Most restaurateurs are beginning to understand the power of social media and online marketing.
Running a print ad or spending money on television ads is expensive. Smart operators realize the importance of connecting with consumers and influencers, and how positive online engagement can affect their brand, business, foot traffic and reputation. Social media can be an effective communication tool to inform customers of daily specials, promotions, events, menus and more. But in a crowded online marketplace, how can you break through the clutter?
The three New York restaurant owners/marketers below give us real-world examples of what’s working for them, what tools they’re using, and successful campaign ideas they’ve implemented to increase online visibility and engagement.
Want to build customer loyalty and brand buzz? Here’s some inspiration.
On Monday, June 1st, Foodstand partnered with Slow Money NYC to host a special event called the Foodstand Spotlight Series, featuring five budding ‘good food’ entrepreneurs. Each took to the stage to share their business ideas and work, where in return they got advice from a panel of experts including investors, marketers and innovators.
The audience also provided the entrepreneurs with live feedback — advice and creative ideas to help them grow their businesses — via text polling. This will be an ongoing monthly event that will feature five of the newest and brightest in the food industry and help them shine.
The event was very inspiring and highly recommended for anyone in the food industry looking to expand their food companies, business networks, share new ideas and support ‘good food.’
Read my full story and meet the Food Stars on Foodable TV Network:
So it’s that time of year again…Memorial Day weekend has arrived and the beginning of Summer is not too far away!
It’s time to soak up the sun, hit the beach, break out the grill and have a cookout and a cocktail on the patio or the beach with friends and family..my favorite time of year!
I was lucky enough to be a part of a Captain Morgan Rum promotion this year to sample one of their new flavors and design a cocktail recipe featuring their delicious new Coconut Rum. It’s a little bit sweet, creamy and has hints of citrus and tropical fruit with a hint of molasses flavor.
I wanted to make a cocktail that was refreshing and flavorful but not too sweet and came up with this fun CherryCoconut Key Lime Fizz cocktail. It’s made with the Captain Morgan coconut rum, tart cherry juice, key lime seltzer and a splash of fresh Cara Cara orange juice, key lime juice and a few slices of orange and lime for garnish.
Kinda like lying on the beach soaking up the sun in the Caribbean – just my style.
So this is where I’m supposed to go on and on about how delicious this grilled cheese sandwich is. And what’s in it. And why it’s a rockstar recipe that nobody else has. And why you need to make it now.
But guess what? I just did a food photo shoot for a NYC catering company and bakery for the past 2 days and shot at least 1000 photos that need to be culled through and selected to share with my clients and it’s enough to make your head spin faster than Linda Blair in The Exorcist. AND the fact that the Mad Men finale is coming on in less than 2 hours and I have some catching up to do and some last savoring moments of Don Draper to hold on to while I can.
OK – so now that I got that off my chest, here’s a little ditty of a recipe that I whipped up on Friday afternoon for a grilled cheese contest I entered for Wisconsin Cheese. It’s actually quite lovely and spring-y and full of good things. Homemade Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote, strawberries, granny smith apples, grilled chicken paillards, kale with lemon and parmesan, honey dijon mustard, melted sharp white cheddar and gooey mozzarella cheese – all grilled on a whole wheat pita (actually 2 of them).
It’s called California Dreamin’ Grilled Cheese because all the good things inside remind me of a sunny, breezy day on Pacific Beach in San Diego watching the sunset with a margarita in my hand with my toes in the sand, salty sea mist on my face, while basking in the glow and enjoying everything in life there is to offer. So here you go. Whether I win the contest or not – it’s absolutely fabulous, and will make you want to hop on a plane to the west coast and catch a few rays yourself.
Now back to my Sauvignon Blanc and Don Draper fix. Enjoy and Happy Sunday!
1 chicken breast, cut in half lengthwise and pounded thin
1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup green apple, sliced
1 cup kale, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp Wisconsin Parmesan, shredded
Fresh cracked black pepper
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey
4 slices Wisconsin Sharp Cheddar, sliced
4 slices Wisconsin Mozzarella
4 tablespoons Strawberry-Rhubarb compote
1 cup strawberries, sliced or chopped
1 stalk rhubarb, sliced into small chunks
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
Stir strawberries, 1/8 cup sugar, and 1/2 tbsp lemon juice and 1/2 tbsp of water in a small nonreactive pan; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add the rhubarb, 1/8 cup sugar, and 1/2 tbsp lemon juice and 1/2 tbsp of water back into same pan and simmer for about 6 minutes until rhubarb is tender and soft. Transfer rhubarb to same bowl as strawberries and add all liquid to the pan through a strainer.
