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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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Steven Zhik, Operational Manager at Eight Turn Crepe

This is Steven Zhik, the operational manager at Eight Turn Crepe. The concept for this Japanese creperie was brought to New York from Japan by Hiro Nishida in 2012. Hiro was born in Japan and has 20+ years of experience in the hospitality industry through his work in both Japan and New York. Although he currently lives in New York, through his travels back and forth to Japan, he noticed that street crepes were becoming more and more popular and that nothing like it existed in his food community in New York. Served in a cone, the crepe is eaten on the go, which Hiro thought made it perfect for the hustle and bustle that New York City is known for. So he decided to introduce it to the New York market and opened the first Eight Turn Crepe location in Soho with his business partner, Tanya Mirvis. The fast casual restaurant was the first Japanese creperie to open in NYC and presented a new meal concept to the NYC food scene. Steven joined the team in 2016 after being connected with Tanya through a mutual friend. A huge fan of the product, Steven was a regular customer at Eight Turn Crepe before meeting Tanya. After speaking with her about the business, he knew right away that he had to be part of their team. His focus now is understanding their customer on a deeper level (dietary preferences, food trends and spending habits) and using that knowledge to grow their business in the U.S. and internationally.

Steven was born in Ukraine and came to the U.S. when he was 10 years old. He graduated from Pace with a degree in finance and economics in 2001, just two months after the September 11th terrorist attacks, and due the economic and social climate at the time, it was very difficult to get a job. So he and a few friends decided to pause their job searches and travel the world. They traveled for about six months and during this time, Steven ended up meeting someone in Vietnam who was from Queens and who he shared some mutual connections with. He was running a tattoo business in the East Village and told Steven to reach out to him when got back to the U.S. if he was interested in helping him out with the business. When Steven got back to New York a few months later, he contacted him and began running their storefront. Two years later, they had opened up two other store locations and Steven had become a partner in the business. This launched Steven’s career in retail. He worked in the retail industry for 17 years, opening up clothing stores and gift shops until he decided that he wanted to invest in a new business and was introduced to Tanya at Eight Turn Crepe. He thought the rice crepe was very unique and already knew that it was high quality from his time as a customer there. Although he had no experience in the food industry, he felt compelled to join the business. So he left the retail industry and became a partner in Eight Turn Crepe.

Once Steven joined the team, he took over all business operations. His day to day now centers around running Eight Turn Crepe’s store operations and catering business. Unfortunately, they were forced to close their flagship Soho location in 2016 just as he was coming on board due to increasing rent. But luckily around the same time they were invited to open a location at the DeKalb Market Hall in Brooklyn, after being handpicked by management there to be a part of it’s innovative dining experience. DeKalb Market is where they currently operate from and so far they’ve been very successful there. There’s a lot of foot traffic during the week throughout the lunch hour because they’re surrounded by a lot of corporate offices and even more so on the weekends with the Market’s daily live programming. Although the industry is much more labor intensive than Steven is used to, he says he’s never regretted his decision to join the business. And after spending two and half years learning the business and the food industry itself, he’s much more comfortable coordinating the staff (which can vary anywhere from nine to fifteen people at a time), and their schedules and the dealing with the inevitable turnover that comes with most food businesses. Like all industries, there are pros and cons but for Steven it has always been more rewarding than challenging.

Steve + Employee from Eight Turn Crepe

Steven is usually at the store 3-5 days a week, which has allowed him to get to know their customer much better than he anticipated. He recognized that consumers are becoming much more health conscious (asking if their crepe batter contains eggs, milk or gluten), which led to their menu expansion to include vegan crepes and an overhaul of their store to make it more vegan-friendly: dedicating a crepe maker to make only vegan crepes, specifying certain utensils to be used and creating a new fridge and counter area where only vegan ingredients will be stored.  Although they are still in the process of rolling out their vegan crepes and finalizing the logistics of the menu change, Steven’s interactions with customers in DeKalb Market have allowed him to zero in on areas of the business that need to be developed and put his efforts into developing them. However, he recognizes that the traditional recipe that they started with is what attracts most of their customers, so they’ll always offer the rice crepes that they’re famous for. Steven sees their menu development as a way to keep up with changing food trends and expand the business as well as to continue to reach their varied clientele. Similar to the business itself, they don’t plan on changing their recipe, just adding to it.

Steven works very hard to make sure that their customer service is top notch, so the most rewarding part of the business for him is reading reviews about how friendly the staff was or hearing from a customer how much they loved their crepe. He’s put a lot of energy into building a team that cares about the business and that care shows in their satisfied customers and the positive energy that surrounds the location itself. He’s hoping to use their DeKalb Market location as a model for future locations as he concentrates on franchising the business in places like Texas and the Middle East. But for now he plans to continue to work on getting their store operations and catering business down to a science, while continuing to listen to the needs of their customers and providing a solution that fits with their brand.

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

0 comments on “Hanukkah Musts for Any Meal!”

Hanukkah Musts for Any Meal!

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

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

Breakfast/Brunch:

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

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

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

Lunch:

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

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

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

Dinner:

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

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

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

Dessert:

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Baz Bagel & Restaurant

 

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Dhanny and Joe Palma, Co-Owners of My Kitchen

This is Dhanny and Joe Palma, the co-owners of My Kitchen. Although they grew up in different environments- Dhanny was born and raised in Trinidad and Joe is a first generation Italian American who was raised in Brooklyn- both Dhanny and Joe had a passion for food and understood that meals were always an experience that you shared with family and friends. After meeting through a newspaper ad and building an extremely successful catering business which they ran together for almost 20 years, this husband and wife team decided to take on a a new endeavor: a restaurant/banquet hall, aptly named My Kitchen, where they decided they would serve customers as if they were having a dinner party at home and welcoming guests into their kitchen. Having been in the corporate food industry for many years, Dhanny and Joe wanted to create a relaxing and inviting space where the focus is on good food and good company and nothing else. Dhanny and Joe’s passion for food and love of entertaining has allowed them to build a business with the customer in mind every step of the way. Every facet of their restaurant centers around the question: “how would we want it done for us?” and is executed based on that answer. 

Dhanny and Joe met in 1993 after Joe put an ad in the newspaper looking for someone who was good with computers to help him run the catering business he had just started. Dhanny, who was working as a broker at the time, felt unmotivated in her position, worn down by her commute and was looking for a change when she happened to see the ad and reached out to Joe to say that she was interested and to set up a meeting. They quickly became the best of friends and started building their first business, Culinary Concepts. They worked out of a commissary kitchen in Astoria and although they struggled at first to pay the bills and themselves, they grew their reputation as a reliable vendor with delicious food and began working with corporate clients like Meals on Wheels and Delta. Together they grew the business into a multi-million dollar company with 25 employees, creating pre-packaged meals and catering corporate lunches, meetings and parties. However, over time they began to see changes, both in the food industry and outside it, that were effecting the business. Less people were ordering corporate catering and more were going out for lunch and dinner and renting out venues for holiday parties. Delta filed for bankruptcy in 2005 and their profit margin with Meals on Wheels was getting smaller. They were getting by but they weren’t making money and they knew the end of the business was coming. So in April 2012, they decided to make a change and close the business.

After closing Culinary Concepts, Dhanny and Joe weren’t sure what their next step would be so they floated around for a few months. They used commercial kitchens to cater for some of their corporate clients and Joe went on a few interviews for chef positions. But after being self-employed, Joe was frustrated at the idea of working under someone else and felt he would be moving backwards. So one day, after Joe came home from an interview feeling defeated, Dhanny said let’s just find a new place and start again, so they began looking at retail locations with a broker and were introduced to My Kitchen. It was an existing business that was being sold and when they walked into the location, Dhanny says, it immediately “felt like it was us”. However, unlike their corporate catering operation, they wanted this new business to be on their own terms. They felt that the food industry had been very difficult on their family life and general well-being in the past, so they set out to run a business that worked for them and allowed them time to see their children and granddaughter, take a vacation or take a mental health day whenever they wanted. With that in mind, they signed the lease for the space in November 2012 and re-opened My Kitchen.

Dhanny and Joe turned My Kitchen into an Italian-Caribbean fusion restaurant that also does corporate catering and events, such as weddings, baby showers, birthday parties and corporate events. Because it was extremely important to them that this business be more relaxed than other restaurants, where customers come in and eat their food, they strive to make customers feel like they’re dining in their home away from home. Every dish is made to order by Chef Joe and served by Dhanny. They have no wait staff, bartenders or line cooks other than a sous chef that helps Joe in the kitchen. There’s no rhyme or reason to their menu, it’s just good food that they would eat and the specials each day are inspired by the dishes that they’re in the mood to eat or create. There’s also no rush when you dine at My Kitchen. As Dhanny notes, they would rather have a handful of really happy, satisfied customers than crowds of customers that are annoyed that their server isn’t giving them enough attention or feel that they’re being rushed out so a table can be turned over. At My Kitchen “there’s more to life than the in and out” of customers. Their focus is to create a dining experience that demonstrates the passion and love that they have for food and for creating meals that their customers love. They run the business not to make money but because they genuinely enjoy working together and they love what they do. And they want to share that love with their customers; their business being successful is just an added bonus.

Since Dhanny and Joe have so much experience in the food industry and really understand it, they don’t have the same fear that many new business owners have, which is that if you’re not open, customers won’t come back. They know that the personal touch they add by cooking and serving the meals themselves has created a loyal customer base and guests continuously come back to dine with them. And with the different areas of their business (catering and on-site events) they always have something to do if the restaurant isn’t full. Both Dhanny and Joe know that they way they operate My Kitchen is way outside the norm but they’ve put their time in in the food industry and now want to enjoy their hard work by cooking and entertaining, which is what they love to do. For Dhanny, it feels like a lot of people have forgotten what it is to go out and dine. It used to be a special time when you would enjoy the company of one or more people, without focusing on your phone or worrying about anything beyond the food in front of you. With each meal, My Kitchen tries to bring back that significance and remind its customers that a meal is an experience to take part in.

Although Dhanny had it in her mind that they would only work for five more years when they signed the lease for My Kitchen, they’ve now been in business for six years and don’t have any plans to close. “Maybe next year we’ll stop”, Dhanny says as she laughs and even though she says that a part of her would love to, she doesn’t think she and Joe could ever stop working in the food industry altogether. They love meeting and hosting customers and a lot of their customers have become good friends. One couple they met even became the godparents to their daughter. Right now though, they’re enjoying what they do and wake up each day excited to see what it will bring. So they’ll keep working until they’re ready to move to the next chapter.

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

0 comments on “Kristen Tomlan, Owner of DO, Cookie Dough Confections”

Kristen Tomlan, Owner of DO, Cookie Dough Confections

This is Kristen Tomlan, the owner of DO, Cookie Dough Confections. Food was always an important part of Kristen’s life growing up in Missouri. Her mom is a chef so she had firsthand experience of the intricacies of cooking and baking and the creativity that it requires, which spurred her love for both. However, as a teenager she didn’t see a way that her love of baking could translate into a career, so she channeled her creativity into design and continued baking as a hobby. Kristen was working in branding and design in New York when she came up with the idea for DO. An admitted weakness for cookie dough, she would always eat it raw while baking despite the warnings that it could make you sick. After doing this for years, one day (while indulging in cookie dough with friends) she thought, why can’t we make this safe to eat and still bake-able? This moment compelled Kristen to start doing some research and began her journey to reinvent how we see cookie dough.

