources where she wants them to go and oversee projects she truly values. “With all these charities and donations worldwide, no one ever knows where the funds head towards. For me, it is better to do it myself and see a direct impact”.

Gladys is fortunate to represent a cuisine that speaks for itself: very flavorful and welcoming. As there are not many African vendors in New York, she is definitely opening a new market. Gladys even wants to produce a Sudanese hot sauce and freeze her samosas to ship them nationwide. Go hard or go home as she said!

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Need catering for you and your team? Contact us

 

 

0 comments on “Diverse Catering Lunches Create More Than Just Team Building”

Diverse Catering Lunches Create More Than Just Team Building

Food can be used as a great foundation to enhance your company’s culture. It can be used as an effective, yet simple, resource to build camaraderie at the office. No matter where you work, you eat at least two full meals in your office. And so does everyone around you. Eating together should be seen as a fun, engaging and enjoyable experience; not one that makes people anxious and uncomfortable. Some people do love gathering around the communal table and learning more about others. But others feel an unnecessary pressure to socialize, especially with a boss or a colleague, and think is work for them. It is important for the company to have an engaging pool between employees as it reflects well on the organization’s vision, values and goals. Consequently, great for retention and recruitment. So if you haven’t thought about using food as a tool, you should start now.

catered lunch

A catered lunch will foster collaboration, add value to the company’s benefits, its CSR and more. And I mean, who doesn’t enjoy free food!? But according to recent studies, only one in five workers get up from their desk for lunch. Yet nearly 90% of the American workers surveyed felt that team lunches/breaks “helped them feel refreshed, more engaged and ready to get back to work”. When introducing innovative catered lunches instead of boring sandwiches and salad options, companies saw significant returns on these investments. One of the most prominent returns was, in fact, team building. But why?

Food is the universal language that unites people. “Through breaking bread together, we can break down walls and boundaries that can unfortunately separate individuals, races, ethnicities and cultures”. With today’s workforce being more diverse than ever, people cherish when you provide a food option that comes from their homeland. It makes them feel welcomed and appreciated. It also creates an environment where people from other cultures want to learn more about the food and therefore, their colleague. For example, in 2018, “the highest-rated cuisines for office meals were Vietnamese, Middle Eastern, Mexican and Indian”. Ordering more diverse meals also widens people’s perspectives about inequality. Having an amicable relationship with a certain type of cuisine, say Indian or Mexican, creates less resentment towards individuals who are culturally from there. As you enjoy how flavorful and aromatic your Chicken Tikka Masala is, you no longer feel uncomfortable among the presence of strong Indian smells or individuals. Those of different races, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds are seen more equal with food serving as major bond force. Even author Alice Julier expressed this ideology in her book Eating Together , promoting the “social dynamics of diverse and shared meals”.

food around world

At FoodtoEat, we are on a mission to unite people around the communal table and add diversity to the food community by championing small businesses from every neighborhood. Providing your team an assortment of delicious culinary adventures will not only surprise and delight your colleagues, but also promote inspiring conversation. We have a vast array of cuisines from all over the world such as Africa, Turkey, India, Colombia, Sudan, Japan and Cuban that will suit all your team members. By offering interesting food options like those mentioned, employees will not want to miss such opportunity. Hence, not missing the opportunity of broadening their palates and getting to know each other better. Moreover, having team/office lunches make leaders more accessible. This promotes an environment of transparency, innovation, less intimidation, and better sense of connection. This is all because the so-called “small talks” enables individuals to connect on a more meaningful level with, say, their bosses. Consequently driving employees to be more open on commenting about others’ opinions during “intense” conversations. Sharing and enjoying food together is a basic human expression of friendship, pleasure and community. That’s why people say “a full stomach equals a happy heart”, right?

0 comments on “Nir Kahan, Co-Owner of The ChickShop”

Nir Kahan, Co-Owner of The ChickShop

Wouldn’t you love to be wandering Israel’s streets right now and getting lost with their delicious fresh foods? Definitely a much better plan than sitting in front of our computers all day! But we’ve got news for you, and it doesn’t require spending all of your salary in an airplane ticket. On the corner of 3rd avenue and 50th street, a small restaurant called The Chick Shop will teletransport you through their dishes. Using only the highest quality, natural ingredients available, this restaurant brings “a modern take on classic Middle Eastern street food”. Try their warm, fluffy pitas and crispy falafels and you’ll get why we write so highly of them.

Nir Kahan is the co-owner of The Chick Shop. He grew up in Israel, and mentioned how the food was always a main stage event in his daily life. As you all may know, food is extremely important in Israeli culture. Every single “chef”, from street food vendors to those in upscale restaurants, tries to offer the most high-quality, locally sourced, fresh, seasonal ingredients he/she can find. So when Nir moved to New York in 2009, he felt frustrated. Not a single Middle Eastern restaurant met his expectations, and so he decided to create it himself by opening The Chick Shop.

