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Fab Food Finds at the Taste of Queens 2012

14 May
Taste of Queens 2012

Taste of Queens 2012

Article and photography by Kristen Hess, Author of The Artful Gourmet

On May 1st I attended the annual Taste of Queens – a massive, lively food-filled event celebrating the food and restaurants all over Queens, NY. It was well fit to be hosted in the top level, window-filled Caesar’s Club at Citi Field (home of the Mets!), as there were over 47 restaurants and food vendors from Queens proudly displaying their tasty creations and cocktails.

I attended the event with David Hillman of to capture all the food, fun, people and highlights, so keep reading to see great photos and a fun video of the fab food finds we discovered there! There was also a taste competition as judged by a team of local foodies and media types, here are the winners:

Pop Diner

Pop Diner

Magna Ristorante

Magna Ristorante

Magna Ristorante of Flushing (above) won the Best Entrée award for its Penne alla Siciliana, which featured sautéed eggplant and long, tubular pasta in a marinara-style sauce,

Magna Italian Dishes

Magna Italian Dishes

and Pollo alla Romana, which included lightly sautéed chicken breast and specially prepared artichokes in a tomato-and-cream sauce.

Papazzio Restaurant

Papazzio Restaurant

Bayside’s Papazzio Restaurant & Caterer (above) won the Best Appetizer award for its Pasta e Fagioli, which consisted of various kinds of red and white beans in a creamy, savory broth with onions, carrots, celery, rosemary, prosciutto and noodles. According to Papazzio’s Dominick Bruccoleri this soup also contains “a lot of love.”



In the Best Dessert category, the judges chose Tropisec (above), a Long Island City-based company that creates flowers and other edible designs from dried tropical fruits such as mango, papaya and pineapple. One of founder Blanca Lilia Narváez‘s signature products consists of dried banana pieces mixed with unprocessed cocoa.

McClure's Bloody Mary Mix

McClure’s Bloody Mary Mix

Best Alcoholic Beverage: McClure’s Pickles for their Bloody Mary Mix

See the full list of Queens restaurants and food vendors that participated in the event.


Highlights from the Taste of Queens event ::



See more videos and press coverage on the event:

NY 1 video

Queens Buzz post

Queens Examiner post

DNA Info post

World Journal article in Chinese

The Forum photos

Epoch Times article in Chinese

Sustainable Pantry blog

Influx of Celebrity Chefs makes Miami and Miami Beach a new Foodie Haven

5 Apr

Miami Beach – Tudor House Dining Room

From delis and dives a decade ago to five-star restaurants today, who would have thought Miami and Miami Beach would become such sophisticated bastions of gastronomic delights?

Geoffrey Zakarian’s Tudor House restaurant at the Dream Hotel just one of several new eateries headed by celebrity chefs, now making Miami and Miami Beach top food destinations in the U.S.

When superstar “Iron Chef” Geoffrey Zakarian recently opened his Tudor House restaurant at the Dream Hotel, his timing couldn’t have been more spot on. That’s because he’s landed in the middle of a culinary cauldron, a tornado of executive chefs who are considered to be at the top of their field and who have chosen to “steak” their places in Miami and Miami Beach.  It’s part of  the trend and growth of “serious” restaurants in South Florida run by world renown chefs and is indicative of how quickly our cities have propelled themselves to the top of great Foodie cities.

“The culinary landscape of Miami Beach has drastically evolved just in the last five years,” says Jeff Lehman, Chair, Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority (MBVCA). “The sophistication of our newest restaurants, the A-list group of chefs that want to expand their franchises here and the expectation of excellence that’s now a part of the eating experience on Miami Beach says everything about the evolution of the city into a first class, luxury destination of choice for travelers.”

The Food Network is filming “Next Food Network Star” in Miami; and in addition to Zakarian’s Tudor House, Laurent Tourondel holds court at BLT Steak at the Betsy Hotel;  Scott Conant oversees Scarpetta at the Fontainebleau; Andrew Carmellni runs the second outlet of his award-winning restaurant The Dutch at the W; Jeff McInnis just opened Yardbird restaurant;  Paula DeSilva is breaking new ground at 1500 Degrees at the Eden Roc; Daniel Boulud’s Bistro Moderne continues to wow in downtown Miami; in Bal Harbor and Jean-George Vongerichten has just opened the J&G Grill at the St. Regis hotel. In addition, Michelle Bernstein, Michael Schwartz and Douglas Rodriguez, the old guard, continue to reign supreme.