Other than being a lifelong baker, Kristen had no experience in the food industry before she launched the DO website in December 2014. She decided to start it online first to test the market and see if there was interest in her edible cookie dough. In the beginning, Kristen was doing everything on her own: trying out different recipes, making the cookie dough, packaging it, shipping it out, doing the invoicing, everything from A to Z. And although she says that when she started the business she had “no idea what she was doing”, orders started coming in. The idea started gaining traction through word of mouth of friends and family and then even more so on social media. Since Kristen didn’t have money to invest in any marketing or advertising, she relied on the quality of the product and the uniqueness of the concept to stand out from her competition. And it did. Soon the product got popular enough that Kristen was no longer able to sustain her lifestyle; she was still working full-time at her brand consultant firm, which she loved, and working on DO as a side hustle. She had come to a crossroads and knew that something had to change. So she decided to pursue her passion project and see where it went. She felt that there would always be a job for her somewhere but if she didn’t take a chance now and commit herself to the business that she felt compelled to run, she would never do it. So she quit her job, moved to a commercial space and started building her team.

After finding success through online ordering and catering and bringing on a solid team, Kristen opened a store front in January 2017 and used her design background to create a brand that extended from her packaging to her store. She wanted DO to look different from the typical bakery or pastry shop and to be more graphic and fun. And keeping in mind the very visual way that her generation and younger generations consume experiences and food, she wanted it to be very picture and Instagram-friendly as well. So she incorporated six bright colors to be used in different ways throughout the store (a polka dot wall when you walk in, neon pink signs) but also made sure to include items like the stand up mixers and subway tiles to make it feel more like your kitchen at home and make customers feel more comfortable. The different colors were key to making both the packaging and the store bright and cheery but also to represent the fun and happiness Kristen wants her customers to feel when they eat her cookie dough. A lot of people who try the product connect it with nostalgia because it reminds them of baking cookies with their mom or grandma, which she loves, but she also wants people to associate it with joy and happiness. The joy and happiness that comes from that memory of your childhood or the joy that comes from simply treating yourself to a sweet. Kristen hopes that her cookie dough can give customers a moment of calm during a stressful day or comfort if they’re dealing with an issue in their personal life. Even if it’s a good day, Kristen says, “we’re trying to make it better and make you a tiny bit happier”.

DO sign

For Kristen the toughest part of the business is being responsible for so many different areas of the business at once. Like many small business owners, there are a lot of parts of the business that are out of your control and there’s no rule book that tells you how to deal with these issues as they arise. You just have to figure it out as you go, which gets challenging. She’s also felt that there have been challenges she’s faced as a female business owner that her male counterparts don’t always face. When she first started the business, she felt a lot of people wouldn’t take her seriously or tell her that her idea was “cute”. As a young, female business owner she felt that a lot of people doubted her but she stayed committed to her idea and as the business became more established, people started taking her more seriously.  However, the silver lining of her struggle and the struggle of other female business owners is the change that Kristen sees happening in the food industry. There’s becoming less of a stigma about who you have to be or what you have to look like to run a successful business and more of a focus on your product, your ambition and your passion.

Another amazing change that’s been happening is the willingness of other business owners, especially woman, to give advice to others and share their experience. Most of Kristen’s friends and mentors in the food industry are also in the dessert space but they all feel strongly that the “pie” (no pun intended) is big enough that everyone can take their own piece and still support each other. There is a growing realization that running a good business means doing good by others as well and continuing the cycle; even if you have similar goals, you can still work together to help each other out. The food industry today is much different than when Kristen started out and she’s hopeful that it will continue to improve. As a female business owner, she believes that the awareness and attention that she and other female business owners can bring to the industry as a whole is good for everyone.

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

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 “Yaya Ceesay, Co-Owner of The Soul Spot”

Yaya Ceesay, Co-Owner of The Soul Spot

This is Yaya Ceesay, the co-owner of The Soul Spot, a soul food restaurant with Caribbean and African influences. Although this combination may seem strange, this unique flavor sets The Soul Spot apart from other comfort food vendors and is inspired by Yaya’s personal experience. Yaya grew up in Gambia, West Africa but emigrated to the U.S. when he was 17 to attend college. As a source of income while he was in school, he began working at a Caribbean restaurant in Manhattan called Soul Fixins, delivering food and washing dishes. However, after a year of going to school and working in the food industry, Yaya realized just how passionate he was about food and decided to start working at Soul Fixins full time. His work ethic and desire to learn quickly became clear to the restaurant’s head chef who was planning to retire. He took Yaya under his wing and began training him to take over his position. Although he had no formal culinary training or background in hospitality, Yaya’s passion for food has always allowed him to excel in the food industry.

During his training at Soul Fixins, Yaya learned how to make Caribbean dishes as well as Southern dishes. He and the head chef spent almost every weekend traveling to different cities in then South, trying different foods, doing research on the recipes and understanding how each part of the meal was created. This training early on in his career really laid the groundwork for Yaya’s dedication to his craft. After the chef retired, Yaya became the head chef and started improving the restaurant operations at Soul Fixins. He started cutting out any unnecessary expenses and improving the food quality based off of the research he had done with his former boss. However, over the years Yaya had begun to feel like he was handling most of the business, as the owners who had used to work with him in the kitchen stopped coming to the restaurant and relied on him more and more. He felt unappreciated in his role and decided that if he could run a restaurant for someone else, he could do it for himself as well. He began saving his money and looking for his own restaurant space. He noticed that a lot of his customers in Manhattan were from Brooklyn and would travel to the city for the food at Soul Fixins. He felt that there was a demand for soul food and that he could combine his training in Southern and Caribbean cuisine with the African food that he grew up eating to satisfy it. So in 2001 he moved to Brooklyn to get familiar with the area and started looking for retail spaces.

Yaya and his business partner, his cousin, Banumu Turay, purchased the restaurant in August 2002 but it was almost a year before they were able to open. No bank would give them a loan so Yaya used all of his savings to purchase the space and fix it up. The Soul Spot officially opened on June 4th, 2003 and although he had no working capital or business experience, Yaya believed in his food. He knew that if he was supplying good food, the rest would take care of itself. At first some people wouldn’t even try the food because Yaya wasn’t from the South. They thought that there was no way he would know how to make the food and if he tried, it wouldn’t be good. But soon people started coming in to try it and calling to place catering orders for their office. They were the only soul food restaurant in the area and the unique cuisine set them apart from other restaurants. For the first six months Yaya worked sixteen hours a day to keep the business going, and eventually his hard work paid off. The business took off and formed a reputation for its delicious and varied cuisine. Even now, 15 years later,  word of mouth is still how they get most of their clients for catering orders because the food quality speaks for itself.

Team at The Soul Spot

A normal day for Yaya now usually begins at 4AM or 5AM, when he arrives at the restaurant to begin prepping catering orders for the day. Depending on the size of the order or orders that they have, sometimes he’ll work from 2AM-8AM getting everything ready before the restaurant opens at 11AM.  For Yaya the best part about owning his own restaurant is being in charge of his own kitchen. He loves what he does and is very hands on creating the food because he never wants the quality of the food to change. Which is why his co-owner, Banumu, handles most of the administrative side of the business while Yaya cooks and runs the business’s daily operations. He wants to continue to give his customers the consistent product that they’ve come to know and love and never wants to be a business owner that gives up his time in the kitchen. It’s this passion for the food and the preparation that goes into it that Yaya wants people to remember when they think of The Soul Spot. And despite the naysayers that doubted him when he first started the business, Yaya believes that the passion they sow into their food is what people are drawn to and trust.

Yaya’s next plan for The Soul Spot is to open up a commissary kitchen to handle all of their catering orders. Cooking out of one kitchen is no longer feasible because his team ends up getting in each other’s way and he wants the restaurant to be able to operate more smoothly. He’s also hoping that a kitchen dedicated to catering orders will allow them to handle any last minute requests that come in without interfering with restaurant’s food prep and purchasing. Speaking with him, it’s easy to tell that he’s excited to start this new project and has no qualms about potential issues that may arise. He will handle it the same way he dealt with the critics who doubted him when he first started the business: believing in himself and staying focused on the food.

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

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 “George Tenedios, CEO of Fresh&Co and Brad Grossman, Executive Chef”

George Tenedios, CEO of Fresh&Co and Brad Grossman, Executive Chef

This is George Tenedios, the CEO of Fresh&Co (pictured right), and Brad Grossman, the executive chef at Fresh&Co (pictured left). These men are two of the driving forces behind the fast casual concept that focuses on providing New Yorkers with chef-inspired organic food. Although this restaurant is already extremely well-known in NYC with 18 locations throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, Fresh&Co was created only 8 years ago, in 2010, as a branch of Cafe Metro. George’s father, Steve Tenedios, founded Cafe Metro in 1982, after moving from Midwest Ohio to Brooklyn to work with his brother-in-law making doughnuts. However, as a young boy who emigrated to the U.S. from a small Greek island at age 5 and then grew up in the food industry working as a bus boy and a server at a local restaurant, he always dreamed of owning his own business. So when he realized that there wasn’t much demand for doughnuts at that time, he quit and began working with a deli group for a few years before starting his own business. George now carries on his father’s legacy with their locally-sourced food concept that has made this family business a staple of the NYC food industry.

Cafe Metro was created to be a more traditional, classic New York style deli. However, in 2010, Steve, George, Brad and their team started recognizing that food trends were changing and that there was a lapse in the market for healthy, local, clean, organic food. They were finding that as the millennial population grew in NY, more consumers were becoming aware of the different food options available to them and were becoming more conscious about what they were putting into their bodies. It was a whole new demographic of customers whose needs were not being met. There were a handful of lunch concepts that were opening but they felt that there was a lack of high-quality dining where you could get a clean breakfast, a filling lunch and a satisfying dinner without comprising on ingredients. So they set out to be the solution. Brad, who has been with their team since day 1 and helped open the first Cafe Metro in 1982, became the mastermind behind Fresh&Co’s core menu and began creating recipes that included fresh vegetables, healthy dressings and popular food item like quinoa. They opened their first location, 729 Broadway, in 2010 and three days before the grand opening, decided to remove the pasta station they originally planned to be part of the store and replaced it with a quinoa bar. It was a risky move given the time crunch and the fact that quinoa bar had never been done in a fast casual setting anywhere in New York before. But it paid off. Their customers loved it, and after that the Fresh&Co concept took off.

Fresh & Co Blog

Although it’s still under the same management umbrella of Cafe Metro, Fresh&Co now runs as it’s own entity, with a unique brand, it’s own managing team, operations and menu. And the menu has changed a lot since they first started, but one major focus that hasn’t changed is continuing to use local food as much as possible. Most of the produce that they use in their stores comes from Satur Farms on Long Island because it’s extremely important to them to support their local community and cut their carbon footprint with sustainable farming practices that these vendors have in place. Local vendors also give them a lot of quality control and allow George and his team to ensure that their customers receive high-quality, consistent produce all year round. They keep a close relationship with their partners, visiting Satur Farms and Latham Farms (another local partner) a couple times a year to meet with the farmers, check out the operations and go over the production schedule. Their team has become so invested in sourcing local food that Fresh&Co purchased their own farm about two years ago on Long Island, which employs all local Long Island residents. The farm helps them to understand how different items are grown and the practices that need to be used to keep food clean and sustainable. However, Fresh&Co farms only generates about 25% of all the produce that the stores use, which is why they’ve established and developed their relationships with their local farmers who can contribute to the demand. Fresh&Co’s commitment to these farmers creates a wholesome and trusting relationship that benefits both parties. As food trends grow, so does Fresh&Co’s business and in turn, so does the local vendors’ business.

