In today’s episode, I welcome two of the visionaries behind an upcoming event that people in the food and beverage industry on Long Island and points beyond will not want to miss. Geared towards supporting businesses trying to sustain and grow, especially in the wake of Covid19, today’s guests have put together an innovative, free virtual trade show that chefs, food fans and pioneering businesses will not want to miss.
Michael Tucker of the Long Island Food Council and Cynthia Colon of the Manufacturing & Technology Resource Consortium (MTRC) at Stony Brook University have partnered to develop the “Rise of the Urban Foodscape” expo, which will take place Feb. 24th from 9a-12p. Using technology that’s simple, accessible and highly interactive, they’re inviting vendors and buyers, industry experts, product promoters and anyone else connected with the food and beverage industry to gather for a networking event designed to help launch, promote and extend manufacturing ventures in Nassau or Suffolk counties, and beyond.
· Learn more or register for the “Rise of the Urban Foodscape” expo here.
· Get to know FuzeHub and the work they do on behalf of New York State’s manufacturing industry at: https://fuzehub.com
More about Big Food Talk:
Today I'm speaking with Christian Limberg, President of Harbor Seafood. Christian is as much of an advocate of seafood as he is of people. From the fishermen to their customers, Harbor Seafood has a built a successful and sustainable business that's grown over 4 decades.
Head to https://bigfoodtalk.com/harbor-seafood to see their truly inspiring videos about their company, processes and employees that not only depicts the fisherman but how they hired over 100 hearing impaired employees since 2010.
Heart, Passion & Resilience
When I asked Christian about challenges his company has faced over the past 25 years since he joined Harbor Seafood he immediately talks about his staff and the people behind the work. Most of us who are consumers take for granted how our lobster, crab or other delights of the sea make it to our restaurants and on our tables. How many logistical nightmares had to be worked out before you could enjoy the freshest seafood you've ever had?
People who love the food business have a true passion for what they do. It's only the way to endure such trials and tribulations on a daily basis. When it comes to seafood you can't quite and you need to continuously evolve especially with the changes businesses like Harbor Seafood are facing since the pandemic.
Christian believes everyone should take some time to work in the food business to learn life lessons you'll forever carry with you through the people and interactions you'll have.
Protecting Our Resources
If you think about sustainable fishing practices it's not about the now, it's about the future. As Christian put it, following the protocols for sustainable fishing practices is so generations from now can enjoy the same quality and abundance of seafood we have today. Seafood is not an infinite resource and luckily there are many organizations advocating for sustainable fishing practices. Christian also points how important traceability is in the industry.
About Harbor Seafood
Founded in 1975, and built on the core business principles of honesty, integrity and reliability. Our commitment to provide the best seafood has always been on exhibit through our customer service and extensive offering of quality shellfish, fin-fish and value added products.
In addition, understanding our stewardship to the oceans, we strive to source and deliver the highest quality seafood through efficient, environmentally safe practices. This means keeping a firm eye on social and environmental responsibility through conscientious sourcing practices, far-reaching charity work, and dedicated care to staff at home and abroad.
Today I'd like to introduce you to Liz, the founder of Rosados Latin American Cuisine. Like many of us, Liz founder herself cooking at home more during the recent pandemic and embracing the food of her families roots.
Fast forward to October 28th where she had an opportunity to open a popup location in the Smith Haven Mall featuring classic Puerto Rican dishes that are thoughtfully prepared including vegan options.
A Passion for Food
Liz is an architect by trade had grown up around the culinary world since her youth. Her Mom worked in the hotel and hospitality industry and when Liz became an architect her primary focus has always been hospitality. She's been involved with building restaurants, bars and night clubs throughout her career .
Liz has been fortunate enough to meet a lot of wonderful and talented chefs who instilled in her the passion for the job. Chefs do the work because they love it and Liz had that same passion when she wanted to open Rosados.
Opening a Restaurant is Expensive
Not only is opening a restaurant on main street expensive, it comes with a lot of risks. Since the pandemic many business owners have had to shift their perspective on how they do business. Through Liz's relationships as an architect she was fortunate enough to have great relationships with owners at Smith Haven Mall.
Liz tells us how this unique setup as a popup in the mall was able to afford her an opportunity to bring Rosado's Latin American Cuisine to a new segment of customers while mitigating some of the risks that come with opening a typical restaurant location.
The Heart of Puerto Rican Food
If you've never had Puerto Rican food, you don't know what you're missing. The flavors are unmistakable and as Liz explains, it starts with Sofrito made with fresh herbs, peppers, onions and garlic. At Rosado's they puree the Sofrito into a marinade that becomes the base of their dishes.
What you'll also learn in this episode is the layering of flavor and time that goes into their dishes like their take on a Cuban sandwich that features slow roasted pork, cheese, pickles and ham. Check out https://bigfoodtalk.com/rosados-latin-american-cuisine for photos of my dining experience and more about their dishes.
Calling all wine lovers for this special episode featuring Wine Club Group just in time for the holidays. Whether you're a wine connoisseur or a new to the scene, a wine club can be a great way to expand your knowledge and try new varietals.
Listen in to this week's episode of the Big Food Talk to hear from the experts and founders of WineClubGroup.com as they tell us how their website can help you choose the perfect wine club no where you live, your taste and your budget.
The Wine Club Group is made up of 3 friends that I've known for many years through our ties in the affiliate marketing industry and attending events like Affiliate Summit. Needless to say we all grew up in that industry and spent a lot of time socializing, eating and drinking wine. In my opinion, wine brings people together just as much as food can which is a reason why I started this podcast.
What is a Wine Club ?
Meet Tricia, Todd and Eric who started a wine club review site at wineclubgroup.com. Wine of the month clubs are a great method of learning about wine, getting exposed to new wines and enjoying your favorites. There are a number of types of wine of the month clubs, from those offered by wineries, or wine stores, or wine vendors delivering wine to consumers throughout the country.
The premise is you can put your love of wine on autopilot by having your favorites delivered straight to your door. Everyone likes different types of wine and using a wine review site like wineclubreview.com can really help you narrow down which direction you should go to get started.
Since alcohol shipping laws vary from state to state, they've created a “shop by state” page to see which of their favorite wine of the month clubs deliver to your state.
Wine Clubs Provide an Experience
Tricia explains how wine relates to her food experiences. She loves food but doesn't consider herself a foodie. So is it possible to simply enjoy wine without having to learn about all the nuances of the varietals, acidity, color and hints of fruit?
With a wine club you're entering a curated experience that can fit your taste. It's part of the experience of having wines chosen for you. Imagine, how many times have you gone the liquor store and stared aimlessly down the aisle not knowing what to try or if you'll like it?
Wine clubs make it possible to experience new wines or wines you're familiar with depending on how wine adventurous you are.
What are the Best Wine Clubs?
Wine, like food is subjective depending on your own preferences and tastes. Eric and Todd give us their picks for their favorite wine clubs and how each of them meets their personal tasting preferences. I can tell you that after this interview I'll be checking out Firstleaf and you may want to as well. I'll let Eric tell you why when you listen in.
Wine clubs also make a great gift. As Tricia points out, one of the perks giving a wine club gift is it seems super fancy but you can also find one on a budget.
If you have a favorite wine club I'd love to talk with you about it so join me on Instagram to join in the conversation.
Today I'm speaking with Dianna, the founder of Breaking Bread LI, who makes charcuterie boards to bring people together. We discuss what makes the perfect charcuterie bite and its origins in France.
A special for Big Food Talk listeners. Mention the Big Food Talk when placing your order and you'll receive $5 off from Breaking Bread on any size board this holiday season. Valid Until December 30, 2020.
From Hobby to Local Business
Talking with Dianna, I learned about her inspiration that led her to taking her hobby and turning it into a business. After the passing of her grandmother in August, Dianna was looking for something to raise her spirits and decided to made a charcuterie board.
From a single Instagram post to having 4 orders in the first day, Breaking Bread was born only a few short weeks ago at the beginning of September 2020. Hearing the story in its entirety made me so happy since supporting local businesses like this one is what the Big Food Talk was intended for.
The discussion made me reminisce about the late Anthony Bourdain who knew how important food was for brining people together and breaking down barriers.
What Goes on a Charcuterie Board?
The way Dianna explains it, there's something on a charcuterie board for everyone in the room. Breaking Bread allows her customers to customize what's on their boards so you're guaranteed to get what you want.
Look out for my date night video on YouTube where I show you exactly what went on the charcuterie board Dianna made for me. It was diverse and hit all the points of salty, sweet, savory, spicy and sour. Dianna strives for diversity in every charcuterie board she makes which includes a variety of meats and cheeses.
If you're a charcuterie board connoisseur like myself and Dianna you'll want to try a mixing things up and stacking your board ingredients into one perfect bite.
What Does Charcuterie Mean?
I was curios to hear Dianna's explanation since I had a definition already prepared courtesy of the Webstaurant Store that says, "Charcuterie is a branch of cooking involving prepared meats, such as ham, sausage, bacon, confit, or other pork products. The word originated in France, and it translates to "pork-butcher shop." While the original French translation refers to pork, modern charcuterie boards can include other types of food, such as duck, goose, chicken, cheese, toast, fruit, or other options."
For Dianna and Breaking Bread, one of her favorite meats is Italian speck and capicola which she's familiar with since her family is Italian.
Heading into the Holidays
People have been ordering charcuterie boards as a way to entertain themselves at home during the pandemic and quarantine. It makes a great gift for birthdays and anniversary's. As we head into the holidays, having a professionally made charcuterie board can really set this years meal apart if you're hosting or if you're staying.
If you're thinking of learning the art of charcuterie you can check out the book that Dianna uses for inspiration called, This Cheese Plate Will Change Your Life.
If you really want to be a hero this holiday season, buy a charcuterie board from Breaking Bread and the book as a gift for your favorite foodie. (I hope wife reads this because I know I'd want this gift.)
Today I'm speaking with John, the founder of Hot Crispy Oil in upstate NY. Hot Crispy Oil is a startup born during the recent pandemic after their family restaurant of 45 years closed down. Listen in to find out how this local startup is catching fire in the Northeast after only a few short months!
Join the Big Food Talk Email List for 15% off Hot Crispy Oil and more exclusive offers and giveaways.
