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The Food Lens Podcast

The Food Lens Podcast

Author: The Food Lens

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Join Co-hosts Molly Ford, Co-Founder of The Food Lens, & Catherine Smart, Co-Founder of notjust.co as they look past the plate, chatting with chefs, tastemakers and restaurant industry insiders. They’ll be digging into business, passion projects, and food trends to see what’s shaping the New England restaurant scene. This season no tasty topic is off limits: from peeling back the politics of sustainable seafood, to farming data on customers, to high-end cannabis cuisine. We’re curious. We’re hungry. And we know you are too.
39 Episodes
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Mo El Zein is guiding his restaurant Moona, through the pandemic like everyone else. But as a Lebanese-American, he’s also working to help with relief efforts in his home city of Beirut, where much of his family still lives. Mohamad gathered industry friends to create the Beirut Box, where participating restaurants craft special menu items inspired by Lebanese cuisine that  diners can order knowing 100% of the proceeds go to organizations on the ground in Lebanon.  Head to www.beirutbox.org to learn more.  Life Alive Organic Cafe has meals plans! Whether you’ve been eating too much heavy takeout in quarantine, or are just getting tired of cooking for yourself, hit the reset button with one of their customizable meal plans. Choose from a mix and match menu of nourishing soups, fresh salads, and even dessert! Get 15% off your order with the code TFL15 at checkout.  https://lifealive.myshopify.com/
Evan Harrison managed a successful pandemic pivot —  turning neighborhood bistro Cafe Du Pays into a local grocery store. He’s been working alongside his wife, Heather, who is also a partner in their restaurant group, and their new baby Louie. Evan shares how the Covid-19 crisis has put sharp focus on what has been broken about the restaurant industry for a long time, and how he stays optimistic, and focused on making change in the industry, all while managing multiple restaurants, and a growing family. Life Alive Organic Cafe has meals plans! Whether you’ve been eating too much heavy takeout in quarantine, or are just getting tired of cooking for yourself, hit the reset button with one of their customizable meal plans. Choose from a mix and match menu of nourishing soups, fresh salads, and even dessert! Get 15% off your order with the code TFL15 at checkout.  https://lifealive.myshopify.com/ You guys, we’ve got hand sanitizer! Our friends at the personal care brand Curie — makers of aluminum-free deodorant that actually works, and smells amazing — now offer hand sanitizer, in fresh scents like Grapefruit Cassis and Orange Neroli. The best part? It moisturizes your hands, which is about the best form of self-care we can think of at the moment. Use promo code TFL20 at checkout or just follow this link: https://curiebod.com/discount/TFL
The Brooklyn-based, chef-driven ice cream company OddFellows expanded to Boston with their Chestnut Hill location not long before the pandemic struck. We caught up with Co-Founder and CEO Mohan Kumar about why his wife’s pregnancy cravings spawned a huge career change, how OddFellows is collaborating with Boston chefs, and what it’s been like to ride out a pandemic in Boston and NYC. Life Alive Organic Cafe has meals plans! Whether you’ve been eating too much heavy takeout in quarantine, or are just getting tired of cooking for yourself, hit the reset button with one of their customizable meal plans. Choose from a mix and match menu of nourishing soups, fresh salads, and even dessert! Get 15% off your order with the code TFL15 at checkout.  https://lifealive.myshopify.com/ You guys, we’ve got hand sanitizer! Our friends at the personal care brand Curie — makers of aluminum-free deodorant that actually works, and smells amazing — now offer hand sanitizer, in fresh scents like Grapefruit Cassis and Orange Neroli. The best part? It moisturizes your hands, which is about the best form of self-care we can think of at the moment. Use promo code TFL20 at checkout or just follow this link: https://curiebod.com/discount/TFL