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Before his restaurant, Nir worked in Finance. Even though he made more money back then than he is now, Nir has never felt happier and more motivated. This is his baby; it is an extension of himself. He knows this business has the potential to make a lot of money, just like in Finance, with hard-work, the right mindset, and the right team. Nir in fact mentioned how the team he has now is the best he’s ever had in years. They’ve become a little family and his top employees who have been with him for a while now know the operations so well that it’s allowed them to grow the business and expand the menu. Their service, along with the unique influences combined on their menu, has allowed them to differentiate themselves from their competition. For The Chick Shop, there are a lot of competitors like Toum and Taim. Funny enough, Taim is just a block away. But when asked how he felt about it, Nir responded with no worry. “It is good to have Taim just a block away for two main reasons. First, together we drive more foot traffic to our stores. And second, having Taim next to me keeps me on my toes to always be our very best at every moment. You can’t be affected or intimidated by your competition. If people like the food, they will spread the love for you!”.

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One of the most rewarding parts of the business for Nir is to see returning Israeli customers. This not only means his food is consistently delicious, but that he uses authentic and fresh ingredients like those found back home. Thanks to social media and online ordering platforms, Nir has more exposure to new clients that either order for themselves, refer his food to coworkers, or want to incorporate The Chick Shop as part of their corporate lunches. As for future business plans, franchising to reach a larger audience and have them know what a real falafel tastes like is on the top of the list. So many recurring customers have given Nir the confidence to know a second opening will definitely be a success.

Nir’s focus is continuing to provide the friendly service and high quality-food to create that long-lasting relationship from its customers. “My goal right now is to be as good as I can, on the counter or on the back-end, and bring happiness through my food”.

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Need catering for you and your team? Contact us

 

0 comments on “Why Do American Moms Struggle The Most?”

Why Do American Moms Struggle The Most?

American mothers are struggling. Social, cultural, technological and economic changes have altered the clear path of motherhood in recent years. While it was common in the 70’s and 80’s to see more than half of the mothers stay at home with their kids, it is certainly not like that anymore. Nowadays both parents work in 70% of families with children for several reasons; a main one is the constant rising prices of the costs of child care, especially in NY. In New York City, for example, the cost of child care is increasing $1,612 per year, with families spending up to $16,250 per year for an infant, $11,648 for a toddler and $9,620 for a school-age child. It is no wonder moms are stressed out…

Research says U.S. mothers have it “the worst when it comes to work-life balance because they lack cultural support”. Americans have this idea that in order to be a good worker one has to devote all the time and energy to the workplace. But what about the people who have non-work responsibilities such as family? They are not excellent employees because they don’t stay after hours? American moms, according to sociologist Caitlyn Collins, do not expect to have external supports from their employers, partners or federal government. “Mothers from Sweden, Germany and Italy, on the other hand, expected this and more”. Moreover, men in these countries devote the same amount of time as their partner in taking care of the children. “It is a cultural ideal supported through their federal policies, and we lack that sort of cultural consensus here in the U.S.”. American fathers do participate in the care of the children, but research found that their leisure time actually increased after parenthood during the weekends. Men watch TV, play sports and spend time with friends while women spend their “free time” planning birthday parties, play dates, and school meetings. And even if they do have leisure time, it is often interrupted.

working mom

It is important to salute every working woman and acknowledge that their successes have required a much greater amount of effort than their male counterparts. Let’s be clear though that today’s dads are doing more at home than those in previous generations – cheers! But as mentioned before, mothers still “shoulder greater responsibilities: childcare, housekeeping duties and invisible chores like making appointments, keeping track of activities, school schedules, booking the babysitter, and many more that doesn’t get noticed”. It’s little surprise that constant juggling and multitasking at home leads to negative mental health stability like depression and anxiety. And this is not just for the mother. “Studies point out that when moms suffer, kids suffer too. When the child’s primary caregiver is stressed or mentally ill, that stress tickles down to kids with bad results”.

American moms constantly blame themselves for their own stress and think it is only up to them to help resolve that. They want to be both successful at their jobs and dedicated to their family. But in the end, they find themselves in a no-win situation. There is so much pressure for mothers to fulfill the image of “an ideal motherhood” that they don’t get to enjoy the process. They are constantly trying to find the latest hacks whether is the perfect schedule planner, waking up earlier to meditate and workout, or the typical bulk cook on Sundays. One would think social media outlets would help relieve some of this tension. But social media is pervasive, and research shows mothers who frequently compare themselves to others “feel more depressed, less competent and less positive about their co-parenting relationships”. Mom-shaming is nothing new, and it needs to stop.

Mothers need to stop feeling so much pressure and being conflicted about work and family life. They need to also stop thinking they need to become better, work harder, try harder, and find the new parenting hack. Being a mother isn’t supposed to be easy, but it certainly isn’t supposed to feel impossible. Yes, it involves sacrifices and certain levels of commitment. But it needs to be perceived as a joyful experience for both the mother and the father. With better support groups, less social media shaming, better governmental resources and more work flexibility, women will feel less anxious and more grateful. For mothers to thrive, we need to lighten their load. And together we can knock down those hurdles. Together we can create a better work-life balance.

 

 

0 comments on “Stop Asking Small Restaurants/Catering Services For Free Food”

Stop Asking Small Restaurants/Catering Services For Free Food

Stop asking us for free food. 

Size matters

Within the past month, we’ve had a couple large, Fortune 100 companies reach out to us, highlight our mission and importance in the community…and ask for free food.