About Hot Crispy Oil
As John explains, "We came out pretty fast. We're COVID born, the concept, the idea, was spawned off the closure of a family restaurant going back to when things got really hairy there back in March." They officially launched in July but have already had some great success. They are already in about 40 retailers.
In March restaurants were shutting their doors left and right and they were one of those restaurants. La Serre was a 40 year old restaurant in the Albany area that relied heavily on their banquet business. It was evident something needed to change.
Like many of us, John had been experimenting in the kitchen during COVID which is where he came up with the concept for Hot Crispy Oil. After a few tweaks and some love from family and friends, they decided to move full steam ahead with getting the product in the jar.
The product itself is a blended olive oil which includes a little vegetable oil due to the smoke point for frying the garlic and shallots that make up the crispy portion. The heat comes from a blend of 4 to 5 different chili peppers.
Starting a Food Manufacturing Business During COVID
Anyone that's tried to launch a food brand knows how many hurdles there are. During a pandemic, those hurdles are only amplified. John explains it was a drawn out process, especially to get what is called a scheduled process. You can submit your product for testing at Cornell University but unfortunately they all had their offices closed!
For John, this wasn't a hobby or side-hustle. He was determined to make this work now that the restaurant was longer open. He put in the time, doing the research, grinding every day, finding out who to connect with to make Hot Crispy Oil a reality.
If you want to hear more about how acidity affects your product testing and geek out on pH levels of food products be sure to listen in on the whole episode.
Marketing, Distribution and Expanding Production
We also discuss the customer impact and how they bring ideas for using Hot Crispy Oil to the table. Initially starting with friends and family, I ask John about his first distribution points and starting to sell online. They were able to create a buzz for the product before releasing it to the public.
John also discusses plans for further expansion if the business continues to grow as fast as it has been. There are some obvious hurdles that John explains about running a food manufacturing out of a restaurant. Little things like being able to accept deliveries from a supplier.
You can find their products online, on Amazon Prime and at their 40 retail locations that you can lookup on their website at https://hotcrispyoil.com. Don't forget to join our email list for an exclusive 15% off coupon.
Today I'm talking about everything food with my good friend Carlos, better known as NY_Hidden_Gems on Instagram. Carlos has a love of food that started at an early age with his Mom's cooking.
Listen in to our speed round for the best hidden gems on and around Long Island, plus his number 1 pick where he proposed to his fiancé earlier this year. Or you can cheat and check out the show notes for all the answers: https://bigfoodtalk.com/hidden-gems-long-island/
About Carolos aka NY_Hidden_Gems
He doesn't consider himself a photographer but enjoys taking photos. His Instagram only started about a year ago but since the pandemic he's seen more growth because he started supporting local restaurants on Long Island while everyone was looking for the best takeout spots.
Carlos tells us all about how he got into his love of food from his Mom. They're Hispanic which has a rich food culture and his Mom cooks enough for 12 guests even if its was just him and his Dad at the table. His Mom also brought him into the kitchen and taught him everything she knows.
I think when someone has a passion for food but also cooks, you get a true perspective on what's really happening at a restaurant when they dine out. They can see the effort that a restaurant chef is delivering on the plate.
A Memorable Dining Experience
After telling Carlos about my latest dining experience at Garden Social in East Meadow, I asked him if he has had an experience that blew hismind? Carlos has a great story to share about his proposal at his favorite spot in Long Island City. It has a great view of the water and serves up 4 star Latin Fusion that will make your mouth water. Coincidentally it's now his fiancé's favorite restaurant as well, for obvious reasons.
Speed Round Hidden Gems on Long Island
This weeks picks for best brunch is in Huntington and you gotta check out his favorite lunch spot in Northport. If you're looking for Italian you should hear where he recommends you go in Dix Hills but if you're looking for an outrageously good cocktail, you'll have to take the trip to Manhattan. To wrap things up he's taking you back to Huntington for a guava cheesecake that'll knock your socks off!
Today, I'm speaking with Tracy, the founder of A North fork Affair. Tracy embraces the entrepreneurial spirit by creating experiential events that support the North fork community. A North fork Affair creates the type of events that Tracy herself wanted to attend from farm to table dining experiences, chunky blanket making, and a new social media series.
Win two tickets to an upcoming event with A North Fork Affair on Long Island by joining our email list.
To get things started Tracy explained that she is also the founder of a company called TK New York, a large scale event company. They produce events like the New York City Wine and Food Festival, the Women in the World Summit and the Harlem Meetup Festival with Marcus Samuelsson to name a few. A North Fork Affair started last April prior to the pandemic and she's thankful it because it actually gave her something to turn her efforts towards. Tracy believes events going forward are going to be smaller and local.
I was impressed with what Tracy had to say about the North Fork of Long Island and how well she knows the area which means she knows her customers. Her family has lived on the North Fork since the 1940s.
"I wasn't finding an easy way to infiltrate the groups of friends that were already here. So I thought, what do I want to do? I want to do crafts. I want to sit at a long farm table out in the middle of a field and have an amazing, you know, local made meal." says Tracy
This is what A North Fork Affair is really about. Bringing people together for experiential events that let them interact and socialize. With so many of us stuck to our devices and indoors due to COVID, many people are craving ways to get out and stimulate their brain. Their first event was part of craft series that was a floral arranging class.
While running large scale events has its challenges, you usually have teams of people coming together to make the magic. When you're a startup on the North Fork, everything falls on your shoulders. It's the little things like needing a tent to build a kitchen outside in the middle of the forest.
One of the more interesting bits is how Tracy incorporates her family's China into the dining experiences. Tune in around 14 minutes to hear all about it!
Embracing the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Tracy, like many entrepreneurs had lots to consider when the pandemic hit. Her first thought was to actually take a break which I can completely appreciate in the early days of uncertainty amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. As it became clear this outbreak wasn't going anywhere, Tracy and her team were trying to find ways to make their signature events carry on. Tracy was recruited to be on a committee with the New York city mayor's office to develop the plan of what event re-entry is going to look like.
Then came the virtual events like her popular chunky blanket class but in true entrepreneurial fashion, Tracy recognized the change in seasons and appetite for what customers wanted. From there she started her date night series
Restaurants on the North Fork
I can't give any spoilers here but if you want to hear Tracy's choices for her top restaurants on the North Fork tune in to the 25 minute mark where she describes her favorite new hot spot out in Orient Point. Then we head back to Greenport where she tells me about a spot for oysters she takes all of her visitors. Every place has a water view and one of her top picks has all windows so you can view the sunset over the water.
Today I'm speaking with Anna Barzanti a Sales Associate for Polti USA. Polti USA is the latest member of the Long Island Food Council and they've developed a chemical free system that turns tap water superheated dry steam.
As you can imagine, restaurants, hotels and more could benefit from a cost effective, easy to use solution amid COVID-19 concerns to keep their customers safe.
Polti has been making professional steam cleaners for the last 40 years and the Cimex Eradictor was made with the intent of sanitization and deep cleaning in mind.
Visit https://bigfoodtalk.com/polti-cimex-eradicator for more info and to join our mailing list.
About the Polti Cimex Eradicator:
Patented technology developed by Polti in collaboration with the Department of Medicine and Surgery at the University of Pavia for sanitizing medical facilities.
Chemical free system, Polti technology turns tap water into superheated dry steam
Easy and safe to use in the presence of people AND on all surfaces
Kills 99.999% of Corona Viruses
Italian Food & Living in the United States
My conversation with Anna, who is originally from Italy, was educational and inspirational. In true foodie fashion I couldn't resist an opportunity to discuss Italian cuisine as well as Anna's experiences with food here in the United States. Having lived in the Northeast, Anna discovered local favorites such as New England Clam Chowder.
Selfishly for me I had a chance to reminisce about my ski trip to Italy. Perks of having a wife who has family Europe! Can you imagine skiing in the Alps and being served pasta bolognese, brick oven pizza and shots of grappe for lunch? I highly recommend it!
For Restaurant Owners
If you're a restaurant owner on Long Island and would like more information about Polti please contact the team at Polti USA.
Today I'm speaking to the myth, the man, the legend, Ron Montgomery, the founder of SixJuice. Buckle up for my longest and most inspirational episode yet. I consider this one a masterclass in the food and beverage business.
If you've ever want to make a product and sell it, you won't want to miss the real talk between Ron and I. Our relationship started 3 years ago when I started Big Lou's Onion Sauce at the Kitchen Co-Op in Amityville, NY.
From the first time I met Ron we had a mutual respect for each other. He's all heart and hustle which is what made his business a success virtually overnight.
Enter our giveaway by joining our mailing list at https://bigfoodtalk.com/sixjuice/
Ron started juicing after his Mom was in recovery from Stage 4 cancer. He was looking for a way to help her heal and discovered the benefits of juicing. All of this started with a $40 juicer in his kitchen while attending Google University to conduct his research.
Actually, Ron ended up attended college to learn all about nutrition. So when you're buying a juice blend from SixJuice it comes backed with real knowledge and his passion for helping people be healthy. His brand image is important, it's why you won't find him sitting around drinking stuff like Redbull. (sorry Redbull, you're just not healthy)
The Business of Juicing
What's great about Ron is how real he is. Standing at over 6'5" you'd think he'd be intimidating but he's not. He's a business man. After trying his recipes on friends and family he learned how to scale the business quickly.
In this episode we dive into the numbers of it all, from having a kiosk in the mall, to pricing your product with distributors and opening a retail location. That's why this is like a masterclass in starting a food and beverage business.
Be true to yourself no matter. It's a small world out there so always make sure you respect others in the business even if you're competitors. You never know when you'll need them.
Today's guest is David, the owner of Main Street Pizza Company in Farmingdale, NY. Since its opening in October 2019, Main Street Pizza Company has made a name for itself with creative ideas such as Lamborghini deliveries and "bored" games printed right on the box.
Don't let the shenanigans fool you, David has a true passion for pizza with his roots dating back to Positano in Williston Park where he started working at the age of 15.
Tune in later in the episode to hear our speed round where we ask the all important questions for David's favorites such as Grandma vs Sicilian, Pepperoni vs Sausage and Calzone vs Chicken Roll.
Visit https://bigfoodtalk.com/main-street-pizza-company-farmingdale/ for my exclusive pizza photo collection from dining there including their Rucolo Pizza, Risotto Balls and the MSPC Chicken Vodka Hero which was to die for!
