Archive for the ‘New York Antics’ Category

In a couple of weeks, I’m making a big move and headed to a new apartment for the first time in three years.  Since the summer of 2009, I’ve called the Upper East Side of Manhattan home – and what a wonderful three years it has been. But as much as I’ve loved the wider sidewalks, quieter streets, and hop-skip-and-a-run to Central Park of my neighborhood, I’m looking forward to heading downtown for the next phase of my life.

In recent weeks, many a balmy evening or lazy saturday have been spent meandering around the streets of the Lower East Side (namely, Orchard Street), peeking into shops, grabbing a beer at the just-opened Landbrot, or noshing on cheap, delicious eats. If there’s one thing that LES has perfected, it’s the quick, no-frills, ten-dollar meal. From the Meatball Shop on one end of Rivington to Prosperity Dumpling on the other, you can have a satisfying, taste-bud-tingling meal for less than the standard $20 bill, which many New Yorkers have come to consider the new minimum tender. As I’ve become painfully sick of paying $9 for almonds at The Food Emporium, this neighborhood comes as a much-needed breath of fresh air.

And I already have my favorite spot. Ideally located within steps of our new pad, Taqueria Lower East Side  was first introduced to me by some friends who have reputations for being excellent Mexican food scouts. I stopped in Taqueria for a quick snack one afternoon – just a simple carnitas taco, setting me back just $2.50. What? Yes. And while my expectations were in line with the price tag, they were quickly flipped on their head – each of the five bites it took to down this  shredded pork taco were simply heavenly.

I’ve been back three times since then, and I haven’t even moved to the neighborhood yet. It’s just that good. I also can’t get enough of the cheesy West-Coast-Meets-80’s-Revival decor, or the fact that they play eclectic music while screening 80’s Tom Cruise movies on the flat screens over the bar.

Dinner at sunset on Saturday was spent noshing on Taqueria’s excellent guacamole, which I find to rival both Dos Caminos (my NYC restaurant standard), and my roommate’s guac (personal standard), especially since it is consumed with still-hot freshly made corn tortilla chips. And while at Market Price, usually around $7, it’s one of the pricier menu items, it’s also a hefty portion and sure to satisfy, with a spicy kick to boot.

Other menu favorites include the tacos, obviously. In order starting with the best, my favorite is the bistec (steak), followed by chorizo (hot sausage), carnitas (pork), and fish. But really, they’re all varying shades of excellent.

Steak Taco

Carnitas Taco

Fish Taco

I also love the Chicken flautas – shredded chicken encased in tightly wrapped, deep-fried corn tortillas, served on a bed of lettuce, green salsa, topped with cheese and drizzled with queso fresca. My better half, on the other hand, prefers the tostadas: a crispy flat corn tortilla topped with (in his case) shredded pork, lettuce, salsa, avocado, cheese and more queso fresca. The only down side is you have to eat it with a fork and knife.

To drink, the touted options include margaritas, house-made sangria, and Mexican beer. While the sangria is good, it’s not great, and a beer is just as authentic and refreshing, while a good bit cheaper. We were less inclined to fill up on drinks, as you quickly fill up on the food here, especially when guacamole is on the table.

Moral of the story? I’m already infatuated with Taqueria, and haven’t even moved on to the quesadillas, burritos, enchiladas, or sopas sections of the menu. Chances are high that this will be my new LES eatery of choice, and perhaps a nice change from my go-to pizza joint on the Upper East.

What are your favorite NYC cheap eateries? If you’re not living in NYC, what’s your favorite cheap eats spot in your city?


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Has it really been a week? Things have been busy around here… For the past week or so, I took a break from coming up with new and delicious recipes to prepare for something that, well, seemed like a good idea at the time! Let’s recap…

I’ve gotten pretty into running since finishing up culinary school earlier this year as a way to fill my newly freed-up weekday evenings (and balance out all the Pistachio-crusted beignets and Cheesy Stuffed Peppers I eat all weekend long). As such, thought it would be a good idea to motivate myself by signing up for an organized race event. After running a 4M in April, a 10K seemed the next logical step, and so I wound up spending most of last week try to run far, and fast, and freaking out that I would trip over my own feet or cramp up and fall over on race day.