Raise heat to medium high and simmer until liquid thickens and reduces to almost half.
Return strawberries and rhubarb to liquid and let cool.
Preheat olive oil in a grill pan or sauté pan to medium/high heat.
Mix honey and mustard together in a small bowl and set aside.
Rub chicken with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill chicken pieces for about 6-8 minutes until cooked through, remove from pan.
Spread both pitas on one side with butter.
Spread each pita on reverse side with honey Dijon mustard on a cutting board or piece of plastic wrap.
Top with sliced mozzarella cheese slices.
In a small bowl, toss kale, lemon juice, salt and pepper and place on top of each pita over Mozzarella.
Top one pita with both pieces of grilled chicken.
Drizzle Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote over the chicken.
Layer on the sliced strawberries, apples and top with cheddar cheese slices.
Top the sandwich with other piece of pita bread (butter side up) and place in preheated grill pan.
Smash the sandwich together with a heavy spatula or panini press and grill on both sides until cheese is melted and pita is crispy.
Cut in half and serve with additional Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote and Honey Dijon for dipping.
Makes one sandwich.
Note: you can make the Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the fridge. You can also double the recipe to make more for other uses (great over vanilla ice cream, pancakes, whipped cream or greek yogurt and granola!!)
Classic Greek Moussaka is one of the most popular Greek dishes, and a staple “comfort food” and main course meal in Greece (as Lasagna is in Italy). This tasty Greek dish is a culinary delight to those who sample it for the first time, and I experienced it when I went on a trip to the Greek Islands a few years ago for my birthday.
Some friends and I were in Santorini, a beautiful island in Greece in the Aegean Sea with pastel colors and gorgeous views, eating at a restaurant in Oia called Pelekanos, nestled up in the hills overlooking the sea.
The sun was setting, the relaxing music was playing softly in the background and the atmosphere was just perfect. The waiters graciously came over and attended to our every need, and made our dinner a spectacular night with their attention to detail not only in the food and wine, but our dining experience overall.
The table was elegantly set, with fine china, white tablecloths, crystal glasses and silverware with beautiful flowers as a centerpiece. The waiters filled our glasses with water and wine, lit the candles on the table and gave us recommendations of the specials and enlightened us on some of their popular Greek dishes on the menu.
As we joyously dined, they quickly cleared our plates when we were finished eating, filled our glasses when they were half full, and stood by the table a few feet away with a watchful, attentive eye, to let us know they were on stand by for service, but just far enough away to not be obtrusive on our dining experience.
They always had a smile on their faces and let us stay at the table long enough to enjoy our dinner, engage in great conversation, take photos of our food and engage in the gorgeous bright red sunset that was going down over the ocean as we sat and viewed it in awe. I felt like I was sitting in a little piece of heaven up there and never wanted to leave.
One of the most delicious dishes I ever tasted was the Moussaka, which I ordered that night. It was a perfect mixture of spicy meat at the bottom, layered with potatoes and tender eggplant, and tons of béchamel and gooey cheese on top. The vegetables were steaming as I dug into this gorgeous meat and vegetable pie – my mouth watered at the sight and smell of it. I became so obsessed with this luscious Greek dish that I decided I needed to make it for my big Greek birthday party when I got home from vacation.
Moussaka can be made in many variations, but the classic recipe uses layers of eggplant, potatoes, a spicy meat and tomato sauce with a touch of cinnamon and a rich and delicious béchamel sauce and bubbly kefalotyri cheese on top. Other variations are Moussaka with zucchini or artichokes instead of eggplant, ground lamb instead of ground beef, or vegetarian-style with zucchini, eggplant and potatoes without the meat. Either way you make it, with its warm and rich flavors and gooey cheese you’ll be hooked.
I made this recipe with zucchini and potatoes, and combined ground lamb with ground beef together. The combination of all the spices from the meat and seasonings soak into the vegetables and once you layer some creamy béchamel and gooey cheese on top, you’ve got yourself a delicious heartwarming dish. Be careful to pat dry the vegetables though before layering in the baking dish, as you don’t want the liquids to make the Moussaka too watery as they are cooked down in the oven.