Bessie King and Tony Maws share the work of Massachusetts Restaurants United, a coalition of independent restaurant professionals who are advocating on behalf of an industry in crisis. We talk about what the organization aims to accomplish, what they want from the legislature, and why keeping restaurants afloat is vital to the Massachusetts economy.  Life Alive Organic Cafe has meals plans! Whether you’ve been eating too much heavy takeout in quarantine, or are just getting tired of cooking for yourself, hit the reset button with one of their customizable meal plans. Choose from a mix and match menu of nourishing soups, fresh salads, and even dessert! Get 15% off your order with the code TFL15 at checkout.  https://lifealive.myshopify.com/ You guys, we’ve got hand sanitizer! Our friends at the personal care brand Curie — makers of aluminum-free deodorant that actually works, and smells amazing — now offer hand sanitizer, in fresh scents like Grapefruit Cassis and Orange Neroli. The best part? It moisturizes your hands, which is about the best form of self-care we can think of at the moment. Use promo code TFL20 at checkout or just follow this link: https://curiebod.com/discount/TFL
Peter Ungár knew from the start that his 20 personTasting Counter wouldn’t be pivoting to take out. Instead, Peter and his wife Ginhee decided to launch TC at home, an interactive dining experience where guests pick up meal-kit boxes, and enjoy cooking, plating, and eating together on Zoom. We chat about how Peter and his wife Ginhee pull it off every week, how they are looking to grow TC at home, and what it’s been like to reopen for dining in. Life Alive Organic Cafe has meals plans! Whether you’ve been eating too much heavy takeout in quarantine, or are just getting tired of cooking for yourself, hit the reset button with one of their customizable meal plans. Choose from a mix and match menu of nourishing soups, fresh salads, and even dessert! Get 15% off your order with the code TFL15 at checkout.  https://lifealive.myshopify.com/  You guys, we’ve got hand sanitizer! Our friends at the personal care brand Curie — makers of aluminum-free deodorant that actually works, and smells amazing — now offer hand sanitizer, in fresh scents like Grapefruit Cassis and Orange Neroli. The best part? It moisturizes your hands, which is about the best form of self-care we can think of at the moment. Use promo code TFL20 at checkout or just follow this link: https://curiebod.com/discount/TFL
After more than a decade at the helm, Geo Lambert decided to make the move from his food truck to brick and mortar with his M&M BBQ business inside Dorchester Brewing. Little did he know that shortly after settling in, the Covid-19 crisis would strike. We caught up with him to hear about how the business has evolved, the silver-lining of the shutdown, and what makes his Alabama/Carolina mash-up BBQ so special.   You guys, we’ve got hand sanitizer! Our friends at the personal care brand Curie — makers of aluminum-free deodorant that actually works, and smells amazing — now offer hand sanitizer, in fresh scents like Grapefruit Cassis and Orange Neroli. The best part? It moisturizes your hands, which is about the best form of self-care we can think of at the moment. Use promo code TFL20 at checkout or just follow this link: https://curiebod.com/discount/TFL Row to Go is Here! At their flagship restaurant in Fort Point, Boston and their Portsmouth, NH location. Pick up New England classics like the Warm Buttered Lobster Roll, Clam Chowder, or fried clams and oysters. Order online at row34.com and use promo code TFL15 for 15% off your order.
On her podcast, The Dish I Miss, NBC's digital content producer Shira Stoll asks Boston area chefs about the food they miss making for their community, and how they are coping during the Covid-19 crisis. A recent transplant from New York, we chat about what it’s like to learn about the Boston restaurant scene from her apartment, and what she’s discovered in the process. Check out The Dish I Miss HERE.  You guys, we’ve got hand sanitizer! Our friends at the personal care brand Curie — makers of aluminum-free deodorant that actually works, and smells amazing — now offer hand sanitizer, in fresh scents like Grapefruit Cassis and Orange Neroli. The best part? It moisturizes your hands, which is about the best form of self-care we can think of at the moment. Use promo code TFL20 at checkout or just follow this link: https://curiebod.com/discount/TFL Row to Go is Here! At their flagship restaurant in Fort Point, Boston and their Portsmouth, NH location. Pick up New England classics like the Warm Buttered Lobster Roll, Clam Chowder, or fried clams and oysters. Order online at row34.com and use promo code TFL15 for 15% off your order. 