Race day was Sunday. Thankfully none of those things happened. The race went relatively well, though I think that’s due in large part to the amazing group of runners that were running 10Ks, half-marathons, and marathons alongside me for the RxR Long Island Marathon. This completely inspirational group of people kept me motivated, excited, and having a blast throughout the entire six-point-two miles – especially the seventy-one year old man who beat me by over a minute! He ran ahead of me for most of the race and every time I looked up to see the back of his tee-shirt, which read, “I’m old and slow – get over it!” I couldn’t help but laugh. It was truly a great experience!

In addition to thousands of other runners and hilarious old men, these cheesy chicken enchiladas are also to thank for fueling Sunday’s success. My parents and I whipped these up, along with a refreshing, limey bowl of guacamole, homemade white flour tortilla chips (these beat out every other chip I’ve ever had!) and a light corn salad. It was a Cinco de Mayo meal to go down in history – so delicious, especially with a cerveza served along side – but then, I learned last summer how amazing these enchiladas are. You’ve gotta try them out!

So, as usual, it takes me a while to get to my point. My point is this – even though I’ve been running instead of recipe developing, I’ve still been doing a heck of a lot of cooking (and not just enchiladas)! Except this time, I’ve been relying on my Google Reader – my link to the food blogosphere – to find the best tasting recipes around. And two of them in particular were just two good NOT to share – so here they are!

First up is this incredibly luscious, slightly spicy, extremely exotic Thai Chicken Curry recipe from Saveur magazine. The recipe comes from the Las Vegas restaurant Lotus of Siam, which many consider to make the very best Thai food in the entire U.S. At home, I make Thai red curry dishes at least once a week (blame it on my coconut milk addiction) because they can be light in fat and calories while still packing huge flavor, and are easy to make with whatever veggies and protein you have on hand.

I was completely surprised, though, that this restaurant-caliber curry recipe was so easy to make! In fact, the simmering-broth method actually proved to be easier than how I have been making curries for weeks now. By simmering the coconut milk and curry paste together, the broth thickens and the flavors meld, giving you a rich, spoon-coating sauce for the chicken and vegetables. Full disclosure: I used Thai Kitchen’s red curry paste instead of Panang curry, as the recipe suggests (I couldn’t find it), and added in some red bell peppers, but the dish still came out beautifully. We served it along with a Spicy Thai Brown Rice Pilaf (recipe to come). Even if the idea of making Thai Curry seems overwhelming to you, I encourage you to give this recipe a shot. It’s straightforward and relatively foolproof – a great way to segue into Thai cooking!

The second fantastic recipe I wanted to share is this Lightened Up Vegan Sundried Tomato Basil Pesto from Angela over at Oh She Glows. Holy freaking yum! This popped up in my GReader yesterday morning, and even though I hadn’t even made it to lunch yet, I immediately started drooling and scribbled down the ingredients on a post-it to pick up after work. Adam and I were planning to have a date-night dinner and this seemed like the perfect dish (the boy loves his pesto)!

Well, this recipe did not disappoint. Not only did the pesto come together in a flash – five minutes! – but the flavors and consistency were dead on. This has all the basil, garlicky goodness of a traditional pesto, but with an excellent added tang and sweetness from the sundried tomatoes. The walnuts are a creative and well-matched spin on pesto’s traditional pine nuts, and with a few sprinkles of nutritional yeast, you definitely won’t miss the parmesan cheese. It also goes quite well with a glass (or two) of Pinot Grigio, I might add.