You’ll need a lot of time and kitchen space to make this dish, and if you’re cooking for a crowd, you’ll be safe to double the recipe and make two large rectangular baking dishes of it, as it won’t last long. The flavors in this dish really improve if you make it a day ahead. It’s also a very filling dish, so you may want to serve it as the main course, and accompany it with a Greek Salad, some Stuffed Grape Leaves and Tzaziki for a light side dish along with some Garlic Lemon Hummus and grilled pita. Serve with a red Greek wine and a shot of Ouzo as an aperitif.
Cut the zucchini/eggplant and potatoes into slices about 1/2 inch thick. If using eggplant instead of zucchini, peel the eggplant first. Brown the vegetables quickly in 1/4 cup of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until lightly golden brown, transfer to paper towels to drain and set aside.
Heat the remaining ¼ cup of oil in the same skillet and cook the onions until they are?golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the ground meat, tomato paste, cinnamon, cayenne, and cook for another 8-10 minutes. Pour off excess fat through a strainer and return meat mixture to the pan. Then add the wine, cooking until almost completely evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomato puree to the meat mixture and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer over low heat;?stirring frequently, until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 30 minutes. Stir in the parsley and oregano and season with salt and pepper. Remove the?mixture from heat.
Make the Bechamel Sauce:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and heat a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Make the white sauce by melting the butter?and blending in the flour, stirring with a wire whisk until smooth. Meanwhile, bring the milk to a boil and add it gradually to the butter-flour mixture,? stirring constantly. When the mixture is thickened and smooth, remove ?it from the heat. Cook slightly and stir in the beaten eggs, nutmeg, lemon zest and ricotta.
Assemble the casserole:
Grease an 11x16-inch baking dish or casserole dish and sprinkle the bottom lightly with?breadcrumbs.
Arrange alternate layers of the zucchini/eggplant and potatoes and meat sauce?in the pan, sprinkling each layer with Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.
Pour the bechamel sauce over the top and sprinkle some additional Parmesan cheese on top. Bake 1 hour, or until top is golden.
Remove from the oven and cool 20 to 30 minutes before serving.
Top with additional chopped fresh parsley. Cut into squares and serve.
Want to meet purveyors who are making a difference with their customers? Check out BonAppetit.com’s “Out of the Kitchen”, an ongoing exploration of the relationships that build and sustain the food industry. See how hyper-local food markets operate and how their focus on quality and service keep customers coming back for more.
I’ve been on a spicy food kick lately. Maybe it’s the pseudo-Spring weather. Or maybe I’m just addicted. I decided to make a fun twist on pizza and make a seriously delicious Taco Pizza. Yes, TACOS. And PIZZA. All baked into a bubbling pile of goodness. This Taco Pizza is the easiest thing to make, and the best tasting thing on the planet. Like a fiesta in your mouth.
I had a bunch of Pillsbury Crescent Dough in the fridge, as well as a ton of fresh ingredients I wanted to use up. Yes, I could have made Nachos. Or Burritos. Or Enchiladas. Or even a Taco Salad. But why not make a Taco Pizza? It was Friday after all. And Fridays are made for FUN FOOD, arent’ they?
The crust is super buttery and flaky and a delicious canvas for this Taco Monster creation.
The pizza is topped with all the goodies you would make tacos with – salsa, ground beef, taco seasoning, black beans and onions,
with a layer of fresh veggies like black olives, tomatoes, jalapenos; and of course plenty of shredded cheddar cheese.
Just layer all the goods on the dough, pop it in a 375 degree oven and bake for about 13-16 minutes until the crust is golden and the cheese is melty-ooey-gooey.
Then, top it with some chopped cilantro, a few dabs of sour cream and some wavy corn chips for extra crunch.
Serious YUM. And perfect for a Friday afternoon. With a margarita or two, of course.
A seriously delicious Taco Pizza made with ground beef, tomatoes, jalapenos, olives, black beans and cheese, topped with sour cream, cilantro and crunchy corn chips baked on a crescent dough crust.