About Main Street Pizza Company
David and his crew are new to the Farmingdale area but that didn't stop them from going big from the start. He's making pizza for about 20 years at one of the best pizza places on Long Island. Positano in Williston Park is great place to dine but more importantly it was a great place to learn how to make pizza.
At Main Street Pizza Company you'll find a combination of old-school Brooklyn charm and modern elegance, Main Street Pizza offers a varied menu at affordable prices. Our pizza is based on Italian tradition of preparing food, combining simplicity with the best ingredients of the season.
Today I'm speaking with my good friend Hagit, the founder of Tevony, a local food manufacturer of Mediterranean marinades, spreads and dressings. Hagit created Tevony with the desire to bring her father's family recipe to the world.
Started in 2018, Hagit has overcome many challenges personally and professionally and is now the winner of the 2020 Sofi award for best new product in the dip/salsa category.
Join our mailing list for this weeks giveaway info: https://bigfoodtalk.com/tevony-mediterranean-marinade
After an unpleasant divorce, Hagit's daughter inspired her to follow her entrepreneurial skills and concentrate on taking her father's recipe and turning it into a business. Out of the gate, Tevony had big ambitions. Their first every public appearance was at the 2018 restaurant and food expo at the Javitz Center in New York City. Hagit along with her daughters prepared 300 jars of Tachbisha.
Tevony is the brand and Tachbisha is the product line. Tachbisha combines healthy Mediterranean ingredients such as garlic, turmeric, olive oil, spices with lemon and lime which when combined not only packs a ton of flavor into your meal but also tenderizes your meat and poultry.
Creating a Mediterranean Product Line
The original product was the Mediterranean Garlic Spread and following the food show, Hagit learned that people needed more information. Customers were asking what they could use the product with. This is where things get interesting because taking the original garlic spread recipe and turning into a complete product line was going to be a challenge.
Putting 4 products on the shelf at one time is a challenge in both production and marketing to the consumer. Now you'll find a marinade, a salad dressing, a condiment and the original garlic spread.
How to Use Tachbisha for Cooking
The marinade can be used on steak, poultry, fish and even hearty vegetables such as portobello mushrooms. It couldn't be any easier, just take your bottle and pour over your protein or veggies, bake or grill. You don't need any additional spices or seasoning which is the goal for Hagit. She wants to make flavorful cooking convenient for the busy family.
The garlic spread can even be used as alternative to traditional pizza sauce especially for those that may not be able to eat tomatoes for the acidity. The salad dressing is one Hagit's favorite creations because she added coconut cream to the ingredients to give it a luxurious creamy finish for a unique salad experience any foodie will want to try. Because of the coconut cream you could also use it as a Thai inspired marinade. On their website they also have a recipe for Creamy Thai Vegan Soup.
Award Winning Success
After 2 years and starting with 300 bottles, Hagit has now sold over 10,000 units of her Tachbisha marinades and condiments all over the tri-state area and beyond. What Hagit hopes people realize is how much work goes into taking a recipe like this and putting it on the shelf. Since the Covid pandemic, making deliveries to retail stores proved more difficult and sampling at retail stores is non-existent which can really disrupt a burgeoning food manufacturing such as Tevony.
For Hagit, she treats challenges as a form of motivation. The company has shifted to more online marketing efforts to get her products in front of people that are now cooking at home. You can find the entire Tachbisha line on Amazon.com as well as on their own website delivered right to your doorstep. Retail is also getting some changes with in-store POS displays in lieu of sampling.
All of this work has culminated in 2020 with an award, making Tevony the the recipient of the 2020 Sofi Award for Best New Product.
Today I'm speaking with Catherine and Jose, the co-founders of Apt84. They are entrepreneurs who embraced the tiny home trend and turned into a business right here on Long Island.
From private events to wine tours and collaborations, Apt84 is providing inspiration wherever they go! As a bonus to our listeners, Apt84 was generous enough to give one of our listeners a chance to win $100 gift card. Head over to Instagram for those details or join our mailing list for more exclusive offers and giveaways https://bigfoodtalk.com/apt84bus.
About Apt84 Skoolie Experience
Catherine and Jose embrace what I call, the entrepreneurial spirit. Opening a new business always comes with risk, including startup costs but converting a school bus into a tiny apartment has it's own set of challenges.
It took months to get Apt84 off the ground but as these two owners will tell you, it was worth it. Catherine says she knew she always wanted to start a mobile business on wheels. They made a name for themselves quickly by being present at local events and taking advantage of all the press that came there way.
Apt84 is growing quickly and is now an experienced based business using mobile vehicles with plans to add to their fleet as soon as possible. Given the uncertainty of COVID, hosting events is just as uncertain in the future but they are staying positive along their journey.
Embracing Collaborations with Open Arms
Pre-covid you could find Apt84 bus hanging out at a local brewery or food event. Guests can use the bus as a lounge or hangout and it makes for some wonderful photo opportunities. They are continuing to work with local restaurants and others during these challenging as a way to continue to evolve the business and keep their brand visible.
Look for even more events from them coming soon including collaborations with local food trucks, restaurants and more. We are going to begin working on a collaboration for my business, Big Lou's Onion Sauce & Social Play Haus for Oktoberfest.
Growing the Business
Apt84 has a wonderful Instagram channel that you can follow @apt84bus. The marketer in me couldn't resist asking how they've been able to grow the following so quickly and what it always comes down to is authenticity.
What you'll notice on their page is authentic content that shows not only their events but behind the scenes of their vehicle conversions plus inspirational content in their stories. Catherine admits not getting hung up on creating the perfect post is the key to posting more consistently.
Another reason for their success is their teamwork. Jose comments on how they both have their strengths they bring to the business which further defines how they operate the business. Many partnerships that flourish are ones that bring complimentary skill sets to the business.
Today I'm joined by Tom Fazio, an executive chef with 20 years experience now stirring things up at That Meetball Place in Farming and Patchogue, NY.
Tom joined the team during the pandemic and has already brought the menu to new heights. Listen in to find out how he describes what makes for a great dining experience, how he works with his team and the most enjoyable part about being a chef.
I've dined at That Meetball Place many times since it's opened and I can tell you the food is now better than it's ever been. My last experience was Chef Fazio's Goodfellas Wine Dinner that took place on July 30, 2020.
About Chef Fazio
What you'll notice first about our interview is how down to earth and straight forward Tom is. Having just met him, you can tell what a genuine person he is which comes through in his cooking. He jokes about choosing food service as a career, having worked both the front and back of the house for the last 20 years.
I decided to ask the most direct question I could which was what makes Chef Fazio passionate about the restaurant business? Tom talks about loving the speed and excitement of it all. You'll have to tune in to hear more about what makes him tick and how he manages his team.
This part of the conversation reminded about my conversation with pastry chef Claudia Flemming.
New Chef, New Menu
After being out of work for 8 weeks, Chef Fazio found a home at That Meetball Place. It usually takes 2 months to write a new menu but that didn't stop Tom from doing it in real time during a pandemic.
I got curious about how a restaurant pivots during this challenging time and what Chef Fazio brings to the table for an established restaurant such as That Meetball Place. Many young chefs would start with the menu but thanks to Tom's experience and tenure he really wanted to understand the goals of the ownership group and writing a menu that meets their vision.
As a fast casual restaurant, it was missing some trendy fast casual menu items even though they''ll always be known for their meatballs. The classic meatball is made from ground chuck, short rib, pork and veal but you can also get Buffalo Chicken, Lamb, Lobster, Ginger Garlic Scallion Pork and Eggplant meatballs.
Not into meatballs? No problem! They are serving up lots of items between the buns, including a Lobster Grilled Cheese, Korean BBQ Beef and a Super Saucy Secret Special Burger Madness Thing!
I encourage you to check out their full menu: https://thatmeetballplaceli.com/locations/farmingdale-ny/#menu
What Makes for a Great Dining Experience?
Tom talks about emotion and food. When a meal can transport you somewhere, like a childhood memory I had when tasting their Baked Pacheri that's when you've had a great experience. Dining out is about value and experience. You don't want a dining experience to get old ore repetitious, that's why experienced chefs like Chef Fazio know how to delight customers all along their food journey.
I'm excited to see what's in store for the future at That Meetball Place and I will personally be back time and time again.
Keep your eyes peeled for an all inclusive Chef's Tasting Menu coming up in their private room as well.
Have you had a great experience at That Meetball Place? What did you order? What should I try next?
Today's very special guest is Jaymie, better known as Jays_TravelingFork on Instragram. Jaymie is an influencers that's been able to combine her passion for food and travel making friends along the way.
Find out what meal absolutely blew her mind as well as our speed round where I ask Jaymie to tell us her of recommendations for brunch, lunch, dinner and more.
For starters it's impossible to ignore the current world we are living in. The pandemic has changed the way we dine and Jaymie has much love and support for the restaurant owners, chefs and staff that she now calls friends.
JaysTraveling_Fork has gone through changes over the years, starting as far back as 2013 but at the time she wasn't the fab photographer you know today. Jaymie is even a little embarrassed of those early photos which I think is totally fine. Like any creative person, we go through stages of our craft and improve over time. JaysTraveling_Fork only went public a little over 2 years ago and has already amassed a following of 15k !
As Jaymie describes her love of food and the creativity that goes into the dishes she is served, I asked her where that passion comes from. Growing up in the Bronx, she essentially describes a melting pot of culture that influenced her and gave her an open mind about all things food.
A Mind Blowing Meal
Having dined at 100's of establishments over the years, I was curios what type of meal would make Jaymie stop and pause. What meal would blow her mind and why. Luckily for Jaymie, her boyfriend is an airline employee which translates to, they get to travel more than the average Joe.
Jaymie's favorite spot happens to be in Aruba. A popular destination for many New Yorkers. When you're a food enthusiast and you travel a lot, the first thing you want to know is, where do the locals eat? On a trip to Aruba a taxi driver brought her to a local destination where he ordered a soup that Jaymie wasn't expecting. Brace yourselves for Iguana soup! That same driver brought Jaymie, to 3 more spots.
How To Take Epic Food Photos
For Jaymie and Jays_TravelingFork it's all about Instragram. Other social media pages like Facebook and Twitter are for personal use and friends and family only which makes sense. Jaymie mainly uses her iPhone out of convenience and she also has a Canon T7i that she will use for contract work or bigger projects.
