Food Pro's Popular Posts

Friday, July 29, 2011

Miami Spice Brings Affordable Fine Dining To The Magic City


Miami Spice Brings Affordable Fine Dining To The Magic City

Miami Spice Runs From Aug. 1 - Sept. 30


Grab a friend and your appetite for another one of South Florida’s mouth-watering restaurant promotion events.
Miami Spice will kick off its annual Summer event which provides delicious deals at some of the Miami’s best restaurants.
Foodies all over South Florida have been waiting for the 10th annual Miami Spice to begin and now it’s almost here.
Miami Spice begins August 1st and runs for two months until September 30th.
During those two months, diners can enjoy mouth-watering three-course, $22 lunches and $35 dinners at more than 130 participating restaurants across Miami-Dade County.

Freegans go Dumpster dining at Trader Joe's

Freegans go Dumpster dining at Trader Joe's

A new documentary about food waste could dampen grocery chain Trader Joe’scrunchy image.
"Dive" illustrates the waste of wholesome food by following a group of “Dumpster divers,” people who mine trash bins for usable products. In the film, the divers are not homeless or even particularly poor; they just don't like to see good food go to waste, and they like to get stuff for free.
“In the United States, even our trash cans are filled with food; you just have to go get it,” director Jeremy Seifert says during the film’s opening sequence.
The “freegan” divers – Seifert, his wife, Jennifer, and a bunch of their friends – discover large quantities of fresh meat, vegetables and fruit in bins behind a couple of Trader Joe’s stores in the Los Angeles area. Seifert is appalled that so much food that is not spoiled and not past its freshness date is being discarded.

But Seifert says the target of his film is wastefulness, not Trader Joe’s.
“In our consumerism we‘ve become wasteful,” he told CNN. “And I try to bring it back on us because of the food waste in the home.”
A typical household of two adults and two children loses $600 in food per year through spoilage and mishandling, University of Arizona professor Timothy Jones estimates.
Still, “I don’t get mad at people when they don’t think about food waste, because I didn’t think about food waste,” said Seifert, 34, who holds a master’s degree fromFuller Theological Seminary.
“I didn’t think about food waste until I started eating trash.”
That began when some friends brought food they had pulled from a bin behind a store.
“Half of it was inedible and half of it was amazing,” he said.
“Dive” is Seifert’s first film. The 53-minute documentary cost $200 and innumerable hours to make as he taught himself how to edit video, he said. Gaps in the video storytelling are filled in with animated graphics and long stretches of archival stock footage. It has won awards at 21 film festivals and was released July 19th on DVD and through Netflix and iTunes.
Seifert said egregious waste occurs at most grocery stores, but Trader Joe’s bins simply were more accessible. Some food gets donated to food banks, but not nearly enough, he said.
“Trader Joe’s are doing a pretty damn good job, and doing a lot better job than a lot of other stores,” he said.
“This is like a family quarrel. I like Trader Joe’s. I shop there. I Dumpster dive there. And I want them to do better. So I’m not really trying to go after them or harshly criticize them, I just want them to do better.”
Seifert has started a petition on Change.org demanding that Trader Joe’s make zero waste a part of its corporate identity.
The petition, which had garnered nearly 77,000 signatures by Tuesday morning, is unnecessary, said Matt Sloan, Trader Joe’s vice president of marketing.
The company works with each of its more than 250 stores to arrange with local food banks and other charities for daily pickups of food the stores don’t plan to sell or aren’t able to sell, Sloan said. The program isn’t perfectly executed, but there is a program, and it’s not optional, he said.
“In 2010, Trader Joe's donated more than 25 million pounds of food – that's equal to almost 656 truckloads of food or 20 million meals,” the privately owned chain’s website says.
“Trader Joe's long-running policy is to donate products that are not fit for sale but are safe for consumption,” it goes on. “Each store has a designated Donation Coordinator, whose responsibilities include working with local food banks, food pantries, and/or soup kitchens in their communities to facilitate donations, seven days a week.
“We continuously strive to improve our processes in our efforts to reduce food waste and provide hunger relief.”
Even so, the chain has no national donation agreement with Feeding America, the network to which most food banks belong, said Feeding America spokesman Ross Fraser.
“Nearly every other retailer has a donation arrangement with us - Wal-mart, Sam’s, Kroger, Target, Food Lion, and just about any other grocery chain you can think of,” Fraser added. Feeding America rescues nearly half a billion pounds of fresh food yearly, and most of that comes from Wal-mart, Fraser said. http://walmartstores.com/Sustainability/9176.aspx
Given Trader Joe’s carefully cultivated progressive image, many customers are pained to learn of waste at any Trader Joe’s store.
“They have such an earthy feel, they feel so funky, and I would think they would want to do something more about it,” Deborah Buczarski told CNN.
“Now when I go in there and I see them pulling all this stuff off the shelves, I know what they’re doing with it,” she said.
Buczarski, a librarian in Santa Ana, California, said Trader Joe’s may have a policy, but it needs to make sure whoever is responsible for coordinating a store’s food donations actually has the time and resources to do it.
“The change would have to come down from the top. Allow them some time to do this, some leeway,” she said.
“Trader Joe's is my favorite store so I really hope you will step up to this important task,” petition signer Cheri Acita wrote on Change.org. “PLEASE help fight hunger and stop your waste of food. It is very sad to know about this because I love all you stand for.”
In 2010, about 5.7 million people came to food banks seeking help, Feeding America’s Fraser said.
“We need every morsel of food we can get at this point,” Fraser said.
“It’s very common that we simply run out of food before everyone standing in line gets what they need.”
He acknowledged that individual Trader Joe’s stores regularly donate to local food banks, but Feeding America would prefer a nationwide plan.
“If they’d like to work with us, we’d be delighted to work with them,” he said.
“It’s about more than not wasting food,” Seifert says in the film. “It’s about making sure everyone has enough to eat.”