2 cans (8 ounce) Pillsbury crescent dough
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, chopped (or 1 tablespoon minced dried onion)
1 package taco seasoning
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed
1 cup chunky salsa
10-12 cherry or plum tomatoes, halved
1 jalapeno, sliced
1/2 cup black olives, sliced
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup wavy corn chips, for garnish
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped, for garnish
1/2 cup sour cream, for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Separate dough into 2 long rectangles and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Press perforations to seal into one large rectangle of dough. Repeat for second pizza.
In a large skillet, saute ground beef, onions and black beans until cooked through and meat is no longer pink. Drain grease, and add taco seasoning and 1/4 cup of water, mix together well and keep warm, covered.
Prep the veggies and pizza topping ingredients.
Layer the dough with the salsa, 1/2 cup for each pizza.
Top dough with the taco beef and bean mixture, olives, tomatoes, jalapenos and shredded cheese on both sheets.
Bake for 13-16 minutes until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden brown.
Garnish pizzas with corn chips, sour cream and fresh cilantro.
Cut each pizza into 6 squares and serve hot.
You can also substitute shredded chicken, ground chicken or turkey or pulled pork for the ground beef.
A regular pizza dough crust can also be used in place of the crescent dough.
I recently did a food styling project for Morningstar Farms to promote some of their new products to local food editors in NYC, and one of them I got to sample and loved was their Spicy Indian Veggie Burger. I’m not normally a fan of frozen food products and I’m definitely not a Vegan, but I was really impressed with the flavor and texture of these, and decided to make a delicious Curry Cilantro Slaw to go with it along with a Peanut Satay Yogurt Sauce for topping served with some Grilled Pita.
The Indian Veggie burgers have organic red lentils, chickpeas, carrots, potatoes, peas, bell peppers, coconut cream and curry seasonings in them, and are 100% vegan. They are super easy to cook too – I just cooked them for about 10 minutes in a sauté pan, but they could also be grilled or microwaved. The best part is they are only 130 calories and have lots of protein in them so they’re healthy and a great vegan/vegetarian option when you’re seeking lighter fare.
My Curry Cilantro Slaw is super delicious as a topping and side salad with grilled pita bread (or you could stuff it all into the pita, or Naan bread if you wish). The slaw has purple and white cabbage, carrots, celery, honey, olive oil, cilantro, golden balsamic vinegar, and some indian spices such as black sesame seed, cumin seed, curry powder, and indian red pepper to give it a little kick, then topped with toasted crushed peanuts for some extra crunch.
The best part? My Peanut Satay Yogurt Sauce – made with Greek yogurt, satay seasoning, and some peanut butter with a little dash of Indian red pepper. The creamy sauce goes perfect on the burgers and cools the heat and has a delicious peanut-y savory taste. You can find satay seasoning online at Penzey’s (the brand I use) or on Amazon – it has a gorgeous blend of spices such as salt, brown sugar, garlic, onion, coriander, shallots, ginger, turmeric, paprika, galangal, cayenne and lemongrass..so good! And of course you could substitute any nut butter you wish for the sauce – cashew, sunflower, or almond butter would be great too.
And of course if you are feeling adventurous and have the time to make your own Indian burgers from scratch, I found a great recipe from Whole Foods which would be great with the Curry Slaw and Satay Yogurt Sauce as well. You could also serve this with some curry chicken, spiced beef or lamb burgers, or even spicy grilled fish and it would be equally delicious!
Also, just a heads up – this recipe feeds a crowd (about 6-8 people). If you’re only serving a few, just cut the recipe in half (or quarter it if you’re dining solo!) Enjoy.
Indian Burgers with Curry Cilantro Slaw & Peanut Satay Yogurt Sauce
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serving Size: 1-2 burgers with 1 piece of pita, 1/2 cup of slaw,
Spicy Indian veggie burgers, served with a Curry Cilantro Slaw and Peanut Satay Yogurt sauce served on grilled pita bread.
Curry Cilantro Slaw:
2 tablespoons golden balsamic vinegar
Juice from 1/2 fresh lime (about 2 tablespoons)
4 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon Indian black sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon indian red pepper
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
8 cups shredded coleslaw (cabbage and carrots)
1 cup diced celery
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup peanuts, toasted and crushed
Peanut Satay Yogurt Sauce:
1-17.6 ounce container Greek yogurt
4-5 tablespoons Peanut Butter (or Almond, Cashew or Sunflower butter)
2 tablespoons Satay seasoning
1/4 teaspoon Indian red pepper
Spicy Indian Burgers:
8 frozen Spicy Indian Burgers (2 packages) (Morningstar farms)
8 slices pita bread or naan bread
Curry Cilantro Slaw:
In a large bowl, mix together the vinegar, lime juice, honey, olive oil and seasonings.
