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  1. Ellen Yin Celebrates 20 Years of Charming The City Of Brotherly Love

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    Fork  just celebrated their 20th anniversary, and founder, Ellen Yin, invited their most loyal customers and closest friends. The invitation was extended to approximately 6,000 people, clearly showing how many people Yin’s vibrant personality and fresh, local, innovative cuisine have touched. Ellen Yin has been acclaimed the best restaurateur in Philly by various publications, accumulated James Beard nominations, and created award winning restaurants, but she will still make you feel important no matter who you are–even if you are just two Penn students.

    In fact, Yin was actually a Penn student herself , graduating from Wharton in ’87 and then again as an MBA in ’93. After graduating, she dabbled in advertising, fundraising, and various corporate positions, but she couldn’t stay away from her passion for food. Ever since she was young, she was drawn to cuisine. She praises her mom’s Chinese cooking for its complex flavors and depth that had taught her what good food is.  Combining her business background with her passion, she decided to open Fork. Then High Street on Market (as well as High Street on Hudson in New York), and also a. kitchen & bar, which have all charmed this city becoming essential places for Philadelphia locals who have built memories in them.

    Monique Mason, owner of Fork’s neighbor Moko Organic Studio, has said that she admires Yin’s creativity and ability to be “ahead of the curve.” She praises Yin for being a pioneer in the farm-to-table movement, one that hadn’t quite reached Philadelphia when Fork first opened up. As another women business owner, she is proud to see all of Yin’s success in her ventures. As a long time customer, she says the decor and menu have changed, but the heart of the restaurant has not.

    Maddy Wille, a current Junior at the Culinary Institute of America in NYC, worked as an extern for Ellen for four months from 11am to 11pm. She loved seeing how fresh everything actually was as she watched the produce come in crates straight from the farmers every, single morning. When Fork claims to be farm-to-table, it’s not just a label they slapped on but a true statement they live by.

    Milton Karabell has been going to Fork and High Street for the past 15 years and has made it sort of tradition to go for Sunday brunch. What’s his favorite part about Fork? The pastrami! His friend Goldie follows his answer by explaining how she loves the incredible service and cleanliness of the restaurant. “I like the pastrami,” Goldie chuckles again after she was done venerating Fork and Ellen Yin. I guess the pastrami is a must-order for those who haven’t tried it yet!

    Mami Kato and Michael Hurwitz, a beautiful couple from the neighborhood, had met Ellen 21 years ago and was around when Fork first opened. They raved about Yin’s courage to constantly reinvent and reinvest, a key to Fork’s unwavering quality. They bump into Yin coming home from work at the restaurant or going out to do work for the community often.

    John Patterson, the Chef de Cuisine of Fork for the past three years, also said the same thing all of the customers have essentially said: Ellen Yin is an incredible woman. Patterson attended the Walnut Hill Restaurant School, right next to Penn’s campus in West Philly. His culinary genius manifest on Fork’s menu of new jersey golden tilefish served with potatoes, cauliflower, ham, and poblano peppers or homemade squid ink rigatoni with crab, lion’s mane mushroom, and a squeeze of lemon. When asked how he creates such exquisite dishes:

    “It’s all these guys,” Patterson replies pointing towards his kitchen staff.

    Although Patterson (known as JP) has worked at Kennett Square’s Talula’s Table and Conshohocken’s Blackfish before becoming sous chef under chef Michael Anthony at Gramercy Tavern during Anthony’s James Beard Award-winning year in 2012, he reamins extremely humble. He is truly one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. High-fiving all the customers and taking the time to talk to every person that comes up to him, Patterson embodies Fork and Ellen Yin’s true and wholesome energy.

    Walking around talking to the guests who were all rushing in to hug Yin and munching away on beautiful hors d’oeuvres, it is clear that Yin has not just created a restaurant, but a whole community.

    Congratulations on 20 years of wonderful service and delicious food, Ellen! Make sure to catch her at our Food Summit on November 18th!


    Q&A with Ellen Yin

    Tell us about one of your first memories of you cooking/eating/entrepreneuring.
    Ellen: It goes back to my childhood. I can vividly remember sitting at the kitchen table with my mom and grandmother rolling and wrapping dumplings. They had it down to a science, from the consistency to the cooking method, and I learned a lot just from watching and listening to them.

    What other passions or hobbies do you have? 

    Ellen: Art and music are passions but I often don’t have time to go to museums or concerts.   I do really enjoy public speaking and sharing my experiences, especially with those interested in the restaurant industry. In fact, I am going to be giving the keynote speech at Penn Appetit’s upcoming Food Summit on November 18.

    All the guests said you were very involved in the Philly community. What sorts of things do you do?
    Ellen: Yes, giving back and supporting the community is very important to me. In the restaurant, I always look for local artisans and purveyors to partner because I believe strongly in supporting local businesses. I also serve on the boards of the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, the Arden Theater Company and the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Hospital.

    Who has been your biggest influence in your career?
    Ellen: Wow, where do I start? My mother has been a huge influence, obviously. I have also always admired Danny Meyer, the forward-thinking restaurateur in New York. I have never met him, but I feel like our philosophies are similar. He comes across as gracious and encompassing and his restaurants reflect that.

    Where did you even start? And how did your education path lead up to it? Did you know you wanted to be a restaurateur? What sort of student were you at Penn?
    Ellen: I think I have always been drawn to hospitality because it’s dynamic and challenging. When I was 18, I entered Wharton to study economics and business, but restaurants kept calling me. I started working in a basement café in Houston Hall and I was hooked. That was right about the time I decided I wanted to open a restaurant after college.

    What is your advice for aspiring restaurateurs?
    Ellen: You can’t be complacent. Never stop learning and never stop changing. No matter how good you feel about what you are doing, you can always improve. And the most important thing is to listen to your guests and accommodate their needs.

    Tell us a fun fact about yourself that people would be surprised to hear.
    Ellen: I’m an avid bike rider. A lot of people are surprised to hear that. I often ride from my restaurants in Old City (Fork, High Street) to check on our Rittenhouse outposts (a.kitchen, a.bar). It’s fun and helps relieve stress!

    What’s your favorite thing to make? Can you share us the recipe?

    This appeared in Forklore: Recipes and Tales from an American Bistro which details the first 10 years of Fork, its inspirations, stories  and evolution.  This recipe is one that I personally love to eat.  Anytime I have a dinner party where I don’t know everyone this is perfect because it is familial and everyone has to make their own wraps.  It is also simple and doesn’t require a lot of preparation.  The charred grape leaves give lots of flavor.  If the fish is too big, you could also roast it in the oven and finish it on the grill.


    Grilled Red Snapper in Grape Leaves with Vietnamese Rice-Paper Wraps and Coconut-Lime Dipping Sauce

    Serves 4 as a dinner main course

    Coconut-Lime Dipping Sauce

    1/2 can coconut milk

    1 T fish sauce

    1/2  jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

    1 T culandro (see sidebar), chiffonade

    1/4 cup lime juice

    1 T rice-wine vinegar

     

    Combine all ingredients and set aside until ready to serve. Place into individual ramekins or dipping bowls (one for each diner).

     

    Grilled Red Snapper in Grape Leaves

    1 bunch fresh cilantro

    1 bunch fresh mint

    1 bunch fresh Thai basil

    1 large carrot, peeled and julienned

    1 cucumber, deseeded and julienned

    1 package Vietnamese rice vermicelli, cooked according to instructions

    red oak lettuce leaves

    bibb lettuce leaves

    one 7-pound whole red snapper, cleaned and scaled

    1 jar grape leaves in brine, rinsed in water

    1 lemon, sliced into thin rounds

    4 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme

     

    In a large serving bowl, assemble herbs, carrots, cucumber, lettuce and rice noodles. Allow space for grilled fish.