Thursday, July 28, 2011

New Haven’s Oaxaca Kitchen delivers inventive cuisine

New Haven’s Oaxaca Kitchen delivers inventive cuisine
By Joan Gordon


Oaxaca Kitchen
228 College St., New Haven, (203) 859-5774

Hours: Lunch, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Dinner, 5 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 4 p.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. Brunch, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday.
Prices (same for lunch and dinner): Starters $4-$12; entrées $13-$22; desserts $6-$7.
Amenities: Major credit cards accepted. Wheelchair accessible (street and bar level tables only). Reservations suggested on weekends, including brunch.
Price: $-$
Rating: Four out of four stars.

In a nutshell: Fresh and inventive. Some of the best Oaxacan and Mexican fare to be had in the state. We loved it all, from the guacamole, gazpacho, crab cake, buffalo burger and sea bass to the ultimate tres leches cake.

Five intense foodies recently gathered in New Haven to sample the fare at the newly opened Oaxaca Kitchen. Mexican food fans all, we were eager to try this newest venture of chef Prasad Chirnomula. It did not disappoint, and was reasonably priced to boot.

Customers who have feasted at Chirnomula’s Thali-monikered Indian restaurants will not be surprised to hear he has ventured into another robust cookery style. As more and more ethnic cuisines become popular, an Indian chef creating Mexican dishes shouldn’t raise any eyebrows. (Italian food at Modesto’s in Norwich is created by Mexican chef/owner Modesto Moran.)

The restaurant space at Oaxaca has been painstakingly decorated. A few tables on a front brick patio invite you into the tiled entry, followed by a good sized bar. Each detail — colors, wall treatments, rough-hewn beams and leather — has been designed to mimic a cantina with Spanish colonial accents. Up a few stairs to the dining room, terra cotta pot lids collaged onto the surface adorn one wall in the dining room, while on another, little sculptures of colorful lizards climb a mesh screen.

Our informative and amiable server, Colin, proffered housemade corn chips and a superb salsa. We munched while watching our order of guacamole being prepared tableside in a hefty molcajete. It was absolutely delicious, complete with Spanish onion, a tad of cilantro and a Serrano chili.