For George and Brad though, keeping up with the ever-changing food trends is proving to be the toughest part of the business. When Fresh&Co was first created, food trend patterns happened differently, new ideas seeped into the industry slowly. But now consumers are a lot more informed about their food and have opinions on it, which makes it harder to stay on top of what’s popular. However, it’s not a bad thing, George says, it “keeps them on their toes” and he, Brad and the rest of their team are always doing their research to see what’s in demand and make sure they’re on top of it. Their goal is always to provide the best possible service to the customer so whether that means using the freshest ingredients in their soup or creating a new menu item based off of a popular food, they’ll make it happen.

Their dedication to the customer, who they say is the reason why Fresh&Co exists, and their desire to continue to supply each customer with a healthy, authentic, sustainable meal is what sets Fresh&Co apart from other fast casual restaurants. Their team set out to create a concept that filled a hole they saw in the market and by doing so, created a mission-driven business that all food vendors can learn from.

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

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 “Kay Ch’ien, Owner of Hey Hey Canteen”

Kay Ch’ien, Owner of Hey Hey Canteen

This is Kay Ch’ien, the owner of Hey Hey Canteen. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Kay grew up in the food industry in a unique way. Her great-grandfather was a commodities trader who bought and sold food items such as cooking oil and flour mill in Singapore, a business that her grandfather eventually took over and stabilized, streamlining processes and building a brand around it. Growing up Kay’s parents worked for her grandfather’s business so she was always surrounded by food and its components. This saturation in the food industry gave Kay an appreciation for food and how it’s created, so when she was looking to make a change in her career, it seemed only natural to her that she would do something food-related. Kay opened 2 Duck Goose, a farm to table Cantonese BBQ concept, in 2014 but the long hours and late nights quickly became an issue for her. She wasn’t sleeping at all or seeing her husband and young son and realized that the business wasn’t sustainable for her lifestyle. So she bravely decided to close the business, re-group and take a look at what made sense for her. Which led to the opening of Hey Hey Canteen in 2016- a wholesome Chinese food concept that was born from Kay’s willingness to pivot and to create a new business that worked for her, rather than the other way around.

Kay originally moved to the U.S. to go to college. Her parents had met at grad school in the U.S. so she always had it in the back of her mind that if she was given the opportunity to go to college abroad, she would take it. After finishing college, Kay ended up loving her new home so much that she decided to stay. She went on to get her law degree and began working as a corporate lawyer. After 6 years of working at a law firm, Kay started feeling burnt out and wanted to do something more active that gave her more interpersonal interaction. Since food had always been a major part of her life, she decided to quit her job and open a food business. Although her first restaurant didn’t work out, it gave her the opportunity to figure out a model for a business that she could pursue long term and she was able to create Hey Hey Canteen, a fast casual Chinese concept that puts care and intention into it’s food.

Hey Hey Canteen differs from other Chinese restaurants because the dishes aren’t as heavy or as greasy. It was important to Kay that they produce food that, if you wanted to, would allow you to eat Asian food every day and not feel bad. Therefore, most of the recipes are ideas that Kay thought of and she did a lot of recipe testing to see what worked and what didn’t. Everything is made from scratch and a lot of thought is put into every recipe to make sure that each dish is more wholesome than other Chinese vendors. The added bonus of creating a Chinese restaurant with healthier, cleaner menu options is that Kay can appeal to a broader audience. Most of her dishes are made with Tamari, a gluten free substitute for soy sauce, so although it’s not a gluten free kitchen, she’s able to gear dishes towards those with dietary restrictions, such as gluten intolerance or vegetarians and vegans, which differentiates her from other Chinese restaurants throughout NYC.

Hey Hey Canteen Team

Right now, Hey Hey Canteen is only serving customers directly from their pop up location in Gotham Market in Fort Greene. Kay does have a storefront in Gowanus but had to close it in January 2018 due to the lack of foot traffic in the area and now runs it as a commissary kitchen for their catering orders. Kay is hoping to re-open it in the next few years but needs to see if the community picks up first, since the economic growth in Gowanus is currently going much slower than anticipated. However, Kay and her team are currently working on an expansion into Manhattan with a new location at Turnstyle Underground Market, which they are both excited and nervous for. Although they know the Manhattan scene due to their frequent lunch catering there, this is a big step for the business into a new market that is much more competitive.

Despite her anxiety, Kay is very excited to take the next step with a team of people that respect and care about one another and the business. The toughest part of the food industry for her has been building a team that she can trust and finding the people that are invested in the restaurant’s mission. For Kay, working with a team of people that you really like is the most rewarding part of the business because it creates a positive work environment where everyone is looking out for one another. Now that Kay has found this team, she’s able to think about next steps for the business and what their strategy should be to increase revenue in the coming months and years. No matter what though, she and her team are focused on continuing to create the delicious, thoughtful food that their customers love. And if food trends change and that stops working, Kay is always willing to start again to make sure that what she’s doing makes sense for her, her team and her customers.

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

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 “Alison Moskowitz, Owner of Food Trends Catering”

Alison Moskowitz, Owner of Food Trends Catering

This is Alison Moskowitz, the owner of Food Trends Catering, a family-run business that was inspired by a young girl’s dream to turn meals into events, similar to the celebrations that she grew up hosting with her family. Alison grew up in a big family and fondly remembers their tradition to throw big parties for holidays, birthdays, family dinners… every meal was an occasion in her home and family and friends would always comment how their house was so warm and inviting and that the food was always delicious. So when her family moved from Russia to the United States when she was 16, she saw an opportunity to create a business in a new community that combined her two biggest passions: food and family.

Unfortunately it would be years before Alison could act on her vision. First she focused on finishing her education, which was difficult considering that when she arrived in the U.S. she spoke no English, and then, years later, on raising her family. However, once her kids were old enough, Alison decided to go for it and began trying to convince her father to quit his job and start the business with her. Alison says that her father also had a passion for food, but was practical and worked as a nuclear engineer to support his family. He was the type of person who did what he had to do to make ends meet so he said no at first. But Alison was persistent and although many people said that she was crazy, she knew that that the food would speak for itself. Eventually her father agreed to open up a small restaurant with her. For the first year, they worked out of their shop on 3rd avenue where they sold “simple, good food”. It wasn’t easy but they were making enough to pay the bills and their employees and keep the business running.

However, Alison’s dream was to do catering. She knew food and understood that the key to good food is fresh ingredients but she knew nothing about the business side of it, so she started to educate herself. Slowly she began improving every aspect of the business: creating new recipes, developing food presentation and making their operations more efficient. She even became their first sales person, walking through buildings around the city, offering free samples of their food and asking if she could stop by another day with a tasting for their office. A lot of people who said yes and had the tasting started to order and she quickly built up a client list. Within 5-6 years they were doing so much catering that they had outgrown their store front. They decided to sell the store and focus solely on catering. They purchased a kitchen and two additional floors in the 41st street building that the business still resides in today and have expanded from there.

Group Shot 2

Alison attributes the business’s success to the people that work with her and says that she got very lucky with all of the good people around her. One of her chefs has been with her since day 1 at their original storefront on 3rd avenue and her children, Nina and David, joined the business in 2008 and 2011, respectively. Although David grew up working for the business during school breaks throughout middle school and high school, for both of the kids there was no expectation that they join the company. In fact, both were working in their own fields before their mother approached them to join the team. She saw skills in both of them that she though would be good for the business so she asked them to work there for 1 year and then leaved if they weren’t happy. Both have stayed and will be the third generation to run the business. 

Aside from her staff and her own children, since starting her business Alison’s family has expanded even farther, to include her clients. She has some clients that have been with her since her original tasting days and she’s seen them get married, have kids, have grand kids and has built a personal relationship with each of them. These people have stuck by her because she knows that the relationship with her clients is the most important part of the business and she goes out of her way to cultivate each and every one, even if it requires her to bend over backwards to do so. For Alison, it’s simple- whatever the client needs, they’re going to get, which is why it’s her job to always be “in the trenches” to make sure that every order a client receives looks and tastes right. She’s always in the kitchen with the chefs tasting food, checking on presentation, making sure deliveries are going out on time and then following up with clients to make sure that they’re happy. This is what she enjoys doing and takes pride in and she trains each of her staff to take pride in it as well. It’s her commitment to the client that has been instilled in every employee at Food Trends so that their service and dedication always stands out, creating a system of trust and loyalty that few caterers have.

Overall Alison says she’s very happy with her work day to day and takes pride in being an established, woman-owned business. She wants to see other women and girls succeed and believes that this country gives you the opportunity to be whatever you want if you’re willing to work for it. Even now, Alison is constantly coming up with new ways to generate business, creating new dishes and hiring new people to learn from. She says she never rests on her laurels because that’s when things go downhill. It’s important to always be looking for ways to improve and there’s always a chance to. The most important thing is to never doubt yourself. As Alison says, “If I can do it, anybody can do it. You just need to want it so much that you won’t stop”.

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

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!

 

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Zeeshan Ali, Co-Owner of Salad Pangea

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

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

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

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

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

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

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

Spook-tacular Ways to Celebrate Halloween at the Office!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Xiu Chen: Owner of Rice K

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

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

Xiu and team from Rice K

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

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

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

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

October Vendor of the Month: To Spiti

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

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

October Lunch Package

$12/person

Chicken, Lamb or Falafel Gyro

Come with Onions, Lettuce and Tomatoes

Choice of Tzatziki, Hummus or Babaganoush

Served with Spinach Pie and Mini Baklava

Alma To Spiti Photo

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Blank Slate Group Photo

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

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

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

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

Healthy Alternatives to Conquer Your Caffeine Craving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Tom Birchard: Owner of Veselka

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

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

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

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

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

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

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Fall Parties You Can Host at the Office!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Distilled Chef

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

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

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

0 comments on “Fall-ing in Love with Grain Bowls this Season!”

Fall-ing in Love with Grain Bowls this Season!

