FullSizeRender (4)

Vendor Feature: Nuchas

On August 17th, we got to tour the Nuchas catering facility and talk with Daron Dyke, the Catering & Special Events Manager. Whether you get your empanada from their food truck, one of their kiosks, a push cart, or catered straight to your office they do not disappoint. Buffalo Chicken and the Apple Cranberry Nutella are by far my favorites. If you missed the Snapchat series of our tour be sure to add us @FoodtoEat on Snapchat for more segments.

What sets you apart from all the other restaurants/caterers in your cuisine?

What sets us apart is our dedication and commitment to creating gourmet products, using high quality ingredients. All of our empanadas are made from scratch in our USDA certified facility.

What is your favorite dish on the menu and why?

My favorite dish is our Sweet Empanadas, made with a white almond dough and filled with a deliciously sweet mixture of granny smith apples, cranberries, pears, Nutella, and chocolate, it’s simply irresistible

What is the background story behind the opening of Nuchas?

Founded in 2009 by Argentinian visionary Ariel Barbouth, Nuchas was inspired by the fast-casual empanada restaurant concepts in Argentina. With his vision of wanting to bring a bite of his Spanish culture to America, Ariel created Nuchas, a caterer and wholesaler of gourmet empanadas. In 2011, Nuchas won a competitive bid to open its first kiosk in the heart of Times Square, New York City. Since then, Nuchas was awarded 2013 Rookie of the Year and the 2014 People’s Choice at the New York Vendy Awards, known as the “Oscars of Street Food.”

What is the most enjoyable part about Nuchas?

Being able to interact and bring people from various cultures around the world together with our empanadas is the best part about Nuchas. New York City is already a melting pot of cultures and being a part of Nuchas allows us the opportunity to promote cultural diversity and unity through food.

What is your secret to keep customers coming in?

Our bold flavor profiles and quality ingredients keep customer coming back. You can get a fried empanada just about anywhere in the city but Nuchas, “always baked, never fried” concept is truly one of a kind.

What is the biggest challenge you have overcome in the catering industry?

The biggest challenge is finding the balance of rapid growth and efficiency. We as a company strive to be the pioneer multicultural brand of all hand-held foods, but it’s important for us to do things right for both of customers and our staff.

Advice to anyone thinking about opening a catering business.

It’s a rewarding business but very demanding, so have to be dedicated, personable, and authentic in order to truly succeed.

Contact catering@foodtoeat.com to setup your next catered meal with Nuchas.

image1 (1)

Vendor Feature: Tompkins Square Bagels

On July 26th, I got to tour Tompkins Square Bagels. If you have never been or had a meal catered from them yet I highly recommend it. Whether it is a slower week day or busy weekend morning Tompkins Square bagels makes anywhere from 900-2,000 bagels daily. They are rolled perfectly, boiled for around 90 seconds and then baked to perfection. This 3 step process gives you an amazing bagel with a toasted outside and soft dough inside. Getting to watch this magic happen with my own two eyes was a great experience.

During my tasting I started out with an everything bagel with bacon, egg, cheese, and scallion cream cheese (per Frank’s, the General Managers, recommendation). The scallion cream cheese is a great twist to the classic BEC. If I was not full enough already I then got the french toast bagel with birthday cake cream cheese…yum is all I have to say. If you enjoy any type of sweets this bagel is for you.

We were lucky enough to have Christopher Pugliese, the Owner, give us a little more insight on the background of TSB.

What is your secret to keep customers coming in?

Hospitality. Our motto at TSB is ‘We are in the happiness business.’  We do whatever it takes to make people smile. That is the goal of every person on staff no matter what their job is that day.

What is the most enjoyable part about restaurant?

Restaurants are extremely hard work. When anyone asks me what it’s like I tell them it’s like taking all 128 of your undergraduate credits in one semester for the rest of your life. You can literally go to bed thinking it’s all under control and then wake up in the middle of the night in sweats because you just remembered that big project that’s due …. TOMORROW!  That’s everyday. There is always something to do. Every now and again, I will stand outside the front of my shop on a busy Saturday or Sunday and just take it all in for a few minutes; The line of laughing guests, the baristas serving coffee, the grill men flipping eggs and bacon, the baker pulling hot bagels out of the oven and dumping them into the baskets. I’ll see little kids with their parents and think ‘These kids will remember this store when they’re older the same way I remember the store I grew up with.’ To watch it all is like looking at a piece of living art. So, that is my enjoyment. THEN IT’S BACK TO WORK!