    Preheat grill. Stuff stomach cavity of fish with lemon slices and thyme and season fish with salt and pepper. Wrap body of fish in grape leaves until surface of fish is completely covered. Brush hot grill grates generously with oil. Carefully place fish onto grill. Grill 8 minutes on one side and carefully turn. Grill an additional 8 minutes, or more if necessary. Place grilled fish in serving bowl with herbs and noodles. Serve family style.

     

    Rice-Paper Wraps

    1 package dried Vietnamese rice papers (galettes de riz)

    1 bowl very hot water

     

    To make a roll, dip a rice paper into a bowl of hot water. Quickly turn the paper so that entire surface comes in contact with water. It will start to soften quickly. Be careful not to leave it in the hot water for too long or it will tear. Place softened rice paper on a plate and arrange several small pieces of fish, herbs, vegetables, noodles and lettuce at one end of the roll. Roll it away from you once. Fold sides over and roll to the end of the paper. Serve with Coconut-Lime Dipping Sauce. After making the first one, you’ll realize how easy this is.


    Written by Jennifer Higa

    Photos by Justine de Jesus

  2. Falling In Love With Sweetgreen This Season

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    You step outside and you can feel the cool breeze as you stare at the reds, oranges, and yellows fall gently before your eyes into a golden carpet; yes, fall is here in Philadelphia and that means amazing produce like pumpkin, sweet potato, cauliflower, cranberries, and apples. Sweetgreen, dedicated to local and seasonal ingredients, has released their new fall menu using the earthy flavours fall has to offer us here in the northeast. Here is what we thought:

    APPLE PEAR CHEDDAR (500 kcal)

    Shredded kale, organic mesclun, pears, apples, raw pecans, organic white cheddar, basil, balsamic vinaigrette.

    Jennifer Higa: Fall is the season for apples, as they overflow the wooden crates at the Farmer’s markets and appear on every dining room table. Sweetgreen has taken this classic fruit’s crisp and juicy character to sweeten the bitter and peppery kale and mesclun greens. Rounded out with buttery pecans and the creamy white cheddar, the earthy flavors of fall are captured so beautifully in this salad. With a surprising punch of flavor from the fresh basil, this bowl is sure to satisfy all your fall cravings.

    CURRY CAULIFLOWER (535 kcal)

    Organic arugula, warm quinoa, curry-roasted cauliflower, cilantro, shredded cabbage, roasted chicken, raisins, sweetgreen hot sauce, cucumber tahini yogurt dressing.

    Spicy, creamy, sweet, smoky–this warming grain and veg bowl captures fall’s embrace in a dish. The curry cauliflower adds a kick of aromatic spices and rich flavors that are cut with the tangy and creamy dressing. Your palate gets balanced out by the bursts of juicy sweetness from the raisins and zesty cilantro. If you’re looking for a bowl that will fill you up and excite your tastebuds, this one is for you.

    CHICKEN + BRUSSELS (425 kcal)

    Organic mesclun, chopped romaine, roasted brussels sprouts, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted chicken, cranberry maple dressing.

    Kathy Wang: When I first opened my bowl, the sweet and smoky smell of Brussels sprouts filled the air, and I couldn’t wait to dig in. Along with the roasted sweet potatoes and the cranberry maple dressing, the Chicken + Brussels bowl reminded me of Thanksgiving, minus the massive food coma. The creaminess of the potatoes contrasts nicely with the crunch of the greens, and the tang of the dressing brings the whole bowl together. I found the dressing to be a little sweet and lacking in the cranberry flavor, but it definitely fit the fall theme. With the chicken and the sweet potatoes, the salad was definitely filling and fueled my late-night studying. I wish there had been more Brussels sprouts, but maybe that’s just because I’m borderline obsessed with them!

    CRANBERRY GINGER FRESCA (30 kcal)

    A light, refreshing fresca made with fresh cranberries and a hint of ginger.

    J: Baby pink, this drink is definitely a cute fall drink to walk around with. Unfortunately, cute is all it is. The drink’s flavors didn’t quite live up to its looks with no cranberry flavor coming through, it tasted like water with a chunk of grated ginger. It was lacking balance and complexity. However, worth trying out if you want to kill that stuffy nose that has come on since the season has changed, with its spicy ginger kick.

    K: I’m not really a fan of ginger in general, so I was a little hesitant to try the Cranberry Ginger Fresca. With the bright pink color of the drink, I thought it would taste more like cranberries, but my first sip was overwhelmingly ginger. As I continued to drink it, the flavors began to grow on me, but I’m not sure if I’d get it again.


    Q&A with Chef Stebner

    Who can we thank for these delicious fall combos? Chef Stebner, the culinary mastermind behind your fall favorites, who has kindly answered some of our burning questions (oh, and he’s shared his favorite salad recipe, too)!

    What is your process in coming up with a new combination? Do you experiment in your own kitchen or create combos in your head, first?

    I like to start by experimenting with produce that is in season; food just tastes better when it’s fresh. That’s the approach we take at Sweetgreen. I like to try different combinations of fruits and vegetables that are in season together, coming up with complex pairings and textures. We have a beautiful test kitchen at our Culver City location, where I do my recipe testing and development.

    Do you grab inspiration from any chef or cuisine/culture (eg.Japanese, Mexican, Indian)?

    I take inspiration from everywhere and from all different types of cuisines. Our summertime Mexican Corn Elote bowl is inspired by Mexican street corn, while our Hummus Tahina salad uses Middle-Eastern flavors like za’atar. I’m also inspired by other chefs and have had the opportunity to collaborate with some pretty amazing chefs, bringing unique flavors to Sweetgreen. Last year, we collaborated with Chef Erik Bruner-Yang in DC to create the Maketto Bowl, inspired by the flavors of southwest China. Earlier this year, we collaborated with Philly Chef Michael Solomonov on the Zahav Bowl, which featured a lemon-dill-tahini vinaigrette, a topping he called “as Israel as it gets.”

    What do you think makes your salads different from the other “Make-Your-Own” salad stores around the country?

    At Sweetgreen, we start with the best possible ingredients, quality that you would find in a high-end, full-service restaurant, we just serve them in a fast-casual setting. We focus on using local and seasonal ingredients to create complex flavor profiles. Our signature salads and warm bowls incorporate different flavors and textures to give them dimension, creating a craveable and satisfying meal that you can feel good about. We’re also very transparent about where our ingredients come from and how they’re prepared — each Sweetgreen has a source list that changes depending on where we source our ingredients, and our open kitchens let you see the team cooking all day.

    Classic, and extremely hard to answer, but what is your favorite food?

    Salad! A salad can incorporate so many ingredients and flavors to create something unique time and time again. They are a great way to utilize seasonal ingredients and challenge yourself to build a meal that is nutritious and delicious at the same time.

    Why did you become a chef? And how did you end up working as a chef for SweetGreen?

    I was lucky enough to learn how to cook from my mom at a young age. She introduced me to farm to table back in the late ‘70s while I was growing up in the Willamette Valley, OR. We used to pick our own fruits and vegetables, and the local farm had an open-air market that was closer than the nearest grocery store. I used to watch Julia Child with my grandmother as a child at her house, but I didn’t know that there were chefs until I started working in restaurants at 16. Working as a busboy at a hotel in Scottsdale, AZ, I became so interested in what was happening in the kitchen. I talked my way into becoming a prep cook and was lucky enough to find a mentor in the chef, who took me under his wing. I have been cooking for 28 years, and I believe that knowing how to cook, and having a depth of knowledge in healthy eating is a powerful combination these days. I am lucky to have been able to learn from great chefs, and healthy lifestyle teachers along the way.