So we’re trading a shout-out that we’re “sponsoring the meal”…for a hit to our bottom line.

Unfortunately, as honored as we are by their acknowledgment, goodwill and pats on the back don’t pay the bills – for us, nor the vendors we represent.

Everyone knows that small restaurants need much more than mom’s classic recipes to survive. According to a frequently cited study by Ohio State University on failed restaurants, 60% don’t make it past the first year, and 80% go under in five years. Restaurants pop up in New York like a game of whack-a-mole and they disappear just as quickly. But why? There are of course the usual suspects: crowded market, subpar food and service, bad people management, or a lack of accounting skills. 

But we tend to overlook another critical factor: a small business owner’s individual lack of negotiating power.  

Big businesses – like the ones who reached out to us – have power, and power means they’ve got leverage. They’re in a much better position to espouse the same beliefs as us, but still dictate the terms.

For small businesses, it’s much harder because they’re truly at the mercy of of consumer spending. When a large company knocks on their door looking for a favor, there’s a fear that they need to compromise in the short-term to please the customer and lock-up the business long-term. 

But it never seems to work out that way. That initial discount, that early favor, becomes a permanent part of the business, and often acts as a gateway to other favors or special requests. The big company – which may in fact believe its furthering its mission of investing in the local community – instead exerts greater leverage over the small business. Instead of trading equal value for money, each special request turns into an implicit threat – “help us, or else…” 

Don’t these small businesses deserve at least the consideration of full price, just like any other company for their services. Would you even consider asking Apple for a free laptop? Hell no! Would you ask a lawyer for a free session when you know they need to invest a good amount of their time researching and reading about a specific case? Of course not.

Then why should you ask that of someone who’s working minimum wage? The chef works just as hard as the developer making your iPhone, or the lawyer researching your case. They’ve also spent years training and perfecting their skills and techniques.

We certainly applaud the increased focus in the past 12+ months on diversity, inclusion, and corporate social responsibility. But to do proper justice to any of these efforts, companies need to focus on the “responsibility” part. It’s not just about voicing your support for various causes, or shifting budget around to still hit your CSR goal while keeping short-term profits in check.

If you want to truly want to invest in diversity, inclusion, and CSR, you need empathy. In this case, where either you’re coordinating a meal with a small local vendor or asking FoodtoEat to curate it, you need empathy for your supply chain. What truly goes into the food that I’m ordering and how does it all come together?

Empathy for the supply chain

While a couple (sizeable) requests triggered this post, far more common are the requests for severely discounted options. A typical day at FoodtoEat involves explaining that there really is no respectable way to feed 250 people at $3 per person (seriously), or that no, entrees in NYC are not typically priced at $10 all-in (including tax and tip).

On one hand, we know that sometimes budgets get set at a higher level, so that’s all you have to work with. But on the other, if your job is to source diverse, delicious food that will truly elevate the experience of you and your coworkers, your budget can’t be fitted for the traditional “salad and sandwich” combo.

In the food business, asking for a really tight budget means you’re taking money out of someone’s pocket. To get a sense of what restaurant operators go through, here’s a list of the myriad costs they’re juggling. This is the full supply chain of your catering order: 

  • Rent: notoriously high for even the smallest shoebox. Restaurants can expect to pay $120 per-square-foot in Manhattan and trendy Brooklyn.
  • Utilities: water, electricity and gas. At peak efficiency, this – along with rent – comprises total occupancy, and should come in around 10 percent of monthly revenue. So if you’re paying $10k a month on occupancy, you need to be doing $100k in revenue.
  • Equipment: ovens, refrigerators, fryers, freezers, and dishwashers can cost from $100,000 to $300,000 or more. This is not accounting small devices like spatulas, pots, pans. storage containers, cutlery, thermometers, etc.
  • Technology: monthly subscriptions, installation and licensing fees for point of sale, the reservation system, online ordering / delivery, in-store wifi…each of these are essential pieces of the restaurant tech stack, but can quickly stack up to thousands of dollars in monthly recurring fees.
  • Seating, Renovations and Decorations: each restaurant never knows exactly how much of these items will cost them. There’s always the risk of leaks and electrical complications. Oh, and that’s after you’ve already paid up for chairs, tables, lighting, art, etc.
  • Salaries: The biggest line item – aside from rent – squeezing restaurants right now with minimum wage in NYC moving up to $15 an hour. Between front of house, back of house, delivery, etc., the costs here continue to rise.
  • Sales, Marketing and Advertising: with so much competition, restaurants have to start spreading the word before their doors even open. These expenses vary, but mainly include web design, menu development and social media. 
  • Licenses, Permits and State/City Requirements: restaurateurs looking to operate in New York city are subject to a number of permits and licenses like food protection, gas authorization, waste removal, food service establishment, etc.
  • Food Expenses: last but not least, at least 30% of the restaurant’s revenue gets eaten up on food and beverage costs given that it costs a week of produce around $600 for just 30 items.

Restaurants are mini factories – each one as numerous moving pieces that need to work in harmony to serve a great, consistent product…and any wrench in the works throws off the process and costs valuable time and money.