Small touches
Little touches often separate the mundane from the extraordinary, and Oaxaca’s gazpacho offered ample evidence. Toasted pepitas, swirls of jalapeño oil and the coup de grace (or, more fittingly, golpe de gracia), a dollop of roasted red pepper sorbet, elevated the thick tomato-avocado base. Mango sorbet highlighted the ceviche Vera Cruz.

We split most dishes. The menu is so well put together we wanted one of everything. Jumbo lump blue crab cake was delicious and creamy, with a crunchy coating of blue corn chips surrounded by a roasted tomato coulis. Flour tortillas were available paired with fish, chicken, beef or pork and came with a creamed, chipotle accented sauce.

Chilean sea bass had been draped in a masterful Oaxacan yellow mole sauce. The accents were black beans, roasted grape tomatoes and queso fresco for balance.

Meat eaters could revel in the marinated hangar steak, Bistec a la Parilla, or pork tenderloin finished with a thyme jus. However, we just had to try one of the massive buffalo burgers. The over-sized patty was mixed with chopped chorizo and served over Oaxacan cheese, roasted poblano peppers and grilled onions. What could be better? Well, maybe the chili-spiced fries. Dipping them into the housemade ketchup was a special treat.

The bar has a large list of tequilas, plus six superb Mezcals native to Oaxaca. But Negra Modelo, my favorite Mexican beer, was available, and we shared a few sips.

Sweet desserts
Desserts? No way we would omit them. Of the three offered, we split two, skipping only the orange flan. Sopapilla cheesecake was very creative, a layer of traditional cinnamon-fried dough topping a Mexican vanilla cheesecake surrounded by golden agave nectar. It came garnished with a cookie spelling out “Oaxaca!”

I almost inhaled the kitchen’s fabulous Tres Leches cake. Since first tasting my friend Lee White’s version, I had always thought nothing could ever top it, but Oaxaca’s did the trick (sorry, Lee). Could I have been a sucker for the margarita cream and chocolate swirl on top?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

P.F. Chang's 2Q Earnings Drop 29%, Cuts View As Traffic Falls

P.F. Chang's 2Q Earnings Drop 29%, Cuts View As Traffic Falls

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- There were fewer diners walking through the doors at P.F. Chang's and same store sale slid, pushing second-quarter net income down 29 percent, the restaurateur said Wednesday.
The casual dining company cut its full-year earnings and revenue outlook. Its stock slid $3.80, or 9.7 percent, to $35.45 before the market open.
P.F. Chang's China Bistro Inc. earned $9.1 million, or 40 cents per share, in the quarter compared with $12.8 million, or 55 cents per share, in the same period last year.
Analysts surveyed by FactSet forecast much higher earnings of 56 cents per share.
Revenue for the period ended July 3 edged down 1 percent to $311 million from $312.8 million on lower restaurant sales and a decline in revenue from restaurant licensing.
That missed Wall Street expectations of $313.2 million as well.
Revenue from its namesake restaurants open at least a year fell 2.5 percent, while the figure slipped 2.7 percent at its other notable brand, the Pei Wei Diner.
That is a key metric used to gauge a restaurant's health because it excludes the volatile results from locations opened or closed during the year.
P.F. Chang's, which is based in Scottsdale, Ariz., said it had raised prices at its namesake restaurants by 1 percent to 2 percent and enacted 2 percent to 3 percent price hikes at Pei Wei locations. Almost every business sector is testing how much of a price hike consumers will absorb.
The company said it expects labor costs will climb, and now predicts full-year earnings of $1.60 to $1.70 per share with revenue up about 1 percent. P.F. Chang's prior guidance was for earnings between $2.15 and $2.20 per share, with revenue rising about 3 percent to 4 percent.
Analysts expect fiscal 2011 earnings of $2.09 per share on revenue of $1.26 billion.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cafe Ole Restaurant shut down for live and dead roaches in kitchen