    Do you have any advice for aspiring chefs? What helped you get to where you are? What did you study as a student? Any regrets or must-do’s?

    When I started cooking, there were no culinary schools like there are today, and the schools that were available were financially out of reach for me. When I started getting serious about becoming a chef, I was about 19 years old. I committed to only working with chefs that I admired. I was in Scottsdale, AZ, near some of the best resorts in the country. I would work for 1 year in one location, and possibly work 2 jobs to make ends meet, but only in restaurants that I really believed in, and for chefs I could learn from. Cooking is a trade, the more you do it the better you get. I was lucky enough to be able to work with some of the best chefs in the country at different times in my career, and that diversity helped me find my own style of cooking. If you would have asked me about being a Director of Culinary for a healthy fast casual brand 5 years ago, I would have laughed at you. But here I am! I was willing to adapt to a changing food scene, and always learning along the way. My only regret is that I did not go to college, I was too focused on becoming a chef, and I didn’t like school. Now I’m a parent, and trying to convince your kids to do something you didn’t do is hard.

    Many people, including myself, always ask why our homemade salad bowls can’t taste like Sweetgreen’s! What advice do you have for people trying to make good salads at home”?

    My biggest advice is to start by choosing produce that is in season — swing by the farmers market to see what’s coming out of the ground right now. The freshest produce always tastes best, and seasonal food is always better together. Try to think about flavors that compliment each other. For example, smoky meats pair best with a hearty dressing, and dry cheeses like parmigiano are great with briny rich items like eggs, anchovies, marinated peppers, and olives.

    Is there a recipe you could share with us for a component of a salad or for a salad bowl that you really like or that has a special place in your heart?

    This time of year, I love roasted squash, and I put it into so many things at home: tacos, noodle bowls, curries. The best and easiest way to cook a hard squash is to cut it into thin slices after removing the seeds — and leave the skin on for butternut, acorn and kabocha varieties, because it helps the squash hold together. Then season the pieces liberally with olive oil salt, pepper and any spices that make sense for your final flavor. For example, use cumin and/or chili powder for tacos, and sesame oil and/or ginger for Asian flavors. Lay the squash out on a sheet pan in a single layer and cook under the broiler or in a hot oven for 10 minutes or until slightly tender. It tastes great when it gets a little burnt on the edges.


    There are currently 72 locations around the country as of 2017!

    Closest location to campus:  The Radian, 3925 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19104

    Open today · 10:30AM–10PM
    (215) 386-1365
  3. Sweet, Spicy & Surprising!

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    El Wingador & Waffatopia® Team Up to Launch a Tasty Collaboration
    Proceeds from Mango Habanero Waffle to Go to Puerto Rican Hurricane Relief

    Legendary five-time Wing Bowl champ Bill Simmons (aka El Wingador) and Waffatopia®, the premier U.S. purveyor of handmade Belgian Liège-style caramelized waffles delivered right to your door, have combined forces to create a one-of-a-kind waffle that provides a one-two punch to your taste buds and financial aid to Puerto Rico’s rebuilding efforts! The scrumptious new waffles feature the unexpected pairing of mangos and habaneros to produce a sweet and spicy union that delivers a kick with every delicious bite.

    It seems like an unlikely partnership – a former competitive eater and a high-end specialty waffle maker – but one that actually makes sense. Simmons was looking for a waffle to use as a base for a chicken and waffle dish for his fast-casual restaurant, which he is currently raising capital to launch. The 55-year-old entrepreneur visited Waffatopia’s manufacturing facility in Conshohocken for a brainstorming session with owners Brian and Andrea Polizzi. Inspired by Simmons’ Puerto Rican roots (mango is a popular fruit on the island) and Simmons’ love of anything spicy, they landed on the mango-habanero combo. The Polizzis wentinto their test kitchen and were delighted to realize that the two ingredients worked in a waffle!

    “Mango habanero hot sauce is a very popular and known combination. What I think is unexpected and unique is for us to bring it into a waffle. It wound up being a really fantastic fusion of flavors,” explained Brian. “In the initial bite you get a very ripe sweet flavor on the palate. On the second bite you really start to feel the heat.” “With every bite, you get a bright, ripe mango flavor followed by a little explosion of heat on the back end,” added Simmons. “I absolutely love it!” The recipe took about a month to develop, and the waffle is best enjoyed later in the day as a snack or dinner with savory topping editions, such as chicken, andouille sausage, pulled pork or even grilled fish.

    For the charitable component of this delicious partnership, Waffatopia will make a donation towards Puerto Rican relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria for every El Wingador Mango Habanero waffle sold. The donations will go to #ChefsForPuertoRico, which is part of World Central Kitchen — a non-profit led by world renowned culinary star Chef José Andrés. Chef Andrés and a group of volunteer chefs have served more than 300,000 meals to families in Puerto Rico as the island begins the long road to rebuilding. “A lot of people don’t know this, but I’m of Puerto Rican descent, and I have relatives and close friends who live there,” said Simmons. “I thought this was the right thing to do, and I’m so grateful Waffatopia shares my philanthropic spirit.” The waffle is available now and can be ordered online at https://www.waffatopia.com, and delivered fresh anywhere in the U.S. Simmons also plans to feature it at his El Wingador restaurant, which he hopes to open in the Philadelphia area next year.

    The El Wingador Mango Haberno is the first offering in Waffatopia’s new Chef Series, in which the company collaborates with high-profile culinary innovators to develop unique and tasty variations of their Belgian Liège-style waffles that will be sold on Waffatopia’s website, as well as incorporated into menu items at each chef’s respective restaurants. Some of the heavy hitters the Polizzis are currently in recipe development with include Chef Patrick Feury of Nectar; James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur Michael Solomonov; and Chef Darryl Harmon, who is the unofficial waffle king of New York with his outrageous and sinfully delicious creations at SlateNY and Clinton Hall. “Epicureans will be able to enjoy the delicious results of our collaborations through our website, as well as at the restaurants of these brilliant chefs,” said Brian.

    If that isn’t enough to whet your appetite, immediately on the heels of the Chef Series products will be the debut of Waffatopia’s new Craft Spirits Line – Liège-style waffles infused with some of the best American crafts spirits, including Dad’s Hat PA Rye and Cooper River Distillers’ Petty Island Rum. “We don’t know of any company that is doing what we’re doing with waffles. We’re excited to be raising the bar on waffles as we continue to strive to be innovators in our field.”

    Waffatopia, founded by Andrea and Brian Polizzi in 2012, brings the rare and handmade Liège waffle to the U.S. which they discovered during their travels in Belgium. Waffatopia bakes scrumptious specialty waffles from scratch in over 20 different “no-syrup-required” varieties, and ships them fresh all over the country. The company has been featured on the Food Network’s Great American Food Finds and other national news outlets. Waffatopia is located at 1050 Colwell Lane, Suite 302, Conshohocken, PA. 19428.

    Visit www.Waffatopia.com. To learn more about #ChefsForPuertoRico, visit https://www.worldcentralkitchen.org/donate and El Wingador at http://elwingador.com/.