Pesto is actually one sauce I usually steer clear of since it can often be loaded with extra fat and calories from cheese, nuts and oil – but this pesto was light and super packed with flavor, meaning a little goes a long way! Angela’s recipe made about 3/4 of a cup (as stated on her blog), and I found this to be about six servings – two tablespoons was more than enough per serving of pasta. We tossed the pesto-pasta with some roasted asparagus, sauteed mushrooms and spinach, and pan-roasted chicken breast – what a delicious dinner. Thanks Angela for the awesome recipe!

One more thing I wanted to mention. For those in the NYC area, there’s a great food festival coming up weekend after next (May 19th – 20th) called The Great Googamooga (crazy name, I know)! This food / music / art festival is going to be held in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, and will feature over 70 food vendors, beer, wine, and music, as well as prominent chefs, artists, and food personalities who will be doing demos, giving talks, and meeting fans. I believe Googamooga is still giving out the occasional free tickets and tickets are also available to buy. I’ll be attending and blogging about Googamooga – hope to see you all there!

Well, that’s all for now! Stay tuned for some more great recipes coming up this weekend…

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This weekend, I was invited back to Old Westbury Gardens on Long Island for their annual Taste of Spring event. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you might remember that  I attended (and blogged about) the Taste of Spring for the first time last year.

This time around, I brought my whole family along with me since it was my mom’s birthday weekend, and we all had an amazing time at the Gardens. We got extremely lucky in that the sun was shining and the weather was pretty mild compared to how cold it’s been, which really allowed us to appreciate to the gardens’ breathtaking views and ambiance.

From six to nine, we visited various tents that were set up behind the Garden’s main house (read: mansion), which were filled with treats from the event’s caterers and purveyors. We wandered around the stunning main mansion, sampled endless bites, sipped local wine and beer, and mingled with friends. All in all, it was a wonderful night.

This year, the highlight for me was the spread put out by Sterling Affair, which has had possibly the best “tastes” for two years in a row now. Both the mushroom risotto and trout salad in purple potato cups were out of this world, and their display was elegant and modern!

Across the patio, there were not one but two tables with taco tastes. First was this amazing pulled pork tacos – so simple, but savory, saucy and satisfying with just the right amount of heat. But my favorite were the ahi tuna and mango salsa mini tacos with micro greens from K Pacho! No party like a taco party 🙂

Another favorite back from last year was the thick, juicy, unbelievably tender beef filet served up by Bryant and Cooper steakhouse, which was served with a thick, dreamy mushroom and shallot sauce. It was meltingly tender.

Totally in character for me, I had two top desserts picks. First was a poached pear with Gorgonzola whipped cream and a white wine reduction. This brought me right back to our culinary school poached pears, that I topped just about every pie and pastry with since I couldn’t get enough. The tart bite of the Gorgonzola cream complemented the super sweet pear really well.

The other was the pistachio-crusted beignets. Oh. My. God. These were unreal. I must have ate about twenty of them, as I kept going back to grab more (and when the Sterling booth quickly ran out, I felt kind of guilty). A dense, cakey doughnut filled with a raspberry jam, and rolled in crushed pistachios and a slight bit of sugar – absolutely addicting! I’m already brainstorming all the confections I need to try this crumbed pistachio topping on. I’m thinking pancakes might be first…

Sixpoint and Blind Bat Breweries were also there, doing really enjoyable and informative beer tastings. Though there was delicious wine flowing as well, this year we really couldn’t get enough of the beer! The Golden Ale, also known as Hell Gate, from Blind Bat was my favorite – a slightly maltier version of a traditional Pilsner – crisp and refreshing!

Finally, my friend Ashley who is a reporter for Long Island cable provider Optimum was at the Taste of Spring, covering the event, and interviewed me about the event since this was my second year attending. I’ll be sure to post a link to the video on the blog as soon as that hits the web.

Hope everyone had a great weekend! What do you do to celebrate the start of spring? 

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted a full-fledged restaurant review on the blog, namely because cooking and developing recipe is where my head’s been at. But last night I had a meal so insanely great that I literally could not go without mentioning it. In fact, I’ve already bragged about this meal to half the people I know, so it seems pretty appropriate that I document it here.