And from Shake Shack to Serendipity 3, significant New York restaurants are opening outlets here because they know South Florida has become the destination on the culinary food map and is growing year on year.

“I love it here,” says Laurent Tourondel, Executive Chef, BLT Steak. “It was important for us to open BLT at the Betsy Hotel to take advantage of the city’s trendy clientele and laid back style. There’s something a little different about South Florida. We’re a little surprised but very happy at how extremely successful BLT has been here.”

The newest and most exciting cities for a brilliant gastronomic holiday? Miami and Miami Beach, Florida.

From Roof to Table: Garden Inspired Creations at The SoHo Grand

11 Jan

richard farnabe, executive chef Soho Grand

Local, fresh, sustainable cooking have been the buzzwords in New York’s restaurant scene and around the country lately, but Chef Richard Farnabe, the newly appointed Executive Chef for GrandLife hotels (SoHo and Tribeca Grand), has taken this concept to a whole new level. Farnabe is bringing farm-fresh closer than ever by growing a garden in his own backyard—on the rooftop of the 17-story SoHo Grand.

Classically trained in France at Ecole Hoteliere Beliard Paris under Jacques Maximin, Chef Farnabe launched his culinary career at Le Theatre in Nice and then at Le Diamont Rose on the Cote d’Azur. Soon after, he followed his dream and moved to New York City working his way up from Sous Chef at Daniel and then Jean Georges, into notable positions as Chef de Cuisine at Soho’s Mercer Kitchen, Personal Chef for Tommy Hilfiger, and then moving on to several Executive Chef positions at Montrachet, Picholine and Cavo. He is now the Executive Chef at both Soho Grand and Tribeca Grand, tweaking the original menus with fresh, artistic creations of New American cuisine with French influences.

Chef Farnabe has been gardening for quite a long time, but he only recently combined gardening and cooking to produce the fresh, sustainable cooking at the GrandLife hotels. He decided to start the rooftop garden because the hotel had been cooking with a lot of micro-greens in the kitchen, and by growing their own herbs and vegetables, the kitchen could both cut costs and keep the ingredients fresh, local and sustainable.

The 3-month old garden covers the entire rooftop of the hotel, which has an amazing view of the New York skyline. In the garden and a connected greenhouse, there is a wide variety of tomatoes (16 cultivars of heirlooms) and vegetables like avocado, carrots, onions, French beans, jalapenos, habeneros, bok choy, broccoli, cucumber, asparagus, butternut squash, pumpkin, red beets, eggplant, mesclun, arugula, romaine, zucchini flower and peppers. There is also a variety of fresh grown herbs such as mint, basil, sage, chive, cilantro and parsley.

Chef Farnabe visits the rooftop daily to handpick fresh items for the restaurant’s menu and the specials of the day for all the hotels’ restaurants including the Grand Bar and Lounge and The Club Room at Soho Grand and Church Lounge and The Salon at Tribeca Grand. His creations have included delicious appetizers like Tuna Tartare, Lump Crab Cakes and Grilled Octopus Salad. Entrees are enticing, organic and cooked to perfection with classic items such as Roasted Salmon, Wild Mushroom Risotto, Grilled Lamb Chops and Steaks. Vegetable sides are freshly cooked from the rooftop garden

The hotel’s outdoor patio bar and restaurant, The Yard, is a casual relaxing place in a sandstone courtyard. Here, imbibers will find signature cocktails created with fresh herbs and veggies such as the Strawberry Smash made with Bulldog gin, fresh basil, sugar and fresh strawberries or the Spa, made with Hendrick’s gin, fresh cucumber puree, fresh lime and fresh mint. One can also enjoy fresh summer fare including appetizers and salads, seafood from the raw bar, BBQ shrimp, ribs and pork, as well as a variety of grilled sliders and lobster rolls.

arugula salad

I sampled some of Chef Farnabe’s dishes that were made with fresh garden produce. An arugula salad with toasted almonds, preserved lemon and shaved parmesan, tuna tartare with avocado and potato gaufrette, and a gorgeous zucchini flower, lightly tempura battered, stuffed with goat cheese and freshly cut herbs from the garden – the epitome of fresh, local, sustainable food, all right here from a rooftop garden in New York City.