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

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

BYO Fall Grain Bowl

Recipe serves 4-6

You’ll Need:

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

2 cups spinach

2 cups escarole

2 cloves minced garlic

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

2 sweet potatoes (large)

6-8 carrots

1 head purple cabbage (small)

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

olive oil

garlic powder

onion powder

paprika

chili powder

salt

pepper

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Alma Selmanaj: Owner of To Spiti

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

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

IMG_1929

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

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

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

 

Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

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

September Vendor of the Month: Jaa Dijo Dom

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

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

Entrees:

Malawian Spiced Chicken Curry 

Bobotie

Senegalese Fish Yassa

Lentil Dhal with Vegetables (V)

Chickpea, Eggplant and Mushroom Tangine (V)

Vegetables and Sides:

Coconut Rice (V)

Charmoula Potatoes (V)

Chakalaka (V)

Mango Couscous Salad (V)

Tomato and Green Pepper Salad (V)

Charles from Jaa Dijo Dom

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

Breakfast

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

Snacks

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

Lunch

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

Dinner

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

Drinks

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

 

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

Lettuce Tell You About Our Asian Chicken Wraps

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

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

Asian Ground Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Recipe serves 4

You’ll Need:

1 lb ground chicken

2 teaspoons olive oil

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

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

1-2 teaspoons sriracha (optional)

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon honey

2 large cloves of garlic minced

1 tablespoon of ginger minced

3 scallions sliced

1 pack of baby portobello mushrooms chopped

1 large head of bib or romaine lettuce

1/4 head of thinly sliced purple cabbage

pepper

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

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

 

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

The Top 10 FoodtoEat Favorites for Team Lunch Outside the Office

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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August Vendor of the Month: Vien

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

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

Choice of One Protein:

Roasted Lemongrass Chicken

Pan Roasted Ginger Hanger Steak

Turmeric Roasted Tofu

Slow Cooked Heritage Pork

Choice of One Grain or Salad:

Brown Rice

Jasmine Rice

Seasonal Green Salad

Shredded Cucumber and Carrot Noodle Salad

Choice of One Side:

Green Papaya Salad

Kale Salad

Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Broccoli

Honey Roasted Heirloom Carrots

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

Vien Store Photo

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Healthy Meal Prep at the Office

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

0 comments on “Beat the Heat with Our 20 Minute Taco Salad!”

Beat the Heat with Our 20 Minute Taco Salad!

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

Taco Salad

Recipe serves 3 – 4

You’ll Need:

2 heads of romaine lettuce

shredded taco cheese

sour cream

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 jar medium salsa

1 avocado

cilantro

tortilla chips

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

Seasoned Shrimp

Recipe serves 3 – 4

You’ll Need:

1 tablespoon of avocado oil or olive oil

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

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon fresh chopped garlic

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon fresh chopped cilantro

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

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

Mexican Brown Rice

Recipe serves 6 – 8

You’ll Need:

1 tablespoon of avocado oil or olive oil

2 bags of Uncle Ben’s 90 second brown rice

1 small can of sweet corn

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

1/2 jar medium salsa

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

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

 

0 comments on “Improve Your Office Meals”

Improve Your Office Meals

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

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

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

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

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

 

0 comments on “July Vendor of the Month: Todaro Brothers”

July Vendor of the Month: Todaro Brothers

It’s time to celebrate the red, white and blue! Which we’ll be doing all month long thanks to Todaro Brothers, our Vendor of the Month for July!

This self-proclaimed “neighborhood store” makes customer service and food quality it’s top priority, which is why they’re able to customize every menu to meet their client’s needs. Their menu flexibility makes them the perfect fit for July’s featured vendor special because they’ve provided us with a great mix of menu options that can accommodate any 4th of July themed celebration! Below are the different menus options that they will be offering FoodtoEat clients only throughout the month of July!

Build Your Own Burger Bar

Beef Hamburgers and Veggie Burgers

Hamburger Buns, Lettuce, Tomato, Cheese, Ketchup, Mustard

Build Your Own Hot Dog Bar

Beef Hot Dogs and Veggie Dogs

Hot Dog Buns, Relish, Ketchup, Mustard

Build Your Own Ice Cream Sundae Bar

Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry Ice Cream

Sprinkles, Chocolate Chips, Cookie Crumbles, Strawberries, Bananas, Whipped Cream

Todaro Brothers Pulled Pork

BBQ Pulled Pork

BBQ Baby Back Ribs

Need to know more about this Kips Bay market that’s been a staple in the area for over 100 years?! Read more below to find out the secret to this family business.

Peter from Todaro Brothers

Todaro Brothers had been a family business since it opened in 1917! It started off as a place for importing and distributing Italian products from Sicily to New York City but over the years Todaro Brothers began to focus on retail, putting their signature touch on a variety of jams, marinades and dressings. Now, as a gourmet food market and wine bar, Todaro Brothers focuses on using the best ingredients sourced from the Mediterranean, making food quality a top priority!

Todaro Brothers is currently owned and operated by Peter Todaro (pictured above), the grandson of Pellegrino Todaro, who started the business with his brother. After Pellegrino, the business was taken over by Peter’s father, Luciano, who then passed it on to Peter. Peter strives to keep the “neighborhood store” feel that the store was founded on by valuing customers and food quality above everything else. Customers and employees know each other by name and have created long-term relationships that keep them coming back each day.

 

0 comments on “Immigrants Help Create Economic Growth.”

Immigrants Help Create Economic Growth.

As we celebrate the end of Immigrant Heritage Month, it’s important to understand why supporting local, immigrant-run businesses is important and why it’s part of our mission at FoodtoEat. Although there is a social aspect to our desire to promote a community that is underrepresented throughout the U.S., and the obvious reason that the food found in immigrant-run restaurants is typically the most delicious and authentic, many people don’t realize that without immigrants, the U.S. economy and the workforce would be facing major issues.

Immigrants make up about 13% of the population but contribute almost 15% of the economic output in the U.S. This is due to the fact that immigrants are an integral part of the workforce in our country, participating in the labor force at 73% as opposed to the 71% of native-born Americans.

Being represented in a variety of different industries, losing immigrant employees in any area would create large gaps in the workforce that U.S.-born workers would not be able to fill. This is a result of the fact that immigrants are most heavily filling labor-focused jobs. Studies show that immigration actually pushes U.S.-born workers up in the labor market because immigrants are creating the groundwork to support higher-skilled positions and providing more job opportunities for U.S. workers in those areas. In fact, when an immigrant is willing to fill labor-focused job that might otherwise be left open, it creates an average of 4.64 U.S. jobs.

Immigrants are also job creators in the respect that they are more entrepreneurial than native-born workers. In a recent report done by The Partnership for A New American Economy, researchers found that immigrants are more than twice as likely to start a business as a native-born American. In general, immigrants are considered bigger “risk takers” because they are willing to leave their homes in pursuit of potential business opportunities in the U.S. Which explains why 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants, such as Apple, IBM and eBay. There is a larger desire to succeed as a immigrant due to the societal pressure both in the U.S. and their home communities to find the “American dream” and more immigrants are willing to accept the challenge.

Food, agriculture and all related industries currently make up about 5% of the U.S. GDP, an area that is only expected to keep growing. Supporting local, immigrant-run businesses in NYC is not only socially important but also crucial to our economy. By working with our team, you can directly impact the economy: creating more jobs for restaurant owners to fill, producing more food for consumers to purchase, increasing the GDP and ultimately putting money back in your own pocket.

So the next time you’re choosing between a chain restaurant and the “hole in the wall” Greek store on the corner, remember the impact that these individuals (and their businesses) will have on our economic future.

 

References:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/stuartanderson/2011/06/19/40-percent-of-fortune-500-companies-founded-by-immigrants-or-their-children/#dc27f1f4a590
https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/ag-and-food-statistics-charting-the-essentials/ag-and-food-sectors-and-the-economy/
https://abcnews.go.com/US/immigrants-us-economy-disaster-experts/story?id=45533028
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/immigrants-impact-on-the-u-s-economy-in-7-charts/
https://www.newamericaneconomy.org/sites/all/themes/pnae/openforbusiness.pdf
https://citizenpath.com/immigrant-heritage-month-american-story/
0 comments on “How To: Become a Baller ;)”

How To: Become a Baller ;)

Okay so we don’t mean that we’re going to teach you how to get rich overnight or become really successful….. but we ARE going to teach you how to make 3 different types of delicious meatballs that you can feed to your family and friends! All of the recipes listed below are super easy to make and provide a unique twist on the “traditional meatball”. We’ve also suggested ways to pair each meatball option to dispel the belief that meatballs are only served in marinara sauce or with pasta! So check out your options below and make your favorite one! And if you’re feeling really “ballsy”, why not try em all?!

Traditional Italian Turkey Meatballs

Recipe yields about 25-30 meatballs

You’ll Need:

1 pound ground turkey

1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

3 large cloves of garlic, chopped

3 heaping tablespoons of tomato sauce

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese 

1/4 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs

1 egg

2 tablespoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

salt (to taste)

pepper (to taste)

In a large bowl, mix all of the above ingredients together and form into 1 & 1/2 inch balls. Put meatballs in a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or avocado oil). Cook meatballs on medium heat on each side for about 3-5 minutes or until outer layer is brown and crispy. Transfer meatballs to a large pot and cover with sauce (we recommend Rao’s Tomato Sauce but feel free to use your favorite jarred sauce or make your own sauce from scratch!). Cook on low heat for about an hour and a half to two hours, stirring occasionally.

Pro tip: Pair these Italian turkey meatballs with some whole wheat spaghetti for a lighter pasta dinner!

Greek Turkey Zucchini Meatballs

Recipe yields about 25-30 meatballs

You’ll Need:

1 pound ground turkey

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

3 large cloves of garlic, chopped

2 heaping tablespoons of tomato sauce

2 large zucchini grated

2 tablespoons dried oregano

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 

4-6 tablespoons seasoned Italian breadcrumbs

1 egg

1/2 small container of crumbled feta cheese (about 3 ounces)

salt (to taste)

pepper (to taste)

In a large bowl, mix all of the above ingredients together and form into 1 & 1/2 inch balls. Put meatballs in a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or avocado oil). Cook meatballs on medium heat, turning them every few minutes. Cook for about 20-25 minutes or until cooked through and brown on all sides.

Pro tip: Top these Greek turkey meatballs with some homemade Tzatziki Sauce (recipe below) and serve with brown rice and a side of veggies if you’re trying to cut down on the carbs!

Homemade Tzatziki Sauce

Recipe yields about 3 cups

You’ll Need:

2 cups plain Greek yogurt (we recommend Siggi’s)

2 mini seedless cucumbers, diced small

2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill

juice of 1 lemon

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

salt (to taste)

pepper (to taste)

In a large bowl, mix all of the above ingredients together and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.

Vegetarian “Meat”balls

Recipe yields about 25-30 meatballs

You’ll Need:

1 can lentils, drained and rinsed

1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

3 tablespoons of tomato paste

4-6 large Crimini or button mushrooms, wiped clean and finely chopped

2 eggs

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs

1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

salt (to taste)

pepper (to taste)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drain and rinse lentils and set aside. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil to a large pan. Bring heat to medium/high and add in chopped onions, celery, carrots, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir frequently for 5-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add the tomato paste to the pan and continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the pan and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Once cooked, transfer mixture to a large bowl and let cool. When cool, add in the lentils, eggs, Parmesan cheese and walnuts. Mix by hand until all ingredients are well incorporated. Place in the refrigerator for 25 minutes. Remove mixture from the refrigerator and form mixture into 1 & 1/2 inch balls, making sure to pack the mixture firmly. Use cooking spray to coat a baking sheet and place balls on cooking sheet. Cook for about 30 minutes until meatballs are firm, cooked through and crispy on the outside. Allow meatballs to cool before topping!

Pro tip: Try these vegetarian “meat”balls in a whole wheat pita with arugula and topped with chimichurri sauce! YUM!

Tag us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook @foodtoeat with pictures of the meatball recipe that you chose and what you paired it with for your meatball-inspired lunch or dinner!