Restaurants are allowed to re-open for outdoor dining, and Andy Husbands, owner of The Smoke Shop BBQ, is here to fill us in on what the the last couple of months have looked like, how it feels to finally have waitstaff and diners back on the scene, and his plan to forge ahead.  You guys, we’ve got hand sanitizer! Our friends at the personal care brand Curie — makers of aluminum-free deodorant that actually works, and smells amazing — now offer hand sanitizer, in fresh scents like Grapefruit Cassis and Orange Neroli. The best part? It moisturizes your hands, which is about the best form of self-care we can think of at the moment. Use promo code TFL20 at checkout or just follow this link: https://curiebod.com/discount/TFL Row to Go is Here! At their flagship restaurant in Fort Point, Boston and their Portsmouth, NH location. Pick up New England classics like the Warm Buttered Lobster Roll, Clam Chowder, or fried clams and oysters. Order online at row34.com and use promo code TFL15 for 15% off your order. 
This episode consists of two interviews with Douglass Williams, chef-owner of Mida in the South End. In the first half, we check in with him following the nation’s response to the killing of George Floyd and how he has felt the reverberations as a Black chef and business owner in Boston. In the second half, we return to our original interview, recorded prior to the national protests. We talk about his recent accolade of being named one of America’s Best New Chefs by Food & Wine magazine, how he is coping with COVID-19 and feeding his community in times of crisis.   The Food Lens stands against racism. We want to help amplify the voices of the Black community in Boston and provide more exposure to Black-owned restaurants. We're listening, we're learning, we're donating, we're changing. Click HERE for a link that we are exploring for further education about anti-racism. For a list of Black-owned restaurants in the Greater Boston Area that you can support, click HERE. We know we can do better.
Since the Coronavirus halted her busy wine bar in its tracks, Lauren Friel has reshaped Rebel Rebel into a wine-retail business — one with online tastings and classes that have over-flowed Zoom rooms, and allowed her to hire back staff. Here’s how you can log in to the natural wine community, and why, more than ever, she wants you to vote. You guys, we’ve got hand sanitizer! Our friends at the personal care brand Curie — makers of aluminum-free deodorant that actually works, and smells amazing — now offer hand sanitizer, in fresh scents like Grapefruit Cassis and Orange Neroli. The best part? It moisturizes your hands, which is about the best form of self-care we can think of at the moment. Use promo code TFL20 at checkout or just follow this link: https://curiebod.com/discount/TFL Row to Go is Here! At their flagship restaurant in Fort Point, Boston and their Portsmouth, NH location. Pick up New England classics like the Warm Buttered Lobster Roll, Clam Chowder, or fried clams and oysters. Order online at row34.com and use promo code TFL15 for 15% off your order. 
Will Gilson was supposed to be launching several new concepts this year - while those plans may be on hold for the moment, he’s diversifying his offerings at Puritan & Co. and forging a way forward with technology, takeout, and a team eager to get (safely) back to work.  Looking for cooking inspiration? Will hooked us up with some easy (and delicious) recipes to help get through quarantine! –Spiced Grilled Zucchini Tacos with Cabbage Slaw & Chipotle Crema–Cod Chowder with Crispy Potatoes and Applewood Bacon–Corn and Tomato “Mason Jar” Salad–Roast Beef “3-Way” Slider Burgers
Aaron Cohen couldn’t have imagined how his scoop shop would be transformed by the Covid-19 crisis. He went from serving up scoops to the neighborhood, to solving the logistical challenges of socially distanced pint pickup, and running a popular merch store. The Somerville entrepreneur shares how he’s thinking about technology, marketing, and community connection.
Owner of Highland Kitchen and Highland Fried, Mark Romano says having his usually bustling restaurants come to a screeching halt feels a bit like when a Nascar driver hops off the track to drive home in his Subaru, at 35 miles per hour. The shutdown has been jarring, to say the least. Romano talks about getting his staff on unemployment, hopping back behind the line to launch takeout, and thinking about how busy bars will function when it’s time to reopen. 