In a spur of the moment decision, my mom and I decided to grab dinner in the city last night before I head off into the Caribbean for a whole week (yes, I know!!!) on Friday. After each having our own fairly decadent Easter weekend, we wanted to eat out, but on the lighter, healthier side. After a bit of Yelping and Googling, I stumbled upon Candle 79 on the Upper East Side. The neighborhood was right, and I found myself flat-out excited about everything on the menu, something that rarely happens. But with interesting dishes like Avocado-Coconut Tartar, Morel and Ramp Ravioli, and Tofu Vegetable Napoleon, I couldn’t wait to sample a few of the dishes at Candle 79.

Candle 79 is a cozy, two-story restaurant on East 79th street, distinguishable on a mostly apartment-lined street by its deep red facade. Inside the restaurant, the ambiance was very relaxed and calm – almost zen – in the dimly lit main dining room where large framed photographs of fresh produce dotted the walls. A soft-spoken hostess led us to the back of the restaurant, where a frosted  glass wall encasing the kitchen sat at the foot of a winding staircase. Up the stairs we went into a second dining room, right to a table at the front of the room next to a row of windows. Dinner over natural sunlight? Finally, a perk to going out to eat at 6 pm.

Another soft-spoken waitress approached, filled our drinking glasses with filtered water, and delivered our menus. We quickly decided on sharing a few dishes and ordered. Another server brought over an amuse-bouche, which was a crispy, garlicky crostini smeared with a creamy spinach puree. Though I couldn’t identify the other ingredients, I noted that it must be dairy-free given the jurisdiction of the restaurant, and was impressed at the ability to achieve such a rich creamy texture without cheese or cream. But Candle 79’s ability to impress me would only continue.

Our first course was a heap of creamy smokey hummus, drizzled with red pepper oil and served alongside an assortment of fresh olives, a full bulb of roasted garlic, thick slices of carrot and cucumber, and a flaky, melt-in-your-mouth grilled Paratha bread that reminded me of Na’an more than anything else. The dish was an awesome assortment of finger foods and dippable items, all light, fresh, and just enough to inspire a greater appetite. My mom particularly loved this dish and plans to recreate it as an hor d’oeuvre for some upcoming spring parties!

Next up we had the Arugula salad, a fresh bed of greens laden with perfectly grilled spring asparagus, artichoke hearts, baby chickpeas, caramelized shallots, and avocado. The salad was tossed in a highly addictive Ramp Vinaigrette, and as one who loves ramps, and even more so, incorporating seasonal produce into dishes, I loved this touch. The salad was absolutely perfect and I would eat this every day if I could. Note to self: make ramp vinaigrette!

Our third and final course was the Morrocan Spiced Chickpea Cake, and man, did this dish blow us out of the water. The burger itself was a thick, soft patty made of chickpeas and what tasted like sweet potato, with a nice crispy crunch to the outside. It was topped with a thick smear of fig-apricot-ginger jam, and rested on a bed of perfectly poached cauliflower and broccoli florets. All these stacked components rested on in a bath of insane green coconut curry sauce, and the plate was sprinkled with slivered almonds. We almost couldn’t decide if this was more of an entrée or a dessert, so pronounced was the natural sweetness of many of the ingredients. It was all we could do to stop ourselves from licking the plate!

In the end, over matching pots of Vanilla-Cinnamon Rooibus Tea for “dessert,” we both decided that we would gladly go vegan if someone would cook us food like this every day. At Candle 79, not only do you not miss the meat (or dairy), but the flavors are so intoxicating and the food so well prepared, that you feel like you’re being given a treat, instead of being deprived. Best of all, you leave feeling energized and healthy, rather than stomach-achy and weighed down. Even if you’re not vegan or vegetarian (god knows I’m not!), I highly suggest checking out this restaurant – you might be surprised how great you feel after a delicious meal of organic, farm-to-table vegetarian goodness!

Candle 79 is located at 154 East 79th Street at Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10021.