Lighting in itself is a whole other world but for foodies on the go, a portable light is the way to go. If you want a powerful light that you can take anywhere to make your food photos look impressive. tune in to the whole episode to Jaymie's lighting recommendation and food photography tips. Get the light she recommends here: https://bigfoodtalk.com/jays_travelingfork_food_expert.
Best of the Best For Dining on Long Island
As we wrapped things up I hit Jaymie with a surprise speed round where she gave us her best lunch, brunch, dinner, cocktail, dessert and outdoor dining spots not to be missed! I know she made me a fan of Roc & Olive in Long Beach, NY.
Do you have a favorite spot you'd like me interview? Leave me a comment at https://bigfoodtalk.com or message me on Instagram or Facebook.
Today I'm speaking with Anne Napolitano from Naplitano Consulting that offers an array of accounting services to the restaurant, food & beverage sector.
Have you ever romanticized about owning a restaurant? Wonder what goes into the price of menu items at your favorite date night spot? Anne shares her expertise on accounting and finance for restaurant owners and food enthusiasts who want to learn more about the business.
About Napolitano Consulting
What's most interesting about Anne is her energy and passion for the hospitality industry. As you'll find out, Anne was a professional chef before hanging up her apron for a calculator. Combining her two passions has really made a difference for her business and her clients.
In my experience, most chefs and creative people don't get a lot of pleasure out of "talking numbers." With the number of restaurants that close every year, having your finances in order can prevent unnecessary expenditures and make sure you're accounting for all your expenses outside of food costs.
Here are some of the questions covered in this week's episode of the Big Food Talk. To signup for updates and exclusive giveaways for listeners to support Long Island Restaurants visit us here: https://bigfoodtalk.com/what-should-restaurant-owners-consider-financially/
How Do You Finance a Restaurant?
Anne tells us how difficult it can be to obtain financing which is why many restaurant owners turn to leveraging personal assets or borrowing from friends and family if they can't find an investor.
What Startup Costs Do Restaurants Have?
From the lease to building out your dream space, the costs add up quickly. Anne offers some recommendations on how restaurants can save money on startup costs as well. It comes down to a lot of the hidden costs restaurant owners and its customers don't consider when they think about why the cost of dining out is so expensive.
How Much Profit Can a Restaurant Make?
Would you believe restaurant profit margins are in the single digits? Food costs are upwards of 25% but the almighty bar tab can contribute upwards of 80% margins which is why during the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants have clamored to reopen their bars and open container laws were loosened to allow for liquor sales in NY State.
What Types of Reports Should a Restaurant Be Looking At?
Anne suggests the biggest consideration is making sure the data gets inputted on a regular basis whether it's an Excel spreadsheet or an application such as Quickbooks. By delaying keeping on top your revenue and reporting, you could be delaying any underlying problems your restaurant may have financially.
There is so much more information Anne has to offer on finances for restaurant owners. The key to all of this as a business owner is making sure you understand your finances from the start., keep your reporting up to date and if that's not possible find a professional like Anne to help you get setup and take that burden off your plate so you can focus on what you do best.
Today I'm speaking with Claudia Fleming, a James Beard award winning pastry chef and former owner of the North Fork Inn, here on Long Island. Claudia has had an illustrious career, working at the famed Tribeca Grill and Grammercy Tavern.
Claudia is now famous among pastry chefs and home cooks for her iconic, out-of-print cookbook called, The Last Course. In this episode of the Big Food Talk we discuss her passion for food, struggles and achievements as well as what's in store for the future.
Support Long Island's restaurants and join the Big Food Talk mailing list for exclusive giveaways and listener only discounts. https://bigfoodtalk.com/claudia-fleming-the-last-course/
Here's the list of questions we discuss through this week's episode.
How did Tribeca Grill transform your career? Claudia talks about how the staff was obsessed with cooking for people. If a friend or colleague came into the restaurant, the kitchen would kick into overdrive just to please that guest.
How does the kitchen staff execute meal service with such precision? The dance or orchestration happens through practice. One can assume the longer a kitchen staff works together as a unit, the more they can feel each others rhythm and pacing to deliver meal service at a high level. Claudia learned early on in her career to be able to rely on other people to help get the job done even if it was competitive in the kitchen.
What was different about working at Grammercy Tavern vs Tribeca Grill? For Claudia, a key moment in her career is the time spent in France between Tribeca Grill and Grammercy Tavern. Times had changed when she landed at Grammercy Tavern. A kinder, gentler kitchen is how she describes it.
Did you feel like you had enough experience for the job? Looking back, Claudia is pretty clear she was in way over head at Grammercy Tavern. For the rest of the world, tasting her desserts and in awe of her skill, we wouldn't be able to tell. It was her relationships she established and her maturity that helped pushed her career along. Claudia clearly had a great work ethic as she reveals as well.
What was your inspiration for The Last Course? The cookbook The Last Course was a culmination of her careers work and represented her repertoire at Grammercy Tavern. Claudia never thought about making a cookbook before but they had a large literary clientele, where one thing led to another and next thing you know she's a published author. It's a little more complicated than this summary so listen in to get the full story on this iconic cookbook.
Why did you decide to move back to Long Island? For Claudia, the answer was simple. Now married and looking for a different lifestyle with her husband, they decided to open The North Fork Inn. It was a simple concept. No fancy hooks, just great food and service and it worked. Sourcing local ingredients and cooking with passion always
Want to find out which dessert Claudia loves the most? You'll have to download and listen to the full episode to hear the rest of our discussion. How some of her dishes were happy accidents or how preparing simple food isn't as easy you think.
Today I'm speaking with Angelo, the owner of Fire Island Vines in Bay Shore, NY. Angelo is an entrepreneur with a keen sense of what his customers want. After operating a wine tour business for 7 years, he recognized an opportunity to offer a winery experience on the south shore of Long Island.
Fire Island Vines opened its doors only 10 days prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Opening a new restaurant is always a risky proposition but doing so during these challenging is not for the inexperienced business owner.
Visit https://bigfoodtalk.com/fire-island-vines-bayshore-ny/ to support Fire Island Vines during these challenging times and join our mailing list for special promos and giveaways exclusive to Big Food Talk listeners.
Prior to Fire Island Vines, Angelo had run a successful wine tour company called First Glass Wine Tours that started in 2013. While running the wine tour business on the North Fork of Long Island, he wanted a change in his lifestyle. While driving guests to all 50 wineries on the east end, Angelo created great relationships with many of the wineries. Their motto is to treat everyone like family.
Being familiar with hosting his guests on their wine tours, Angelo had an inside look at what type of experiences customers enjoy while touring the wineries.
Providing the experience was only piece of the puzzle. Angelo and his family at Fire Island Vines also decided to make their own from their expertise. As you'll find out, not anyone can just have their own "winery" due to regulations from the state and county. This is what makes Fire Island Vines a standout location to visit for date night, family gatherings, birthdays and events.
Listen in to the complete episode to hear more about how they create their own wines. Fire Island Vines currently bottles 5 different varieites of wine. FIV Pinot Grigio, FIV Sauvignon Blanc, FIV Riesling, FIV Rose and FIV Pinot Noir.
Check out my tasting video where I try the FIV Sauvignon Blanc for the first time
More than Wine
The beauty of FIre Island Vines is how they truly created a composed menu and experience beyond their roots in wine. They have a Mediterranean inspired menu including Spanikopita, pita sandwiches like their classic Gyro and charcuterie boxes you can grab to go on your way to Fire Island beaches.
Like many businesses since the pandemic, they've been forced to collaborate and get more creative. Being the new kid on the block in Bay Shore, NY hasn't stopped them one bit from offering date night packages, adult ice pops and more!
Today I'm speaking with my friend Victor, owner of The Cook's Studio in Hicksville, NY. Victor is a chef who loves teaching people how to cook. From mozzarella making to sushi to paella, there are classes for everyone. You won't want to miss out on these unique interactive cooking classes located inside the only winery in Nassau County at wineUdesign.
Watch the Video Interview: https://bigfoodtalk.com/cooks-studio-hicksville-ny
About Chef Victor McNulty
Victor has been a chef for the past 30 years and a chef instructor for the past 15 years. Turns out Julia Child was his first true chef inspiration watching her as a child on TV. He loved being in restaurants since his first summer job at the age of 13 washing dishes at the South Hampton Inn.
After a number of summer and weekend jobs Victor attended NYU for restaurant and hotel management and realized he hated school but still loved working in restaurants. The quicker path to ownership was going to be back of the house and Victor then decided to transfer to the French Culinary Institute. Having worked in many restaurants around the United States and after owning his own restaurant he wanted to settle down and spend time with his family.
Victor landed a job at the Culinary Academy of Long Island where he truly discovered his love of teaching and stuck with them until their unfortunate closure.
A Cooking School Inside a Winery
He always wanted to open a cooking school and had been looking at Main St in Huntington originally until he connected with his good friend Vincenzo who owns wineUdesign in Hicksville. Both are members of the Long Island Food Council. Originally Victor wasn't sure about the idea of running a cooking school inside a warehouse but fast forward a few years and turning industrial warehouse space into a hot spot has become a trend.
If you register for one of their many cooking classes you'll be surrounded by barrels and wine making equipment. It creates quite the ambiance as you and your date, your friends and family or colleagues learn to make your favorite dishes. Bonus! Wine tasting is included with your cooking class.
Food Brings People Together
In this episode of the Big Food Talk, we discuss so many topics from wine pairing to food culture and beyond. What's truly unique about the Cook's Studio is Victor and his perspective on food. The Cooks Studio brings people together whether it's a mozzarella making class with your loved ones or a team building event for your colleagues, you'll learn, laugh, eat and create memories that last a lifetime.
View The Cooking Class Calendar
Don't forget to make a donation at https://bigfoodtalk.com and share your food experiences with us at https://facebook.com/bigfoodtalk or https://instagram.com/bigfoodtalk
Today I'm speaking with my good friend Michael from Gianco Environmental Services. The company provides environmental, engineering, waste management, health and safety services for businesses, restaurants and home owners here on Long Island.
As we know, restaurants and businesses have been impacted by the COVID pandemic in way we haven't even begun to understand as of today. Michael offers his expertise on the importance of deep cleaning and sanitizing, as we as why restaurant owners should be proactive about waste management and its impact on the environment.