We’re not saying don’t have a $10 budget all-in. That’s totally fine. That’ll work for pizza or more cost-effective fast food options. But asking your local vendor – or a concierge service like FoodtoEat that coordinates everything for you – to satisfy a below-market request adds further pressure to a business that’s already dealing with its fair share.

Understanding the supply chain will deepen your empathy for a key aspect of the local community. And more importantly, emphasize the importance of paying a fair price for a high-quality product.

Collectively, we need to start valuing other people’s work and understand why it’s simply not acceptable to routinely ask for someone to provide their services for free. You can’t realistically say you invest or believe in social impact businesses, and then turn around and ask for an >80% discount on their services. 

We’re not saying that discounts are flat-out bullshit. Rather, there always needs to be an equivalent value of exchange – fair pay for fair work. 

Luckily, there are a few ways you can make this happen while still asking (and receiving) a discount.

Putting your money (or effort) where your mouth is

So now that we know the dynamics of why smaller businesses are at a disadvantage, what can we do about it? Here are some actionable tips to still achieve your CSR goals on a reasonable budget while not hampering the vendor.

To mitigate adding pressure to already thin margins, companies can instead exchange services. When there is a clear exchange of services, small restaurants/catering services can provide some services at cost or discounted. Some examples include:

  1. Speaker opportunity for the vendor at the event catered
  2. Provide the vendor with the contact information of attendees
  3. Create a dedicated post-event email
  4. Market the vendor through a dedicated social media post

You won’t get that 250-person catering for free, but maybe in-line with a more acceptable budget.

We already see this dynamic play out in personal dining – with influencers. When an influencer asks to eat at a restaurant at a discount, it’s a completely valid request, since they’re actively marketing the food and experience to their following. Because the influencer exposes the restaurant to potential customers, they in turn receive a tangible benefit. 

New York City is a culinary mecca, made up of so many of the small businesses that make our city so vibrant. And FoodtoEat loves promoting them. They are a part of our city’s culture, shaping us as global citizens and reminding us of the hard work and determination that comes with running any business. 

In our current social climate, supporting your local food community is more important than ever before. When so many factors divide us, food is a common denominator – a reason to come together and share different parts of ourselves, our cultures and our identities.

So from the bottom of our hearts, as part of the community of small businesses, stop taking advantage of our lack of power in the market. We’re not the biggest companies out there, but we’re a vital part of our social fabric, employing more people in this city – and country – than are larger counterparts, entrusted with sustaining peoples’ hearts, minds, and stomachs. 

How will you start utilizing your purchasing power to improve local communities around you?

0 comments on “Tommy Byrnes, Co-Founder of Jalapa Jar”

Tommy Byrnes, Co-Founder of Jalapa Jar

From serving breakfast tacos in a subway station in Austin, Texas to now opening their own store all the way in Brooklyn, Jalapa Jar continues to ascend the road of local success. Back in 2015, three friends had a great salsa recipe that at the beginning was only for friends and family gatherings. One worked in Wall Street, the other was in the food industry, and the other was involved in several Marketing and Business Development rolls. The three wanted to pursue something different and start their own business but weren’t exactly sure what. After many thought processes and friends’ encouragements, the three took the love for their salsa recipe to share it with the rest of the world and make it into an actual business.

They quickly got involved with Smorgasburg NYC, realizing the idea of a breakfast taco wasn’t as popular as in Texas or California. And since both tacos and salsas go together, the founders found themselves with an opportunity. From a taco standpoint, Jalapa Jar has definitely added its own twist. Among their specialties they have their garlic, jalapeño mashed potatoes with crumbled bacon, cheese, eggs, and cilantro. For a more afternoon bite, you can do their own bowl or taco with proteins ranging from super slow cooked shredded chicken, chopped steak, and mushroom with onions and garlic. The success of the salsa and taco makers had them join the catering business and many markets.

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But what was so special about this combo? This salsa company set itself apart from others like Tostitos for the freshness with no chemicals or preservatives. “You can purchase some Tostito’s salsas, send it to the moon and still be able to eat it”. We all know it is full of chemicals but we just blindfold ourselves. Jalapa Jar has proven that no chemicals are needed in order to preserve the ingredients. Yes of course it will not last you over a year. But if kept refrigerated, their salsas could last you up to 12 weeks. Red wine vinegar, lime juice, and the natural acidity of the tomatoes is all what’s needed. Jalapa Jar doesn’t look forward to become a national brand full of preservatives rather one like Blue Bottle Coffee or Van Lewens Ice Cream. Both have served as brand marketing inspirations for their artisanal nature, trying to be the best of their categories by sourcing the best ingredients, knowing exactly the best way to make it and presenting themselves as a very clean, ethical brand.

The founder also mentioned how through the development of the company they have not only learned how they want to position themselves in the market but also how to differentiate ingredients regarding sources, seasonality and taste. Jalapa Jar gets its ingredients from local produce manufacturers in the area, such as Baldor and Avanti. They are not able to directly work with farmers yet, but Tommy says as the company grows, they would be able to contact farmers and collaborate with them. In the end, they make it locally, they provide job opportunities to the local community, and also sell at local events like concerts and markets.