     

    *Sponsored Content

  4. For the Love of Waffles!

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    A Philadelphia-area Couple Quit Their Corporate Jobs to Launch Waffatopia®

    Belgian Waffle Startup is a Labor of Love

    Brian and Andrea Polizzi are driven by the love of waffles. They ditched their high-paying, but draining corporate jobs, to pursue a delicious dream. From humble beginnings that started in the kitchen of their home, the husband-and-wife team has now risen to become the premier U.S. producers of Belgian Liège-style waffles. Waffatopia bakes scrumptious specialty waffles from scratch using simple, 100% pronounceable ingredients in over 20 different “no-syrup-required” varieties, and ships them fresh all over the country.

    Now, six years after Andrea walked away from investment management giant Vanguard and four years after Brian left his job at life science solutions provider PerkinElmer to join his wife in launching their own business, the two are the “Chief Waffatiers” at Waffatopia, a state-of-the-art production facility that produces tens of thousands of handmade authentic Liège-style waffles to die-hard Waffatopians (aka Waffatopia lovers). Their top sellers include Chocolate Stuffed; Maple Bacon; Lemon Blueberry; and Cinnamon Vanilla, with many more exotic and seasonal recipes in development. Along the way, the couple has racked up numerous press accolades, including a game-changing appearance on the Food Network’s “Great American Food Finds.” And it was all thanks to a little trip to Belgium that proved to be revelatory and life-changing.

    “Andrea joined me on a business trip to Belgium in 2009, and we both enjoyed the cuisine and culture so much,” said Brian. “We fell most in love with the freshly-made waffles, which we literally found at every turn throughout the country. Right after the trip, our concept of bringing these waffles to the U.S. started incubating, and we began to do some delicious research and development. It was a little scary,” admits Brian. “A lot of testing of recipes and waffle irons to find the best combination of ingredients. It took a long time – two years – to nail it, but it was worth all of the hard work and persistence, AND we realized along the way that we truly love working together. Andrea and I have put everything into this, which we are excited to see grow even bigger.”

    Brian graduated from Penn State with degrees in Microbiology and Biochemistry in May 2000, while Andrea, a Marketing/Business major, graduated in December of 1999. They met on the second day of orientation at PSU’s satellite campus in Berks County and have been inseparable ever since, marrying just two years after graduation.

    Right after college, Brian started working at Smithkline Beecham (now GlaxoSmithKline) as a research enzymologist. After four years, he accepted a sales position at PerkinElmer that led him into global portfolio management where he spent more time on the road, traveling all over the world. Meanwhile, Andrea became a self-described “tool chick” for DeWalt® Power Tools, visiting work sites and contractors to sell tools for the company. She then moved into the medical/lab supplies sales field before ending up at Vanguard. There, she moved up the corporate ladder in various roles, eventually landing in the high net worth division as chief of staff and project manager.

    “By 2012 we were both bored and burnt out from the intense grind, and at that point, the money didn’t matter,” said Andrea. “We were unable to feel accomplished or do anything fun for ourselves, so we decided to do the most fun thing we could think of — work together to produce and sell something that we both adored and that our friends and family really seemed to enjoy — delicious Liège waffles.”

    The Polizzis started developing what they called “the perfect” waffle in their home in West Chester, PA. While perfecting their waffles, they started thinking about packaging. “We didn’t want to be another wax-paper-and-hand-printed-sticker company,” said Andrea. “We understood the value of having premium packaging adorning the deliciousness that we worked so hard to create.” Now, Waffatopia is recognizable for its signature large orange boxes and quality packaging, which house the waffles they produce and ship to their customers all over the U.S.

    While Waffatopia was originally conceived as a food truck business, Brian and Andrea determined that they needed a production location first, and they found 120 square-feet inside the Artisan’s Exchange in West Chester, PA. The company officially incorporated in April of 2012, and one year later, on April 6, 2013, Waffatopia was launched. The Polizzis initially sold single waffles and small packages at their tiny production space and farmers markets, and by the winter of 2013 online sales began to take off.

    “Our launch involved a ton of hustle,” said Brian. “We faced some challenging hurdles along the way, but after a couple years of building our business and our clientele, we realized that we had a good thing going. And then in 2015, everything changed — for the best.”

    Waffatopia’s big break came in the spring of 2015, when the Food Network announced that they were looking for local artisans to be featured on the show “Great American Food Finds.” Brian and Andrea received a call, and after negotiations and Skype auditions, spent two days filming over Memorial Day Weekend. The episode — featuring Brian and Andrea and their Waffatopia waffles — ended up a part of the premiere episode thanks to the positive response by Food Network executives. “We still get comments years later from friends and customers who saw us on TV,” said Brian with a smile.

    “Between the filming, the airing of the episode, a new website with an e-commerce system, and the launch of an aggressive digital marketing campaign, we were ready for an influx of sales,” Andrea said. “We had the ‘Shark Tank philosophy’ to prepare first, and then find success later. And it paid off big time.”

    Waffatopia’s production increased ten-fold, with a repeat customer retention rate above 70 percent. By the end of the year, the company had doubled their sales, selling more than 20,000 waffles per month!

    “We pride ourselves on always making sure things are clear with our customers regarding their orders,” said Andrea. “During the time of what we call ‘the Food Network expansion,’ only one order out of thousands was canceled due to our longer than normal lead times.

    In the spring of 2016, Brian and Andrea moved to their current 3,000 square-foot production facility in Conshohocken, PA which they fondly call “The Waffary.” They can now handle five times more orders than at their previous location, with a maximum capacity of approximately 6,000 artisan made waffles per day. They are on-track to produce several hundred thousand waffles and a significant portion of Waffatopia’s profits go towards helping others.

    “Charity is very important to us,” said Brian. “We do a lot of work with Julia’s Grace Foundation and we’d like to work with Penn State’s THON, both of which help children with cancer. We have also worked with Pennsylvania DECA, West Chester Food Bank, Philabundance, and other food banks in New York and Philadelphia, and we also try to give back as much of our time as possible reaching out and teaching other aspiring entrepreneurs.”

    “We have graduated from a hopeful startup to a successful business. But to us, producing a delicious, unique product that makes people happy is why we’re trying so hard to do what we do. That’s why we love our jobs and lifestyle so much,” said Brian.  “We met and fell in love, and as we started to share our lives together found a purpose that we both wanted to devote everything to, “explained Andrea. “Reflecting on our path to this point, neither one of us would change a thing. We are truly living the dream!”

    Waffatopia is located at 1050 Colwell Lane, Suite 302, Conshohocken, PA. 19428. Learn more by visiting www.Waffatopia.com.

     

    Sponsored by Waffatopia

  5. Traveling Back Home Through My Baba’s Okonomiyaki

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    I rubbed my eyes to rid of the lingering images from the movie I had forcefully watched on the small airplane screen. I readjusted my heavy knapsack full of sudoku, my diary, American books, and half opened bags of Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cups. I swallowed the sticky saliva that coated my dry mouth. As a wave of humid heat swept the carpeted floor of Narita International Airport, my little zombie-like body could only think of one thing: Okonomiyaki.

    My grandmother’s okonomiyaki was always the first meal waiting for us after our three-month summer vacations in America. After the long drive from the airport back into the city, we would strip off our clothes, take a shower, and scramble to our dining room table. Her stout 4-and-a-half-foot figure stood at the edge of the knobby marble table with a big bowl of the thin, golden batter–even thinner than that of a French crepe. She would pour three large circles, one for each of us children, on the large hot plate placed in the middle. She surrounded herself with ceramic bowls filled with shredded cabbage, paper-thin slices of raw pork and wagyu beef, chopped squid and shrimp, dried bonito flakes, and deep fried tempura batter crumbs. She topped the thin pancakes with a mountain of the sliced cabbage and a couple pieces of each ingredient. Her hand moved deftly from bowl to bowl as we patiently waited on the margins of her large spread, chatting about our summer adventures.