Cafe Ole Restaurant shut down for live and dead roaches in kitchen
TAMPA - Charles and Stan Strausser are brothers visiting from out of town and decided to dine at Cafe Olé Restaurant on Cross Creek Blvd in Tampa after their hotel recommended it.
But they were not aware of the restaurant's most recent inspection reports.
"Did the place look clean to you?  What did you think of it?" asked ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan.
"I thought it was. I thought it looked clean, but I didn't see the kitchen," said Charles.
On June 6, inspectors closed the facility after finding over 30 live and dead roaches near the prep counter and drawers, bar area, sink, dishwashing area, and back door.
And this wasn't the first time inspectors discovered roaches. During the three previous inspections, in January of this year and May and September of last year, they documented seeing roaches inside Cafe Olé's kitchen. So has anything changed? Ryan went to the restaurant to find out.
"Is there an owner or manager I can speak with?" asked Ryan.
"He's not here right now," an employee responded.
But that employee told Ryan he had only worked at Cafe Olé for a couple weeks, the owner wasn't around, and the manager wouldn't be back for several hours.
Cafe Olé has accumulated 73 critical violations over the last 14 months, and during the most recent inspection in June, inspectors documented food not date-marked, food thawed at room temperature, and food stored on the floor.
"You always assume they're abiding by the law and if they're not, you don't know," said Stan.
But despite what inspectors uncovered, the Strausser brothers say they'd be repeat customers.
"So the food was good?" Ryan asked.
"Yes, superb. I'd come back here in a heartbeat!" Charles said.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Breakfast by the beach in Palm Beach County

Breakfast by the beach in Palm Beach County

By Janis Fontaine

There’s no more relaxing way to enjoy the most important meal of the day.
There’s a bumper sticker that says, “Some of us are NOT on vacation.”
True enough, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pretend you’re on vacation with a surf-side breakfast and a nice ocean view.
Here’s a very abbreviated list of places where you can kick off your flip-flops and enjoy your eggs Benedict to the sound of the surf and the smell of the sea:
Benny’s on the Beach, 10 Ocean Blvd., Lake Worth. Breakfast: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Info: (561) 582-9001. Benny’s is like John G’s red-headed stepchild. John G’s closing got so much attention, they forgot to tell you that Benny’s is still open at Lake Worth Beach. It’s been a local landmark since it opened in 1986.Directions, reviews, more >>
Dune Deck Cafe, 100 N. Ocean Blvd., Lantana. Breakfast served: 8 to 11:30 a.m. Monday-Friday. Brunch from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Info: (561) 582-0472. With a slogan like “The only thing we overlook is the ocean,” it’s got to deliver! Directions, reviews, more >>
Tides Bar and Grille at the Palm Beach Oceanfront Inn, 3550 S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach. Info: (561) 582-5631. Afraid of Palm Beach? Don’t be. Tides proudly boasts it’s the closest restaurant to the ocean in South Florida. Every table overlooks the pool and the ocean, and the outside terrace offers al fresco dining. Directions, reviews, more >>
Johnny Longboats, 2401 Ocean Ave., Singer Island. Breakfast served: 7 a.m. to noon daily. This place wins for the best legend. Ask someone to tell you about it. This place has a local, old Florida feel that will make you feel oceans away from the old 9-to-5 grind. Small dogs are allowed outside on patio.Directions, reviews, more >>
Coconuts on the Beach at the Hilton Singer Island Oceanfront/Palm Beaches, 3700 N. Ocean Drive, Singer Island. Info: (561) 848-3888. Breakfast served: 7 to 11 a.m. You may not be able to put your toes in the sand while you’re eating, but pretty close! Directions, reviews, more >>
The Sandbar at Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa, 5 North A1A, Jupiter. Info: (866) 943-0950. Breakfast served: 7-11 a.m. Monday-Friday and a breakfast buffet 7 to 11 a.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to noon Sunday. It’s tough to find surf-side dining in Jupiter, but pool-side and an ocean view works.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A tour of hotels, restaurants where Entourage filmed final season

