“I thought it would be all the kids that would be loving it, but it was the adults! It was the adults who kept coming.”
Meet Melissa Yen, who just so happens to answer to the name: Jo Snow. Melissa is the founder and senior syrup slinger behind Jo Snow Syrups, a small-batch, artisan syrup company based in Chicago, IL.
Melissa is a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur. All her life she’s started and stopped businesses with none ever really clicking until now. For her, Jo Snow Syrups is the first business she’s ever technically mastered. She makes syrups for a living. That’s her job – boiling and bottling up to 500 syrup bottles a week. She’s good at it. Really good at it – which is great because she’s always, always, ALWAYS wanted to own a food brand.
I found Melissa through a little investigating before my Chicago trip a few weeks back. I put out a few feelers to food folks I knew who lived in the area, letting them know I was spending an extra day during my travels to, hopefully, film a story. I got a lot of good responses, lots of interesting artisans were thrown my way. But, time after time, Jo Snow Syrups just kept coming up in conversation. And when a name gets mentioned that much, my general feeling is, the product has to be pretty damn good. So, I took a leap of faith and booked my story, blindly, without ever tasting it.
Well, who exactly knows how serendipity works, but Melissa ended up being that perfect kind of artisan I love to film: passionate, creative, fun, and full of life and energy. An artisan who truly loves what they do. An artisan who makes a product I’m excited to talk about. These syrups are incredible. The flavors are thought-provoking and interesting on the palate. They wake your senses, and make coffees and cocktails and sodas way more fun than you think they would.
So, go ahead, try it. I just dare you to have some fun!!
Jo Snow Syrups Current List of Flavors:
- Soda Pop Flavors: Cola #6, Sass! Root Beer, Kickin’ Cream Soda
- Coffee Flavors: Cafe de Olla, Fig Vanilla Black Pepper, Cardamom Rose Water (my favorite)
- Fruity Flavors: Hibiscus Basil Orange Blossom, Ginger Passion Fruit, Tangerine Lavender Honey
Thanks so much for watching food. curated. I truly appreciate all the support and notes of encouragement while I took a little time off of storytelling these past few months. But now, I’m back. And I’m ready for a whole new season of storytelling. So stay tuned because I’ve got so many fun things to show you in 2012… Happy Drinking!
“I didn’t have time to think about being scared.”
On August 28th, hundreds of farms in upstate New York were destroyed by massive floods caused by Hurricane Irene. No one predicted the flood water would come as quickly as it did, nor the amount of water and force that accompanied it. This is one farmer’s story: Meet David and Denise Lloyd of Maple Downs Farm, a small dairy farm in Middleburgh, NY.
David & Denise have been farming all their life. They make a living raising heritage breed Holstein cattle to supply not just fresh local dairy to our markets, but prized genetics across the world. The day of the hurricane, they lost everything: crops, cattle, equipment, homes. Right now, they are just trying to survive.
Last week, I drove three and a half hours upstate to tell their story because I know that New York City wasn’t spared by the hurricane. When you think about it, this is farmland that feeds New York, farmers that work the land and tend to their animals so we all can eat locally. If these farms don’t recover, we will see direct implications on our plates. Again, this is just one story of hundreds out there. I’ll do my best to bring you more stories over the next few weeks. And if you’re interested in helping out in any way, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me. I’d love to help organize something.
**A big thanks to Dean Sparks (@OrganicNYmilk1) for helping me to get access to these farmers. Dean knows quite a bit about what has happened to farms in that area, so feel free to contact him too with any questions.
Thanks so much for watching food. curated.! Support our area farmers by shopping at the greenmarkets!
Meet, Erin Evenson, a legal assistant for an international law firm by day, and an award-winning competitive home cook by nights and weekends in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Erin is a self-proclaimed “food dork”. She buries her nose in cookbooks and happily spends 100% of her spare time day-dreaming, crafting and developing recipes to compete with. But not just any recipes, her specialty is giving dishes a New Nordic, Scandinavian twist – adding a little love and respect for her family’s heritage into every main stage battle, hoping to expose more people to a cuisine she’s passionate about. Erin will compete this weekend at the Food Experiments National Championship in Brooklyn, pitting competition-craving home cooks from across the country against each other for an all out “perfect bite” cook-off.