Michael is also my first guest on the show who suffered from the coronavirus personally. It's great to hear he's doing well and was able to maintain his healthy to get back to work.
Watch the Video Interview: https://bigfoodtalk.com/gianco-environmental-services/
About Gianco Environmental Services
Gianco Environmental Services is a family owned business that started with Michael's Dad who ran plastics recycling company aimed at the manufacturing industry. From there the business evolved over time due to the natural maturation of the manufacturing industry for all the right reasons, meaning manufacturers were producing less waste.
Gianco is now actively involved in the restoration, decontamination, disinfecting and deep cleaning for many sectors with a focus on the restaurant category in part due to the participation in organizations such as the Long Island Food Council.
Why Restaurants Should Be Proactive About Waste Management
The number one reason is healthy safety. Restaurants need to be proactive about their waste management to avoid contamination in their store. Michael also discusses some potential cost savings as it relates to segregation of recyclable materials.
Restaurants are currently utilizing Gianco's services for deep cleaning as they are opening back up for indoor dining here on Long Island. This doesn't mean simply wiping down tables and chairs for each new customer. This is about deep cleaning the entire storefront on regular basis to meet regulations. Michael also provides clients with inspection services using the latest technology and data to determine the cleanliness of a location.
Anaerobic Digesters Help Reduce Food Waste
Food waste is a term we don't really want to think about as customers and something that restaurants have to deal with on a regular basis. Food waste is a real problem that affects food cost and the environment. Spreading awareness of technologies such as anaerobic digesters can have a positive impact on the industry. Listen in around 12m28s to hear Michael discuss some issues around food waste and what an anaerobic digester actually does.
Environmental Services for Home Owners
As homeowners, the last thing you want to deal with are troublesome problems such as mold ,lead and asbestos. Professional service companies such as Gianco can be helpful in that they provide air quality testing. Older homes that have converted from oil to gas need to have the old oil tanks removed. This is exactly why you'd need to speak to a professional such as Michael.
The Green Building Council
There's a lot of talk about the environment but for the average consumer, homeowner and restaurant patron, we don't have a lot of insight into what improvements are being made. It's comforting to know companies such as Gianco Environmental Services participate in organizations such as the Green Building Council. Their vision is that buildings and communities will regenerate and sustain the health and vitality of all life within a generation.
Today I had the pleasure of speaking with Andrea, the owner of the The Lobster Roll located in Amagansett, NY. Founded in 1965 as a family run business, Andrea has kept the retro feel but knows how to satisfy her customers needs and keep up with changing trends.
At first glance you may think they only have lobster rolls but this famous restaurant offers a full menu featuring fresh seafood, homemade desserts and even gluten free options.
It's great to hear The Lobster Roll is doing surprisingly well during these challenging times. They've added extra precautions to keep customers safe and have made sure they are following proper recommendations and guidelines as restaurants begin to open up for seating. Andrea says they even have their servers staying socially distant while customers place orders on an iPad.
Watch the full interview here: https://bigfoodtalk.com/lobster-roll-amagansett-ny
From Clam Shack to Legendary Status
Andrea joined the restaurant in 1977 with no prior experience and fell in love with the restaurant business. The Lobster Roll was originally a little clam shack opened in 1965 by her ex-husband and father in law. Lobster rolls were not common here on Long Island. It was the beginning of a food trend that continues today with lobster rolls available everywhere in the summertime.
That's what's so interesting about this Amagansett location. Even with availability of lobster rolls all over Long island, people come from far and wide to get a taste of the original on the east end.
Its Not Just for Lobster Rolls
I asked Andrea to talk about how the menu has transitioned over time and she immediately spoke to what it's like being a business owner and entrepreneur. Andrea is one smart business woman that knows how to evaluate her customers wants and trends to stay relevant while being true to their roots.
From picnic tables to an outdoor oasis, lobster rolls to gluten free options, Andrea and her team take such pride and care in what they are serving and how they operate their business. Even the retro vibe feels authentic with oldies music playing on the speakers and the beach shack vibe even though they aren't located directly on the beach. Customers recognize that sort of dedication which is why the Lobster Roll in Amagansett will be around for another 50 years I'm sure.
A Taste of Fame
When you listen to the episode there are so many interesting stories and one of them is how the Lobster Roll ended up on the Showtime show The Affair. If that wasn't enough, Andrea has entertainment aspirations of her own and I highly recommend you subscribe to her YouTube channel where she cooks in her own kitchen for a show produced for PBS called Eat Drink and Bake with Andrea.
Listen to the complete episode or watch on YouTube.
Make a donation to support The Lobster in Amagansett at https://bigfoodtalk.com
Today I'm speaking with Joe and Javier, the owner and manager of Popei's Clam Bar in Bethpage, NY. A neighborhood favorite for 37 years, Popei's Clam Bar cooks up big flavor from their menu that features seafood, steaks, bbq ribs and pasta dishes.
Joe and Javier have been doing to their best to keep their customers happy and give back to the community during these challenging times. Popei's employed about 40 to 45 employees prior to COVID which has now been cut in half. As the restaurants slowly re-open for dining those numbers will change but it's important to note the financial impact this challenging time has had on our local restaurants.
Watch the Video Interview ==> https://bigfoodtalk.com/popeis-clam-bar-bethpage/
From Humble Beginnings
Popei's originated in the Nassau County Farmer's Market. Joe's Mom and Uncle started the clam bar and moved to its current location in 1983 when the farmers market closed down.
Having grown up in the neighborhood in Bethpage, I can't remember a time driving by Popei's Clam Bar when the parking wasn't packed with cars. They've been a neighborhood favorite since they opened and have continued to expand its menu to meet the tastes of its customers. Joe discusses how much he loves his customers, walking around seeing tables full of families all enjoying the type of food they love most.
Joe himself grew up in the business. He's held every position in the restaurant from dishwasher to the front of the house to line cook. Javier came on board in September of 2019 and prior to working there didn't know about the history of this long standing restaurant. Hearing how the two compliemtn each other as a team is what has put Popei's in a position to thrive even during these challenging times.
It's All About the Fresh Seafood
Joe works directly with local fisherman out of the Oyster Bay area to get everything local as much possible before going out of state to find it. At Popei's they rely on fresh seafood with deliveries coming to the restaurant in Bethpage 7 days a week. Ocean to plate in a day is how Joe describes it.
No menu is complete without a cocktail menu which is where Javier brings in his expertise. They revamped the entire beverage menu with Javier on board which became a big hit with customers to keep the restaurant feeling fresh for its long term customers and inviting to new customers.
Delivering on Big Selection
The menu at Popei's is enormous and so are the portions. People come for the seafood but if you don't have a seafood lover in your family they will feel just as at home. Joe tells us how originally they cut the menu back during COVID but as time went on they brought back all the menu items it's customers know and love.
Top sellers include the broiler combination which includes a stuffed flounder, scallops, baked clam, stuffed mushroom and shrimp stuffed with crab meat. For those seafood lovers looking for a kick, Thai calamari is Popei's favorite as well. You can't discount the classics like king crab legs and lobsters as well.
Believer it or not many of the items on the menu come in half trays. That means if you want to dine at Popei's Clam Bar in Bethpage, I suggest you bring your appetite.
Today I'm speaking with Anthony, the manager of DJ's Clam Shack in Wantagh, NY. DJ's Clam Shack blends the best seafood dishes from New England and the South. With it's original location in Key West Florida, the owners decided to open a second location on Long Island.
The vibe is all about casual dining using quality ingredients and even has bragging rights for being featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives with Guy Fieri. Anthony walks us through their mouth watering menu and even reveals some secret off menu items only for customers in the know. Don't know what an Ipswitch clam is? Listen to find out!
As the warm weather approaches and restaurants begin re-opening for outdoor seating, DJ's Clam Shack is open for business and doing quite well as seafood lovers need their summer lobster roll fix. It's not your typical seafood shack location. Located near the Wantagh train station on Sunrise Highway it doesn't give off the beachy vibe it's original location in Key West became famous for.
About Anthony and His Cooking
Anthony grew up Italian, loving food and a passion to cook and be part of the restaurant industry. He became a butcher for over 15 years and learned how to cook working at a few Italian restaurants locally. He applied for the position at DJ's Clam Shack and his been there since it's opening in Wantagh, NY. Customers that know Anthony well enough come in and ask for the secret menu items. Listen in around the 11 minute mark.
What's the difference between Norther and Southern Seafood?
Anthony describes the difference in southern spices that pack a bit more heat. Think about blackened Mahi Mahi or cajun style shrimp. In the North we have grown accustom to our clam chowder and steamed little neck clams. Looking try something different? Try their fried conch fritters that aren't regularly available on Long Island.
Sourcing Fresh Seafood is a Priority
The Wantagh location gets a majority of it's fresh seafood that's available locally from Two Cousins over in Freeport, NY. If you've every been down Nautical Mile you've probably seen the south shore fish market that's been a landmark for decades. They are getting fresh fish delivered almost daily at their location including locally sourced little neck clams from Long Island. DJ's also does its best supply other local favorites like craft beer to it's customers all year long..
Ipswitch Clams Become Difficult to Source
It's been business as usually except for one unique menu item that's become difficult to source over the past few months. If you've never had an Ipswitch clam it's completely different from any other baked or fried clam you've had before. All Ipswich clams are soft-shell clams (steamers), but not all soft-shell clams are Ipswich clams. What you really need to know is they are fried in a corn meal flour to add a touch of sweetness and deliver on maximum clam flavor.
One Lobster Roll to Rule Them All
The lobster rolls at DJs Clam Shack are notoriously delicious and overstuffed. They only use knuckle and claw meat in their rolls and you can listen to Anthony explain why around the 8 minute mark. The hot lobster roll packs a quarter pound of lobster meat sauteed in butter placed on a New England style split top bun and of course don't forget the butter! You can also get the cold lobster roll featuring a house made tarragon mayonnaise. It's their philosophy that simple is best to let the seafood be the star.
If you're really hungry for lobster, don't pass up the chance to order their overstuffed lobster roll which features a whopping half pound of knuckle claw lobster meat! Don't be fooled by imitators offering lobster rolls with nothing but some skimpy lobster salad on a hot dog bun.
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Today I'm speaking with Chris, the owner and pitmaster at Big Belly Que in Smithtown, NY. After running a catering business for 6 years, Chris was ready to take the leap to open a restaurant only to have COVID put the brakes on their plans.