Visit online:

SOHO Grand: 310 W Broadway, NYC 10013 | 212.965.3588

Tribeca Grand: 2 Avenue of the Americas, NYC 10013 | 212.519.6664

—By Kristen Hess, The Artful Gourmet

Meet The Chef: Adam Shepard, Lunetta

15 Feb

Behind The Scenes Interview with Lunetta Restaurant, Brooklyn NY

Kristen Hess at Lunetta in Brooklyn

Watch the full video interview with Kristen & Adam here

By Kristen Hess, The Artful Gourmet

Meet Chef Adam Shepard from Lunetta with an in-depth, up close interview as Kristen Hess and eDiningNews interview Adam about his background, Lunetta’s Mediterranean gourmet fare, insights on his cooking style, and his commitment to the Slow Food philosophy.

Lunetta, a trendy Mediterranean restaurant on Smith Street in Brooklyn, has a fantastic menu and atmosphere that you must try for yourself! They offer a variety of small plates and gourmet market fare such as bruschetta, antipasti plates, fresh roasted market vegetables and a variety of pasta dishes and entrees including Pappardelle with Porcini-braised Berkshire Pork, luscious Lunetta meatballs, and savory Sullivan County chicken, roasted under a brick with mushrooms and marsala wine.

Lunetta has been featured in “The New Brooklyn Cookbook” and is a practicing member of the Slow Food International group who’s philosophy it is to commit to food biodiversity and use all local and organic farmers, growers and food suppliers.

In warmer temperatures, you can dine alfresco in the back garden, or enjoy a private dinner party in their cozy yet spacious dining room with a full bar.

View the Lunetta_Menu

116 smith street, btw pacific and dean, brooklyn, NY 11217 |  718.488.6269

Favorite Food Finds in NYC

13 Feb

By Kristen Hess, The Artful Gourmet

I am so lucky to live in the heart of Manhattan and to wake up every day with excitement just walking down the street and discovering a new restaurant, food artisan, or market on every corner. To meet a culinary genius and entrepreneur who is as passionate about food as I am. An ordinary dish or menu item made new. An atmosphere with a buzz you can’t resist. Customer service that makes you feel like a local and welcomes you with a smile and a hello by name when you walk in the door.  A unique dish that is so delicious you dream about when you can go back and get more.  I salute the following restaurants and food artisans for all of the above, and most of all their passion and dedication to making delicious food and making me realize once again why I live in this wonderful city with all the culinary delights it has to offer. SALUT!

Stuffed Artisan Cannolis

I first discovered these guys at Madison Square Park food market this Fall and ran into them again at the Union Square Holiday market. A small shop in the Lower East Side that specializes in over 20 different flavors of homemade artisan flavored cannolis such as Almond Joy, Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter Cup, Cookies and Crème, Chocolate Mint and more. They even sell “make-your-own” cannoli kits with all the tools and ingredients so you can have a cannoli party and impress your mates with these delicious little sweets.

176 Stanton St. (between Clinton & Attorney St) |  212.995.2266

Spices and Tease

Meet Bruno and Francois from Spices and Tease – the Italian-French 
native exotic tea and spice vendor duo in Madison Square Park, New
York City. Animated and full of life, cousins Bruno and Francois greet
 each customer with a smile and a warm invitation to enter their tent and 
experience the delightful sights and smells of their euphoric selection of 
hand-crafted and fragrant top-of-the-line tea, herbs and spice concoctions 
that they have imported from Europe and around the world. Try the Smoked
 Paprika, the Provence French Sea Salt, Kir Royale Tea and the Salad Spice Mix – fresh,
fantastic and flavorful! These guys are truly spicing things up in the New York 
City food scene. If you’re ever in New York City, you can find them at the local
 street markets all over the city. They are also launching their online store soon so you can buy these goodies all year around. A MUST try, MUST see!

Bar Suzette: World Crepe Bar

Located in the Chelsea Market, Bar Suzette makes the most amazingly delicious crepes that are highly addictive. They offer both sweet and savory crepes – Nutella and Spicy Coconut crepes, Ricotta, Fig and Honey crepes, French Onion Soup made with sweet onions and melted Gruyere cheese, Chicken Curry crepes, and Ham and Cheese crepes are just a few of their classic and innovative flavor combinations that will knock your socks off! I also discovered these guys at the food markets in Madison Square Park and Union Square – friendly, laid back and fun – they’ll make you a fresh crepe on their hot crepe irons right before your eyes and you’ll never be the same!