What is the background story behind the opening of the restaurant?

I had worked in my neighborhood bagel shop from about 16 through college. Then I went and worked in NYC restaurants mostly serving but occasionally managing or helping BOH. I had the time of my life. However, towards the end, I felt the industry had changed in a way I wasn’t comfortable with. The rise of the Food Network/Foodie Culture/Rating Sites had brought a pretension to the industry that really made it less enjoyable for me. It became more about people feeling entitled to some ‘life changing’ experience everywhere they went than the simple act of gathering together and enjoying some great food and interacting with others. I kind of got to a point where I said ‘Ok Chris, what’s the least pretentious kind of place you can open? Ah, bagel shop!’  I also think I was trying to recreate the homey bagel shop of my youth. That was the neighborhood meeting place where everyone got together and enjoyed on weekend mornings.

What is your favorite dish on the menu and why?

Just the classic stuff. Sesame bagel piping hot out of the oven with butter. Reminds me of being 16 and hitting up the bagel spot at 6AM after a night sleeping on Brighton Beach with my buddies. On the other side, Birthday Cake Cream Cheese on a French Toast Bagel is just a happy thing. It makes people light up and smile and, I like making people smile. That’s why I’m in this business.

What sets you apart from all the other restaurants in your cuisine?

Well, we make a classic, old style, NYC bagel. 5 basic ingredients based off a recipe that goes back to the 1950’s. We also hand make every cream cheese and salad in the shop. Everything is made fresh daily in small batches. If we run out, we run out.  We’d rather run out one day than serve something day old the next day.  Food aside, I think we have a very different mentality, as far as service and customer experience goes, than most bagel shops. I spent many years as a server in NYC. I understand how a guest thinks and I’m a people pleaser by nature. I’m always putting myself in the guest’s place.  It was very important to me to build the kind of place that everyone, meaning people from all walks of life, could come together in and  feel comfortable visiting.  The ‘Cheers’ philosophy. That place where everybody knows your name. I also put a lot of emphasis on the hospitality aspect of the business when training my staff. This was challenging at first since most deli/traditional bagel workers are more chef/food prep oriented and don’t really focus on hospitality.  It took a lot of training and explaining for me to get through how important the other side of the business is. I say things like ‘Look, imagine what a kick the guest would get if you (speaking to a grill man)  saw he was waiting to order and popped out from your station to help him! Like how cool would that be!’ Once they got on board, they dug it.        

Contact catering@foodtoeat.com to setup your next catered meal with Tompkins Square Bagels.

 

800px-Olympic_Rings

Eat Like An Olympian

The Olympic Games are among us and while we sit at our desks we can channel our inner Olympian by eating like them. So I have come up with a few items you can order for your office’s next meal from some of our vendors to try and eat clean like all those Gold Medalists do.

Breakfast

Avocado Toast Bar from Sarah’s Artisanal Kitchen
Let your guests help themselves, creating their flavor combinations. Tray of hearty whole-grain bread and crostini and Smashed Avocado. Slices with platters of meats, smoked fish, and cheeses.

Am Energy Sandwich from fresh&co
Egg whites, grilled chicken, spinach, mozzarella on whole wheat wrap.

Healthy Breakfast from Bocca
Low-Fat Greek Yogurt, Homemade Granola, Honey, Banana and Berries.

Fresh Fruit Platter or Fruit Bowl from Kitchenette

Main Meals

Grilled Chicken from Food Trends
Grilled Chicken Breast with Mixed Greens, Tomatoes and Provolone.

Chilled Poached Salmon from Distilled NY
Gluten Free. Cucumber & Mint Greek Yogurt, Mizuna. (Served cold)

Vegan Stuffed Peppers from Landhaus

Grilled Ginger Beef Bowl from Vien
Each bowl is served with jasmine or brown rice, salad, quinoa, or noodles. We will provide a selection of our sauces and garnishes.

Drinks

10oz Protein Plus Smoothie from Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co.
(Vegetarian) Banana soft serve, chocolate whey protein, peanut butter, and almond milk.

16oz Green Scene Smoothie from Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co.
(Vegan) Mango soft serve, banana soft serve, fresh pineapple, kale, spinach, and almond milk.

So Fresh & Clean Cold Pressed Juice from Salad Pangea
Pineapple, apple, kale.