    Our chatter resided as she got ready to flip them; she grabbed the spatula and quickly inverted them and the savory smell filled the entire room. We squealed at the sound of the meat sizzling as it hit the pan. That same smell permeated my kitchen on 42nd and Locust as I flipped over a version of my Grandma’s okonomiyaki on my small black pan. I closed my eyes, breathed in, and I was back home.

     


    Okonomiyaki (Kobe-Style)

    Serves 4
    Ingredients
    • 4 eggs
    • 3 cups flour
    • Water
    • Tenkasu/Agedama (tempura batter scraps)
    • Katsuobushi (bonito flakes)
    • Cabbage, chopped into thin shreds
    • Thinly sliced pork, beef, squid, octopus or any kind of protein of choice (shabu shabu cut of meat)
    • Japanese Okonomiyaki sauce (Bulldog brand)
    • Japanese mayonnaise
    • Aonori (dried green laver)

     

    Method
    1. Add the egg into the flour. Slowly add the water and mix with long chopsticks. Add very slowly and mix until there are no lumps. Once it becomes a thin batter, stir with a whisk.
    2. The batter should be just thick enough to coat the whisk, but thin enough to drip back into the bowl without leaving much of a ribbon. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge.
    3. Heat the hot plate and brush with a little bit of vegetable oil.
    4. Pour a ladleful of batter and spread with the back of ladle until you get a thin circle, not unlike a crepe.
    5. Add tenkasu and katsuobushi directly onto the batter while it’s still raw and it will stick to the crepe.
    6. Top the “pancakes” with lots of shredded cabbage.
    7. Place the thin slices of meat (or any protein/vegetable). Cook until the bottom pancake is cooked and slightly golden.
    8. Pour about two tablespoons of batter on top of the meat and cabbage.
    9. Flip the okonomiyaki over and cook for only a couple minutes until the meat or vegetable is crispy and the batter has sealed it together.
    10. Brush on the okonomiyaki sauce. Drizzle some mayonnaise and sprinkle on the aonori. Top with more bonito flakes and serve hot.

     


    Written and photographed by Jennifer Higa

  6. VERB: A New Way To Start Your Day

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    Isaac Morrier in original Verb cap (Photo by Braden Saba)

    Run. Paint. Sing. Dance. Create.

    “Verb is more than just a bar… it’s about the good vibes and good energy”

    Whatever your ‘verb’ is, Verb Energy bar will give you what your body needs to do it and not only feel good, but also feel good about it. Four college students at Yale have come up with the genius idea that will have people around the country ditching their morning coffee: a caffeinated energy bar.

    It may sound weird, but considering how many coffee addicts crash at 3pm, there is no doubt it will spread like wildfire amongst the active youth and older hustlers alike. It all began with a seemingly mundane event that has probably happened to many of you. Matt Czarnecki, a sophomore at the time, walked out of a coffee shop with a cup of coffee in one hand, a granola bar in the other and $6 less in his pocket; with no spare hands to even open the door, he knew there must be a better way than spending that much money– enough for a decent meal from a foodtruck– to replenish his energy drained from the constant stream of clubs activities, academics, parties, and his two other entrepreneurial ventures: Yale Launch and Platinum Aerial Photography and Videography. A simple solution would be to just combine the two pick-me-ups into something you could grab out of your backpack–which is exactly what he did.

    Matt Czarnecki passing out bars on Locust Walk at Penn (Photo by Braden Saba)

    He brought the idea to his peers, Bennett Byerley and André Monteiro, both original supporters in Yale Launch, Czarnecki’s “entrepreneurial think tank focused on launching start-ups and social enterprises”. They immediately got to work to manifest this simple but game-changing idea, getting Isaac Morrier on board to be in charge of creative and marketing. Although you wouldn’t guess it talking to these four laid-back guys laughing about their crazy first days founding the company, they went through a lot of rejections and struggles, an essential ingredient to any successful start-up.  

    The beginning consisted of countless all-nighters, grossly green coloured bars, and handing out their homemade caffeinated treats to friends. Then it grew to selling it to friends, then classmates, then the rest of the school. With a product that originally had to be refrigerated, they were continuously running back and forth between the fridge and their classes to deliver them around campus. Running out of space in their tiny college kitchens, they convinced a local bakery to lend them their kitchen after hours to keep up with demand. They went through 127 trials adjusting the heat stability, taste, and texture by just a hair each time, and finally came up with their delicious and tireless Cocoa and Oats formula. Although tiring, they only talked about it fondly with passion and excitement.

    Morrier (left), Byerly (center), Czarnecki (right) smiling big at launch on Penn’s campus (Photo by Braden Saba)

    “Verb is more than just a bar,” said Byerley. They pride themselves on being conscious and active on the impact of what they’re doing on the environment and communities around them. They have already donated to many charities and non-profit events and they make sure to source locally to reduce their carbon footprint as much as possible. They have received emails from many loyal Verb consumers about how Verb changed their lives. Verb’s philosophy and vision shines through in their company, which you could have easily mistaken for a tight-knit family. Verb is about motivating each other, helping the planet, taking risks, spreading good vibes and good energy,  and just inspiring people to do _______ (fill in the blank).

    Verb staff and reps handing out and selling Verb bars on Penn’s campus! (Photo by Rong Xiang)

    What’s your verb?

     

    Written by Jennifer Higa

    Feature photo by Bradley Smith


    Details (see more on their website!)

    First month subscription $1/bar

    Second month onwards $2/bar

    You can cancel anytime, but trust me, you won’t want to.

     

    Nutrition Facts

    Serv. Size: 1 Bar (45g), Servings: 1, Amount Per Serving: Calories 190, Fat Cal. 70, Total Fat 7g (11% DV), Sat. Fat 0.5g (3% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholest. 0mg (0% DV), Sodium 5mg (0% DV), Total Carb. 27g (9% DV), Fiber 4g (16% DV), Sugars 12g, Protein 5g, Vitamin A (0% DV), Vitamin C (0% DV), Calcium (8% DV), Iron (8% DV). Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

    Ingredients: Rolled Oats, Organic Blue Agave, Almond Butter, Organic Puffed Brown Rice, Organic Unsweetened Cocoa Powder, Light Brown Sugar, Vanilla Extract, Caffeine From Organic Green Tea Contains: Almond Distributed By Verb Energy, Inc. Lexington MA 02420 Verb Bar

     

    These guys are open to questions and give amazing advice for those who want to start their own entrepreneurial adventure. Shoot them an email at team@verbenergybar.com and sign up!

     

     

     

  7. Travel With Chef Cherryl: Chef Kwame Pop Up

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    Two Penn medical students, both named Ryan, both of whom have never used Instagram before, are hunched over a dying iPhone, their ears flushed red with embarrassment as a pair of micro-green entrepreneurs coach them on how to tag and post their mediocre pictures of great food using the Penn Appetit account.

    That’s one scene you would’ve been met with had you strolled into Chef Kwame Dennis’ pop up dinner last week. Despite our moment of technical illiteracy, Chef Kwame’s get together was by far our favorite dinner party of the year.