And like many food startups, it is currently at a kitchen incubator in the FIDI area. Economically it makes sense to be part of these incubators as small businesses don’t need to pay for kitchen space, rent, utilities, etc. and are also provided an education on how to run their operations successfully – forming some type of community where they support each other and each other’s companies. At the same time, Jalapa Jar has the best of both worlds: the incubator and their own space at the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Building 77. With this latest venture, Jalapa Jar has the chance to produce even more salsa for a wider audience. As of now, they are in all the Wholefoods of New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York City. With their new location at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, they are striving to be in Massachusetts and D.C.

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Besides co-founder Tommy, we also interviewed chef Dillon. With a background in Mathematics, he got himself involved with food at his first job at Waffle Bar. “Just by looking at my apron and seeing all the flour and the mess, I loved it! From that point on, I developed a unique passion to serve people and provide the most delicious food”. Solidifying his interest, he pursued his career as a chef. Short Story, Jalapa Jar wouldn’t be the same without him. Here’s why. Early on, Jalapa Jar sticked to the original recipe as they knew for sure people enjoyed eating it. As neither Tommy nor Steve had much experience in developing recipes, there wasn’t much room for creativity. When Dillon tagged along, he positioned the company to take on new challenges. Many people think that when cooking, recipes are followed over and over again. Absolutely not. If you are going to be making food at a regular basis you need to be creative and learn as you go. Dillon started experimenting with the ingredients, adjusting the rations of fat or salt content for example, and started developing new outstanding recipes that are very popular nowadays.

Jalapa Jar’s strength in the market is certainly the simplicity of their ingredient list. But can you really grow to become a national brand and be in remote locations like Iowa if you are fresh? “It is still a work in progress and definitely have many plans that can potentially help us get there. For example, having a local manufacturer in different areas to reduce the delivery time. Yet again, another challenge as you need to put your trust with so many people like we do with Dillon. We hope we can disrupt the food system. That’s is why we are constantly asking ourselves new questions such as: What are the various forms we can cook our ingredients? or What natural ingredients play the same role as preservatives to have a longer shelf-life?”

Both founders admit it has definitely been a challenge as the routine of knowing exactly what your day is going to look like doesn’t exist anymore. “Now, we don’t get patted on the back every time we do something right like it was before”. But Tommy definitely credits his business background and Smith’s 15 years in the financial sector for their ever-growing success with their product. They are enthusiastic about the future as they know all the time, money, and resources they’ve put in has been worth it so far. Oh, and curious of where they got the name from? The first town in Mexico that grew jalapeños is called Jalapa.

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Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

 

 

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Lindsey Becker, founder of Farm Cut Meals

Lindsey Becker was once part of the “Corporate America” pool who worked as a Strategic Consultant at Deloitte after being an Investment banker. But as it happens to many, one gets tired from sitting in front of the computer all day, not knowing if the work done is making any difference in the world. And sleep and a healthy lifestyle? What is that!? Becker actually found herself spending more of her time thinking about the catering orders for her team than her actual work. Everyone got excited when the company catered – except her. Simple, cold sandwiches and tasteless salads did not seem very appealing. And so realizing how naturally gravitated she was towards providing nutritious, wholesome foods to her colleagues, friends and family, Becker was ready to take the next step.

After working for a luxurious magazine where she planned events and dined with the most prestige clients, Becker decided to go after her dream of becoming a chef. She started to take evening cooking classes at ICE (Institute of Culinary Educations) while working at her day job in the restaurant Gramercy Tavern. But after a while, Becker knew she could do more in the restaurant than simply peeling tomatoes and cutting bread. She went from working in one of the best consulting firms to the “kitchen bitch” in no time. The simple tasks she was given did not provide much motivation to improve her skills and techniques. What it did provide, although, was an eye-opening experience of seeing how hard people in the restaurant industry work. “No one works harder than those in here. Long shifts, no air, always standing, minimal breaks, and working either super late at night or very early in the morning. It is definitely not easy”.

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By working at Gramercy Tavern, Becker had the advantage of being exposed to the most elite society in NYC and foster a relationship with them. Because of that, she found herself cooking as a personal chef to many of them – some for the tastiness of the meals and others for their health problems such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, and infertility problems. Because she struggled herself with an eating disorder during college, Becker knew that food is in fact medicine. After all, helping society to become healthier through the power of organic, whole foods had always been her passion. But after many years, Becker realized she “wasn’t making any impact in the world by cooking for one rich family”. And so Farm Cut was born.

Farm Cut is a corporate catering service that features customized and à la carte menus available for delivery across New York City. Its menu bases itself on “comfort foods made from superfoods”. The mission is to enable masses of people to eat healthier foods and not have to worry about what ingredients are put since they are all listed in their labels. Farm Cut also tries to educate its community when catering their meals by listing the superfoods in their dishes and explaining why they are good for you as well as what the benefits are for your body.  “I want to show Americans just how “gourmet” healthy food can be and encourage them to get in the kitchen and cook with organic, local, nutrient-dense ingredients”. And so after catering her meals to Tone House in 2017, Becker realized her business could be scalable without needing millions of dollars of investments. Farm Cut even catered to the NY Knicks for their post-game meals! A lot of feedback was given during this time – understanding that people do not want the super healthy meals like a simple salad. They want something that fulfills them just like a bowl of pasta would. Basically comfort foods in a much healthier way. Which is what Farm Cut is all about. For example, some of their delicious items include Quinoa Mac & “Cheese” (GF quinoa pasta blended with turmeric, cauliflower, and butternut squash “cheese” sauce) or Not Your Mom’s Meatloaf  (beef with onions, carrots, celery, fennel, oregano, coconut flour, and homemade refined sugar-free tomato sauce).