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Despite the fact that I love to cook, love to eat, and am a quote-“foodie,” over the past year I’ve eaten out a surprisingly dismal amount. Between work, school, externship hunting, and cooking at home often for both practice and the blog, eating out fell by the wayside. So along with a slew of other resolutions, when 2012 rolled around, I vowed this would be the year I got back on the New York City restaurant scene. Adam and I instilled a weekly Thursday night date with plans to try new restaurants more often, and at the very top of our list was “Sauce.”

Sauce opened late last year on the Lower East Side, just a few blocks from Adam’s apartment, which meant we both walked past it multiple times a week. At first we were intrigued by the restaurant’s sign, which instead of being emblazoned with just the name, was covered in endless white words upon a black backdrop: “ricotta” “grass-fed” “meatballs” “butcher” “for sale.” We heard that the neightborhood newcomer was owned by the same guy who runs “Lil’ Frankies,” which we love, and “Supper” in the East Village, and our interest grew. But it took us until weeks after the restaurant actually opened to spot the small, glowing orange script on the front door that read, simply, “Sauce.” Oh. Right!

So we planned a date, and one Thursday night, had a thoroughly enjoyable evening at Sauce on Rivington Street. Despite being closely jammed next to other couples in a row of two-tops, we were able to focus on each other, and the food, which proved to be the restaurant’s main draw. Sauce has mainly small plates, sort of an Italian spin on “tapas,” so we started with their signature meatballs, which were reminiscent of my grandmother’s and melted in your mouth. We moved on to the raw escarole, apple, and ricotta salata salad, speckled with castlevetrano olives and pine nuts, and despite our trepidation over the raw escarole, devoured ever bite of the well balanced dish.

A small bowl of handmade butternut squash tortelloni in a rich brown butter sage sauce (my favorite) along side a plate of rustic, braised grass-fed pork and beef with a caramelized pear polenta, and I knew there was no going back. We had found a true neighborhood gem; one that was well-priced, casual yet trendy, and struck a balance of excitement with its open kitchen, but comfort with its rich dishes. After four plates and much bread, we were full but not bursting, so we opted to order one more dish.

The stuffed pepper.

I’d jealously observed some other diners enjoying this small, gratined creation, and had no hesitation in ordering it. When it arrived at our table, the breadcrumbs crispy and browned, the cheesy oozing as our forks cut into it, the excitement built. And from the first bite to the last, it did not disappoint.

I’ve had plenty of stuffed peppers before – from homemade Italian, to the more Eastern European chopped-meat-and-rice variety, to even those obnoxious Stouffer’s frozen ones (thanks, college). But never had I had one loaded with chewy, dense farro and sweet, fennel-laced sausage. So rich! So creamy! Such complex flavors! I knew as we walked out of Sauce that night I would have to recreate this at home.

And so, I did. My rendition, I’ll admit, is perhaps slightly cheesier than Sauce’s – I  opted for more mozzarella than breadcrumbs on top, to give it more of a cheesy pizza-type topping. But the filling is that same sweet, tomato-based farro and sausage medley that makes Sauce’s stuffed pepper so unique. As I made these Friday night, I literally was jumping up and down with excitement (and trust me, I got teased for that), because I so rarely cook this richly for no reason, and because I could tell it would be oh, so worth it.

And it was. You’ve gotta try this. That is all.

Farro & Sausage Stuffed Peppers – makes 6 portions

Inspired by Sauce Restaurant 


  • 1 cup of uncooked farro or spelt berries
  • 2.5 cups of chicken broth
  • 3 green peppers, cut in half from stem to base, with seeds and gills removed
  • 8 ounces of ground sweet Italian pork sausage
  • 1/2 a medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 8 ounces of plain canned tomato sauce
  • 6 ounces of water
  • 1 teaspoons  chili powder
  • 1 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 tablespoons of Italian breadcrumbs


1. To start, cook farro by combining the 1 cup of uncooked farro with chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 50 minutes or until farro is tender, but retains its chew.