    Food both gorgeous and delicious flowed out of the kitchen in a constant stream…for four hours. Salads piled high with beautiful micro-greens were followed by delicately fried calamari, which paved the way for the (three!) entrees that showcased Chef Kwame’s impressive mastery of Jamaican flavors. A beautifully charred hunk of jerk-spiced loin, a well-seasoned Jamaican fisherman’s stew, and two perfect teriyaki meatballs were fired at us in quick succession, leaving us dazed, bewildered, and absolutely satisfied.

    The dinner party of bloggers and micro-green businessmen and friends-of-the-chef was not immune to the effects of huge quantities of good food and good wine. By about the second entrée, conversation had lulled to a minimum of “oohs” and “mmmmms.” But as we all started stretching our legs and buttoning our pants in preparation to depart, the conversation picked back up.

    “Where can we get this food on the reg?”

     

    “What has Chef Kwame got planned next?”

     

    “How cheap are flights to Jamaica this time of year?”

     

    That last one I whispered to Ryan, but the general consensus was: we want more. So in addition to adding Jamaica to my list of google flight alerts, I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for Chef Kwame’s next adventure.

    Food Instagram Influencers who attended:
    Ingoodtastephilly
    Fun_philly_foodie
    1saassyfoodie
    Indogrow_farms
    Sweetpotatoesandblackbeans
    Suzzane & Brian Gallagher
    Chefkwamedennis
    Lateisha.johnson
    Phillyfoodgal
    If you’re a food Instagrammer in Philly, get in touch with Chef Cherryl for some amazing events and opportunities!
    Written by Ryan Zahalka
    Photos by Cherryl Lemi-Gutierrez (@phillyfoodgal and @chefcherryl)
  8. Short & Sweet: A Filipino Sticky Rice Recipe

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    Shae Chambers, one of the students here at Penn, shares her recipe for Biko, a delicious Filipino sticky rice dish that appears amongst lechón, pansit, and flan at her family gatherings. With minimal preparation and few ingredients, you can indulge in her favorite sweet treat. For the full story, check out the Spring Issue of Penn Appetit!


    BIKO


    Ingredients

    5 cups glutinous rice

    2 cans coconut milk

    3 cups fine brown sugar

    1 tablespoon anise seeds

    Fresh mango, coconut milk, and/or dark chocolate sauce for topping

     

    Direction

    1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    2. Cook 5 cups glutinous rice in 5 cups water on stovetop set to high heat.

    3. In a separate pan, combine the coconut milk and sugar and mix over high heat. This will create a thick, syrup-like mixture.

    4. Add the anise seeds to the syrup and stir. Set aside half a cup.

    5. After the rice is cooked, pour in the syrup and mix thoroughly. Spread mixture into baking pan.

    6. Pour reserved portion of syrup on top.

    7. Bake in oven for 20 minutes (or longer if you want a crispier top).

    8. Enjoy plain or topped with coconut milk, dark chocolate sauce, or fresh mango!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Recipe from Shae Chambers

    Photos by Alden Terry

  9. Sweetgreen x Zahav: A Magical Combo

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    Good news Philadelphia: Sweetgreen is launching their Zahav bowl today! Nicolas Jammett, co-Founder and co-CEO of Sweetgreen, teamed up with Philly’s very own celebrity chef, Michael Solomonov, to create the banging new salad bowl for the spring. Inspired by Israeli spices and fresh seasonal veg, the Zahav Bowl brings to Philly a little taste of the Mediterranean. The turmeric roasted cauliflower and tender, juicy chicken are tossed with crunchy almonds, shredded carrots, warm chickpeas, kale, and mint leaves. The whole thing is tossed in an addicting lemon-dill-tahini dressing and finished off with their special smoky hot sauce. All for only$9.95 available in every Philadelphia location starting today! You better hop in line quick and I promise it’ll become one of your favorite go-to combos.

    The launch party took place in La Colombe‘s Fishtown location, displaying Solmonov’s other specialties including Dizengoff‘s famous hummus and dips served with za’atar pita chips and Federal Donut‘s fried chicken sandwiches and donuts. Along with the scrumptious food, Sweetgreen gave out a special La Colombe x Sweetgreen roast, bottles of the special smoky hot sauce used in the Zahav bowl, and a bouquet of flowers you could put together from the flower bar. Sweetgreen stays true to its mission to keep local in collaborating with all the hippest people in Philadelphia, creating a truly unbelievable launch party. With a dank local DJ, incredible local hip hop dancers, and the Philly community in one room connecting, sharing, and telling stories.

    Juliana and I had the honor to interview Nick –the man behind it all, the pioneer of locally sourced healthy fast casual restaurants, and all around great guy– about his story, his inspirations, and his philosophy in the food industry.

    Photo from: Speakerpedia

    How did you start Sweetgreen? When you first started, did you create all the menu ideas and try them out

    in a test kitchen yourselves in college or—

    If by test kitchen you mean our dorm room, then yeah. We did all these menu tastings in our dorm room, and the first couple years it was just us coming up with the menu. Now it’s driven by the farmers, rather than chef-driven. When we got to a certain size, we needed more culinary expertise, which really made our food taste so much better. I look back to way I was doing it then…

    We’d invite our friends over and we gave out survey sheets to fill out anonymously. Funny story, the guacamole greens salad that’s on the menu is still from the original menu we tested in our dorm room. That’s the only thing that has made it. Everything else has changed.

     

    You started in DC but have now expanded to many other cities. How do you keep to your mission for local and sustainable food as you continue to grow?

    Our food ethos is that we believe food should be different everywhere and that we should respect that it comes out of the land and from farmers, so that’s really what drives a lot of our menu and a lot of our food.

    Every one of our cities is set up as a separate supply chain. In Philly, we have our own group of farmers, producers and growers that allows us to create a menu based on that ethos of celebrating the food landscape, the whole agriculture and food community. Tonight is really a celebration of that ethos, of the community and some incredible folks in the food world that we respect and are inspired by.

    Urban farming has been growing so much these days. Do you partner with any urban farms now?

    It’s really exciting to see urban agriculture take a big leap forward, and in many of the cities we’re in, there are some really awesome farmers doing some incredible stuff, especially in Chicago, New York, Philly. Definitely people we’re really proud of, proud to know and partner with, and definitely folks we consider within our community.

    Ben Famous: Actually, we opened in Chicago as our first midwestern market in August of last year. There we connected to urban agriculture in a really fun and interesting way.

    How did you get started with the sustainable approach to sweetgreen? Where did your concept come from?

    So we started sweetgreen, myself and two friends, when we were seniors at Georgetown in 2007, ten years ago. We just didn’t understand why there wasn’t an option of delicious, clean food—food that made you feel good, food that you could trust, food that was healthy but also cool. You remember, back then in 2007, it was hard to find healthy food, and when you did find it, it either wasn’t accessible or delicious or just cool. We wanted to create a brand like the one all these fast food brands were growing but do that for healthy food. We wanted to really celebrate the kind of food we thought people should be connecting with.

    So we started sweetgreen, developed the business plan our senior year, opened it a month after graduation in a 560 square foot hut that still stands there today. That’s where sweetgreen was born. We’ve grown ever since, and our community has really taken to this idea of connecting with their food, having fun around it, celebrating it and making it cool.

    What did you do in college that helped you get to that point? Anything you’d suggest interested college students do before looking to launch their own concept?

    I would say that we were driven by trying to solve this problem we had in our own life. Every single day, we’d have this conversation of: “Where should we eat? Where should we eat? I’m sick of this, this is gross, I don’t feel good when I that.” I think the best ideas always come as solutions to a problem, so I would ask youself, “what are the biggest problems I see and how can I solve them?”