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Everything on the menu is gluten-free, diary-free, soy free, and refined sugar-free. It is all created in order to boost the nutritional content in your meal without you noticing the swap of ingredients. Eating healthy should not be so hard nor so confusing. But that is a big problem in today’s society due to companies playing with our minds through their marketing scams. It is of no surprise why this country is having major issues with cancer, type-2 diabetes and obesity in five-year old children. According to a research study in 2018, the percentage of adults aged 20 and over with overweight, including obesity is 71.6%. The medical costs associated with obesity are enormous – and growing. One study estimated the annual medical care costs of obesity in the United States in 2008 dollars at $209.7 billion. It has escalated ever since. And because American society is structured around productivity and convenience, what is more convenient than going to McDonald’s and ordering a large Coke, some french fries and a double cheeseburger under five minutes? The temptation of unhealthy food greets us on every street corner, in our breakrooms and at our favorite supermarkets…

For many families struggling between paychecks, the foods that make the most financial sense are the processed, packaged, fatty choices serving up the most calories. Unfortunately it is because of poor governmental choices. It is absurd that it costs you more a pound of broccoli than eating at a fast-food chain. Everyone cringes at their grocery bills and it is saddening to see how politicians support corn and soy produce instead of local vegetable farmers, for example. But the government is not the sole cause. Education also plays a big role. If we start teaching our children’s palate to smarter food choices, the problem will definitely stop augmenting. Getting more nutrient dense meals at schools and kindergartens is necessary. But tricks can be applied to eating healthier on a budget. For example, get your poultry in different cuts like thighs or legs for a third of the price. Or frozen produce like vegetables and fruits that won’t go to waste after a week (also one of the reasons why there is so much food waste). Or eating seasonally is also a cheaper option.

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Education is also needed for young women who do not know what a proper meal looks like. They focus on counting calories and carbohydrates instead of the nutrients that need to be put in the body. Society doesn’t talk about it, but over 10 million American women suffer from eating disorders in the U.S. Many think that eating less will make you skinnier and beautiful. But in order to be healthy, bare children and have kids, like Becker, one needs the proper nutrients, vitamins and minerals. It is not about how many calories but about how many nutrient dense foods one puts on its plate. One does not need to pay attention to calorie counting as long as one does not eat more processed than unprocessed foods. Stick to the 80/20 rule -an approach to healthy eating teaching balance, moderation and indulging without a guilty feeling. In order to be healthy and balanced, you don’t always have to make 100% healthy food choices. 80% is enough. The remaining 20% you can choose less healthy food and indulge yourself!

As what the future holds for Becker, “I would like to focus my efforts more towards children’s nutrition and cooking classes in schools, where I believe I can make a tremendous impact on healthy eating habits.  I also hope to launch a nutritional consulting and menu development firm in a few years, with the goal of partnering with schools throughout the region. And I would love to have a fast-casual concept or a potentially ghost kitchen to be available for orders from delivery platforms to all individuals”.

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Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

 

0 comments on “Halloween Party at Work Never Looked So Easy”

Halloween Party at Work Never Looked So Easy

Nothing screams “best company culture!” than a well-executed Halloween celebration at work! It is a great way to promote engagement and camaraderie among your employees, while also having them talk about how thoughtful the company is with their personal network. And don’t be afraid of the workload – let the Halloween fans get involved and have them take care of it. Either way, every tip written here should not take you more than 5 minutes to prep nor to have a high budget!

Decor

Halloween brings out the kid in most of us. Before you know it, you’ve turned every single desk at work into a pumpkin feast. No need to run to Macy or Target to drop hundreds of dollars. Most of these ideas just require a few tools, some supplies and your imagination to have a spook-tacular Halloween this year.

  1. Cut bats out of black construction paper and hang them from your office ceiling.
  2. Create realistic cobwebs out of stretched cotton and simply add plastic spiders to it.
  3. Wrap your desks with orange tablecloths or white paper and put red paint on it.
  4. Use your lungs and start blowing up some orange and black balloons to scatter around the office.
  5. Treat your employees by placing goodie bags in each of their desks with simple colorful candy and black/orange office tools like pens and erasers. You can also have each bring a flavorful dessert to share around and have a contest!
  6. Talking about contests, choose a few costume categories and have a contest among your employees. You can even set themes for each department to encourage participation. Don’t forget a winning prize!
  7. Happy hour… every employee’s favorite time of the day! Decor a certain part of your office, play some monster mashing music like Thriller from Michael Jackson and set out Halloween themed snacks like the ones below.