2.  Remove seeds and membranes from peppers and rinse well. Fill a large pot about with an inch or so of water and top with a steamer. Bring water to a simmer, add peppers and cover. Steam for about 10 minutes or until tender-crisp. Alternatively, you can boil water and cook peppers in boiling water for 10 minutes.

3. Place the olive oil, sausage and onions in a large skillet. Cook over medium high heat until the onions are tender and the sausage is brown. Reduce heat to medium and stir in the tomato sauce, water, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, and basil; bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 10 minutes

4. Meanwhile, preheat your oven on the Broil setting.

5. Once the sausage mixture has simmered for 10 minutes or reduced to a sauce consistency, add the cooked farro, half of the shredded mozzarella cheese, and half of the parmesan. Stir well until the cheese has melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon sausage-farro mixture into the steamed peppers.

6. Top each pepper with a bit of the remaining shredded mozzarella, Parmesan, and breadcrumbs. Place in the oven and broil until the top of each pepper is bubbling and golden, about 5 to 7 minutes. Serve immediately.

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This weekend will be the tenth and final weekend of my culinary school externship. If you had asked me six months ago if I planned to spend my winter in the hot kitchen of a Michelin-starred restaurant, I would have laughed and told you that it just wasn’t my plan. But as life constantly teaches us, plans change, and sometimes the things you experience when you’re where you least expected to be can teach you things that you needed to know. Even if you didn’t know it.

