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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.
46 Episodes
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Matt Jennings knows a thing or two about self-care. Back in 2016 the chef and owner of critically acclaimed Townsman drastically changed his lifestyle; he lost 160 pounds, stopped drinking, and started using his platform to bring health and wellness to the restaurant world. We caught up with Matt from his current home in Vermont where he is launching new food projects, seeking solace in the natural world, and surviving 2020 by staying committed to strategies like journaling and prioritizing sleep... and we’re taking notes. Looking to stock up on wine for the holiday season? Check out our sponsor, 90+ Cellars! This Boston-based wine company travels the world to bring you great wines, at affordable prices. Head to NINETYPLUSCELLARS.COM to shop their Reserve Collection for bottles in that $15-$20 sweet spot, or step up your wine-gifting game with something from their new Collector Series. While you’re browsing, check out their quarterly wine club (you’ve earned wine shopping from your couch this year!), and get 10% off your order with promo code THEFOODLENS at checkout. A monthly subscription of artisan cheese? Yes please! Locals Jenn and Matt Mason of Curds & Co. started this incredible subscription, which comes with 3 cheeses, 3 specialty food pairings, a themed Spotify playlist, a Curdcast podcast, and a wine pairing card. Gift someone a subscription, and share the experience. Head to CURDBOX.COM and use code FOODLENS at checkout to receive $10 off your first order.  Our theme music is "Tropical Pop," by OSIANRECORDS.
Producer and co-host of Dining Playbook Jenny Johnson manages to gracefully juggle TV and radio jobs with family life, all while pursuing studies in Ayurveda - a practice she started exploring after managing a health crisis with her young daughter. We dive into how the pandemic has reset priorities, why she’s so inspired by the hospitality community, and how we can all help local non-profits in this time of tremendous need.  Stay tuned at the end of the episode to hear from Jared Sadoian, General Manager at Craigie on Main. This is the third in a series of short conversations with folks in the hospitality industry about how their jobs and lives have been impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. Looking to stock up on wine for the holiday season? Check out our sponsor, 90+ Cellars! This Boston-based wine company travels the world to bring you great wines, at affordable prices. Head to NINETYPLUSCELLARS.COM to shop their Reserve Collection for bottles in that $15-$20 sweet spot, or step up your wine-gifting game with something from their new Collector Series. While you’re browsing, check out their quarterly wine club (you’ve earned wine shopping from your couch this year!), and get 10% off your order with promo code THEFOODLENS at checkout. A monthly subscription of artisan cheese? Yes please! Locals Jenn and Matt Mason of Curds & Co. started this incredible subscription, which comes with 3 cheeses, 3 specialty food pairings, a themed Spotify playlist, a Curdcast podcast, and a wine pairing card. Gift someone a subscription, and share the experience. Head to CURDBOX.COM and use code FOODLENS at checkout to receive $10 off your first order.  Music in this episode includes "Teamwork," by Scott Holmes. Our theme is "Tropical Pop," by OSIANRECORDS.
Boston-based baker and blogger Sarah Crawford explains how she built her casual blog Broma Bakery into a successful business. We dig into the evolution of food sites, the “3 waves of blogging,” and why vulnerability is more important than ever. Plus, she’s got tips for holiday baking, and making your food photos pop on Instagram. Click HERE for her bourbon pecan pie recipe to take your Thanksgiving to the next level!  Stay tuned at the end of the episode to hear from Bartender and Event Manager Garvey Salomon from Parlor Sports and Trina’s Starlite Lounge in Somerville. This is the second in a series of short conversations with folks in the hospitality industry about how their jobs and lives have been impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. Looking to stock up on wine for the holiday season? Check out our sponsor, 90+ Cellars! This Boston-based wine company travels the world to bring you great wines, at affordable prices. Head to NINETYPLUSCELLARS.COM to shop their Reserve Collection for bottles in that $15-$20 sweet spot, or step up your wine-gifting game with something from their new Collector Series. While you’re browsing, check out their quarterly wine club (you’ve earned wine shopping from your couch this year!), and get 10% off your order with promo code THEFOODLENS at checkout. A monthly subscription of artisan cheese? Yes please! Locals Jenn and Matt Mason of Curds & Co. started this incredible subscription, which comes with 3 cheeses, 3 specialty food pairings, a themed Spotify playlist, a Curdcast podcast, and a wine pairing card. Gift someone a subscription, and share the experience. Head to CURDBOX.COM and use code FOODLENS at checkout to receive $10 off your first order.  Music in this episode includes "Teamwork," by Scott Holmes. Our theme is "Tropical Pop," by OSIANRECORDS.