A tour of hotels, restaurants where Entourage filmed final season

LOS ANGELES - As we wait for the eighth and final season of HBO's hit series, "Entourage," to premier Sunday, speculation builds about the plot - and, importantly, which sexy locations we'll see in the shows.
Well, Hotel Check-In's here with some answers about the locations.
I also have a heads-up about a couple of LA hotel-restaurant personalities who were invited on the set.
During my two-week hotel whirlwind here, it seemed as if every hotel I checked into or visited had just hosted the Entourage cast and crew for filming.
The day before I toured the glam W Hollywood hotel with GM Jim McPartlin, Entourage had just wrapped up shooting for a scene in the hotel's swanky, outdoor Living Room, where celebrities regularly pop up.
Other hotels where Entourage filmed scenes for the final season:
  • Beverly Wilshire: Expect to see plenty of this glitz hotel - part of the Four Seasons chain - in the final season. (Though I didn't spot Vince, E or Drama, I did spot real-life Hollywood talent scout mogul Ari Emanual - the power broker who Ari Gold's loosely based on - dining in the hotel's restaurant BLVD a few tables away from me.)
  • Redbury: They came to the eccentric, hip Redbury to film scenes throughout the hotel as well as in its hot, laid-back restaurant, Cleo. (Again, I didn't spot any Entourage cast members, but I did run into pop singer Natasha Bedingfield one night at the hotel's private rooftop lounge.)
  • SLS Beverly Hills: They shot scenes throughout the sexy, design-driven SLS hotel, including its rooftop pool. (No sign of E, but I'm pretty sure it was James Cameron - Aquaman director - who we saw holding court at a rooftop table during our stay.)
  • Montage Beverly Hills: They filmed in a few places in this luxurious hotel, but perhaps the most interesting is the barber shop location. One character in particular sat in barber William Gornick's chair to get a straight razor shave. While in his chair, they undoubtedly heard Gornick's colorful stories about the days he used to give Pres. Ronald Reagan a shave. (I didn't have luck here either spotting Adrian Grenier or the others, but I did see Iron Man director Jon Favreau arrive and walk into the lobby to do a photo shoot.)
In the case of cameos, you'll likely spot two high-profile people from the hotel-restaurant world. They are:
  • Sam Nazarian, the LA nightlife, restaurant and hotel mogul (CEO of "sbe") who runs some of the hottest hang-outs in town. Entourage filmed at two of his hotels (the SLS Beverly Hills and Redbury) in addition to two restaurants (The Bazaar and Cleo). Nazarian's such a high-profile player in town that he had a small cameo in a prior season, but this time he was given actual lines. He's not, however, about to quit his day job. "It's always fun to take part, but (Entourage co-producer Mark) Wahlberg's not exactly sending me scripts for his new projects," Nazarian told me via email.
  • Scott Conant, the New York chef who last October opened one of his popular Scarpetta restaurants at the Montage Beverly Hills. The restaurant's packed and regularly hosts celebrities. (While I was there, Latin pop star Luis Miguel and Daisy Fuentes dined there.)
LA's hottest hotels and restaurants have made it into plenty of other shows during the past seven seasons.
One example: Way back in season two, Jeremy Piven, Adrien Grenier and Kevin Connelly went to the Viceroy Santa Monica to film scenes for the "Oh Mandy" episode (No. 16). In the scene, Ari presented Vince with a check for $2 million for doing Aquaman as well as James Cameron's list of candidates for Aquagirl.
Readers: Can you name other memorable Entourage scenes shot in an LA hotel or restaurant? Also, by the likes of the hotels shown in the photo gallery, do you want to make any bets on the direction that Vince's career will take?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Luca Bella, Family Style Italian Dining, Coming to South Florida