I’ve been pretty quiet about my externship on the blog the past several weeks. I won’t lie; a big part of that is the non-disclosure agreement I signed, which means I can’t mention where I worked by name. But I also have enjoyed having this experience without constant, active, written reflection. My tasks, my abilities, my thoughts and reactions toward what I’ve done and learned over the past ten weeks have been constantly changing, and now, with this experience coming to a close, my take-away from it is much more lucid than it would have been after, say, week 4.
With that, here are the top ten things I learned in the ten weeks I’ve spent as a culinary extern.
10. The sharper your knives, the less you cry. This isn’t just a great book, and it isn’t just true of chopping onions (though that’s one of the clearest benefits of sharp knives). It may seem tedious, but regularly sharpening your knives will save your butt every single day in the kitchen. I may have learned this the hard way; let’s just say that generally, dull knives = frustrating, forced work = sloppy results. Sloppy results make you look sloppy. So really, if your knives are sharp, you look sharp. It’s as simple as that.
9. Be early. This is true of most jobs, but especially true in the restaurant world. If you show up on time, you’re actually late. Being fifteen minutes early, even if it means taking a cab instead of the F train, can set the tone for your whole day. And when you’re working a 14 hour shift, that’s a long time to have a bad tone. Being early gives you the time to have foresight, and this value is totally within your control, so use it to your advantage.
8. Everyone in the kitchen has their own way of doing things. And when you’re an intern, they’re all your boss. So get used to being flexible. Just because things are one way today, doesn’t mean they’re going to be the same way tomorrow. Though this may be confusing at first, it’s not only okay, it’s actually great. This environment will make you more adaptable and resilient, and it’s most likely the source of many great ideas that come out of the restaurant you’re working at. Embrace this ever-changing environment, and you’ll be a lot better off for it.
7. Proving the people who don’t trust you wrong is the greatest reward. Here’s something I never experienced in the (count ’em) five business internships I’ve had in my life. Some people flat-out just don’t trust interns. They expect you to mess up in irreconcilable ways, often, and even your smallest misstep seems to prove them right. During my culinary internship, I realized how the pressure this puts on interns is actually a crucial presence in the kitchen. It gets interns to the next level, it forces you to be better, to prove any nay-sayers wrong. And if you can change their minds about you, about interns, it’s the best feeling in the world.
6. Advil is a miracle worker. Nuff said.
5. Eggs are your new best friend. There’s one thing, and one thing only, that is going to keep you full and energized for the extremely active 7 hours between breakfast and family meal, and that is eggs. I’ve never loved eggs more than I have in the past few weeks, and honestly I’ve astounded myself with my ability to consume huge quantities of them. But a four-egg omelet with some whole grain toast and an orange consumed at 10 will keep the hunger rumbles at bay until at least 4 pm, at which point, you’re in the clear. When in doubt, a pocket full of dried fruit and nuts will also be a lifesaver.
4. Stay hydrated. This one might seem super obvious (it was to me), but I was shocked to see how many cooks around the kitchen didn’t keep a bottle of water on hand through out the day, some waiting all the way til right before service (six hours into their shift!) to hydrate. The average restaurant kitchen clocks in at around 75 degrees during prep (higher during service), and on top of your flannel pants, heavy chef’s coat, hat and all the manual labor you’re doing, dehydration happens quicker than you think. When in doubt, take a water break. It really does matter.
3. Your “limit” is about 50% past than you think it is. Before starting this externship, I frankly had no clue how I was going to handle working 22 hours in two days – on top of a 40 hour work week, no less. This schedule seemed impossibly daunting (especially for a girl who likes a Saturday afternoon nap), but I kept telling myself, as Nike says, “Just do it.” And where I thought ten hours, maybe twelve, of work was all I could handle, I found I was able to make it happen for 16 hours on Friday and 14 on Saturday. And now, I’m fairly certain we’re all capable of more than we think we are. Mind over matter – push yourself, and you might be surprised what you find!
2. Never make the same mistake twice. A friend gave me this advice early on in my internship experience, and while it made sense then, it’s only now at the end of this journey that I realize how important this message was. We all make mistakes; that’s an inevitable part of life. But learning from them – and learning how to avoid making them in the future – that shows growth. I’ll never forget a moment early on in my internship; the kitchen was swamped, and I was working on tickets for two big VIPs. Though the chef had told me in advance, I completely mixed up which VIP’s wife was allergic to nuts – and sent an hor d’eurve with nuts to her table. It never got out the door, but I was completely embarrassed at letting something so serious slip by. And from that point on, no matter how busy I was, every ticket I worked was triple checked. And it didn’t happen again.
1. Have a plan, or become part of somebody else’s. Another piece of important and true advice from a friend that has stayed with me as I’ve contemplated my next steps post-externing. In the culinary world, like many other industries, most people have a plan, an agenda, an ultimate goal they’re working for. This is especially true in New York City, perhaps the most opportunistic place on Earth. If you’ve become part of someone’s journey toward their ultimate goal, and they see that you can offer some value in reaching it, you better believe they’re going to try and make you a part of that plan!
And hey, if your plan matches their plan, more power to you. Sometimes the stars align like that (I think they call it synergy). But regardless of everyone else’s plans and how convincing they might sound, have your own plan. Stick with it. Find a goal that’s important to you, and work towards it. If you’re lucky, the people in your life who have the power to help will see your value and want to help you out. It can be easy to get wrapped up in things bigger than yourself, but if you only get one life, you deserve to make it your own in the way that makes you happiest.
That, at the very least, is my plan.

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Recently, Sundays have become a whole new kind of day-of-rest in my life. An non-denominational sabbath, if you will. The fact is, when your weekends are condensed to just one day, you really have to make that day count. Here’s how it went down.

If you’re wondering about the food coma…

It happened.


(Slightly dangerous when the Long Island Rail Road is involved)…

But totally worth it.

Food, family, and most importantly, schlag. A very successful week-end-day.

In other news, I’m desperate to recreate the most fabulous, soul-warming (and completely vegetarian) Lentil Soup that one of the cooks at the restaurant whipped up for Family Meal on Saturday. Who would have guessed that lentil soup (with crumbled cornbread on top, sigh) could be so life-changing? I frantically scrawled some recipe notes and ingredients on the back of my time sheet during service, so I’ll hopefully nail that one down in the next week or two and share it all with you as soon as possible. Til then, happy eating!

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