Devilishly Food Snacks

Look no further, we’ve got the best (and easiest!) Halloween appetizers for you to impress your boss – and they are just as delicious as they are spooky! Each of these Halloween party foods are very easy to throw together, fun to stare at and will have everyone complimenting you about them. Halloween is truly the only time that you can serve anything and it will be acceptable – eyeballs on eggs? Weird looking sausages with “blood”? Hell Yeah!

With less than two weeks to go, it is crunch time so you don’t have your coworkers feeling disappointed – much less hangry ’cause THAT would be frightening. So have no fear, FoodtoEat is here!

  • Green Matcha Popcorn – Just whisk together matcha powder and a little bit of salt and toss it with the popcorn. Voila!

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  • Blood Drip Cupcakes – Channel your inner vampire with these delicious cupcakes. You can either buy or bake dark chocolate cupcakes and decor it with fake, edible blood. (Full recipe here )

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  • Harvest Hash Trail Mix –  As easy as serving in a big bowl some pretzels, almonds, dark chocolate chips, sour worms, and M&Ms. (More trail mix ideas here)
  • Deviled Spider Eggs – Seriously can’t get any easier than this and will be the ones disappearing first! Just boil your eggs, cut them in half, and decorate with olives to have a spidery look (Recipe here) http://www.shockinglydelicious.com/halloween-deviled-spider-eggs/

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  • Ghost Kabobs – healthier options are always good to have so build some fruit skewers and add marshmallows with painted eyes like these ones !
  • Ghost Smores Dip – Scary yet easy
  • Jack O’ Lantern Quesadillas – Treat yo self by tossing shredded chicken, lime juice, chili powder, garlic powder into a bowl. Then sprinkle some cheese and top it with pattern flour tortillas looking like Jack-o-Lantern. Serve with hot sauce and now THAT’S a treat!
  • Spooky Spider Halloween Dip –  Pepper spider? Edamame monster green dip? We gotchu!
  • Bloody Mary Syringes – Take your happy hour to the next level with these spooky cocktails 

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  • Frozen Banana Boo Pops – As another healthier option, these are super easy with just dipping bananas in white chocolate and adding mini chocolate chips for the eyes (Recipe here)

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So yes, everything can be done easily and with a tight budget. But if you don’t even want to bother creating those, FoodtoEat works with lots of vendors that provide AMAZING halloween treats from mummy hot dogs, to sinister salsa and mice meatballs!

0 comments on “Bhavana Phul, co-owner of Masala Times”

Bhavana Phul, co-owner of Masala Times

Creamy curries, spices and complex flavor pairings. This is what you will find at the extravagant Indian restaurant Masala Times, located in Bleecker St. Owner Hemant Phul and his wife Bhavana are turning New Yorkers on to Mumbai’s best exports: Bollywood and street food. Masala Times is a tribute to everything Bollywood. It is the place for spicy Kebabs and healthy Indian BBQ fares that are very close to those coming out of the tandoor at restaurants around Mumbai.

At Masala Times, you will find an array of barbecue dishes that include baby lamb chops, massive cubes of paneer, and fragrant kebabs of ground chicken that sizzle while you eat it. Their menu also include biryanis, rolls, and pillowy paav bread. A definite must-try is their Tandoori Mushroom – spicy marinated shiitake mushrooms served in a warm, thin roll. If looking something more carnivore, the chicken achari arrives as tangy pieces of charred meat cooked in Indian spices and served with saffron-tinged basmati rice and flatbread fresh off the griddle.

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But Masala Times was born out of an unusual idea. In 2009 Phul owned a nightclub in the Meatpacking area while on the lookout for the right venue to open a pure desi kabab place in the city. He wanted for people to taste his menu first, so he started serving late-night foods in his club. And since we’ve all been in that situation, there is nothing better than indulging and sinking your teeth into some juicy street food after hitting the bar all night. They did this to not only test the food but also to see if there was a true opportunity to create something more than simple late-night snacks. People wanted something more satisfying, and so it couldn’t be clearer to them. In 2010, Masala Times opened its door to the public and serves food Friday and Saturday until 5am. Just your perfect solution when going bar hopping around Greenwich Village!

The opening of the restaurant was a big transition for them as the couple was also going into parenthood. The shift from owning a nightclub to a restaurant was a complete different experience but a good one. “Masala, in Indian cuisine, is a combination of spices that gives our food the flavors that it’s known for. However, in Bollywood lingo, Masala defines the essence of what Hindi movies are all about – Bollywood potboilers with melodrama, fight sequences, song-and-dance. This is our tribute everything Bollywood”.

Interesting enough, Phul graduated with an IT degree but realized at the age of twenty-six it was not exciting at all (shocker!). When he was 13 years old, Phul worked as a busboy and then climbed the ladder to chef and now restaurant consultant. He went through the whole spectrum to obtain as much as experience to teach others what he had never been taught. This is why the food and business part is all handled by him. His wife Bhavana, on the other hand, is a graphic designer who performed all the creative side of the restaurant. From the Bollywood signs, to the color of the walls, to the light decor – everything reflects the quintessential Bollywood ambience.

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Since Masala Times is now on to its 9th year, the owners were able to share the hardest part of the business to control – the staff. To consistently meet customer demand is a very hard task for restaurant managers. They need to train employees to value and offer a level of customer service appropriate to the level of food provided. In addition, they have to deal with distinct learning styles, the continual influx of inexperienced personnel, and the unpredictable amount of customers eating each day. It is extremely important that if you want to remain competitive, managers need to train employees to be just as passionate as they are with the food served so quality is not missed.

