All posts by Susan Cohen

Susan Cohen is a freelance writer living in New York. She is a columnist and contributor for Gluten-Free Living. Her work has appeared on,, and The Forward's The Sisterhood. She blogs at susanedotcohen. Follow her on Twitter @susancohen.

Featured Story

Features, Interviews, New Yorker Spotlight, People

og:image, Lisa Evers, FOX5, Street Soldiers, Hot 97

When it comes to reporting news in New York, Lisa Evers does not shy away from hard topics. As a reporter for FOX5, Lisa regularly covers breaking news, community issues, crime, and counter-terrorism. She also serves as the go-to interviewer for the likes of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. In addition to her work on television, Lisa is widely known for hosting radio station Hot 97’s popular news and community affairs program Street Soldiers. On the show, she addresses topics ranging from hip hop lyrics to gender to drug use, with a guest panel of music artists and community leaders. Earlier this year, FOX5 brought Street Soldiers to television, where viewers can now tune in to Lisa and her guests in the studio on Saturday nights.

6sqft recently spoke with Lisa to find out how she approaches her work, the experience of bringing Street Soldiers to FOX, and what she’s learned about the city through her reporting.

The full interview ahead

Featured Story

Features, Interviews, New Yorker Spotlight, People

gotham greens

The Gotham Greens team: Viraj Puri, Eric Haley and Jennifer Nelkin Frymark

If you walk through the produce section at Whole Foods or scroll through Fresh Direct’s website, you likely have come across Gotham Greens’ Blooming Brooklyn Iceberg Lettuce or Queens Crisp. What make these lettuces different from others is that they’re local, urban greens, which are grown on rooftop greenhouses in Brooklyn and Queens with views of Gotham not too far in the distance.

Gotham Greens was founded in 2009 with the goal of revolutionizing urban farming and providing a model for the future when cities are expected to be even more densely populated. One of the visionaries behind the company is co-founder and CEO Viraj Puri. Viraj and his partners started with one greenhouse in Greenpoint and now have four greenhouses between New York and Chicago that cover over 170,000 square feet and produce 20 million heads of lettuce every year.

6sqft recently asked Viraj some questions about what’s growing in Gotham.

read 6sqft’s interview with Viraj

Featured Story

Features, Interviews, New Yorker Spotlight, People

Macy's Flower Show

In America, seasonal change is ushered in by Macy’s and its productions, from the holiday season with the Thanksgiving Day Parade to summer with fireworks for America’s birthday. When it comes to welcoming spring, the department store puts on its annual Flower Show, a longstanding tradition that began 65 year ago and is now marking its 42nd year at the company’s Herald Square location.

This year’s show, America the Beautiful, celebrates the wonders of the nation’s natural world at five stores around the country (NYC, Philadelphia, Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco). For New Yorkers who visit the show, it’s a chance to step out of the hustle and bustle and immerse themselves in gardens representing various regions of the United States. The executive producer behind the show is Mike Gansmoe, who is responsible for overseeing everything from conception to putting that last flower in place during overnight setups. 6sqft recently spoke with Mike to find out what’s blooming at this year’s show.

Read the full interview here

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Features, Interviews, New Yorker Spotlight, People

og:image, andrew cote

On rooftops throughout the city, there’s a great deal of activity taking place. This hustle and bustle isn’t coming from the construction of new skyscrapers, but instead from beehives across the city where honeybees are hard at work. The keeper for many of these bees is Andrew Coté, who at the height of spring and summer works at least 14 hours a day, seven days a week tending to them.

Andrew traces his family’s beekeeping roots to the 1800s in Quebec, Canada. In the 1970s, his father carried this tradition to Connecticut by starting a farm and selling honey, and a decade ago, Andrew brought beekeeping to the city. As a New York City beekeeper, his work focuses on overseeing clients’ hives on business and hotel roofs as well his own hives in neighborhoods ranging from Prospect Heights to the Upper East Side. Andrew harvests the honey from his hives, bottles, and then sells it at Union Square Market for his company, Andrew’s Honey. Depending on what jar customers pick up, they might be purchasing Forest Hills, Central Park or Harlem honey.

With spring starting this Sunday, we recently spoke with Andrew to find out what all the buzz is about.

read our interview with andrew here

Featured Story

Brooklyn, Features, Interviews, New Yorker Spotlight, People

Colin Spoelman, Kings County Distillery, Brooklyn Navy Yard, moonshine, Brooklyn whiskey

Colin Spoelman moved to New York for post-grad job opportunities, but it was his home state of Kentucky that ended up giving him direction. On trips back home, he developed a deep appreciation for moonshine and distilling, and now his interest has gone from hobby to profession. Six years ago, Colin combined his Kentucky roots, his life in Brooklyn, and his love of distilling whiskey through Kings County Distillery, where he is one of the founders (along with David Haskell) and the head distiller.

Founded in 2010, Kings County Distillery is making a name for itself with the whiskey and bourbon it distills at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, making it New York City’s oldest operating whiskey distillery, the first since prohibition. The company started with eight five-gallon stills, and were at the time the smallest commercial distillery in America. But they now have a 250-gallon and a 180-gallon still and are beginning to distribute out west and internationally. With St. Patrick’s Day coming up and lots of whiskey drinking to be had, 6sqft spoke with Colin to find out what’s distilling in Brooklyn and why it makes perfect sense to make whiskey in this borough.

