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Vendor Feature: Distilled NY

Over the past year, Distilled has become one of our biggest vendors. From the magic dust popcorn, the fudgy chocolate brownies, to the glazed wings our office has fallen in love with the food this vendor has to offer. Not only is the food amazing, but their restaurant space has great vibes! – we’ve even held some of our own events at their location. Adam Wile, Co-Founder, sheds some light on how Distilled has gotten to where they are today and what it takes to keep their business thriving.

Why did you want to own / run a restaurant or catering business?
At its very core, to feed people. Food evokes such an emotional response and can bring people so much joy. It’s a great way to bring people and a community together.

What sets you apart from all the other restaurants in your cuisine?
We really try to bring people delicious, approachable food. It comes back to the question of what is the reason you cook for someone? We want to bring people something they’re familiar with that can evoke that strong emotional response while still keeping our food fresh and interesting.

What is your favorite dish on the menu and why?
We’re really well known for our wings. The recipe took years of tweaking to perfect and get it where it is today. It’s a great example of taking something someone is familiar with and presenting it to them in an approachable new way that’s delicious.

What is the background story behind the opening of the restaurant?
The restaurant went through a few iterations before we got to where we are today. These included a pop up for Bravo’s Top Chef Kitchen as well as a brief stint where we used it as a private events space.

What is the most enjoyable part about the restaurant?
The community of the whole thing. The communal relationship we have with the neighborhood and our guests. Restaurants have a way of bringing people together that few other industries are able to replicate.

What is your secret to keeping customers coming in?
Good food, good drink, and great hospitality. We want guests to feel like they’re dining in our home with friends, and I think that really comes through in the experience we provide.

What is the biggest challenge you have overcome in the restaurant/catering industry?
Hurricane Sandy was a huge challenge for us very early on. We consider ourselves very fortunate to have been able to come back from that and still be here when so many of our neighbors were not as lucky.

Advice to anyone thinking about opening their own restaurant.
Find good people. That probably goes for any industry, but it’s true. There’s no way we’d be we are today without the great individuals that make up our team.

Contact catering@foodtoeat.com to set up your next catered meal with Distilled NY.

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Vendor Feature: Just Salad

Everyone loves a good salad bar, but what makes an exceptional one? Kyle Feggins, Director of Catering, from Just Salad dives into why their menu is one of the best. On September 9th, we had one of our new vendors Just Salad cater our office. Whether your office orders the custom salad bar or individual salads you can’t go wrong. The custom salad bar has toppings ranging from different greens to premium toppings to fit everyone’s taste buds. On the other hand the individual salads are great for eating on the go. 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?
Just Salad serves deliciously healthy food using quality ingredients in a fast, affordable, and in a more fun way than other restaurants. We make healthy happen and we do it better than the rest.

What is your favorite dish on the menu and why?
The Smokehouse Steak is awesome! The combo of steak with feta tastes like a healthy steak dinner, and I love steak dinners!

What is the most enjoyable part about working at Just Salad?
The people. There are so many different kinds of people who make working here a great experience.

What is your secret to keep customers coming in?
Making sure we do our part to give them the experience when they order from us. We do an incredible job in helping them eat well and feel good about it.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in the catering industry?
Convincing people that we don’t serve Just Salad, we do salads, wraps, sandwiches, and even desserts!

Advice to anyone thinking about opening a catering business.
Be local but think global. Start out by getting a few people to really love what you do. If they love it, they will tell more people. Those first customers will be the ones that will help you get to where you want to go.

If you want Just Salad catered for your next meal contact us at Catering@foodtoeat.com.

 

 

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Vendor Feature: Atlantic Bagels

On August 16th, we got to tour the Atlantic Bagels Cafe. I met with Alex Max who co-owns the restaurant with his wife, Milana. Atlantic Bagels has been in business for 5 years conveniently located right off of Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, NY. Atlantic Bagels has kept a tight knit group of employees ensuring this place feels like home when you walk in. 

Do not let the name fool you, they do way more than just bagels. From sandwiches, burgers, bagels, salads, and of course desserts they have you covered. They recently added a Salad Bar to their menu that you should definitely check out for your next order. Alex has created a  great relationship with all of his vendors to ensure the highest quality of ingredients, “I do not mind spending a little more money on my meat or fish to make sure I have the best of what is out there”.

Atlantic Bagels tries as much as possible to give back to the community as well. Their bagels are made fresh throughout the day. When closing time comes they donate the leftover bagels to City Harvest. City Harvest helps feed New Yorkers facing hunger on a daily basis by collecting food donations. If the bagels are not donated they turn them into their bagel chips, which I highly recommend. I would also recommend a sesame bagel with scallion cream cheese, lox, tomato, and lettuce (pictured above). 

If you want Atlantic Bagels catered for your next meal contact us at Catering@foodtoeat.com.

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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
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