Before coronavirus, meals at Tanám were shared among strangers at one 10-seat table; a setup that clearly wasn’t going to work when they reopened this fall. We chatted with chef-owner Ellie Tiglao about how she and her colleagues are reimagining the small restaurant in Somerville, what exactly she means by the term “narrative cuisine,” and what’s at the heart of Filipino food. Looking to stock up on wine for the holiday season? Check out our sponsor, 90+ Cellars! This Boston-based wine company travels the world to bring you great wines, at affordable prices. Head to NINETYPLUSCELLARS.COM to shop their Reserve Collection for bottles in that $15-$20 sweet spot, or step up your wine-gifting game with something from their new Collector Series. While you’re browsing, check out their quarterly wine club (you’ve earned wine shopping from your couch this year!), and get 10% off your order with promo code THEFOODLENS at checkout. A monthly subscription of artisan cheese? Yes please! Locals Jenn and Matt Mason of Curds & Co. started this incredible subscription, which comes with 3 cheeses, 3 specialty food pairings, a themed Spotify playlist, a Curdcast podcast, and a wine pairing card. Gift someone a subscription, and share the experience. Head to CURDBOX.COM and use code FOODLENS at checkout to receive $10 off your first order.  Music in this episode includes "Teamwork," by Scott Holmes. Our theme is "Tropical Pop," by OSIANRECORDS. 
At a time when so many restaurants are struggling, it’s great to hear from a business that has bounced back - despite facing so many challenges. Find out how staying in start-up mode helped Sarah Murphy figure out how to re-open Vinal Bakery, why a sense of humor gets her team through, and of course, what breakfast treats we should be ordering to keep us all going this fall.  One of our favorite spots, Celeste in Union Square, is offering TFL listeners 10% off all takeout orders! Whether you want to get cozy with their famous Peruvian creamy chicken stew, or pretend you are on a warm and sunny vacation with a fresh ceviche, Celeste has you covered, just use code TFL10 at checkout! www.celesteunionsquare.com 
Everyone in the Boston restaurant industry seems to have something nice to say about Josh Childs, the beloved bartender-turned-restaurant-owner behind Trina’s Starlite Lounge, Audubon Boston, The Paddle Inn, and Parlor Sports, which pandemic-pivoted to Trina’s Snack Shack. We talk with Josh about the nostalgia he’s serving up at the snack shack, why transparency with his team is key, and how he’s thinking about getting through this winter.  One of our favorite spots, Celeste in Union Square, is offering TFL listeners 10% off all takeout orders! Whether you want to get cozy with their famous Peruvian creamy chicken stew, or pretend you are on a warm and sunny vacation with a fresh ceviche, Celeste has you covered, just use code TFL10 at checkout! www.celesteunionsquare.com   
After spending much of his childhood in a refugee camp in Kenya, Yahya Noor, of Tawakal Halal Cafe in East Boston,  has a perspective that has proved useful in navigating the COVID-19 crisis. In this episode, we hear from him about his unique experience as a refugee and Somali-American, the food he serves at his family-run restaurant, and why he thinks community is the key to resilience.    One of our favorite spots, Celeste in Union Square, is offering TFL listeners 10% off all takeout orders! Whether you want to get cozy with their famous Peruvian creamy chicken stew, or pretend you are on a warm and sunny vacation with a fresh ceviche, Celeste has you covered, just use code TFL10 at checkout! www.celesteunionsquare.com 
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.  
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