 

0 comments on “Celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month with Us: Join Us on Wednesday, June 20th!”

Celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month with Us: Join Us on Wednesday, June 20th!

“One of the remarkable things about America is that nearly all of our families originally came from someplace else. We’re a nation of immigrants. It’s a source of our strength and something we all can take pride in.” – Barack Obama

June is Immigrant Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the diversity that the United States is founded on and the contributions that immigrants continue to make in our country. Immigrant Heritage Month is an initiative that was created in June 2014 by Welcome.us. The focus is to 1. give each person an opportunity to explore their own heritage, 2. gather and share stories to create understanding and 3. to take action by supporting immigrant coworkers, family members, employees, neighbors and friends.

At FoodtoEat, we work directly with women, minority and immigrant-run food businesses throughout NYC because we believe that food is one of the key components of a city’s culture. Without the immigrant businesses that contribute to that culture, you lose a part of the city’s identity. Which is why we are partnering with General Assembly for a panel event in honor of Immigrant Heritage Month, celebrating the immigrant-run businesses that we work with and listening to a few of the stories of vendors that are open to sharing them with us and you!

The panel will be taking place on Wednesday, June 20th from 6:30-8:30PM and will include food that reflects the culture of each panelist. Below is information about each of our panelists and how they came to be involved in New York City’s food industry. RSVP today so that you don’t miss out on this extremely important event that will discuss the issues facing the immigrant population in the United States, the factors that affect restaurant owners and the food industry as a whole, and why our mission of supporting local food businesses is so important.

Kay- Hey Hey Canteen

Kay Ch’ien, Hey Hey Canteen

Kay was born in Singapore and raised in Hong Kong, where she grew up surrounded by her family’s food business and the delicious and diverse cuisines of both cities. In between college and law school, she spent a fascinating year exploring her family’s roots in Beijing, teaching English and eating her way through the metropolis. A job offer at a law firm allowed her to fulfill a lifelong goal of moving to New York City. After six years as an attorney, she decided to leave “Big Law” to pursue her true passion: Asian cuisine. In 2014 Kay opened the well-received farm to table Chinese restaurant, 2 Duck Goose, and in 2016 she teamed up with Carlos Barrera to bring delicious and wholesome Asian dishes to Brooklyn with the launch of Hey Hey Canteen.

Siwat- Mamu Thai Noodle

Siwat Thitiwatana, Mamu Thai Noodle

Mamu Thai Noodle started as a food truck in 2013 by Siwat and his sister. It was the first Thai food truck in NYC dedicated to Thai noodle dishes. From a successful Kickstarter campaign to the mean streets of NYC to a brick & mortar in Queens to a corporate catering company, the path to fruition was not a conventional one for this company. Using family recipes from his uncle’s noodle shop in Bangkok as well as a few of Chef Siwat’s own, Mamu Thai has just celebrated it’s most successful year to date!

PriaVanda Chouhan- Desi Galli

PriaVanda Chouhan, Desi Galli

Owner PriaVanda Chouhan and her husband opened Desi Galli in 2012 to satisfy the Desi (Indian sub-continent disapora) hankering for Indian soul food. Desi is a Hindustani term for the people, cultures and products of the Indian subcontinent or South Asia and is derived from Sanskrit which means “one from our country”. Galli symbolizes an “alley” or “street”. Though her father warned her husband-to-be that she couldn’t cook, PriaVanda taught herself to make not only her mother’s recipes but also her husband’s family favorites. Inspired by Rachael Ray’s fast and easy methods for putting dinner on the table in under 30 minutes, she turned her home kitchen into a test kitchen, mastering a multitude of Indian recipes every day and developing her own personal style of lighter, healthier, vegan and gluten free cooking without sacrificing flavor.

Their restaurant specializes in Kathi (or Kati) Rolls, Vada Pav, Chaats and Biryani, all of which is prepared in front of diners in their restaurant’s open kitchen. Since they opened they have been featured in a variety of different outlets such as: The Rachael Ray Show, ABC News, TimeOut, Jus Punjabi and the NY Times. They have also been voted best sandwich for their Aloo & Paneer Tikki by Time Out and voted one of the best dishes in NYC by Village Voice for their Bhel Puri.

Charles- Jaa Dijo Dom

Charles Chipengule, Jaa Dijo Dom

Charles was born and raised in Botswana, Africa. He is a mechanical electrician and chef by profession. Growing up in Africa, he had a passion for food and simply loved cooking. After graduating from high school, he was able to save up just enough money to open a breakfast food stall, which helped him fund his technical college and culinary courses. However, due to the dire economic conditions in Botswana, Charles eventually had to close down his breakfast stall and emigrated to the United States. After arriving in the United States, Charles worked in restaurants and pursued his cooking dream, despite a great learning curve and increased responsibility. He took culinary classes in New York and got inspired to share the richness and flavor of the African food of his past.

Charles believes in good, healthy eating, which is why he sources his African peppers and herbs straight from Africa, grinding it all in house. All of the unique African dishes that he creates have been handed down through generations and are currently being made all over Africa on a daily basis, from nations North, South, East and West. Today he turns those daily, basic dishes into a meal you will never forget!

 

*Featured image taken from http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/immigration/2017/06/june-2017-immigrant-heritage-month.html
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June Vendor of the Month: Salad Pangea

Happy June ya’ll! This month we’re excited to offer new menu items from Salad Pangea as our featured special for June for all FoodtoEat clients!

Salad Pangea has been a part of FoodtoEat since 2013 but recently underwent a change in ownership and is trying to add some diversity to their offerings. Although they are known throughout NYC for their awesome pre-made salad and salad bars, they are currently expanding their menu to include options such as pasta, entrees and side salads, and YOU can have first dibs on taste testing! Below are different menu options for you to mix and match.

Pasta Options:

Penne Ala Vodka

Penne Arrabiata

Meat Lasagna

Spaghetti Bolognese

Chicken Parmigiana over Penne Pasta with Marinara Sauce

Salad Options:

Panzanella Salad

Mediterranean Grilled Vegetables Salad

Watermelon Cucumber Feta Salad

**Please note: 20 person minimum is required for all orders**

Want more information about the new faces of Salad Pangea and how they’re reinventing the well-known NYC business?! Read below!

Salad Pangea

Zeeshan Ali and Shadman Saeed took over Salad Pangea in January 2018. Two young and eager entrepreneurs, they saw an opportunity to take charge of a struggling business and jumped in with both feet!

Salad Pangea specializes in salad but focuses on adding a unique twist to each one, making it stand out from your everyday salad. After bringing on Muhammad Anas as their executive chef, they are ready to expand their menu beyond the salads that their clients know and love! Muhmmad has 11 years of experience in the culinary industry and has studied and worked in Pakistan and Dubai. After working in the New York food industry for 5 years, he is teaming up with Zeeshan and Shadman to create a menu that is reflective of his cooking style and flare.

We can’t wait to see what this group creates in the future!

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Healthy Eats for Memorial Day Weekend!

Really trying to stick to that diet plan this summer? Same. But if you’re like us, you’re already scared of what food will be tempting you at the Summer kick off BBQ that your friend is hosting for Memorial Day Weekend. Alcohol + all of the delicious food you’ve been avoiding = recipe for disaster!

The best way that we’ve found that we can avoid cheating on a diet is to meal prep. Which is why we’ve come up with healthy alternatives to the traditional burgers and sides that are usually served during the holiday weekend. All of these items are super easy to make and can be prepared at home and brought with you to any MDW party! So whenever you’re feeling like you’re about to dive headfirst into the buffet table, you can chow down on your pre-made turkey burger, pesto chickpea pasta salad, grilled carrots, tomato and cucumber salad and crispy chickpeas without feeling guilty!

The Burger

Turkey Burgers: Recipe yields about 4 burgers

You’ll Need:

1 pound ground turkey

2-3 heaping tablespoons of tomato sauce

2 cloves of fresh chopped garlic

1 egg

1/4 cup of breadcrumbs (we suggest seasoned breadcrumbs but any kind is fine)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes

1 teaspoon onion powder

Pro Tip: Adding tomato sauce to your ground meat recipe keeps the meat super moist without adding a tomato sauce flavor!

In a large bowl, add all of the ingredients above and form into patties. These burgers can be cooked on a cast iron skillet inside (New Yorkers stuck in the city, we’re lookin at you) or an outdoor grill. Cook on each side for about 8-10 minutes. Make sure that they are completely cooked through before adding your favorite toppings. For our meal we did arugula, onion, tomato and avocado!

If you’re really committed to your diet, we suggest eating the burger sans bun. But if you’re craving the burger, bread and all, we suggest Multigrain sandwich thins (which is what we put our burgers on) or Multigrain toast as a replacement for the traditional Potato or Brioche bun.

The Sides

Grilled Carrots: Recipe yields about 3 carrots per person

You’ll Need:

2-3 pound bag of carrots

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 tablespoons olive oil

Pro Tip: Leave carrot tops on for pretty presentation!

Peel carrots and place in a bowl. Drizzle will olive oil, mix in seasonings and toss. Grill for about 10-15 minutes on medium heat on a cast iron skillet or an outdoor grill OR roast in the oven at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes (we prefer roasting them in the oven but either works!). Carrots should be charred on the outside but soft on the inside. Use a fork to test!

Tomato and Cucumber Salad: Recipe yields about 4 portions

You’ll Need:

10-12 Plum (or Roma) tomatoes

3 stalks celery 

3 mini seedless cucumbers 

3 cloves fresh chopped garlic

handful of fresh chopped basil

1/4 cup olive oil

Cut the celery down the middle and then slice. Cut the cucumbers down the middle and then slice. Cut tomatoes in half, slice each half down the middle and then across to make 4 pieces (pieces should be about 1 inch in size). Add all of the ingredients above to a large bowl and mix. Let everything sit in fridge for 1 hour before eating or serving!

Pesto Pasta Salad: Recipe yields about 4-6 portions

You’ll Need:

1 box Banza (chickpea) pasta (any shape you like, for our meal we used rotini)

3 mini seedless cucumbers

1/2 container of Heirloom Cherry tomatoes or Cherry tomatoes

1 small container of crumbled Feta cheese

2-3 handfuls of arugula

Pesto sauce (store bought or homemade)

Cook Banza pasta, rinse with cold water and chill for 15-20 minutes. Cut the cucumbers down the middle and then slice. Slice cherry tomatoes in half. Add all of the ingredients above to a large bowl, using as much or as little pesto sauce as you’d like. Add in the chilled Banza pasta and mix. Let everything sit in fridge for 1 hour before eating or serving! (Our homemade pesto sauce recipe is below for any overachievers! It does require a food processor.)

Homemade Pesto Sauce: Recipe yield about 1 cup

You’ll Need:

2 cups fresh basil

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup pine nuts

juice of 1/2 lemon

3 cloves garlic

 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

1/4 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)

Add the basil and pine nuts to the food processor and blend for a few seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients to the basil/pine nuts mix in the food processor and blend until smooth.

Crispy Chickpea: Recipe yields about 2 cups

You’ll Need:

2 cans chickpeas/garbanzo beans

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Rinse and drain chickpeas. Place on paper towel and make sure to dry completely. Add the chickpeas and the ingredients above into a large bowl and mix. Transfer chickpeas to a baking sheet lined with tinfoil and bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until desired crispiness. These are perfect for snacking throughout the day!