I found Erin through Theo Peck, a co-founder of the Food Experiments. Sniffing out a story, I asked him if there was a “team to beat”, and Erin Evenson first came to mind. He told me she’s quite a character, a seasoned competitor who makes the most amazing, interesting and compelling dishes – and for the championship, she somehow sourced 150 Atlantic cod tongues from a commercial fisherman in Bay Ridge. Well, ladies and gents, that’s all I needed to know.
I met with Erin this past Sunday at her apartment, and filmed as she was testing out batches of her seafood concept. Immediately, I was touched by the utter merriment she brings to the kitchen: “Moreso than anything, what I learned from that very first competition I entered in 2006, the joy is feeding someone and making them happy, and it’s absolutely, first and foremost, my intent when I cook this food.” So enjoy this sweet, little peek into the life of a competitive home cook. She’s confident. She’s serious. And, man oh man, can she do mean things with cod tongues.
Thanks so much for watching and supporting food. curated.! Telling stories is my passion. Happy Eating!
“Last year we had way more produce than we could use, so this year, we tried to scale back a little bit to hit the sweet spot a little more closely.”
Meet George Weld, the owner/chef of Egg, a friendly, neighborhood restaurant in Brooklyn, New York focusing on farm-to-table southern cuisine. At Egg, the word “comfort” isn’t taken lightly, and diners who want a taste of the South done authentically and simply know to come, and keep coming back here. They’ve got homemade buttermilk biscuits & gravy, heaping servings of the tastiest grits, juicy fried chicken, Carolina kale, pulled pork, hot ham, pimento cheese and, of course, eggs, lots of eggs. Up until three years ago, the restaurant worked closely with local farmers to provide the fresh produce featured on their seasonal menus. Now, they are able to provide almost all the vegetables they need for their dishes from their own 6-acre farm, Goatfell Farm, located 2.5 hours from the restaurant in upstate New York – a personal, passion project that George had been thinking about for many years.
George bought and started Goatfell Farm because he wanted to reconnect to land and agriculture, a relationship he recalls from childhood, but lost through the many years of city life. For him, it’s not a vanity project, it’s a project where he feels the restaurant can make a real difference in not only providing wholesome food to his customers, but in providing education to himself and his staff on the difficulties and rewards of food production. And, farming his own land hasn’t been easy, George says, “I think what I learned since we started doing it, both, that it’s really hard, and that people who decide to run big, successful produce operations are geniuses.”
Does he think all restaurants should have a farm? No. He doesn’t believe it’s morally superior to having a restaurant that doesn’t have a farm. It’s just something George wanted to do and had to do because of his desire to have a closer relationship to food. As you’ll see from the story, it’s taught him enough to know that this is the start of something he plans to keep doing for decades – not only at Egg, but in a new farm-to-table restaurant he’s planning.
135 N 5th Street, Brooklyn, New York 11222
Thanks again for watching and supporting food. curated.! Happy eating!
“Ultimately, I hope our customers have a great experience. I hope it cools them down. I hope it reminds them of their youth. And, most of all, I hope they avoid brain freeze…”
Meet Alex Rein, the founder and CEO of Kelvin’s Natural Slush Co., an adult-friendly frozen slush company founded two years ago in New York City. According to Alex, his slushes are far better than anything you can get at a local convenient store, featuring base flavors and pureed fruit mix-ins designed for mature taste buds. Basically, a pretty compelling reason to relive your childhood without the embarrassment of holding an actual 7-11 Slurpee cup. And in the heat of summer, there’s nothing more refreshing than these beautifully layered, icy drinks.
Thanks so much for watching food. curated.! Happy drinking!