Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Summer is the season for fancy food

I'm writing to you from the Big Apple. Actually, Clifton, New Jersey, which is where we've been staying for the past couple of days since we've been exhibiting at the 2009 Summer Fancy Food Show. Today was our last day at the show and it has been a great run!

I'm about to head to bed because it has been a pretty exciting, yet exhausting couple of days and we are driving back to Pittsburgh first thing tomorrow, but I'll be writing about our experiences at the show later this week.

This was our second year exhibiting at the show and it never ceases to amaze me, the amount innovation and creativity is out there in the food industry. It's so inspiring and it really makes my mom and I want to keep finding ways to improve our products and come up with new ones.

I'll be back to chat soon!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Nostalgic Memories of My New York Kitchen

While I was living in New York, I got used to reading certain publications and even after I moved away, never really broke the habit. A couple of the pubs: The New York Times, New York Magazine and The New Yorker. Mostly, I peruse the websites of these pubs, rather than picking up a hard copy, although, given the state of the newspaper industry these days, I'm feeling a bit guilty about this and probably should purchase an issue every now and then.

Each of these pubs catered to a different facet of my life in New York- The New York Times has always been my source for the hard news- this is where I would turn to for any breaking events, like the time the entire city smelled like maple syrup and people worried that it might be some kind of subtle attack on Manhattan. (Not to worry- turns out that this smell wafted over from Jersey, from a company that manufactures fragrances.)

New York Magazine was where I turn to get my dose of the arts and pop culture, while still feeling like I'm educating myself. And their reviews of NY restaurants and bars are really reliable. I like that they try to cater to those on smaller budgets (i.e. me) in addition to the 5th Ave. crowd.

Opening the New Yorker and reading the table contents makes me feel well read. The stories are prolific and eloquent. Plus, their cartoons are hilarious.

Which brings me to a recent find I made in the Video section of the New York Times website. There is a short video series called kitchen 4B. In it, NY Times recipe tester and writer Jill Sanpietro shows how to make recipes in her apartment with an extremely tiny kitchen. Here's her latest video on how to make risotto:

I'm hooked on this video series- it's unpretentious, really entertaining and really reminds me of what it was like to cook and entertain in the smallest of spaces. One year, three of my good friends and I made a complete Thanksgiving dinner for 8 people in our tiny apartment. We were amazed at how we were able to pull this off in such a tight space, but in the end, I think the meal was that much more delicious because it was such a challenge.

Never again in my life will I take counter space or a dishwasher for granted.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Like A Food Network Star (almost)

Last Sunday, my mom and I participated in a Gluten-Free Day that was hosted by the brand new Whole Foods in Annapolis Maryland. We were on the store floor handing out samples of our Cupola Cookies & Clouds for a couple hours, and then, we did an hour-long cooking demonstration in the store's fantastic Culinary Center!

During our cooking demonstration, we made three short recipes (two appetizers and a dessert) that featured our products. The Culinary Center kitchen was state of the art- it was a lot fun to be able to use all these shiny new appliances- definitely a "kid in a candy store" kind of a moment for me. And on some very basic level, now I know what it would be like to have your own cooking show, like Paula, Giada or Martha.

Here's a list of the recipes we made:

1) Parmesan Endive Boats

2) Artichoke Canapes

3) Summer Fruit Trifle with Quinoa Custard

If you'd like a copy of any of the recipes above, feel free to send me an email here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lessons Learned From The Demise of Archway Cookies

Many of you are probably familiar with Archway cookies- they come in a signature red package that's hard to miss on grocery store shelves. Until I read the recent New York Times article "What Happened to Archway?", I had no idea that the company was in any kind of financial trouble.

It turns out that Archway had been having some major cash flow problems for months, and that in order to retain the financing they were receiving from Wachovia, the company cushioned its books with non-existent sales. In addition to what equates to accounting fraud, the company has been accused of providing defective or unsellable products to its distributors and retailers and then making it difficult for these business partners to receive credit on these orders.

What scares me is that, there must have been at least several executives who knew what was going on, yet turned a blind eye. By engaging in these kinds of activities, Archway let down its employees, its distributors and the retailers that carried its products. Archway's demise carries lessons that any small business can learn from, whether involved in the baked goods business or not. Despite being a 60-some year old company, it appears that all the high-quality and integrity associated with the Archway brand and its cookies disappeared in just a few short years or even months. Compromising the quality of your products and the relationships you have with your business partners is a sure fire way of decreasing the value and success of your company.