Sweet Green Zing Daily Detox Juice from Tossed
Apple, kale, lemon, spinach, cucumber, celery, ginger.

Guilty Pleasure

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries from Flavors

Popcorn from Distilled NY
Vegan, Gluten Free. Magic Dust, Cumin, Olive Oil. (Served cold)

Apple Tarte from Fig & Olive
Flaky puff pastry & caramelized apples.

If these options do not satisfy your appetite email catering@foodtoeat.com and they can come up with more options for you.

 

 

My-Kitchen-Restaurant-610x407

Vendor Feature: My Kitchen

On Monday, July 11th I had the chance to tour the My Kitchen Restaurant and venue space. Just talking to Dhanny and Chef Joe you can see how passionate they are about what they do. This team of two is making their own rule book for their restaurant/catering business. Dhanny is the waitress, hostess, event planner, etc. Whereas Chef Joe takes on every role in the kitchen. This allows them to accommodate to all of their clients wants and needs while still providing excellent food and service. If you missed the Behind the Scenes Snapchat series of the tour be sure to add us @FoodtoEat on Snapchat for more segments.
1. What sets you apart from all the other restaurants in your cuisine?
We do whatever we want. We created Italian Caribbean Fusion. We developed a menu based on items we cooked at home for our friends. Then refined those items, so that at any given order, one item is grilled, one in the oven, one under the broiler and on the stove top or fryer. The physical menu also went through some trial and error. I was aiming for something I would’ve created at home for a dinner party.
2. What is the background story behind the opening of My Kitchen?
Joe and I are Caterers and needed a kitchen to cater, therefore concept didn’t matter. Do you guys see where this is headed?? The restaurant was never in our plan.
That was until 3:30am one morning, I woke Chef (true story). I told him my idea. If we’re going to do a restaurant, why not make it a Mom and Pop. No one does that anymore. In reality, catering will always be the larger percentage of our business, so being Mom and Pop will give us the flexibility to be open or closed if and when needed.

He was intrigued, until I said: “That means YOU have to cook.” Everyone was going to come to our place to dine in OUR KITCHEN, to chat WITH US and EAT YOUR FOOD. It will not be a type of cuisine but instead a blend of us and foods which we like. If it bombs, well we have catering. Haha!This is our life and so began our journey.

3. Advice to anyone thinking about opening their own restaurant or starting a catering business.

Advice: If your heart’s in it and all the pieces fall into play – go for it.
4. What is your favorite dish on the menu and why?
Any of our Fusion Dishes but sincerely everything.
(The Fusion Dishes are only available on the restaurant menu, but my favorite from the catering menu is definitely the Eggplant Rollatini).
See Dhanny and My Kitchen’s full story at So You Want to Own a Restaurant
FullSizeRender (2)FullSizeRender (1)
Mediterranean Basket

Vendor Feature: fresh&co

On Wednesday, June 15th we got to tour the fresh&co catering facility and interview the Director of Catering and Events, Caroline Shannon. If you missed the Behind the Scenes Snapchat series be sure to add us @FoodtoEat on Snapchat for more segments.

What sets you apart from all the other restaurants in your cuisine?

Nobody does it fresher, nobody does it more local, and nobody does it better than we do. We have very few limitations because our facilities can handle a lot of volume.

What is your favorite dish on the menu and why?

The quinoa bowls especially the burrito quinoa bowl. I think I could eat it for the rest of my life. We might even turn it into a build your own burrito quinoa bowl.

What is the most enjoyable part about the restaurant?

I love the staff and the environment is overall very positive. We treat it as a family around here and we take care of one another. We still have the flexibility to make a lot of changes to the menu so we can grow with our customers and make a difference by giving people options who have dietary restrictions.

Advice to anyone thinking about going into the restaurant/catering business.

My advice would be remember the client always come first and so does hospitality. You need to walk in with a smile and walk out with one. It’s not about being part of the party it is about running the party.

unnamed

You Go Girl!

baz

Bari

Bari Musacchio, owner of Baz Bagel & Restaurant

For the last feature in our Women’s History Month series, we are excited to share the story of one of our favorite bagel spots, Baz Bagel & Restaurant! We learned that passion is something you fight for and isn’t to be ignored.

Interview with Bari from Baz Bagel:

How’d you get into the restaurant business? Was your initial plan to own a food business? If not, what was your initial desire?