Luca Bella, Family Style Italian Dining, Coming to South Florida

Former Owner of Matteo’s Italian Restaurant, Hallandale Beach, takes over ‘Chef Allen’s’ old location in Aventura; Owner Mickey Maltese will roll out Southern Italian Favorites beginning, September, 2011
AVENTURA, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Concorde Plaza will soon be the new home of Luca Bella, a family-style Italian restaurant formerly occupied by Chef Allen. The new restaurant, situated just off of US 1 or Biscayne Boulevard, will feature primarily Southern Italian dishes, fresh seafood, Northern traditional dishes, as well as a full bar andextensive wine list.
Concorde Plaza, located on the north side of Loehmann’s Fashion Island, houses a number of family-oriented businesses and medical offices, including several retail stores. It is just the right place for new owner Mickey Maltese to call home.
“I am excited to open up a restaurant where my concept of family can truly be encompassed,” Maltese said. “The vitality and family nature of the plaza enables me to feel right at home, and I’m sure the clientele will agree.”
Maltese, previous owner of Matteo’s Italian Restaurant in Hallandale, has industry experience spanning over fifteen years. With family originally from Naples, Maltese was born in Brooklyn and raised in Cedarhurst, Long Island, New York. Living in South Florida for the past six years with his wife Gabriela and two children, Marcelo Luca and Isabella, he has established a great rapport with customers and looks forward to continually serving them and others in the area.
“My dedicated loyal staff and I like to create what we call Italian comfort food, family style portions of the more popular Italian-American and some traditional Southern Italian dishes as well,” Maltese said. “Some of my favorites will be the little neck baked clams or clams casino, pan fried veal chops layered with prosciutto and mozzarella and topped with a marsala mushroom sauce, prime New York strip steaks and double cut pork chops smothered with sautéed cherry peppers and onions cooked on our wood fired grill. We will also be serving a variety of fresh seafood, including whole lobsters, scallops, snapper, salmon, sea bass and mussels, as well as a variety of pasta dishes like gnocci, tortellini and ravioli.”
With the opening of Luca Bella, Maltese plans to showcase what he likes to call a “modern twist to an authentic, Italian eatery.”
“I’m excited to take on this new venture,” Maltese said. “I’ve always wanted to expand my horizons, yet still maintain a charming and relaxing family atmosphere.”
Luca Bella has begun transforming the space and is scheduled to open in September 2011. The 4,000 square foot facility will offer accommodations of up to 200 persons, boasts an outside patio for dining, a private party room, a 20 person bar and several large flat screen televisions. The average dish will run anywhere from $11.95-42.95.

Contacts

Luca Bella, Aventura
David Mittler, 305-450 8655
or
Michael Maltese, 516-567-3904

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Food Truck Phenomenon is Taking Over the Nation

The Food Truck Phenomenon is Taking Over the Nation

Follow that food truck. Whether it’s up the street, over at the farmers market or on Twitter and Facebook, there’s a bumper crop of cooks serving meals from mobile kitchens this summer.



“It’s like we had pressure on the dam, and it burst,” said Greg Smith, president of the Atlanta Street Food Coalition. It started with King of Pops carts and the Yumbii truck, and now we’ve got at least 10 trucks fully permitted by the health department.”
A far cry from the neighborhood “ice cream man” and hot dog stands, the food truck scene represents a wide range of ethnic and gourmet offerings. From Yumbii’s Asian rib-eye tacos and tilapia tacos with Korean barbecue sauce to W.O.W truck’s arepas — Venezuelan corn cakes filled with beef, chicken or pork — food trucks serve quality vittles at affordable prices. Even popsicles get a culinary upgrade. Steven Carse’s King of Pops, with carts working the streets of Athens, Atlanta, Asheville and Charleston, offers frozen flavors such as chocolate sea salt, strawberry rhubarb and banana pudding.
A survey out this week by the market research firm Technomic Inc. found that 91 percent of folks familiar with food trucks say the trend is here to stay. The biggest reason nonusers of food trucks cited for not frequenting a mobile cart was hesitation over buying food from a vehicle. Certainly food safety and proper permitting are big concerns.
“Everyone’s required to operate out of a commercial kitchen,” said Smith, who adds that area municipalities haven’t exactly made it easy for food truck owners to roll into their new businesses easily. “It’s extra complicated in the metro Atlanta area because we have so many municipalities with different methods of interpreting the health code. The city of Atlanta and the Fulton County Health Department are the ones we have worked with since we started. Marietta is taking initial steps to permit food trucks now.”
Mobile eateries
While many food trucks advertise daily locations on their websites, there’s an emerging trend in Atlanta to create food truck “pods” or gatherings of multiple mobile kitchens. You can find food trucks in Midtown on Mondays and Thursdays, at the Woodruff Arts Center and Atlantic Station on Fridays, and at the Buckhead Theatre on Thursday evenings.
Jenny Levison of Souper Jenny restaurant in Buckhead loads up her brightly colored “Incredible Flying Soupmobile” with soups, salads and sandwiches and takes her show on the road to food truck events. “It’s entertaining, and you can get all kinds of people to sample lots of food in one place.”
Not surprisingly, the Technomic survey found that location is vital to the success of food trucks, as more than half of consumers “just happen upon them.” Facebook and Twitter are key ingredients for marketing these mobile restaurants because 84 percent of heavy social media users visit food trucks once a week. “I think it’s really cool,” Smith said. “It brings people out and really taps into the power of community in Atlanta.”