    Did you intend to revolutionize healthy eating to make it more mainstream or was sweetgreen just a solution for people already seeking that?

    Good question. You know, in the beginning, it was simple. We wanted to solve a problem for ourselves and for our community that was Georgetown, and as we opened it and really got integrated into the food world, we saw that this was a problem everywhere. We didn’t understand why there wasn’t a greater brand that could create access to and excitement around healthy food. So the goal is to connect people with real food everywhere, whether that’s feeding them at one of our restaurants, or by inspiring them with a story, or by just having fun at an event like this. We just want to inspire healthy communities and connect people to real food.

    So, you partnered with Michael Solomonov for the Zahav bowl. What inspired that?

    First and foremost, we’ve always been super inspired and in awe of Mike and his brand and his food and what he stands for. You’ll see tonight when you meet him that he’s really one of the coolest guys around, really authentic and passionate. Plus his food is really damn good. He believes in a lot of the same things we believe in around food, we share a food ethos. We do some of these collaborations every year in many cities, and it’s always about finding partners who believe the same thing we do about food and want to just have fun with us around food. So tonight it’s really just about having fun and celebrating good food.

    What other collaborations have you done before?

    Over the years, we’ve had David Chang in New York, Sqirl in LA, John and Vinny’s in LA, Ken Oranger in Boston, Dan Barber in New York. We did one with Bon Appetit. Kendrick Lamar two years ago—beets don’t kale my vibe. Lots coming in the future.

    Will you expand your collaborations to artists?

    We’ve actually collaborated with a lot of artists in many of our spaces, especially in the last couple of years. We’ve commissioned custom art from that region for the space that reflects the seasons. We’ve collaborated with about ten or twelve artists now, all unique, one-of-a-kind pieces that we display in the restaurant to celebrate the seasons.

    Any thoughts on expanding to even more cities?

    We opened our first restaurant in LA about a year and a half ago, and we have five there now, three in San Francisco and one in Chicago now. So we’re in eight different states, seven regions, and always looking to continue to expand but really by taking it one community at a time, really celebrating each city. We’ve been here in Philly, gosh, six or seven years now, just growing a little bit every year, trying to make new connections here and have fun. So it’s both—we want to go new cities but we also want to grow in the cities we’re already in.

    Would you ever consider going international? I’m from Tokyo, so I was wondering, would you ever bring sweetgreen there?

    There you go, now you’re speaking my language. Tokyo is one of my favorite places in the world. Definitely one of my dreams to open in a city like that. I just think building the menu in Japan would be so much fun. Our menu is regional so it would be a reflection of the culture there, what grows there—that would be a lot of fun.

    What was the biggest challenge you had in scaling?

    Our business, even though we source and sell food, is inherently a people business. It’s our biggest opportunity and challenge, always finding great people. We’re growing at a pretty quick rate, so we need to find a lot of those great people. We’re really proud of the team we have now so we want to continue to find people who believe in what we’re doing to keep building that culture.

    How do you develop the menus? Do the ideas come from chefs, from you and the founder still?

    Our menu meeting are one of the funnest things at sweetgreen, but really, it all starts with the supply chain. Our supply chain team spends a lot of time really connecting with and visiting different farmers in the region. From that set of ingredients, our culinary team creates menus. Our menu is part seasonal, changing five times a year. So the supply chain team gives the chef what the farmers are growing, what we want to use, what we want to buy, and the chef creates a delicious salad or grain bowl with those ingredients. It really starts with the land and the farmer.

    That’s really unique in the fast-casual restaurant business. The way my mom taught me to eat was with the seasons, intuitive eating respecting the land. It’s so hard to access.

    Exactly—your mom is speaking the truth. When we say “connecting people to real food,” it kind of means letting them in on that story, like peaches are in season, get excited and now they’re gone, you missed them and it sucks.

    Any particular ingredients or menu items you’ve really loved?

    Because our menu rotates so much its a really cool opportunity to try different things and test out some of the things our growers are using. A couple years ago we started selling broccoli leaf, the leaf that grows on the outside of the broccoli plant. It’s a really cool story. Again our concept is to rethink food and bring different ideas to our customers and help them see that healthy eating is cool and can be much broader than we think—it’s not just eating kale every day. We were visiting our broccoli farm and were standing in the field. If you’ve ever seen a broccoli head that’s this big, the plant is that big [talking with hands]. So we’re in the field with him, and we’re like “what is this?” He said, “its broccoli.” You dig around and see it in the bottom. The farmer reaches over and grabs a piece of the leaf and shoves it in his mouth, and he’s like “this is delicious.” We asked why he wouldn’t see it and he told us that no one wants it. Everyone wants to eat kale; there’s no market for broccoli leaf. So they just till it back into the ground, they don’t sell it. Again, he would and should sell it if there was a person to buy it. What the farmer sells is really driven by what consumers will buy. So we see our role as one to tell these stories to our customers, to say to them, “Hey look at this cool thing you should be buying. It’s good for the farmer and good for you.” So we started selling broccoli leaf and telling this story. Farmers are the rock stars.

    Do you do any food waste initiatives? So much is wasted in restaurants.

    We do full scratch cooking at sweetgreen, meaning we cook everything from scratch every day at every restaurant. I don’t think a lot of people know that. Every dressing is made at every store, every piece of vegetable is cleaned and cut, every meat is roasted. It’s pretty rare for restaurants in our category. But because of that, because of the way we’ve built our ingredient supply, we are really able to minimize waste.

    Two years ago, one of the collaborations we did was with Dan Barber of Blue Hill, incredible chef and one of my favorite places. One of his passion project is this WASTED campaign, trying to bring attention and awareness to food waste. He created a salad with us and helped us look through our supply chain and our kitchen to understand that we could buy broccoli leaf, roast kale stems, make use of things either we were throwing away or our farmer was throwing away, or things that just weren’t making it to the consumer. We made a delicious salad with all of this and could tell our guests a new story. It was a great salad but it was also great to talk about. A lot of our guests were like, “holy shit, I just didn’t realize.” It made them think about things differently, and to us, that’s connecting people with real food.  

    Yes, a lot the things that came out of that collaboration and that salad, we just made permanent on our menu. The way we think about how we buy the broccoli, how we prepare it using the whole stalk. You’ll notice our broccoli isn’t just the florets, it’s the whole stalk, which is just as flavorful. But people are used to eating just the florets so oftentimes the stalk gets thrown out.

    Why did you choose La Colombe to launch tonight?

    La Colombe is one of those brands that we really look up to. They started in Philly and have really cool roots here. We respect them from a product point of view, from their brand, from their design. I think they always design really cool spaces. We’re good friends with them, we wanted to do something fun so we chose this space. We’ve also known Michael for a few years, and finally, when we looked to do something fun here in Philly around food, we decided to create a collaboration. It all came together .

    On a similar note, do you have any specific inspirations for your brand and the development of your image, even in other industries?

    We’re inspired by a lot of things inside and outside the industry. Our name came together in a late night brainstorm back in college, but today we’re inspired by brands like Everlane, APC, Outdoor Voices, Patagonia, from a design and impact point of view.

    It’s always so interesting to draw connections between brands in different industries and how they take cues from each other.

    Yeah, we look outside the industry quite a bit, for sure. We see that what we’re trying to build here has never really been built. There’s no roadmap for building scratch cooking, fast-food sourced seasonally and trying to build a brand around it, so we can’t really look to our peers. We’re trying to build something a little different. So we look to people that have innovated in other spaces and industries to guide us.