My summers in college, where I was studying biology and sociology, were spent working at Ceci Cela, a bakery on Spring St., that has been around for 25 years. I slowly realized that the one day I worked there each week was the one I looked forward to the most, so I decided to go to the French Culinary Institute to begin my career in the food industry. I traveled to Italy to study at Alma, work with wine, and work in different kitchens to absorb as much as I could. I wanted to know everything about it. I think I really got bit by the bug in Italy. When I got back I realized there were no bagel stores in my neighborhood and bagels were how I treated myself every Sunday on my day off.

Who is the mastermind behind your recipes?

My Grandma Joyce. She is where all of the Jewish recipes come from, like latkes, and matzo ball soup. For the bagels, I worked in a bagel store for free to learn the ins and outs of baking.

How has being a woman owner of a food business impacted the way you run your shop?

In certain areas you have to be much stronger than a man would have to be. People expect you to be a pushover. You have to be a little over-assertive with the guys to make sure they respect you. For the girls at the front of house, I see that I’m inspiring the ones who have their own entrepreneurial dreams. Its like ‘you go girl!’

Who or what was your inspiration for your decision in running your own business?

My father has a lot of businesses and I’ve always appreciated the lifestyle he has. I can remember him always being on the move traveling or by the pool relaxing, and I hoped one day I would be able to do the same and not be on someone else’s clock. I also knew if I was going to work extremely hard I wanted it to be supporting myself.

What are some of the challenges you have had to overcome, if any?

I think with any business the challenge is finding your path. You have to let the business dictate itself and be able to grow and move with it. People are also a challenge. Relying on people to come together in a way to make things happen. Vendors, coworkers, etc. But when it does it’s amazing. I look around during a brunch rush hour and am thankful for how everything came together-the baker, the bagel rollers, the waiters-all the different components in sync.

What advice would you give to women who are afraid or hesitant to start their own business?

Just do it. You have to take risks for those types of rewards. Its not easy and you have to be prepared for the challenges. There will be mistakes everyday, but it’s about how you prevent them and solve them in the right way. Its about how you overcome them and keep going everyday. The world is changing. Women are at the forefront of so many businesses. And the best part of what I chose to do is realizing that I’m inspiring others to do the same.

Just Do It.

Excell's Kingston Eatery

Excell Blog

Keelia Excell and Novar Excell, husband and wife team/owners of Excell Kingston Eatery

As part of our Women’s History Month series, this week we are so happy to feature one of our newer vendors, Excell Kingston Eatery! It was so interesting to learn about how their business is run from the female perspective as well as a husband and wife team.

Interview with Keelia from Excell Kingston Eatery:

How’d you get into the restaurant business? Was your initial plan to own a food business? If not, what was your initial desire?

My initial plan was to be a teacher, which is what I went to school for. However, that didn’t work out so I started working in the corporate world. My husband had started another food business with a partner but wasn’t satisfied in their arrangement and always felt that he could be doing more. Eventually he came to me and asked me if I would be open to starting a new business with him.

Who is the mastermind behind your recipes?

My husband, Novar, is the mastermind behind the food but I am the taster. My taste is a lot more “Americanized” than his so I’m able to keep the Jamaican flavor but make sure that the food will translate well with our customers.

How has being a woman owner of a food business impacted the way you run your shop?

When I got involved in the business, I immediately changed the presentation of the food and the decor as well as set up rules for the employees and strategies for the business. My husband prefers to deal with the food, so I do a lot of the customer service and management of the business. I’ve always been interested in event planning so I’m able to use those skills in a lot of different areas of the business.

Who or what was your inspiration for your decision in running your own business?

The initial inspiration for the business was obviously my husband. The business was always my husband’s dream. But I also grew up watching my mother cook and helping her in the kitchen. She is one of those people who is constantly being asked to cater for church events, family parties, baby showers, etc., she used to do it in Jamaica and still does in New York, so I knew how much preparation everything requires and all the hard work that goes into it.

What are some of the challenges you have had to overcome, if any?

The most challenging thing is not being home with our children more. We have two boys and it’s hard to balance the business and home life. Another very challenging thing is finding loyal and trustworthy employees.

What advice would you give to women who are afraid or hesitant to start their own business?

Just do it! I was always hesitant to start my own business, although I always saw myself opening an event planning business at some point. But my husband is a do-er and he convinced me to make that leap and I haven’t looked back since. I think that once you do it, you will be so surprised at what you can accomplish.