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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.
13 Episodes
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When friends say, “You should open a restaurant!” just because you throw a great dinner party, they are usually wrong. Not in the case of JuanMa Calderón & Maria Rondeau whose Somerville restaurant Celeste started as a supper in club in their Cambridge home. We sat down with the couple to hear how a filmmaker and an architect with no prior experience in the industry opened one of the hottest spots in town, and how they plan to keep the party going.
Molly & Catherine are back for seconds, and we hope you’ll join! In season 2 of The Food Lens Podcast, the co-hosts sit down with a fresh batch of Boston restaurant industry insiders to talk food, family, business, and travel. Want to know what’s up with the tinned fish trend? Who grinds their own flour and comes out in defense of “meat glue”? How to cut through the BS when buying wine? Well, you’ll just have to tune in to find out.
Molly Ford and Sarah Jesup founded The Food Lens back in 2016 and have been heading up efforts to curate Boston’s best online dining and drinking resource ever since. Molly (a San Diego native) and Sarah (originally from Vermont) met at Boston University in 2008 while pursuing degrees in journalism and hospitality, respectively. The pair then spent time eating their way around the globe, always searching for the best hidden gems, from taquerias in Mexico to shawarma spots in Istanbul. Their “restaurant bible”—a Google doc chronicling top meals eaten at home and abroad—was the blueprint for what would later become TFL. They still love to travel, but call Boston home: Molly lives in Fenway with her boyfriend, while Sarah and her husband live in Beacon Hill with their three dogs. They both enjoy working out and eating out, in pretty equal measure In this bonus episode, Catherine sits down with co-founders and BFFs Molly and Sarah to tell TFL’s origin story, and reveal what goes in to curating guides to the best food and drink in Boston.
Tiffani Faison compares working in restaurant kitchens to playing “the weirdest sport on earth”. If the popular and critical success of her ever-expanding Big Heart Hospitality Group is any indication, it’s fair to say she’s winning. With the opening of Sweet Cheeks in 2011 and Tiger Mama in 2015, followed by the bar Fool's Errand in 2018 and the upscale Italian-American spot Orfano in 2019, she's played a major role in transforming the Fenway neighborhood into a dining destination. Faison didn’t grow up tugging on a grandmother’s apron strings, she got a peek at the chaos of kitchen life working as a busser for Todd English, and felt an inexplicable tug to jump into the game. We talk about getting crushed learning to cook on the line, how she ended up in sports bar-filled Fenway, and why declining to open her “Look at me I’m a Big Deal Chef,” restaurant was the best decision ever. 
Irene Li isn’t afraid to talk about privilege (especially her own), share her profit and loss statements with every employee, or disclose how difficult it can be to run a successful restaurant. Li is a chef and restaurateur who walks the talk. Hearing how she and her team are working to make careers at Mei Mei as sustainable as the food, is downright inspiring. We’ve always loved Mei Mei for their addictively delicious take on Chinese-American food; now we can’t get enough of Li’s unique perspective on the business of hospitality. 
Juan Pedrosa knows that with food, and hospitality, it’s all about how you make people feel. From after-hours family meal at a the Greek pizza place where he started his career (as a pre-teen), to wowing guests with “Viper Chops” and flaming cocktails at Yvonne’s, Pedrosa puts in the work, to share the love. Hear the surprisingly heart-warming story of how he got fired, what went in to reimagining Locke-Ober as Yvonne’s, and a behind the scenes take on building out COJE’s newest hot spot, Mariel.
These two. How do they keep the magic alive in kitchens like Coppa, Toro, and Little Donkey? We ask Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette to dish on their partnership, and try to figure out the alchemy that produces our favorite hamburguesas, sopressatta pizzas, and porron parties. Spoiler alert: it’s a unique combo of brutal honesty, respect for creativity, a shared love of breakfast..and a dash of improv.
We are coming to you live from Boston Magazine's Taste 2019, the annual event celebrating this year’s Top 50 restaurant list, featuring dishes from some of Boston’s best chefs! We manage to steal Chef Owners Karen Akunowicz and Tony Maws from their food stations for a double interview. We talk about the fast casual approach that both have successfully pulled off. Along the way, they share the history of their beloved sit down restaurants; Fox and the Knife (Karen) and Craigie on Main (Tony). Our second interview of the evening features Scott Kearnan, food editor of Boston Magazine. Scott weighs in restaurant trends, the state of food media, and of course, lets us in on the process of picking Boston’s best restaurants for their annual November issue.
Cannabis cuisine has come a long way from pot-butter brownies. On this week’s episode we chat with producers of the invite-only marijuana supper club, Dinner at Mary’s. Sam takes her experience of producing high-end (no pun intended) events, and works with chef Nick to give guests an elevated dining experience, enhanced with weed. We touch on changing regulations, pairing pot with food — just like you would with wine — and infusing the plant in everything from salad dressing to dessert.
Turns out, “failing fast” isn’t just for Silicon Valley types. Chef Gilson has plenty of wins on his record, but the chef of Puritan & Company is quick to own up to his mistakes, and learn from them. As Will is about to embark on his most ambitious restaurant project yet, we sat down to talk about food delivery on demand, ghost restaurants, and how getting good at collecting and interpreting data is the best way to survive in a challenging restaurant ecosystem.
The guy behind the kitchens at Row 34 and Island Creek Oyster Bar obviously makes a mean lobster roll (are you camp butter or mayo?), and no one puts together a better plate of oysters...but Chef Jeremy Sewall is a bonafide expert on New England seafood, and has the experience, and family lineage, to back it up. Find out what fish we should be eating this second (seasonality isn’t just for tomatoes, people) and why Jeremy thinks the term “sustainable seafood” is kind of a cop out.  
What, exactly, is a feminist wine bar? And what about it makes a seat at Rebel Rebel —  Lauren Friel’s pocket-sized bar in Bow Market —  one of the most coveted spots to imbibe in Greater Boston? On our first episode, we get personal with Lauren: about her choice to share so much of herself with her online following, how her business sense and activism intersect, and what goes in (and is left out) of a good bottle of natural wine. Meet Co-hosts Molly Ford, Co-Founder of The Food Lens, & Catherine Smart, Co-Founder of notjust.co as well as guest Lauren Friel, owner of Rebel Rebel. 
The Food Lens Podcast is coming soon! You know to turn to The Food Lens for the best restaurants, bars, and events in Boston...and now we’re looking past the plate and connecting with some of our favorite chefs and tastemakers in studio. On each episode, Co-hosts Molly Ford, Co-Founder of The Food Lens, & Catherine Smart, Co-Founder of notjust.co chat with restaurant industry insiders —  digging into business, passion projects, and food trends to see what’s shaping the New England restaurant scene.  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, so join us. New episodes every other week!
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