Chris and his partners were literally ready to go in their new space and the world was forced to shut down. Their first step was to start donating to hospitals rather than open up to customers. Chris describes it as a win-win situation as they were able to donate 2,000 meals all the while getting to put their new kitchen and equipment to the test.
That was all great news but I really wanted to understand where the passion for BBQ came from. Chis decided to put his digital marketing skills to good use and 6 years ago they built a website to see if BBQ was a business worth pursuing. He also explains his love of food. In fact, Chris' father was a chef for 15 years and ironically Dad doesn't like to do BBQ.
Chris explains how he became obsessed with barbecue, watching YouTube videos in order to perfect the craft. The idea for Chris is to make the perfect brisket, ribs and pulled pork that combines a number of different styles and techniques. Shoutout to pitmaster Malcom Reed who is one of Chris' favorite pitmasters on YouTube. Here's a link to Malcom's channel How to BBQ Right.
As you'll Chris gets all amped up when talking about his techniques and recipes and almost spills one of his secrets to his dry rub. It just so happens there's some fusion going on at Big Belly Que as well which leads us into more about the food. They've even had a great response to their sauces which is what can take your barbecue experience to the next level.
If you dive into the menu you'll see all the standard barbecue fair from brisket to ribs. Their most popular item at the moment is their pulled pork sandwich featuring a toasted brioche bun, an onion ring and house made cole slaw to top it off. Chris admits this particular iteration came together by accident.
When I think about barbecue, burgers aren't what I'm thinking about but Chris explains their Ultimate BBQ burger in such detail it actually may have put me in a food coma during the interview. Find out for yourself around 15 minute mark in the podcast.
I have an eye for unique menu items and the one that caught my attention was the meat tornado. Apparently the name is an homage to the show Parks on Rec. It's an absurd amount of protein not for the faint of heart. The hardest part for Chris was narrowing down which meats would make the cut for the final menu item.
You can check out the Parks and Rec clip referencing the meat tornado here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iE4N5kbZLw
Vegan pulled pork isn't standard barbecue fair. It turns out Chris' sister is slowly turning vegan and after watching a number of YouTube videos he found his own creation using oyster mushrooms. The look and feel of it is as closed to pulled pork as you can get. He knew he had a hit on his hands when his sister approved the dish.
At the end of the interview we really get to see how much of a humanitarian Chris and his partners really are. They want to feed the world. They want to give back. They offer discounts to first responders and have been donating as much food as possible during the pandemic.
Find out how Big Belly Que is helping frontline workers on their website https://www.bigbellyq.com/
Today I'm speaking with a good friend of mine, Al, the founder of Mana Sauces here on Long Island. Blending his passions for music, art and food, Al brings and energy to today's episode you won't want to miss.
We discuss his culinary background, tips for the ultimate pesto and keeping a positive attitude for the changing world in which we live in. I kicked off our interview like I have many before, asking Al how he's doing. What I got in return was his life motto.
"Life is beautiful no matter what. As long as we're walking on our two feet what's the point of complaining."
About Al Fenza
From that statement alone you can get a glimpse into Al's personality and his business, Mana Sauces that he started back in 2015. From an epiphany one night he became obsessed with figuring out how to bring his sauces to market and turn it into a business.
His passion for food goes way back to his grandfathers who both cooked and owned luncheonettes. Growing up he saw both of them cook, with different styles and they became Al's culinary heroes.
Al recognized college wasn't for him after a brief stint at Nassau Community College. He wanted to perfect his abilities in the kitchen which is why he made the decision to go to culinary school at the French Culinary Institute. Al admits he needed that strict training to hone his skills but also realized he didn't want to be a restaurant chef.
Why Hummus & Pesto?
After discussing Al's past, including his passion for music, my big question was ... "Why hummus?" He actually started with pesto and mayo at his first farmers market. At that market he met someone who was selling hummus across from him. The gentleman asked if Al if he liked hummus and surprisingly he said no. After that initial conversation the two of them became extremely close and Al learned how to make hummus under his instruction.
Mana Sauces offers a variety of sauces including pesto, hummus and mayo. He also private labels his pesto for a number of farms on Long Island. Al decided to focus on doing pesto really well rather than offering variations.
I decided to dig further on what makes a pesto special. Is it the basil? Is it the pecorino romano cheese? Is it the pine nuts? In true Al fashion my answer was not what I expected. Aside from a special spice blend he uses I was hit with a Miles Davis quote "Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the guy who plays it is 80 percent.”
Find Mana Sauces online at https://manasauces.com/. You can also pick them up Open Minded Organic Farms in Bridgehampton https://openmindedorganics.com/
Visit https://bigfoodtalk.com to support Mana Sauces and make a donation.
Today I'm speaking with John, owner of Whiskey Down Diner in Farmingdale, NY. Whiskey Down is a family run establishment that puts a modern twist on traditional diner fare.
Coming up on their 1 year anniversary John is doing his best to support their staff and keep the business going during these challenging times.
Having dined at Whiskey Down many times myself, I can attest to how good the food really is. When you first walk in you're welcomed to an inviting space with a throwback to old diner feel. The footprint and menu is smaller but the quality and fresh ingredients is much higher.
I shared with John that growing up I was never really a fan of diners because of the large selection. I could never decide what I wanted to eat. John told me coming up with their menu went through a few iterations. With family roots in the diner business they didn't want to abandon things they knew would work but at the same they wanted to meet modern tastes.
John suggests, it was time for a change in the diner business. Sticking to tradition you can get breakfast at any time of the day. On the menu you'll find items like Boston Cream pancakes and a selection of whiskeys that tops out at over 50 on most days, Whiskey Down Diner is destination not to be missed by any foodie.
With their one year anniversary just around the corner on June 5th, it's been a year of firsts for Whiskey Down Diner. For Whiskey Down, they are staying busy but that's just not enough to keep the staff on full time or to meet the number of hours they are used to. Working at reduced staff means less cooking capacity in general for restaurants. At the time of this recording they had already reached capacity for Mother's Day orders.
Shoutout to Chef Robertson V who asked "What's on hot on the menu?' John goes on to describe their unique pancake recipe created by his father years ago that's aptly titled Pete's Pancakes on the menu. They made a riff on the pancakes with the popular lemon blueberry pancakes which I've personally tried and are amazing.
At Whiskey Down you'll also find healthier options like their quinoa bowls that are one of my Mom's favorite dishes. Pro tip: Order pancakes as a dessert to share with the table.
Halfway through the episode I decided to have some fun and lighten things up. John was my first Big Food Talk speed round. We played the diner edition!
Find out his answers to the questions below by listening to complete episode
Coffee vs Tea
Bacon vs Sausage
Waffles vs Pancakes
Scramble vs Omelet
Bagel vs Muffin
Breakfast vs Brunch
Burger vs Fried Chicken
French Fries vs Tater Tots
Bloody Mary vs Mimosa
Bourbon vs Scotch
At the end of the interview we discussed how Whiskey Down is pivoting, John gets emotional when talking about his staff and how much they mean to him and his family. It's not easy but they are making things work as best they can. Having seen the creativity and better yet, the quality of food I have no doubt Whiskey Down Diner will be here for a long time.
Please support them and their staff by making a donation at https://bigfoodtalk.com.
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Today I'm speaking with Chef Matty Boudreau, three time barbecue champion pitmaster and chef at Green Hill Kitchen and Que located in Greenport, NY. He actually manages 3 locations in the area and quickly had to make changes to survive in these challenging times. In addition to offering takeout, one of their locations is now setup to offer provisions from olive oil to toilet paper.
Listen in to find out how Matty fell in love with cooking at the age of 8 and how Green Hill Kitchen is doing all they can to support the local community and it's employees they can't afford to keep working at the time.
About Chef Matty Boudreau
Chef Matty discovered his love of cooking at the ripe age of 8 years old! His father owned a sausage cart outside of Fenway park. It set the stage for his love of the hospitality business and how he liked to interact with people. His mother was also the entertainment director for the House of Blues where the chef took him under his wing. Rather than hanging out watching the concerts he preferred hanging with chefs and catering food backstage.
Rather than go to culinary school he worked with two CIA graduates who had him make every meal in the book for a year. His decision to learn in the trenches was the right one for him. There are two different types of chefs. Some need the formal training and others like Chef Matty just need to work with their hands and get down to business in the kitchen.
About Green Hill Kitchen
Matty Boudreau arrived at the Greenport location in October of 2019, only a few months before the world changed in 2020. One of the first things that changed was adding the "que" because one of the things he's passionate about is barbecue. He loves competing in barbecue competitions and he loves winning them. Their number 1 signature dish is their brisket which they spent a lot of time perfecting.
The North Fork of Long Island has a unique community and clientele. It's important as a restaurant owner to realize who you're cooking when it comes to menu design, atmosphere and pricing your meals. The North Fork is also heavily influences by the seasons from winery outings to harvest season at the farms.
Pivoting and Providing
Green Hill management group has three restaurants under it's umbrella. The flagship being Green Hill Kitchen and Que. Directly across the street you'll find Anchor and what was once known as Industry Standard was supposed to become a tavern called Whalers Tavern and has since been transformed into a market. By the 15th and 16th of March they had lost their entire revenue stream.
The idea to offer provisions came from a friend of the family who didn't want to send her husband to the market because she was in the middle of a risky pregnancy. Instead she ordered all the goods she needed directly from Green Hill Kitchen who still had access to items. From there the provisions market was born as an extension of the takeout and delivery services they were ramping up.
If that weren't enough they also are taking donations through a GoFundMe page for the co-workers they couldn't keep on staff through this challenging time. They also had another fund to help feed frontline workers. Every $10 would provide one meal to a hospital worker.
To make a donation to support Chef Matty and his staff visit https://bigfoodtalk.com
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Today I'm speaking with Kevin, a food safety consultant with over 20 years experience. He currently acts as the senior food safety consultant for Essential Food Safety Consulting here on Long Island. Kevin and I discuss how consumers and businesses can be prepared for the changing world in which we live in.
As a consumer, you should be aware of best practices whether dining out or purchasing products that were manufactured in a facility that meets regulatory guidelines. It's important to take into consideration how and where your food is prepared. The good news is many businesses already implement best practices for your safety and health.