Tag us @foodtoeat on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with pictures of your creations! Happy cooking!

A Guide to Dietary Restrictions

Most of us know what it means when someone says that they are vegetarian or nut free. But the development of food allergies as well as cultural changes in eating preferences have created new food restrictions that are more prevalent than ever before. If you are responsible for your office’s food ordering, it’s important to be aware of these changes as well who in your office is effected by certain foods. Being aware of this information can help prevent potentially life-threatening situations and can create a better work environment for all employees whose needs are being noted and accounted for.

If you haven’t already done so, we suggest sending out an anonymous, brief questionnaire to all employees asking about their eating preferences: if they have any food allergies, if there are any items that they generally stay away from, if they have any religious or personal food preferences that they hold, or if they have a particular diet that they like to follow. In the mean time, we’ve created a dietary restriction 101 guide that breaks down some of the most common dietary restrictions that we encounter on a daily basis in the food industry. It’s important to know what they all mean and how you can make sure that every restriction is accommodated during your office meals!

Ovo-Vegetarian: A person that does not eat meat or dairy but does eat eggs.

Lacto-Vegetarian: A person that does does not eat meat or eggs but does eat dairy.

Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian: A person that does not eat meat but does eat dairy and eggs. This is the most common form of vegetarianism.

Vegan: A person that does not eat anything that comes from an animal. This diet is plant-based and becomes a lifestyle for most people that follow it. Vegans will not use any products that come from or were tested on an animal, such as clothes, fragrances, household cleaners, etc. in order to reduce the exploitation of animals.

Pescatarian: A person that does not eat meat but will eat fish, dairy and eggs. A pescatarian has a very similar diet to a vegetarian but will also eat fish as an additional  source of protesin.

Gluten Free: A person that cannot eat gluten, a protein that is found in wheat, rye and barley. Celiac disease, an autoimmune disease, is the most common cause for a gluten free diet. For people with this disease, eating gluten can trigger an immune system reaction that damages the lining of the small intestine and keeps the body from absorbing nutrients. There are also people that have a gluten-sensitivity or gluten intolerance and although they don’t have Celiac disease, they can have the same reaction to eating gluten that someone with Celiac disease does. 

Dairy Free: A person that has an allergy to milk or a person that is lactose intolerant, which means that they are not able to fully digest the sugar (lactose) in dairy products.

Nut Free: A person that has an allergy to a type of tree nut or peanut. This allergy can be mild or life-threatening, depending on the person. Some people have an airborne peanut allergy so it’s very important to clarify with all restaurants/caterers if they have a nut free kitchen, if any of the items that you order contain nuts or nut oils or if there is any cross contamination between items being cooked in the same oil or pans. It’s important to read the labels on all items as a lot of foods that you wouldn’t expect contain nuts.

Egg Free: A person that has an allergy to eggs.

Shellfish Free: A person that has an allergy to crustaceans (shrimp, crab and lobster) or mollusks (clams, mussels, oysters and scallops).

Fish Free: A person that has an allergy to fish. The most common fish allergies are salmon, tuna and halibut. Most people who are allergic to finned fish are not allergic to shellfish as well.

Soy Free: A person that has an allergy to soy.

Kosher: A person that must eat food that is prepared according to the requirements of the Jewish law. A person that is kosher cannot eat pork or shellfish and meat and dairy cannot be consumed together. All meat must be killed in a specific way and then blessed by a rabbi to make sure that it is fit and proper for consumption. For some people that are strictly kosher, only a specific set of dishes, pots, pans, etc. can be used while preparing the food and eating the meal.

Halal: A person that must eat food that is prepared according to the requirements of the Islamic law. A person that is halal cannot eat pork and all meat must be killed in a specific way to make it “permissible” for consumption. If you’re looking for a halal vendor for your next meal, be sure to clarify with the restaurant/caterer that their meat is certified halal. 

 

Resources:
https://celiac.org/live-gluten-free/glutenfreediet/what-is-gluten/
https://www.glutenfreedietitian.com/dietcom-blog-so-what-exactly-is-a-gluten-free-diet/
http://www.webster.edu/specialevents/planning/food-information.html
https://jvisit.org.uk/jewish-dietary-laws/
Photo: http://www.hilaryphelps.com/genuine-joy-blog/2013/11/7/a-guide-to-eating-styles#.Wvu-UIjwbIV
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It’s Time to Treat Mom… with Food!

Mother’s Day is right around the corner (it’s this Sunday, May 13th for those who were still wondering…), which means it’s time to start panicking about a gift. Do you get the typical flowers and candy? Do you try to pick something unique that you think is a good idea but she may or may not like? Do you get the same gift card for a mani/pedi that you got last year??? It’s hard to know what gift is just right to show your mom that you appreciate her and everything that she does for you.

But panic no more! At FoodtoEat, we understand the importance of food and that when you gather together with loved ones, it’s more than just a meal. This Mother’s Day, think outside the box and celebrate mom by combining a food that she loves with an activity that brings you together. Whether you’re spending time together just you two or celebrating with the whole family, any of the ideas below will make your mom feel special for the thought you put into it and you’ll both get to enjoy some amazing food 🙂

1. Plan a pizza crawl! Is your mom obsessed with NY pizza?! Or maybe she’s never tried it! Map out some of your to go places for za and spend the day walking around the city, visiting your favorites spots and maybe trying  some new ones! This will give you some quality time with your mom and an excuse to try out all of the pizzerias that you haven’t checked out yet. The experience of exploring New York and (some of) the pizza that it’s famous for will be something you’ll both remember! And if you need some recommendations, our list of pizza places would definitely include Prince Street Pizza, Rubirosa, Joe’s Pizza, Emily, Bleecker Street Pizza and Roberta’s…. just sayin!

2. Buy tickets to a cooking class! If your mom is into cooking, a class where she gets to learn how to make one of her favorite foods is the perfect way to show your support for something that she loves to do. Make the gesture even more special by customizing it for her! Does she have a sweet tooth? Check out a gelato or macaron making class. Sushi lover? Find a class that will teach her to make her own California rolls! If you think that’s not enough, buy yourself a ticket and do the class with her! Spending time together doing something that she loves to do will show her that you appreciate her and are willing to spend time doing things that she enjoys, even if you’re horrible at it!

3. Learn how to pair your wine. If activities aren’t your mom’s style (or yours), there are plenty of informational classes that allow you to sip on some wine, eat some cheese and relax while you gain some knowledge about the different wines and the food that they go well with. If your mom is a wine lover, she’ll be excited to put the information that she learned to use at home or the next time that she’s hosting a party! If she’s not into wine pairing, you can always plan for a wine tasting or, if your mom is into beer, a beer tasting! All of these classes usually have an instructor so this is the easiest option to execute last minute. There’s not much coordination needed on your end, which will allow you to relax, drink, eat and enjoy the class with your mom!

4. Food. Festival. If your mom is adventurous when it comes to food, bringing her to a food festival is a great way to spend Mother’s Day! With so many different cuisines available in one place, she will be able to taste a bunch of amazing food that she may not usually try or be familiar with. Smorgasburg and Queens Night Market are two really popular food festivals that run on the weekends until October, so even if you can’t make it this weekend, you can make a plan to go with your mom one weekend when you both are free! If your mom isn’t able to get into the city, do some research to see what’s available in her area! New food festivals are popping up every season so if you’re in Manhattan, Queens, Long Island or Westchester and don’t want to travel, try to find something around you that might work! 

The most important thing to keep in mind for Mother’s Day is that your gift should be based on what your mom enjoys doing, whether that’s cooking, trying new foods or drinks, or pizza crawling! A thoughtful gift that really takes her interests into account and allows you to spend time together will be more valuable to her than anything else.

 

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May Vendor of the Month: Little Urban Food & Drink

(cue *NSYNC) It’s gonna be May!…..  Well it already is, which means we have a new Vendor of the Month bringing you an exclusive menu through FoodtoEat! 

This month we’re so happy to work with one of our newer vendors, Little Urban Food & Drink, who created a Spring-themed menu that goes perfectly with the beautiful weather we’ve been having! The menu will be the following:

Choice of One Protein:

Herb Roasted Chicken with Spring Garlic Pesto

Seared Tofu with Sesame Slaw, Crispy Garlic and Cilantro

Served with the following sides:

Quinoa Salad with Red Wine & Honey Vinaigrette and Fresh Herbs

Roasted Asparagus

Sofrito Braised Kale with San Marzano Tomatoes and Carrot Sofrito

Country Smashed Potatoes with Creme Fraiche, Butter and Green Onion

If you aren’t convinced from the menu, below is a little more information about the inspiration behind Little Urban Food & Drink and their amazing food!

Little Urban Food & Drink

Little Urban Food & Drink was founded by Bobby Little and Chad Urban, two chefs who were looking to create a neighborhood restaurant where family and friends could get together and enjoy food inspired by the melting pot of cuisine and culture that make up our country.

After both working in top kitchens throughout New York City and helping to open multiple successful restaurants, these amazing chefs joined forces to make their restaurant vision a reality and Little Urban Food & Drink was born! Hospitality is at the core of this restaurant, acting as a gathering place for neighbors and tourists alike. This restaurant was founded on the belief that everyone can gather around the communal table and eat together as family.

Their menu focuses around locally sourced seasonal vegetables and sustainably raised meat, always offering a refreshing twist on the global flavors that make up their recipes! Email catering@foodtoeat.com to order Little Urban Food & Drink for your next office meal!

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Celebrating Administrative Professionals: Ways to Say Thank You!

You may not recognize it on a daily basis, but administrative professionals are one of the most important parts of your company. They are constantly coordinating meals, booking meetings, planning events, keeping track of important information and making sure that everything in your office is running smoothly. Wednesday, April 25th is a day dedicated to honoring these individuals, understanding all of the hard work that they do for your company and finding small ways to celebrate and appreciate them. Below are some fun and thoughtful ways to say “thank you” to the people that keep you sane, but whatever way you celebrate, make sure that you keep plans/gifts focused on the person being celebrated! Every person is different, so it’s crucial to recognize what he/she values and customize your ideas to fit who they are and how they need to be appreciated!

Plan a personalized afternoon snack or happy hour. Personalized can mean themed- if he/she really loves Mexican food you can make it an afternoon fiesta, with sombreros, maracas, quesadillas, chips and guacamole, etc.- or it can literally mean personalized, i.e. ordering cookies or cupcakes with their name or a “thank you” message written on them! Pick a snack or some finger foods that you think they’ll really enjoy and get the team together to celebrate! This is a great way to publicly recognize your admin for all of his/her hard work and give your colleagues a chance to show their appreciation by allowing them to say a few words during the snack or happy hour. Whether they say it out loud or privately pull them aside, hearing positive messages from coworkers will show them how much they are valued in your office!

Take them to lunch! Looking for a more formal way to show your appreciation? Say it over lunch (or breakfast, if they prefer!). Treat your admin to a sit down meal at a restaurant that he/she chooses or a place that you know he/she loves and make sure that you take the reigns on the planning to set up the meal. Since he/she may be the person that usually coordinates your lunch meetings or team meals, they will appreciate not having to take care of all of the details. While at lunch, tell them personally how much you appreciate their hard work. Give examples of things he/she has done in the past that you really loved and how they contribute to the culture in the office. Also, be open to discussing their role at the company and how they may expand their role in the future or move into a new position if/when it becomes available. Nothing shows that you value an employee more than investing in them and their future at your company!

