0 comments on “Gladys Shahtou, Founder and Owner of Sambuxa NYC”

Gladys Shahtou, Founder and Owner of Sambuxa NYC

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

samosas

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

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

sudanese sweet

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

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

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

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Diverse Catering Lunches Create More Than Just Team Building

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

catered lunch

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

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

food around world

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

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

Nir Kahan, Co-Owner of The ChickShop

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Do American Moms Struggle The Most?

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Stop Asking Small Restaurants/Catering Services For Free Food

Stop asking us for free food. 

Size matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Empathy for the supply chain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Putting your money (or effort) where your mouth is

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tommy Byrnes, Co-Founder of Jalapa Jar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

 

 

0 comments on “Lindsey Becker, founder of Farm Cut Meals”

Lindsey Becker, founder of Farm Cut Meals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Need catering for you and your team? Contact us!

 

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

Halloween Party at Work Never Looked So Easy

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

Decor

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

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

Devilishly Food Snacks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bhavana Phul, co-owner of Masala Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Common Mistakes Of Diversity and Inclusion Among Our Workplace

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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