Add coleslaw mix, celery and cilantro and mix together well.
Heat a small saute pan over medium heat and toast the peanuts until lightly browned.
Remove from heat and let cool, crush into small pieces and add to the coleslaw, reserving a small amount for topping the burgers.
Cover and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to let flavors meld.
Peanut Satay Yogurt Sauce:
Place all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and stir together.
Cover and set aside in the refrigerator while preparing Indian burgers and grilled pita.
Spicy Indian Burgers:
Heat a large saute pan over medium heat.
Spray cooking oil on each side of the burgers and cook for about 10 minutes, turning half way through until golden brown.
Cook burgers in batches and set aside.
Spray a little more oil on the pita or naan bread and cook until lightly browned, for about 2-3 minutes, turning to cook both sides.
Serve the burgers hot with grilled pita bread topped with Peanut Satay sauce, and Curry Cilantro slaw on top or on the side as a salad (or stuff it all inside the pita or naan bread).
- You can also substitute any nut butter (cashew, almond, sunflower seed) for the Satay Yogurt sauce.
- The slaw and yogurt sauce would also be equally delicious on grilled spicy chicken, beef or lamb burgers or spicy grilled fish.
- If you're serving only 2-4 people, cut the recipe in half.
Tavern on Jane is a quaint restaurant and bar in the West Village on the corner of Eighth Ave and Jane Street, a fun, cozy space I visit often, and a gathering place where everybody does know your name. I recently did a photo shoot for the owner Michael Stewart of their new revamped space and some of their hot food items on their newly redesigned menu.
They have always had amazing food, but I have to say their new lineup is super tasty and you have to see the new burgers they have on the menu now!
They also have some fantastic new dishes like the Beer Battered Fish and Chips; Short Rib and Butternut Squash Risotto; Steamed Mussels; Beet, Arugula and Citrus Salad and so much more. Delicious, high-end comfort food and the portions are unreal.
They also have a new Executive Chef, Josh LaBadie, who has brought a variety of new flavors and inspiration to the restaurant from his seasoned experience at top NYC restaurants including Terroir, Central Park Boathouse, and Capitale Grille.
Check out the photos I shot of their newly redesigned space and delicious new items on the menu below. And definitely stop in for a burger and a beer, or for a nice intimate dinner with friends in their back room, fireplace and all. You’ll surely be welcomed by Mr. Stewart and his friendly staff, and most likely will be back for more. Again and again.
It gives me great pleasure to tell you that my Cooking with Color 4 Kids cooking TV show was selected as an honoree for this year’s BRIC B Free Awards, and was a finalist of three for the award. We didn’t win the overall category but we DID win “Outstanding Program Feature/Segment” for the “B Healthy” category which was quite the honor!
BRIC’s second annual B Free Awards took place Saturday, March 21, 2015 at BRIC Arts | Media House to celebrate the diversity and excellence in Brooklyn Free Speech television programming. David Hillman, my Producer and Co-Creator and I had a great time at the awards show and met other honorees and award winners on the red carpet at the after party. Congratulations to all and a big thanks to BRIC, our production crew and everyone that has helped make our TV show a reality and success. #DREAMBIG
WATCH THE SPRING 2015 EPISODE BELOW!
SPRING 2015 EPISODE
For my new Spring 2015 episode, I came up with some great recipes that celebrate the vibrant light and bright colors of Spring: greens and yellow, red and pink, blue, etc.
I made three colorful and healthy recipes including Ham, Cheese, Asparagus and Spinach Quiche with a Quinoa Crust, a Spring Mixed Berry Salad, and Black Bean Raspberry Brownies for dessert.
Spring Berry Salad
Black Bean Raspberry Brownies
On set with film crew
On set getting ready to shoot
Ham, Spinach & Asparagus Quiche w/ Quinoa Crust
We also included some fun video footage from the South Beach Wine and Food Festival in Miami this past February, and interviewed some kids and cooking instructors at one of the local HealthCorps after school cooking programs at a high school in Brooklyn.