The full interview, this way

Featured Story

Features, Gramercy Park, Interviews, New Yorker Spotlight, People

Gramercy Typewriter Company

For anyone who thinks computers have entirely taken over, they might want to visit Gramercy Typewriter Company. Founded in 1932 by Abraham Schweitzer, this 84-year-old family business is busier than ever repairing customers’ typewriters, as well as refurbishing and selling machines of all shapes, sizes, and even colors. Whereas many typewriter service companies went out of business with the rise of computers, Abraham’s son and grandson, Paul and Jay, remained passionate about them and are now two of the only individuals in the city with the skills to work on these machines.

For Jay and Paul, the demand for their expertise is a testament to the staying power of typewriters in the 21st century. They continue to be a necessity in fields such as law and accounting, where certain forms are more compatible with the typewriter than the computer. Outside of offices, there are tried-and-true typewriter users who type on them daily. In many cases, the Schweitzers’ have customers who are discovering a love of these wonderful machines for the very first time. 6sqft stopped by Gramercy Typewriter Company and spoke with Jay about the business and to get a glimpse of history on the company’s shelves.

Read the full interview this way

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Features, Interviews, New Yorker Spotlight, People

og:image , Ron Ben-Israel, wedding cake design, NYC cake makers, NYC wedding cakes

If you’re one of the many who just got engaged over Valentine’s weekend, it’s time to get into planning mode, and what better way to start than with a spectacular wedding cake. A New York wedding calls for a cake that tastes great, makes a statement about the newlyweds, but can also stand on its own amidst the glamour of the Plaza, the Art-Deco glitz of the Rainbow Room, and the skyline that twinkles all around at the Mandarin Oriental. For this, brides and grooms turn to cakemaker extraordinaire Ron Ben-Israel.

Throughout the planning, baking, and cake delivery processes, Ron draws on a number of disciplines, including chemistry, architecture, art, and transportation science. His cakes are versatile in style, but have a common thread that comes from attention to detail and the pursuit of excellence. He’s received high praise for his cakes, with the New York Times writing of him: “Mr. Ben-Israel is the Manolo Blahnik of wedding cakes, a high-priced craftsman who knows that just as beautiful shoes are useless if they are not comfortable, beautiful cakes are useless if they are not delicious.”

With the season for “I do” quickly approaching, 6sqft spoke with Ron to discuss his love for the baking process, the thinking and work behind every cake, and the joy he experiences each time one is completed.

Read the full interview here

Featured Story

Features, Interviews, New Yorker Spotlight, People

Jacques Torres Chocolate, NYC chocolate shops

On Valentine’s Day, couples often express their love for each other with chocolate. And here in New York, acclaimed chocolatier Jacques Torres is naturally part of the conversation. Since 2000, Jacques has been sharing his chocolate creations through his company Jacques Torres Chocolate, which over the years has grown to nine shops around the city.

But it all began back in his native France, where in 1986 he was the youngest pastry chef to be awarded the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman of France) medal in pastry. Soon after, he moved to the United States, and a few years later began working as a pastry chef at famed restaurant Le Cirque. After making his mark in the restaurant industry, he devoted himself to chocolate full time, a decision that has certainly benefited those of us with a sweet tooth.

With Valentine’s Day this Sunday, 6sqft spoke with Jacques to learn more about his world of chocolate, how real estate has been an important part of it, and just how busy he gets around the holiday.

Read the interview this way

Featured Story

Features, Interviews, Lower East Side, New Yorker Spotlight, People, Restaurants

Erika Chou, Yunnan BBQ, NYC Chinese restaurants, Lower East Side restaurants

If you’re looking to celebrate the Lunar New Year with Chinese food, you’ll likely end up with Cantonese or Szechuan cuisine, those most popular in the city. But if Erika Chou has anything to do with it, New Yorkers will soon be adding to their repertoire the flavors of China’s Yunnan province.

Erika, who studied art and formerly worked in fashion photography, was introduced to the Yunnan culture and flavors several years ago on a trip to China. By 2012, she made the decision to start a restaurant celebrating this province and opened Yunnan Kitchen on the Lower East Side with esteemed chef Doron Wong in the kitchen. This past fall, Erika reopened the restaurant as Yunnan BBQ and revamped the menu with Doron to offer small plates like a Chrysanthemum Salad made with asian pear and large, barbecue-focused plates such as Pecan-Smoked Chicken Wings and Yunnan Curry Beef Brisket. Earlier this week, Erika and Doron’s efforts were celebrated when the New York Times included Yunnan BBQ in an article discussing Chinese-American chefs and restaurants.

On the eve of Chinese New Year, 6sqft spoke with Erika to find out what drew her to the Yunnan province, how her background in art helps as a restaurateur, and to find out about a misconception surrounding Chinese food.

The delicious interview right this way

Featured Story

Features, Interviews, New Yorker Spotlight, People

Photo via Charles Chessler Photography

When we think of bird life in New York, our minds usually wander to pesky pigeons, but there are actually 355 different species of wild birds who call the city home. A good number (pigeons, mourning doves, and mallard ducks, to name a few) are full-time residents, but there are also many who have the ultimate pied-a-terres, flying north to nest and raise babies in the spring or migrating south from the Arctic for the slightly warmer New York winters.

For years, if these birds were injured or sick, there was little help available, but everything changed when Rita McMahon became involved in the rehabilitation of wild birds in 2002. What began for her as caring for pigeons and sparrows as a rehabber, progressively grew into a calling and eventually a career. Through the support and encouragement of the veterinarians at Animal General on the Upper West Side, she co-founded and became the director of the Wild Bird Fund in 2005, which was then located in her apartment. In 2012, the organization opened its own facility on the Upper West Side and last year treated approximately 3,500 birds.

6sqft recently spoke with Rita to learn more about New York’s wild birds, how the Wild Bird Fund helps them, and ways New Yorkers can be more attuned to their avian neighbors.

Read the interview here


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