Fany Gerson's popsicles have become a summertime staple in New York. We talked with her about her business, her passion for Mexican flavors, and preserving a cultural tradition.
This is Rodney Scott's first year at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party going down in New York this weekend. We talked with him about how he's planning to take on the massive crowds, what goes into his prep work, and what role barbecue plays in his community down South.
Restaurant jobs are notoriously bucketed into the "side jobs" category, especially in New York where there's no shortage of aspiring actors, musicians and entrepreneurs of all kinds. Our interview this week is with Jon Jackson, a front of house manager at The Standard Grill in the Meatpacking District, who also paints, writes television pilots, and works at a dive bar.
No food lover would ever wish Celiac disease on themselves, but for Jen Wells, the diagnosis was a blessing in disguise. We caught up with Jen in between conference calls and cupcake baking to talk about her baking journey, the growing demand for gluten free sweets, and what her customers are loving.
As far as second careers go, becoming a chef is a bigger change than most. A passion for food can drive a whole new lifestyle, and pursuing that love can fuel a livelihood. And any chef, not just one on his second career, would be considered fortunate to land what Danny Rojo's first job was in New York—cooking at the chef's station of Bouley. But the position reminded him of the high-pressure corporate environment that he sought to escape in the first place. Lot 2 offered greener pastures and the chef's life he was looking for, where the job is simple: cook great food for great neighbors.
There's no denying that knowing where your food comes from has inserted itself into today's culinary zeitgeist. But according to Ben Turley, one of the trio that opened The Meat Hook in Williamsburg, it's not just trendy to source meat locally; it's economically beneficial for farmers as well. We spoke with Ben over the butcher's block about their unique shop, the sudden popularity of his profession, and the ideal way to cook a sausage.
Most of the people we interview for Heart of the House have come to New York to make it in the culinary world, but this chef was already accomplished by the time he arrived two years ago. Marco Porceddu, the executive chef at Ristorante Asellina and the Gansevoort Hotel, was recognized as one of the best hotel chefs in America by the James Beard Foundation at just 28, while manning the kitchen at Steve Wynn's Vegas restaurant Francesco.
What does it take to become a cheesemonger? Culinary school and years at a dairy farm might be optional, as Cassia Schifter of Murray's Cheese will tell you, but you do have to have a profound love for cheese. "I've loved cheese since before I can remember. Growing up my family would always make fun of me because I'd always say, 'I'm going to make myself a snack,' and I'd just go in the kitchen and cut off a huge chunk of cheese and eat it. No bread, no crackers," she says.
I found Hyunji Kim, a coffee shop barback who works equally as hard at a similar job: making sure dishes are clean, pushing out drinks during rushes, keeping milk stations looking beautiful, and giving invaluable support to her baristas. She left a corporate job at a Big Four accounting firm to follow her very specific dream of working at Joe, accepting not only a salary decrease, but the inevitability that she'd have to start at the bottom rung of the coffee shop ladder as a barback.
"This is all us. I'm so proud of us because we haven't taken any investors. We have no loans. This is all ice cream sandwiches," gushes Julian Plyter, the chef behind the soon-to-open Melt Bakery.
David Hughes, the Operations Manager of the Union Square Greenmarket, chatted us up about why he loves his job, the inner workings of market, and how he keeps such a big operation running smoothly in the middle of Union Square.
Orlando Sanchez of Butcher Bar is still getting accustomed to holding the reigns of his very own kitchen staff—something he never dreamed he would be doing at 26. He talked with us on Butcher Bar's back deck about his Texas beginnings, future upgrades he hopes to make to his already highly praised establishment, and what barbecue means to him.
Editor's note: On Serious Eats and elsewhere, we read all sorts of interviews with major figures on the restaurant scene. But for every Alton or Bourdain, there are 10,000 other people in the food industry working every day, out of...
We chatted up Mike Martins, the truck's Operations Manager, after selling out one busy weekday. While there were sadly no leftovers to snack on, we got some interesting scoop on the food truck industry (who knew they traded lunches?), and the secret to Taïm's falafel recipe.
On Serious Eats and elsewhere, we read all sorts of interviews with major figures on the restaurant scene. But for every Alton or Bourdain, there are 10,000 other people in the food industry working every day, out of sight, to run the restaurants that bring so much to this city. In "Heart of the House," Helen Zhang will introduce us to one of these folks each week.
People often ask me how I got started in the bar business, and the short answer is: "I lied." Back in the 90s, you could get away with that kind of thing; if you could make a cosmopolitan, a sidecar, and a decent margarita, you were most of the way home.