Six weeks ago Tracy Chang didn’t expect to be spearheading a program serving 20,000 meals to frontline hospital workers — but that’s exactly what the chef-owner of Pagu (and new mother of a 4-month-old baby) is doing with the Off Their Plate initiative. Tracy shares her experience with transforming Pagu, how the organization is setting safety guidelines for foodservice during the COVID-19 crisis, and how she’s trying to plan for the future. 
Pammy’s was never supposed to get into the takeout game, but these days owners Pam and Chris Willis are running a successful to-go operation, despite enormous challenges. Pam shares what it’s like to homeschool her kids while reinventing her business, and how she keeps up self-care during the COVID-19 crisis.
The chef and partner of Toro, Coppa, and Little Donkey talks about how he’s managing the Covid-19 crisis here in Boston, and at his restaurants across the globe in Bangkok and Dubai. We also get an update on his work with Off Their Plate, putting some of his restaurant staff back to work feeding front line healthcare workers, and what it’s like to be a Newlywed during the lockdown.
The chef-owner of Blue Dragon and host of Simply Ming on PBS says he’s “cried 8,000 gallons of tears” for the economically vulnerable staff he’s had to lay-off. But over the last couple of weeks, in partnership with the Lee Initiative, he’s turned his restaurant into a food bank for restaurant workers.
How do you turn a passion project into a full-time career? Just ask Brian Samuels, Director of Photography for The Food Lens. We sat down with Brian to hear what it was like to start his site A Thought For Food during blogging’s heyday, and how he went from taking pictures of his plates for fun, to becoming one of Boston’s most well-known, and loved (yes we’re biased!) food photographers. Don’t worry, we made sure to get some advice for upping your Instagram game in the process.  In light of everyone being stuck at home due to Covid-19, we also asked Brian to share one of his best pantry-staple meals from the blog - Pasta Puttanesca. Click HERE for the recipe!   Weeknight dinner stress is cancelled! Catherine's company, not just co., helps you get a healthy, delicious meal done fast with their modern pantry staples, plus easy recipes for you on those evenings you aren't hitting the Boston restaurant scene. Use code TFL20 to receive 20% off your order.    Thank you to our season two sponsors, Winestyr and Image Unlimited Communications. 
When Lovin’ Spoonfuls Founder Ashley Stanley discovered how much good food was being thrown out at big grocery stores, she started by loading up her car, and carrying it to a local shelter. 10 years later, the non-profit rescues 75,000 pounds of food every week. We talk to Ashley about how she got into the business of bringing food to people who need it most, what makes her non-profit unique, and the personal challenges that led her to change her life, and help so many others in the process.   During the current coronavirus outbreak, communities served by Lovin’ Spoonfuls need our help more than ever. To donate, please go to https://lovin-spoonfuls.networkforgood.com/projects/9629-lovin-spoonfuls.    Weeknight dinner stress is cancelled! Catherine's company, not just co., helps you get a healthy, delicious meal done fast with their modern pantry staples, plus easy recipes for you on those evenings you aren't hitting the Boston restaurant scene. Use code TFL20 to receive 20% off your order.    Thank you to our season two sponsors, Winestyr and Image Unlimited Communications. 
Whether you want to learn how to bake a better brioche, or build a successful business, you’re going to want to grab a pen to take notes while you tune in. The baker/restaurant-owner/author shares how she went from a consulting gig as a recent Harvard grad, to scrappily figuring out her first Flour, to running 8 bakeries and 1 restaurant, while writing best-selling cookbooks, and creating a work culture where no one wants to leave.    Weeknight dinner stress is cancelled! Catherine's company, not just co., helps you get a healthy, delicious meal done fast with their modern pantry staples, plus easy recipes for you on those evenings you aren't hitting the Boston restaurant scene. Use code TFL20 to receive 20% off your order.    Thank you to our season two sponsors, Winestyr and Image Unlimited Communications. 
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