    Last question: Any next big goals for sweetgreen?

    Next big goal, hm. We’re really excited to continue to grow this year, to grow the team. Moments like this are also really important for us, these collaborations. We just did one is Boston that was a lot of fun… There’s no big goal, there are a lot of little goals. I mean, the big goal is to connect people to real food, and that comes through a lot of smaller goals, in a bunch of different ways. Tonight that means eating salad, fried chicken and donuts.

    Interviewed by Juliana Sandford and Jennifer Higa

    Transcribed by Juliana Sandford

    Written by Jennifer Higa

    Photography by Juliana Sandford

     

     

     

  10. Beefsteak’s New Spring Menu + On-The-Go Gazpacho!

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    On May 1st, Beefsteak is coming out with their new Spring dishes that embody everything great about this season upon us. Dedicated to fresh, local, seasonal ingredients, Beefsteak Chef and Vegetable Expert teamed up to bring you the most delicious new items. They work with tons of local farmers in the DC, Philadelphia, and New York region, including Urban farmers, like Little Wild Things. With their produce knowledge and culinary genius, there is no doubt you will be going to Beefsteak everyday during your lunch break. And the great thing about Beefsteak is you can’t get bored because you can switch it up and customize your bowl or salad to whatever you want!

    Here are the new items:

    Green Lightnin’

    This bowl of crisp romaine and watercress is mixed with spicy radish, juicy strawberries, and crunchy sugar snap peas. To give it some body, you got everyone’s favorite avocado all tossed in an avocado herb dressing. Sweet, peppery, creamy… what else could you want?

     

     

     

     

    Lime After Lime (VG)

    This vegan salad bowl is zesty and screams spring with fresh cilantro lime quinoa as its base with bright romaine, spinach, and peppery arugula. Then, you get the bursts of sweetness from the sweet corn and roasted edamame. For some juiciness, they threw in some cherry tomatoes. And to top it off you got scallions, za’atar Sunflowers Seeds, all Tossed in an addicting Chili Lime Vinaigrette. Not too heavy but gives it a nice kick.

     

     

    Curried Treasure (VG)

    This was definitely my favorite dish, although I loved all of the new items. A revamped curry for the spring hearty enough to fuel you for the day but light enough to enable you to run around under the sun. This silky, creamy green curry sauce is mixed with crispy peas that are freeze dried and roasted, pea shoots (from Little Wild Things), sugar snap peas, carrots, and broccoli. This heart-warming curry is served on a bed of rice. The slight spicy kick and sweet coconut milk pair amazing well, creating an addicting flavor that will keep you coming back for more.

     

    The Beefsteak Burger is Back Baby!! (VG)

    This all vegan beefsteak burger is back for the spring! No worries, the beet burger is staying on the menu so you’ll have two healthy veg whoppers to choose from. The meaty, juicy, sweet, beefsteak tomato slice is topped with Hampton Creek’s vegan Just chipotle mayonnaise, Little Wild Things sprouts and a soft, toasted bun. It is simple yet to die for. A real winner. No wonder Beefsteak is named Beefsteak!

     

     

    Beefsteak Classic Gazpacho (VG)Yet another great vegan option and in a to-go bottle?!?! Beefsteak is launching their Gazpacho in a bottle line in partnership with Tio. This summery, whole ingredient, light soup is perfect for those of you on the go. The classic red gazpacho is out in New York and New Jersey Whole Foods as well as in-store, and they’re coming out with their Yellow and Green gazpacho soon! So, stay on the look out for that. Although we’re lucky enough to have a Beefsteak right here on campus, we’re hoping wherever we travel to, we’ll be able to find a little piece of this veggie heaven on the shelves of grocery stores everywhere!

     

    Written by Jennifer Higa

    Photography by Leah sprague

     

    *All pictures are photographs of the sample sizes. The real menu items will be full size.

     

     

  11. Upcoming: Rittenhouse Spring Festival Preview Party

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    Flowers are blooming. The sun is shining. The wind is blowing. Spring has arrived here in Philadelphia and it is time to celebrate with some great food! The Rittenhouse Spring Festival Preview party is coming up on May 3rd where some of Philly’s best restaurants are going to showcase their delicious creations. Tickets are $75 and proceeds will benefit the non-profit Rittenhouse Row to help flourish the area. Support this local Center City spot and grab your tickets before they run out! See details below.

    WHAT:                 

    Join Rittenhouse Row for the 2017 Spring Festival Preview Party presented by Capital One, featuring cuisine from Rittenhouse Row’s best restaurants, cocktails from their best bartenders, informal modeling of spring trends from Rittenhouse Row member boutiques and salons, and a silent auction with Rittenhouse Row experiences and merchandise

    WHEN:                  

    Wednesday, May 3 from 7-9:30 p.m.

    WHERE:               

    The Hyatt at the Bellevue, 200 South Broad Street

    DETAILS:

    Food and Beverages Provided By: 24 Wood Fired Fare, a.bar, a.kitchen, Alma de Cuba, Barclay Prime, Baril, Ben & Jerry’s, Butcher and Singer, CODA, The Dandelion, D’Angelo’s, Davio’s, Devon, Garces Restaurants, Lacroix, Marathon Grill, Metropolitan Bakery, Mission Taqueria, Parc, Rita’s Italian Ice, Rouge, Schweid & Sons, Termini Bros. Bakery, Bar Volver, XIX and more.

    Beer provided by Peroni.

    Music by Mole Street.

    Silent auction from Rittenhouse Row members and friends.

    Informal modeling of spring fashions from Rittenhouse Row boutiques.

    WHY:   

    Proceeds from the event will benefit Rittenhouse Row, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood The Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival Presented by Capital One will be held on Saturday, May 20 from noon to 5 pm rain or shine. Held on Walnut Street from Broad to 19th, the annual event showcases Philadelphia’s finest fashions, cuisine and entertainment and attracts more than 50,000 people to enjoy the best of Rittenhouse Row.

    HOW:  

    Tickets are $75 per person for general admission, $125 for Patron tickets. Those who purchase Patron tickets will receive access to the VIP area at the Spring Festival on Saturday, May 20st, which offers snacks and cocktails from from 12-5. Tickets can be purchased by visiting, https://rittrow.ticketleap.com/the-2017-rittenhouse-row-spring-festival-preview-party/

  12. Pereg Natural Foods Introduces New Superfood: KAŇIWA

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    Pereg Natural Foods is excited to introduce the world to this baby version of quinoa! This grain cooks up with a crunchy texture, and offers a nutrient rich food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dark reddish-brown in color and about half the size of a tiny quinoa seed, kañiwa cooks up in just a few minutes, which is great for college students and people on-the-go!  Unlike regular quinoa, kañiwa doesn’t have saponins, the coating that gives quinoa a somewhat soapy, slightly bitter flavor if not rinsed properly, and easier to digest, too. Kañiwa also has a higher iron content than quinoa, so for those of you who are vegan, this is a great option to get those micronutrients in your body.

    You can do so many things with these little balls of crunchy deliciousness. I decided to use it as a smoothie bowl topping along with granola and dried coconut. This was the perfect post-workout breakfast, giving me all the energy and nutrients I needed for the day.

    If you want a nutritious whole grain to keep you full and feeling happy, this new superfood may just be the thing for you. I highly recommend. You can make buddha bowls, serve it with lentil curries, or even just eat it like that for a crunch!

    Follow Pereg Natural Foods on Facebook.com/peregnatural, Twitter @pereggourmet and Instagram @peregnatural.

     

    Jennifer Higa