Brighten their day with flowers, coffee, candy, etc.! A small gesture can go a long way. If you don’t know it already, figure out his/her favorite coffee shop and surprise them with a fresh cup in the morning! Or ask around to other coworkers and see what candy he/she loves and leave them all over their desk to snack on during the day. If you frequently see him/her returning to the office with smoothies from Juice Generation, buy them a gift card for the next smoothie craving! Whatever you choose to buy, make it something unique that he/she will really love and that shows that you put thought into a gift that would improve their day. It’s less about the item and more about the thought and care behind the purchase!

 

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5 Small Changes You Can Make in the Office to Protect our Planet!

This Sunday, April 22nd, is Earth Day- a day dedicated to recognizing the fight for a clean environment and the preservation of our planet. Not able to get outside and do an Act of Green? We’ve outlined some small, easy changes that you can make in your office that will help reduce waste and conserve the natural resources provided by our planet!

1. Make the switch: all electronic errrything! The use of computers/laptops in corporate offices have helped companies “go green” but there are still ways that you can reduce the amount of paper being used each day. Internally, allow employees to bring laptops to meetings rather than notebooks and email agendas to everyone beforehand rather than printing them out. If your company’s billing department is still paper-dependent, consider switching to e-bills, online invoices and paperless contracts, which gives the added benefit of allowing you to be more efficient with the movement of funds. Also, make sure that you’re re-using paper goods! When you order food for 50, there always seems to be plates/napkins/utensils for 100. Rather than throwing them away, save the leftover paper goods and store them in a specific spot in your office for the next team lunch or client meeting! Then when it’s time to order again, break out the extras and ask the vendor not to include any with their delivery.

2. Invest in recycling and recyclable items! Recycling bins may seem like a no-brainer when thinking of ways to protect our environment but many companies don’t have them. In New York City, the Department of Sanitation provides free decals to label bins for recycling and provides clear instructions for how and when you can recycle your glass, metal, rigid plastic, paper and cardboard. Adding a recycling bin to your office is an effective way to get your coworkers to start recycling items that they would normally throw away. Placing this recycling bin in a communal area makes everyone aware of where they can recycle and also holds everyone accountable to recycle their recyclable goods. It’s also important to invest in personal recyclable materials! A simple way to do this is purchasing reusable water bottles for your team. Rather than having each person using plastic cups for water or disposable water bottles, you can reduce the amount of plastic waste by providing stainless steel bottles or BPA free plastic bottles. Here are some of the top-rated bottles by customers. Not only does our team love repping FoodtoEat with our custom water bottles (free advertising for your company!), it also keeps us from spending money buying a pack of water bottles every week and wasting plastic. 

3. Reduce the amount of energy you use! Most of the items in our office use energy. So it’s very important that when you can, you reduce the amount of energy that your office is generating. If your office has natural lighting, try turning off your overhead lights and working with the sunlight for as long as you can each day (before it interferes with your work). Also, remind coworkers to turn off lights in any rooms that aren’t being used. Shutting down your computer before leaving the office for the night can also cut back on energy consumption. It takes much less power to restart your computer the next morning than it does to keep your computer running at your desk all night. Also try to unplug any unnecessary items such as phone chargers, laptop charger and lamps from the outlet that they are connected to. Although you may be turning them off before you leave, if an item is still connected to a power source, it will still use energy.

4. Add a plant! Indoor plants not only add beauty to your office, they have also been proven to increase productivity and improve your mood as well as purify the air that you breathe. Adding them into your office can reduce the chemical exposure that you and your coworkers face every day from items like cleaning products, fragrances and formaldehyde (found in garbage bags, paper towels, some fabrics) and help to reduce your overall chemical output. Here are some suggestions for plants that will freshen up your office and are easy to care for!

5. (Metro)Transportation nation! Living in a New York City, there’s always a source of public transportation that can get you where you need to go. Buses, trains and bikes are all available to commuters and are a great way to reduce the amount of gas emitted by cars on the road. If driving to work is unavoidable, try to carpool with other friends that work close to your office or coworkers that live in your area. Start a carpool sign up sheet where each person can sign up for a week in the month that they will drive so that no one gets stuck driving more than anyone else. On warmer Spring and Summer days, try waking up a little earlier and walking to work (if that’s feasible) or biking to work! Ask your team if a they can create space in the office that can be dedicated to storing your bike safely during the work day. Biking or walking to work as well as to meetings, happy hours and lunches throughout the city will help reduce your gas emission and give you some great exercise in the process!

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Lights, Camera, Cinco de Mayo!

As the weather is beginning to warm up in NYC, there’s nothing better than starting to plan all of the ways that you’re going to enjoy the sunny, 80 degree days with your friends and co-workers! And although it may seem weeks away, Cinco de Mayo (the kick-off to the beautiful, sunny seasons that we dream about all Winter) will be here before you know it!

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the victory of the Mexican army over the French at the Battle of Puebla, so it is crucial that your office party is worthy of the battle that’s being commemorated. A sombrero and a few streamers will definitely not cut it. There are three specific areas that must be covered in order to ensure that your Cinco de Mayo party (or any party for that matter) goes perfectly: atmosphere, food and drinks. Without all of these pieces working in harmony, all is lost! Thankfully, we’ve laid out everything that you need to plan the perfect Cinco de Mayo party for your office so that everyone will let you enjoy your margarita in peace 🙂

Step 1: Atmosphere is key.

Decorating your office is the first step in your Cinco de Mayo party prep! Be sure to use decorations such as streamers, balloons and banners that incorporate the colors of the Mexican flag: red, white and green. If you really want to make the party stand out from past events, create a personalized photo booth area (like this one from Etsy) for different groups to take funny pictures together throughout the night! It’s also important that people attending the party (your co-workers) feel invested in the theme. Encourage your team to dress in red, white and green and supply party favors for them, like sombreros and maracas! This is an easy way to get your team excited and break the ice when the party starts! Finally, no fiesta is complete without tunes to get your office in the mood! Personally, we recommend Cinco de Mayo radio but you can also put your personal touch on it by creating your own playlist on Spotify or having everyone on the team contribute to the playlist in the days leading up to the event! Although decorations may seem obvious, it’s important for you put effort into the party and take it seriously so that your coworkers will too! After all, getting the whole team together is vital to a successful event.

Step 2: The Food- It will always be welcomed and appreciated.

Now onto our favorite topic…. the food! Cinco de Mayo is always associated with tacos so you can never go wrong with a build your own taco bar. But it’s important to keep in mind the timing of your party so that you can serve the right amount of food for your office. If your event is taking place during lunch time, you can do the taco bar as we mentioned, or try something more traditional like rice and beans with cochinita pibil or carne asada and tortilla soup. You can also do pre-made tacos, burritos or tamales if your team isn’t interested in building their own. If your event is taking place after 3 or 4PM, people will be looking for finger foods rather than a meal, so it’s better to focus on your favorite Mexican snacks such as chips and guacamole (duh), quesadillas, taquitos, churros and flan. With finger foods it’s best to assume that everyone will want a little of everything so start by defining your budget for food and work backwards from there on how many pieces per person you can afford. If numbers are already starting to swirl in your head, have our team do it for you! Reach out to us by emailing catering@foodtoeat.com for a customized proposal based on your team’s needs!

Step 3: Drinks **Please secure approval before proceeding to this step**

This step comes with a disclaimer because although Cinco de Mayo translates to margaritas for most people, that may not be true in your office (even if you wish it were). So please double check whether or not drinks are being served at your event before visiting your nearest liquor store!

In this step, you must analyze how much effort you want to put into your drinks, because there are many options. The first being hiring a bartender or two to mix drinks on site and serve them to your coworkers. This option will be the most expensive because of the staffing but the easiest for you because you will only have to provide the alcohol and mixers and leave it up to the experts to dispense! The second option is providing the alcohol and mixers and having team members make their own drinks. This option is more cost effective and probably the easiest to execute but could also lead to people over-serving themselves because they think that they’re a bartender when they’re not. No one wants to be the drunk guy at the holiday party AND the Cinco de Mayo party! Which leads to the final option of having margarita mix pre-made and delivered in a dispenser. This option will only require you to provide the alcohol and helps control the amount of alcohol in everyone’s drink because you can pour the alcohol directly into the pre-made mix. Keep in mind that not everyone likes margaritas so it’s good to get a headcount before the party of beer vs. margaritas so that you can supply any non-margarita drinkers with some Corona and lime to drink during the party! Whichever option you decide to move ahead with, FoodtoEat can help here as well. Email us at catering@foodtoeat.com to facilitate a drink delivery for your team!

We hope that our guide on Cinco de Mayo party planning 101 will help you to impress your team and make your party amazing. Getting your team together to enjoy events like these will continue to foster your office community and make employees excited to come to work. There’s nothing better than creating an event that your team truly loves and having fun while you do it! 

 

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April Vendor of the Month: Veselka

We are proud to announce our new Vendor of the Month initiative here at FoodtoEat!

Starting on April 1st, every month we will be highlighting one of our favorite vendors whose food we love and who we think our clients will love too! We are hoping to give these vendors more exposure by offering a specialty menu item that is chosen by the vendor and only available to FoodtoEat clients during the month of April! We will also be giving a little background about the vendor and how they got started for our clients to get a better understanding of the people and places that create their food.

This month, we are so excited to offer a custom menu item from Veselka to our clients! Veselka will be creating a special that includes your choice of a vegetarian grilled cheese (Havarti cheese, roasted beets, walnut pesto on 7-grain bread) or a meaty grilled cheese (Muenster cheese, Baczynsky’s county ham on pullman loaf), each served with a bowl of classic, creamy tomato soup.

Veselka

If you aren’t already familiar with Veselka, it is a New York City staple.

It was founded in 1954 and since then has grown into a landmark Ukrainian restaurant in the East Village, serving its famous pierogies, borscht, goulash and stuffed cabbage! Originally founded as a Ukrainian coffee shop that served simple soup and sandwiches, in 1990 it grew into a 24-hour location, serving the dishes that it is known for today. In 2004, Veselka celebrate its 50th anniversary and in 2009, released their first cookbook! It is currently owned by the founder’s son-in-law, Tom Birchard, and is managed by the founder’s grandson, Jason Birchard. Together Tom and Jason make sure that the original family tradition that Veselka was founded on is kept alive!

Don’t miss your chance to take advantage of this awesome special! It’s the perfect way to celebrate National Grilled Cheese Day with your team on Thursday, April 12th! Email catering@foodtoeat.com to order your April grilled cheese and tomato soup from Veselka!

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Women’s History Month Series, Part 4: “We all rise together”

The last (but definitely not least) feature in our Women’s History month Series is Elizabeth Solomon, the Founder and CEO of King David Tacos! Liz’s mission is to bring her Texas-style breakfast tacos to the hustle and bustle of corporate life in NYC and these tacos does not disappoint! Delicious and filling, they’re exactly what you need to spice up breakfast at your office or prepare you for a long day of meetings. Did we mention the queso?  (drool).

When and how did your business get started?