Watch the interview on YouTube: https://youtu.be/XMabhegHE24
One of the things that may change drastically are food tastings and events or in retail. That's something that many startup food manufacturers rely on to woo new customers and get the word out about their products.
Guidelines are changing quickly. There are things we can't predict and we suggest you contact your county or state board of health or visit their websites for the most up to date guidelines as it relates to food retail and manufacturing.
More about Kevin & Essential Food Safety Consulting
Kevin Byrne has held key positions in food processing, food retail and food safety consulting. He currently acts as the Senior Food Safety Consultant for Essential Food Safety Consulting and is a contract food safety auditor for SAI Global Assurance, DNV GL and ResPro Food Safety.
Kevin holds certifications in HACCP, Seafood HACCP, SQF, BRCGS, Crisis Management and Continuity as well as the FSMA rules on Preventive Controls for Human Food (PCQI) and Intentional Adulteration.
Essential Food Safety Consulting has been the lead food safety resource for the Long Island Food Council since 2018, and provides customers with personalized, one-on-one consultations in food safety, including technical writing and regulatory compliance preparation.
Essential Food Safety Consulting prepares businesses to retain or renew the certifications needed to satisfy industry standards and legal requirements, achieved through proper safety training and complete documentation. Headed by a 20-year veteran of the food manufacturing industry, Essential Food Safety Consulting pays careful attention to each company’s unique circumstances and tailors planning and the course of action to maximize chances of success.
Today I'm speaking with Alex, the owner of Athenian Greek Taverna in Commack NY. Alex is half Italian and half Greek so there's no mystery about his passion for food. We talk a lot about of memories of our parents and grandparents cooking in the kitchen. How the smell of something familiar can whisk you away to your youth.
Alex tells us how food can break all barriers which reminds of the late great Anthony Boudain and how he would use food to explore different cultures and break down religious and political barriers.
Athenian Greek Taverna is a fairly new operation in its current state. After 20 years in business Alex moved across the street to expand the operation including more seating, a full bar, upscale decor and an updated menu.
The women in Alex's life certainly played a role in his passion for food. His mother, grandmother and aunts all spent time cooking. He reminisces about the big family gatherings where his Mom would be cooking and playing music. Seeing the joy she got from cooking left a lasting impression for Alex. It's why he has such a welcoming attitude towards breaking bread with like minded "foodies" who understand the connections of food and family.
Alex explains how in the early days of catering, Greek food wasn't as widely accepted. He would educate customers by explaining the similarities to Italian cuisine, the simple fresh ingredients and how the food is prepared. Many foods are similar but different based on geography. How similar is the taco to a gyro? I"ll leave that debate up to you.
I asked Alex to tell me what are the flavors that make Greek food authentic. He again gets back to the origins of using fresh, simple ingredients like oregano, fresh lemon, good olive oil, salt and pepper. There's not a lot of magic in what happens with the ingredients. It's the preparation and care in planning the menu and the dishes that really matter. Many of these traditional dishes take all day to prepare. Think about your stews and pot roasts that David Chang would call "ugly delicious." One of the standouts on the Athenian Green Taverna menu is the whole lamb Alex roasts every Friday. It's as traditional as you can get!
During these challenging times Alex is fortunate to have experience operating an extensive takeout business. Now it's all about family meals like their rotisserie chicken packages. Athenian Greek Taverna is also showing their creativity with their cocktail menu offering frosé, frozen peach Arnold Palmers, and two-fer cocktails to go from their bar window.
To support Athenian Greek Taverna, visit https://bigfoodtalk.com to make a donation.
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Chef Eric Levin is as inspiring in real life as he is creative in the kitchen. A five time cancer survivor and Chopped champion, Chef Levine has made his home at 317 Main St in Farmingdale, NY.
We had a great conversation with so much discuss from his journey as a chef to his mouth watering menu creations. He's just a genuine giver that looks for opportunities to pay it forward where he can.
I asked him first about his culinary training and cooking style. Eric was inspired at a young age by his father in the kitchen but he wasn't one to follow the rules. Listen in to hear about his blender story that's both adorable and eye opening to his personality.
When we discussed his opportunity to compete on Chopped Chef Levine tells us about the call he had the night before and his battle with cancer that forever changed his outlook on life.
Now that he's found a home at 317 Main St in Farmingdale, you can tell he's a chef that has found his groove. It's an eclectic menu filled with everything from tomahawk steaks to house made ramen noodles. How's that for variety?
What's more interesting is his approach to the changing times we're living in. 317 Main has embraced the takeout and delivery culture preparing date night menus, trivia nights and virtual cooking classes.
Visit https://bigfoodtalk.com to make a donation and see my exclusive photos from my date night takeout experience featuring butternut squash pillows, soup dumplings, pesto gnocchi and a house made chocolate peanut butter layer cake
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Today I'm speaking with actor and chef Joseph Gannascoli, known for playing Vito in the HBO series The Sopranos. Joe has been doing his part to give back to the community raising thousands of dollars through his GoFundMe campaign for frontline workers and delivering meals from local restaurants.
Donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/Meals-for-Hospital-and-Restaurant-workers
Joe started out as a chef, working all over the country. He moved from New York to New Orleans and eventually landed a gig cooking at one of the best restaurants in the world, Commander's Palace.
After moving back to New York a friend recommended he audition for play and that's where he got his first taste of acting. He loved it so much he studied acting for a year and half, got out of the restaurant business and wound up in Los Angeles. In LA, it's hard to get auditions without an agent but he ended up getting cast as a day player for a movie.
Benecio del Toro saw Joe and ended up casting him for his movie Submission and introduced him to a few people that did casting for The Sopranos. Originally cast as Gino the Bakery Customer, Joe was eventually brought back and cast in a recurring role as Vito Spatafore forever changing his career. He reminisces about food on the set and of course how Italians love to eat!
Joe has a big appetite and a big heart that clearly is shining through now that the world needs help. His sister-in-law works in labor delivery at Mt Sinai in South Nassau and his niece works at a hospital in The Bronx and was diagnosed as having Covid-19. After hearing his families stories about what they are going through he wanted to help.
Many restaurants in his neighborhood were closed or closing temporarily and he wanted to figure out a way to help both frontline workers and restaurants. His original goal was $1000 and he has crushed it long ago.
At the time of this post Joe has raised almost $27k and wants to raise $50k. He's bought food and gift certificates from Vincent's Clam Bar, Villa Maria Pizza, La Famiglia ( plainview ), Vincent's Pizza Lynbrook and many more. The food was delivered 10x to Mt Sinai South Nassau, 3x to Jacobi hospital (Bronx ), 4x to Winthrop hospital, local police departments, the post office, nursing homes and even his UPS driver.
Visit https://bigfoodtalk.com to make your donation to support all the restaurants participating in this show.
Today I'm speaking with John, the owner of Sawasdee in Plainview, NY. After living in Thailand for almost 5 years, where he met his wife, John came back to Long Island to pursue his passion of opening a restaurant. Fueled by authentic flavors, this interview takes a look at what makes Sawasdee Thai Elevated, a destination not to be missed.
See my exclusive takeout photos: https://bigfoodtalk.com/sawasdee-thai-elevated/
Sawasdee (sah-wah-DEE) is one of the most common words in the Thai language, used both as a greeting and a farewell. The restaurant that opened in July of 2016 combines authentic Thai cuisine with modern dining. Thai food is all about marrying complexity with harmony, and Sawasdee aims to continue that tradition.
A former VP of a global transportation company, John had been well traveled and was eventually placed in Thailand where he was introduced to the cuisine. He always had a dream of opening an Italian restaurant but love and life changed his path.
John talks to us about the complexity of the food with so many flavors coming together. Words like umami flavor are used throughout the conversation and if you really want to understand what makes their pad Thai authentic, I suggest you listen to the complete interview.
When your dreams become reality sometimes things aren't always what you thought they would be. John romanticized about having his own restaurant with a corner table for his friends and family to gather where he could spend time with them. As many in the restaurant and hospitality industry can attest to, the days are long and ownership comes at a great sacrifice.
Now with the current crisis, for elevated Thai cuisine takeout and convenience becomes the business driver over presentation and ambiance. If you've never had Thai food or if you're only used to eating pad thai in a fast casual setting, I encourage you to educated about it's flavors.
That's why Sawasdee is at the top of my list for places to dine now and in the future. Help support this restaurant by making a donation at https://bigfoodtalk.com.
Today I'm speaking with Marc and Jenni, the husband and wife team behind Social Play Haus in Plainview, NY. Social Play Haus was created with the needs of the modern family in mind with a focus on children and adults.
The space has an elevated bar menu featuring local beer as well as mindful dishes for the kids. In addition to a remote working space there are children's activities including supervised play while parents work.
Marc, a 15 year veteran in the corporate and customer service world, combined with his restaurant and event planning experience has funneled his creative juices to create a hip event space that balances both kid and adult cravings.
Jenni, a licensed clinical child psychologist and busy working mom, has 15 plus years of experience working with children and families in her private practice and other clinical settings. These experiences have cultivated her vision of creating an inclusive space for children and adults to explore, socialize and learn through prosocial interactions, positive reinforcement and modeling which are the foundations of positive child psychology.
The unique space at Social Play Haus focuses on 5 elements;
elevated bar food and healthy options for kids.
pastry chefs creating fresh baked good daily as well as custom cakes, cookies, cake pops.
coffee bar: (locally roasted from Mongo’s) offering our custom haus blend coffee.
beer and wine tap with rotations of local craft beers. Most popular is Barrier beer.
Offer private drop-in offices.
30 ft work bar in addition to several work areas throughout our space.
Work & Play packages: supervised play while parents work.
Enclosed modern play area.
Board games throughout the space.
Chalkboard dining tables.
Specialize in private events (birthdays, baptisms, showers, etc.).
Custom décor and personalization.
Built in entertainment for kids.
Corporates events, fundraisers, school events.
Merchandise – Our newest addition
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Today I'm speaking with Vinny and Mike from Premier Payroll Solutions, a local business servicing the hospitality industry. I thought it was important for you to hear their perspective based on their expertise. It was refreshing to hear their positive attitude and advice for restaurants during these uncertain times.
As a boutique payroll service bureau, they have extensive experience helping restaurants with their back office administrative needs but as they point out they work best as an extension of their clients business.