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cupcakes Battle Over Sprinkles Name

Cupcakes Battle Over Sprinkles Name

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Candace Nelson plays a judge on the Food Network's reality television show "Cupcake Wars." But now her cupcake company has taken up a legal fight of its own against an upstart business.

Nelson's company, Sprinkles Cupcakes, is so frosted that it filed a federal trademark-infringement lawsuit Friday in Connecticut against a store named Pink Sprinkles. The lawsuit claims the similarity in names is likely to cause confusion in the marketplace.

"The resulting confusion will damage Sprinkles and injure its reputation in the trade and with the public," the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit says Sprinkles opened its first store in Beverly Hills in 2005 and became a national phenomenon as the cupcakes were featured on shows hosted by Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart and others. Sprinkles, which is based in Texas, has stores in New York, Washington, D.C., California, Dallas, Houston and Scottsdale and is planning to open several more around the country and in London, Paris and Toronto.

Pink Sprinkles opened in 2009 and calls itself "Fairfield's first cupcake boutique."

Messages left Monday for the owner of Pink Sprinkles were not immediately returned.

Sprinkles has repeatedly requested that Pink Sprinkles "promptly transition to a new name" but it has refused, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit, which seeks damages and to make Pink Sprinkles stop using the name, calls the dispute "an exceptional case, involving calculated and willful misconduct."

Sprinkles will have to prove consumers are likely to confuse its cupcake with Pink Sprinkles, said Jessica Litman, a law professor at the University of Michigan who teaches trademark law. She said Sprinkles is a common name for a bakery, the websites are different and the two businesses are not in the same market.

"I think it's not so weak a case it was stupid to file it but it's not a strong case," Litman said.

Charles Nelson, who owns Sprinkles with his wife, said he tried to resolve the dispute amicably but was not successful. He said there has been confusion between the brands, with people erroneously thinking the couple had opened a store in Connecticut, and that their cupcake mix was for sale in Connecticut.

"It's not about competition," Nelson said. 'It's just about our name."

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fake Celeb Chef Scams 300 in NJ

Fake Celeb Chef Scams 300 in NJ
Police say the man, claiming to be from the Food Network, sold tickets to a celebrity chef event that never was.
By Joe Hyer

Anybody can pose as a celebrity chef these days, but not knowing the basics of cooking might tip the public off.
Leonard Reubeck, 20, of New Castle, Delaware was arrested on Wednesday, after police say he posed as a Food Network chef and scammed 300 people out of money.
They say he sold tickets for $35 a pop for what he claimed to be a Food Network event in Carney’s Point, N.J. on July 16, Today's Sunbeam reports.
The faux-star promoted the Food Network’s "Dinner Impossible BBQ,” an event that the TV station was allegedly hosting at the Carney’s Point firehouse. Ruebeck told others that the event would feature guests like Bobby Flay, Robert Irvine, Paul Deen and Rachael Ray, according to the paper.
Police say that promotion for the event began in May when Reubeck, otherwise known as "Chef Lenny," was teaching a cooking class. During the course, Reubeck said he was a Food Network chef and convinced others by wearing a Food Network chef’s jacket and a medallion that he allegedly won during a made-up appearance on the show “Iron Chef,” according to the Sunbeam.
“Something just didn’t seem right during the classes when he didn’t have any of the basic skills a chef should have,” one student, Theresa Press, told the paper.
That's when Press went to police and reported Chef Lenny. After an investigation, Reubeck's lies unfolded and he and his cohorts -- a fake production assistant and fake sous chef -- were questioned.
All admitted their wrongdoings.
Ruebeck was released after reimbursing customers nearly $10,000 in ticket costs and officials say criminal charges will not be filed.