King David Tacos (KDT) is a woman-owned and Brooklyn-founded business, established in June 2016. We aim to bring one of the best exports from Austin, TX to the daily lives of New Yorkers: breakfast tacos. We got started just like any good business—on a wing and a prayer
right? But seriously, we started this crazy journey after I had just about burned out on the advertising industry. So I decided to pursue every Texan-in-New York’s dream: bringing a food to NYC that is so prevalent in Texas and makes so much sense for the New Yorker lifestyle but is nowhere to be found…until now! We are focused on making breakfast tacos that are simple and delicious, and we tailor everything we do to the fast-paced lifestyle of discerning New Yorkers. We opened NYC’s first breakfast taco cart at Grand Army Plaza in Prospect Park in September 2017 and the second cart opened on Wall Street in November 2017. But we’ve been catering to offices all over NYC since we started!

What is the inspiration behind your business?

Besides being a forever homesick Texan, King David Tacos was actually inspired by my dad, David. He was called “King David” in jest by friends and colleagues- he was a big, burly guy who really could command a room. He loved New York, he loved food and he was really passionate about the idea that NYC needed a breakfast taco cart. King David Tacos is in homage to him. But beyond all the mushy stuff, I do believe that there is/was a big hole in the market for a wholesome, satisfying (without being indulgent), grab & go breakfast. Besides the fact that breakfast tacos bring people joy (as do most tacos), we are also filling a need.

What is the biggest/hardest lesson you’ve learned through running a business?

Everything is hard when you’re running a business! But the hardest part (in food specifically) is consistency. I think that’s something we can really pride ourselves on now- a consistent product. I don’t think people realize how much work it takes restaurants to output the same dishes over and over, giving you, and the person after you, and the person after that, the same experience every time. Obviously a lot of successful restaurants do just that but before I was really behind the scenes, I couldn’t appreciate the work that goes into creating consistency. I mean, you’re dealing with people and so many other factors, not just machines (at least in most kitchens)!

But big picture, I think the hardest thing that I’ve had to learn, or really, the biggest challenge for me, especially since I changed industries, is how to build our employee base properly. I’m really lucky to have a core team now that I trust immensely. But it took time and some anguish to get here. Back in the day in advertising, when I was hiring people to work on my accounts, I was  hiring people that are pretty much like me. People that are going to help me do my job and probably do a lot of the same things day-to-day that I do. But when it comes to running your own business, you’re hiring for all aspects of the operation. You’re hiring someone and then training them and then managing them as well as the rest of your employees and getting everyone to gel and work together like a well-oiled machine. It is a huge challenge! But when it works, it’s hugely rewarding.

How do you think being a female business owner has impacted your business?

Can I answer like Adam Rippon? “Being a female business owner has impacted my business just like being a male business owner would—I work really hard, just with better eyebrows.” 😉

The other part of the answer is, yes, being in food especially, I get some surprised reactions when people realize that the owner/chef is a female (especially being called King David Tacos). At our carts, I’ll be standing with one of our male cart attendants, and consistently, people look at him and ask, “Are you the owner?” I just laugh, and the employee standing with me will laugh too, because it’s an honest assumption. I think it just shows how deeply our societal norms are ingrained, no matter your intentions. The flip side of that is that I get a lot of bonus excitement by women and men alike to support a woman-owned business.

Working with FoodtoEat means that you support the mission to promote female, minority and immigrant run businesses. Why do you think the FoodtoEat mission is important?

The mission is important from an economic perspective for sure. Diversity of ideas breeds better business, and all of that. But taking it a bit further, I think that we come at it from a unique perspective too, because half of the mobile food vending businesses are actually minority and immigrant-run (at least in NYC). It’s important to highlight innovation and support good business coming out of these kinds of industries because being in the minority— whether it’s via gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity— can put you at an automatic disadvantage. But having people look out for you and lift you up benefits the group (I mean the human race, the world) as a whole. We all rise together.

What would be your advice to other female entrepreneurs that are trying to start their own business?

Learn to trust your intuition, be persistent, and get comfortable being uncomfortable. When you have an idea that’s new, it’s going to receive push-back. You need to be strong enough to (a) navigate and course-correct when needed but (b) also know when to barrel forward.

 

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Women’s History Month Series, Part 3: “Create the platform that supports the mission”

 

Our third feature in our Women’s History Month Series is Yemisi Awosan, the founder and CEO of Egunsi Foods, a Harlem-based food company that focuses on producing locally-sourced refrigerated African food. Although they now focus on their individually packaged farm-to-table soups, Egunsi Foods still offers catering through FoodtoEat and is the perfect option if you want to try something new for lunch and introduce your office to a flavorful and unique cuisine!

When and how did your business get started?

I started Egunsi Foods in 2014. In order to see if there was any interest in West African food, I started testing out the market, offering my services through catering and as a personal chef. Once I found that there was an audience for this cuisine and that my idea was validated, I was able to create an extended product line that is now sold at Whole Foods Market, Fairway Market, on FoodKick and Goldbely in New York City.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

My inspiration is to tell/share the story of my Africa, my culture through it’s food. I partner with farmers in West Africa to source their raw materials for Egunsi’s final products. My philosophy is to actively give back to African farmers and create a long-term impact through social entrepreneurship rather than a short-term donation through philanthropy.

What is the biggest/hardest lesson you’ve learned through running a business?

The biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that you will be the most passionate about your vision for your business. But you have to find ways to have others buy into that same vision that you have; and it may not be at the same level as your passion, but you need to find people that fall somewhere around that neighborhood and understand and appreciate your product.

How do you think being a female business owner has impacted your business?

I think being a female business owner has impacted my business in that I have to be extremely detail-oriented and super organized because I have to wear many hats as I run my business.  

Working with FoodtoEat means that you support the mission to promote female, minority and immigrant run businesses. Why do you think the FoodtoEat mission is important?

I believe that the FoodtoEat mission is important because they create the platform that supports the mission. They are providing the opportunity that allows the mission to be actionable.

What would be your advice to other female entrepreneurs that are trying to start their own business?

Go after the dream(s)/goal(s) that you set for yourself. You don’t want to look back years from now and wish that you could have gone after them. Even if it doesn’t work out or if it doesn’t work out as you envisioned it, at least you tried and gave it your all. So no regret- I live by this philosophy.

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Women’s History Month Series, Part 2: “The future is most definitely female”

 

Our second feature in our Women’s History Month Series is Ashley Jaffe, the co-founder of Blank Slate Coffee + Kitchen, NYC’s cutest cafe located at 121 Madison Avenue! Ashley and her husband, Zach, strike the perfect mix with their upscale “coffeehouse” food, offering gourmet breakfast and lunch options as well as artisan coffee, craft beef and wine. Their food is known for adding a twist to your favorite, classic dishes and using fresh ingredients that makes their food as delicious as it is picturesque (see our Instagram where they are frequently featured)!

When and how did your business get started?

We opened our first store, Blank Slate Coffee + Kitchen, in November 2015. I come from an extensive public relations background (specifically focusing on food & beverage) and had always wanted to take the leap into the operations side of the business. My husband had been operating bars and restaurants for years and was looking to open a new daytime concept. So we decided to partner up and open a café together!

What is the inspiration behind your business?

We set out to open a restaurant/coffee shop hybrid! We love coffee and great food and at the time, the concept really didn’t exist. We never understood why coffee shops were only offering soggy grab & go sandwiches. Customers should be able to get a great meal and a killer cup of coffee at the same place. So we set out to give them just that.

What is the biggest/hardest lesson you’ve learned through running a business?

I’ve learned the importance of a strong team that you can really trust. A business owner works so hard to ensure every last piece is perfectly in place, and then it’s up to the staff to execute those practices. Sometimes it’s great and other times a cashier just broke up with her boyfriend or is having a horrible day and is rude to every customer that walks in, which is not okay. I’ve learned the importance of extensive employee training and constant one-on-one conversations with each and every employee about the importance of customer service and quality work. As a business owner, you need to work endlessly to ensure that you have the right team that’s happy and proud to do good work for you. At the end of the day, your business is in their hands. 

How do you think being a female business owner has impacted your business?

I’ve seen the good and the bad of being a female-owned business. I’ve had not-so-nice people come in asking to speak with my husband, even after I’ve told them that I’m the co-owner of the business. But I’ve also seen so many people be extra supportive of our business because it’s female-owned. Wanting to shout us out on social media or order catering from us rather than a different restaurant simply because they want to support other women has been amazing to see!

Working with FoodtoEat means that you support the mission to promote female, minority and immigrant run businesses. Why do you think the FoodtoEat mission is important?

I think the mission is amazing – especially in the food business. Women and minorities make up the majority of our team and we wouldn’t be where we are today without them! It’s so important to give these groups a voice and it’s incredible that a company in this space has recognized that.

What would be your advice to other female entrepreneurs that are trying to start their own business?

Go for it! I promise you- you will be more pleasantly surprised by the support that comes your way than the obstacles that you think you may face. The future is most definitely female!

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Women’s History Month Series, Part 1: “Never Stop Hustling”

 

Our first feature in our Women’s History Month Series is Lily Brynes, the founder and CEO of SPOTS NYC! These delicious, customizable mini cupcakes come in four different flavors: birthday cake, brownie batter, red velvet and vanilla. Each cupcake contains an edible logo or message, making them exactly what you need for your next happy hour, pitch meeting or birthday party! 

When and how did your business get started?

In 2014, my now-fiance, Samson and I, decided to ditch materialistic Valentine’s Day gifts in exchange for ones with more personal value. After many failed ideas, I got the bright idea to whip out my edible printer and bake some mini cupcakes with our picture on them. I knew the cupcakes would be meaningful since they would be personalized, homemade and delicious. Needless to say, Samson loved them. Shortly after posting pictures of what I was calling “SPOTS” on my personal Instagram account, I found that others loved them too. Following my instinct I made the decision to walk away from my corporate job to pursue SPOTS NYC full-time. I haven’t looked back since! Today, we’ve worked with companies such as Amazon, Google, American Express, Starwood and Target. As well as a handful of celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres, Sarah Jessica-Parker, Neil Patrick-Harris, Mariah Carey and Reese Witherspoon… just to name a few!

What is the biggest/hardest lesson that you’ve learned while running a business?

How to turn mistakes into an opportunity! It’s inevitable that you will make mistakes (running a business is hard!) but it’s about how you deal with those mistakes that makes you a better leader. For instance, if you handle the mistake in a creative and unique way – your client wont remember how you messed up, they will remember how you went above and beyond to correct the mistake. You have the power to control the narrative!

How do you think being a female business owner has impacted your business?

Being a female business owner has been so special. Not only do I feel like I am helping to change the world (lean in, ladies and take a seat at the table!!), but I also have access to an amazing network of other female founders. When we come together and support each other – there’s nothing that we cant do! It has never been more important to be a strong woman! 

Working with our company means that you support FoodtoEat’s mission to promote female, minority and immigrant run businesses. Why do you think this mission is important?

I think FoodtoEat’s mission is the MOST important thing to support. We need to do everything in our power, especially right now, to make this world a better and more accepting place. Female (and immigrant run) businesses should become the MAJORITY!!!

What would be your advice to other female entrepreneurs that are trying to start their own business?

Never stop hustling. Never let anyone get in the way of your dreams (especially a man). Don’t just reach for the stars, reach for the sun!!!