If there is consistency, people will come back and be excited to try new menu items. “Fortunately, we have created a community of customers that love our food. Our customers always say to us that even after eating in so many fancy restaurants they keep coming back to us as it transports them to either the streets in India and or to a home-cooked meal”.

Masala Times offers a selection of dishes that vary from Northern India to Kebabs. It is also very contemporary, keeping up to date with the most popular dishes they know not only their Indian clientele will enjoy but also immigrant one. Masala Times has changed the consumer mindset by making us crave Indian food during the latest times of the night instead of a double cheeseburger from McDonalds. Hemant and Bhavana are very enthusiastic about their future with Masala Times and are not afraid of taking more risks. A lesson that many young entrepreneurs are trying to follow…

0 comments on “The Common Mistakes Of Diversity and Inclusion Among Our Workplace”

The Common Mistakes Of Diversity and Inclusion Among Our Workplace

Today’s society is being shaped by not only technological advancements, but also by the complex diversity of cultures that surrounds us. And because of that, there has been a huge focus on the importance of being inclusive and fair with employees. Many leaders think they know what diversity and inclusion means, and think they are doing an outstanding job at implementing it. But unfortunately they do not. And here is why.

The most common mistake many company leaders make is assuming these two concepts, diversity and inclusion, are the same or very similar. By being completely ignorant in what these two actually mean, it is impossible that such initiatives will actually work. Most leaders simply do the bare minimum to comply to the regulations of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and disregard to do deeper research on more substantial ways that benefit the current workplace culture. Many just want to be recognized on the typical BS “Top 100 D&I companies of 2019!”. To these leaders, “stop looking for recognition and start thinking how to earn the respect from the actual people in your workplace. Give them influence over the growth of the company” (Llopis, 2017). Make that change and you will find yourself involved in a very successful growth strategy.

So since ignorance is the main problem, let’s solve that. Diversity is mainly seen as bringing people with different skin colors, physical traits, ages, and gender to a work environment. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. People who want to diversify their workplace need to also look at invisible traits such as religion, socio-economic status, cultural and ethical values, work backgrounds, sexual orientation, and even geographic location. It is a collective mixture of differences and similarities that need to be embraced as a whole, not separately. Simply having a wide roster of demographic characteristics won’t make any difference to an organization’s bottom line. Having five colored skin individuals, two bisexuals, and a few female colleagues won’t cut it. It is crucial that besides those factors, you have individuals that encourage their participation, want to know their thought process, and promote innovation. And this is where inclusion finds its place.

Inclusion, on the other hand, is how people behave and ensure a welcomeness feeling to those who are “different”. In a more scientific term, inclusion is “the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success” (SHRM).  Not including your employees will negatively impact your business by not allowing it to grow and having employees’ performances decrease. No statistics or fancy graphs need to be displayed here for you to know this is true. I am sure that you have felt not being included in some way – either a friend’s dinner you weren’t invited, a meeting you were not being listened, or even at work when a group of coworkers grabbed lunch without you. That moment sucked, right? Feeling left out feels so painful to us humans because our desire to belong is primal. From the beginning of our species as Homo habilis, we have been taught that in order to survive one must remain with the group. Being excluded meant missing out on resources and protection which led to, not being overly dramatic here but, death. Not saying this will happen to you if you get excluded…

Long story short, as FoodtoEat’s founder Deepti Sharma always says, “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance”. Last night she even hosted, along with Product of Culture, a communal table dinner event to promote D&I. Three distinct Immigrant NYC based chefs created a three course menu that highlighted their culture and later shared their personal stories with the group. The mission behind this dinner was, besides enjoying the delicious food, to have individuals understand they can in fact promote D&I besides the usual process of hiring women and people of color. They can do so in multiple ways, way funner, by using their purchasing power to invest in small businesses like of those three chefs – either attending their restaurants, ordering their food through FoodtoEat, or going to such dinner events!

Businesses have the transformative power to change and contribute to a more open, diverse and inclusive society. It is a no-brainer the benefits and financial impacts it has proven to our organizations. “Employees in inclusive environments feel appreciated for their unique characteristics and therefore comfortable sharing their ideas and other aspects of their true and authentic selves” (Washington and Patrick, 2018). Stirring away from like-mindedness and embracing and honoring other people’s differences should be the goal of many, or even all of us. Maximizing the full potential of the people and the business will drive growth, innovation and opportunity for both.

 

 

 

 

Citations
https://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2017/01/16/5-reasons-diversity-and-inclusion-fails/#2bda6a350dfe
https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/04/business-case-for-diversity-in-the-workplace/
https://builtin.com/diversity-inclusion
https://www.gallup.com/workplace/242138/requirements-diverse-inclusive-culture.aspx
https://www.forbes.com/sites/danabrownlee/2019/09/15/the-dangers-of-mistaking-diversity-for-inclusion-in-the-workplace/#1411b1924d86
https://hbr.org/2017/02/diversity-doesnt-stick-without-inclusion