Premier works with restaurants both large and small, from sole proprietors to main street restaurants that can have 40 employees on staff. Their business has been significantly impacted by the effects of sheltering in place and the many restaurant closings and staff that are now unemployed.
When asked about what restaurants can be doing during this time, Vinny recommends not sitting back and never give up. Taking this time to learn what things will look like when we get past this pandemic. For instance, what menu items deliver well and still keep the integrity of the restaurants offerings.
When it comes to delivery services, test and learn. With so many delivery apps and services, restaurants may find benefits to using them combined with offering their own delivery and/or curbside pickup. From GrubHub to UberEats, the commissions they take are varied and may or may not work every restaurant.
Customer perceptions around cleanliness are also going to play a big factor when restaurants begin to reopen. Vinny even suggestions taking a look at restroom facilities to make sure they will meet or exceed customer expectations going forward.
We all joke about how many dishes we've had to clean from so much cooking at home the past few weeks which is why people are still turning to restaurants for their creative offerings. Whether it's family style dinners or live virtual events, chefs and restaurateurs continue to impress us with their creativity.
Restaurants should consider having conversations with their town supervisors now and discuss items like expanding outdoor seating limits. Vinny suggests looking for opportunities to close down Main St so restaurants can operate in open air environments to be able to expand the limited seating that may be available once things open up again.
Regardless of what happens next, companies like Premier Payroll are a great resource for restaurants to help streamline their back office services like payroll as well as leverage their relationships for ideas, creativity and support.
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Today I'm speaking with Manny, the owner and pit master of smok-haus in Garden City, NY. Manny tells us how he discovered his love of barbecue during his hunting trips to upstate NY.
While perfecting his craft and menu, smok-haus was born with authentic barbecue and unique menu items like their smoked porchetta.
Listen in as Manny talks about how they are working through the current pandemic and how his plans for building a bigger brand.
Smok-haus is a casual restaurant and bar with authentic American BBQ, cooked low and slow is paired with the freshest, healthy international fare.
I've personally been to smok-haus during my monthly "guys night out" about a year. I've had their pulled pork, brisket, mac and cheese, smoked wings and their porchetta. Manny goes into detail on they prepare the porchetta pictured below.
Manny opened the doors at smok-haus in November of 2018 and shares with me that his concept was in the works for years. He truly believes food brings people together. Having been introduced to smoking meats and barbecue on his hunting trips and continuing to self educate, Manny eventually teamed up with Myron Mixon down at his BBQ.
Not familiar with Myron Mixon? Myron is a four time world barbecue champion and also sells a line of smokers that smok-haus uses in their restaurant.
Best Selling BBQ Items at Smok-Haus
When asked about their best selling items, people love the brisket and their pulled pork. Their smoked wings, pictured below, are some of the best on Long Island. What some of you may not know about is their pastrami, only available on Friday nights. It gets brined in house for 2 weeks and smoke it even longer than their traditional brisket. It's available as a sandwich or ala carte.
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Today I'm speaking with Alyssa, the founder of the Dine-LI group on Facebook. It was started as a place where restaurants and foodies could connect. Different from other groups, restaurants are welcome to post their menus and specials.
Prior to the pandemic, the group was known for its giveaways from Long Island restaurants. Since it's start in 2019, the group has grown to over 14,000 members through the relationships of her admin team and welcoming environment unlike many other groups you'll find on Facebook that include tons of negativity.
Here's a quick view of the Dine-LI guidelines:
Be Kind and Courteous : We're all in this together to create a welcoming environment. Let's treat everyone with respect. Healthy debates are natural, but kindness is required.
No Hate Speech or Bullying : Make sure everyone feels safe. Bullying of any kind isn't allowed, and degrading comments about things like race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, gender or identity will not be tolerated.
No Non Food Related Advertising Allowed : Businesses that are not food related will not be allowed to advertise
The group has also created helpful resources such as their takeout directory, a nearly 50 page PDF document broken out by town. If you're a Long Island resident looking for your best take-out options this is a priceless resource available free to members.
At the heart of the group during the pandemic has been their Dine-LI Gives Back program. To do date it has raised almost $10,000 dollars to fund meals for frontline workers in nursing homes, rehab centers, urgenct care, EMS, ambulance workers, veterans and more.
As of May 1st, the program has run out of funds but you can still help by reaching out to Alyssa directly through the Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/dineli/
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Many people are under the impression that franchise owners may have it made compared to other independently owner operated restaurants. Today I'm speaking with Krista, the owner of Pita Pit in Hauppauge, NY.
Talking to Krista was truly inspiring. As a wife and mother she was faced with a difficult situation after her husband was injured at work and now had to provide for her family and four children.
Having no prior business or restaurant experience, Krista looked for franchise opportunities. Not only that but she wanted it to be something that didn't previously exist on Long Island. She found Pita Pit, a healthy grab and go option that fits the fast paced lifestyle of Long Island families and business lunch crowd.
They have an array of options but their most popular is the create your own pita. With a myriad of sauces, pitas, bowls, vegan and gluten free options, it's a foodie destination that literally has something for everyone.
Please support Krista and her business by visiting https://locations.pitapitusa.com/ll/US/NY/Hauppauge/812-Wheeler-Road
Make a donation to support her franchise at https://bigfoodtalk.com
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Today I'm speaking with Rob & Matt, the owner and chef of JJ Coopers in Long beach, NY. We discuss Rob's longstanding reputation in the restaurant business and Matt's passion for BBQ.
Having endured other tough times such at September 11th and Hurricane Sandy, Rob is keeping things positive as they pivot the restaurant's menu to meet their customers needs. Family meals are now becoming familiar fare and the Long Beach community has once again come together to support it's local businesses.
Long Beach in itself is a fascinating destination on Long Island. For more of Long Island, Long Beach is a destination. Known for its boardwalk, beaches and nightlife it's a one of a kind town that JJ Coopers has been serving for years.
Their New American hinges on the classics such as steaks, chicken wings and a popular tuna satay appetizer. You can follow them on Instagram at https://instagram.com/jjcooperslbny for their most up to date menu specials like Rib Night on Wednesday's and their Taco Kits that are a great value for feeding the whole family.
Order by phone for curbside pickup at JJ Coopers in Long Beach, NY at 516-431-3133.
Support JJ Coopers by visiting https://bigfoodtalk.com to leave a donation and get a shoutout on the show.
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Today's guest is Alfonso, the owner and chef of Funchos located in Riverhead NY. Funchos is a tacqueria located on the east end of Long Island, serving up tacos, burritos, beer and so much more for the last 20 years.
Alfonso tells us how being Peruvian, most people are surprised to learn he never had a taco until he was 14 years old. He has a love for Peruvian cooking that starts with his Mom. When had the idea for Funchos it was all about combining his Peruvian roots into tacos, burritos and more.
He's a foodie like me so we explore the menu's unique items like Frito Bandito and even hot dogs! That's right, a tacqueria serving up Alfonso's concept of a hot dog.
During this difficult time Alfonso is grateful to be operating and he installed a takeout window he points out in the episode.
Support Funchos today by making a donation at https://bigfoodtalk.com or order some outstanding takeout at https://funchos.com.
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Watch the interview on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0vNCYKeetUxM6FDXfh9GRw/
Today's guest is Benny, the owner of Nina's Deli & Catering located in East Meadow, NY. Benny is as passionate about his food as he is about his customers. In 2008 he decided to open a sandwich shop after working in gourmet Italian markets most of his life.
From traditional New York breakfast to his loaded fries and burgers, you can tell Benny loves food! His family has roots that go back to the early 1900s with his great great grandfather who owned a push cart selling fruit that grew into a successful retail business.
Curious what makes the perfect Italian hero? Benny educates his customers and our listeners on the difference between an Italian American hero versus the real deal you're bound to find in places like Arthur Ave.
He's been humbled by all the support he's received and he's doing his part to give back to the community as well. Nina's Deli is now operating as a grocer offering fresh produce, sliced cold cuts and prepared meals. You can order from Nina's Deli by calling in your order or ordering online at http://ninasdeliandcatering.com/
Show your support for Long Island restaurants and food businesses like Nina's deli by making a donation at https://bigfoodtalk.com.
Today I'm speaking with Sal and Christina from ITA Kitchen located in Bay Shore, NY. In this dual interview, Sal shares his passion for food while we discuss their unique menu items like Rabe & Sausage Eggrolls. It's a funny and touching story how he came up with the idea.
His wife Christina handles the business side of the restaurant and talks to us about their early successes having not even been in business for 1 year. What's truly interesting is hearing how the restaurants in Bay Shore NY have formed a collective to support one another, even before the COVID pandemic hit Long Island.
They made the difficult decision to close in order to protect their staff and take time to pivot their menu during this. They are even giving our listeners a secret menu item. All we can say is if you like penne vodka and grilled cheese you will want to listen to this entire episode.
More noteworthy items from the menu include Andrew's chicken where you can hear Sal's true passion for cooking and creativity as he describes what goes into making this unique chicken dish paired with risotto.
Support ITA Kitchen by leaving a donation at https://bigfoodtalk.com.
Visit https://itakitchenbayshore.com/ to place and order and follow them on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/itakitchen_/ for delivery and takeout menu items when they reopen on April 22nd.
I'm excited for you to hear our first episodes inspirational story of a little doughnut shop located on the North Fork of Long Island in Mattituck, NY. Jim and Kelly are the owners of North Fork Doughnut Company.
It may have been there passion for sweets that got them into the doughnut biz to begin with but it's their business smarts and ability to collaborate with other local Long Island businesses that have led to their sweet success.
We discuss everything from their opening in June of 2018 and how having a line down the road made them quickly realize their original plan of not hiring employees wasn't sustainable.
Kelly is the baker and Jim has a background in beer. Their skill sets compliment one another which makes them a great husband and wife team that continues to innovate and collaborate.
Collaborations have been and continue to be a key to their success. Partnering with Sail Away, a local cold brew company pairs quite nicely for the coffee and doughnut crowd. They also get creative and partner with local breweries like DUBCO and North Fork Brewery to make some creative flavor combinations.
True NoFoDoCo fans keep an eye out for their flavor forecast that is updated regularly thanks to their seasoned staff of pastry chefs that Jimmy calls his very own Willy Wonka Factory in the back of their shop.
Keep in touch with NoFoDoCo on Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/nofodoco/ or visit their website https://www.nofodoco.com/.
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