524 W. 15th St, Manhattan NY 10014  |  917.207.7552

Schnitzel & Things

Food trucks have become a hot new item in NYC and LA. There are at least 10 of them that hang out on different days of the week near my office on Park Ave South and Schnitzel & Things is definitely one of my favs! These guys make three different types of schnitzel: Chicken, Pork and Cod along with a variety of different sides to accompany such as Braised Red Cabbage, Austrian Potato Salad and Chickpea Salad. The schnitzels are pounded thin, lightly breaded and fried golden to perfection served with a lemon wedge. They also serve unique condiments such as Pesto Mayo, Chipolte Sour Cream and Ginger, Scallion and Garlic to add another layer of delicious flavor to the dish. Keep an eye out for the truck around town – you’ll be a devoted fan with just one bite!

Bar Stuzzicini

Bar Stuzzichini is a fine Italian dining excursion in the Flatiron District with a gorgeous interior and authentic Italian dishes and small plates. My friend and I discovered this place earlier this year because of their Happy Hour special from 4:30-6:30 Monday through Friday: order a drink and you get a complimentary small plate of your choice off the menu. My favorites are the Arancini Rice Balls filled with loads of melted parmesan cheese, the small plate of Spicy Meatballs and Sauce and a glass of bubbly Prosecco. They also serve Brunch on Sunday with an Italian Jazz trio from 12:30-3:30 for only $18 a person which includes your choice of 1 “Stuzzi”, 1 Entrée and a Glass of Prosecco. Totally worth the visit!

928 Broadway, New York City |  212.780.5100


I recently moved to Murray Hill last Summer on 34th and 2nd Ave and discovered this Turkish Moroccan gem the day I moved. My friend and I sat outside on the patio with their adorable tiled tables and enormous palm trees and order a glass of vino and fresh made hummous and pita to take a break from the moving madness and fell in love with the atmosphere, the food and the service. The owner came by and greeted us personally and welcomed me to the neighborhood with a complimentary round of drinks on the house. They offer a unique menu of hot and cold Tapas and Small Plates including Steak and Frites, Chicken and Mushroom Croquettes, Moules Frites and Citronelle,  Cheese Plates, Moroccan Soup, Couscous, Garlic Shrimp and more. Their Tagines are their signature dish, chicken, salmon, lamb shank or mixed seafood baked with vegetables and sauce in a Moroccan Clay Pot. Their Paella and fresh Sangria is to die for! On weekends, the bar is buzzing, the music fills the streets, and you can even enjoy live bellydancing for some extra entertainment. One of my favorite finds so far this year! (And yes, I am a regular patron and do receive a warm welcome one every visit!)

633 2nd Avenue, NYC 10016 | 212.685.8558

La Esquina

A unique little joint located in Noho, La Esquina is the best Mexican food in town, at least in my opinion. They have a Taqueria (takeout), Brasserie and a Café and food to die for. Their fresh and authentic tacos and burritos are bursting with flavor all made with fresh corn tortillas, homemade salsa verde and macha, and topped with queso fresco, onions, avocado and cilantro. Their grilled Mexican corn and quesadillas are delicious too and they have a variety of frozen and fruit margaritas to cool off your mouth on fire! Word of warning: the Taqueria is tiny but cozy with bar stools and a line out the door, so be prepared for a wait that is definitely worth the experience and tasty treat!

106 Kenmare St, NYC 10012 | 646.613.7100

Cask Bar + Kitchen

This Classic Vintage Bar is a unique place in Murray Hill that has a 100-year-old restored wood floor and antique bar. They offer hand drawn cask conditioned beers and craft beers and an extensive wine list. They also have a Cellar Bar downstairs for private parties and events. The dinner menu includes a variety of Small Plates, Burgers, Flatbreads, Salads and Big Plates and they also offer Cheese Plates and Charcuterie if you just want some delicious munchies at the bar. I fell in love with their Truffle Mac ‘n Cheese – made with black truffles, aged white cheddar and Reggiano cheese. This dish literally melts in your mouth with a creamy mixture of flavors and perfectly crunchy breadcrumb topping. The Meatball Sampler is a must-try served with Beef, Lamb and Pork meatballs and Marinara, Wholegrain Mustard and Tomato Chipolte dipping sauces to accompany. Stop by for a drink and some delicious small plates or for Brunch or Traditional Roast Dinner every Sunday.

167 E. 33rd St (Btw 3rd & Lex) |  212.300.4924

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