As the co-founder and co-owner of The Gefilteria, a Brooklyn-based gefilte fish manufacturing business, Liz Alpern is hard at work making sure there’s plenty of her product for her customers to serve at their Passover seders in just a week.
Gefilte fish is a dish surrounded by lots of opinions; at seders, it’s just as common for someone to ask for seconds as it is for others to kindly offer the dish to their neighbor. Liz understands this range of feelings, as she’s found herself on both sides of it. When she was younger, she didn’t partake in the course, but in adulthood, she was introduced to homemade gefilte fish– instead of the pre-made variety found on store shelves–and a love affair began that developed into The Gefilteria, which she co-founded with Jeffrey Yoskowitz in 2012.
6sqft recently spoke with Liz to discuss the founding and evolution of The Gefilteria, how they’re casting the Passover staple in a new light, and what it means to be part of her customers’ seders.
Read the full interview here
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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An independent online radio featuring live DJ sets, located in a shipping container on an empty piece of land on the Williamsburg/Greenpoint border — if your inclination is to roll your eyes at just how Brooklyn this is, you might want to reconsider.
The Lot Radio was founded by 34-year-old Brussels native François Vaxelaire, who has been living in the neighborhood for the past three years. After passing by the vacant triangle day after day, and growing more and more infatuated with its strange beauty, he decided it would be the perfect home for an online radio similar to those in Europe. And after getting through the city’s red tape, Lot Radio is officially up and running, save for its adjacent coffee shop and outdoor seating area that are both awaiting permits from the Department of Health.
What’s most interesting about Vaxelaire is that he is committed to steering clear of the Brooklyn cliches. His goal is to grow an internationally focused, New York-based radio, but in terms of the physical location, he wants local residents exiting the nearby church to feel just as welcome hanging out as would an experimental music aficionado. 6sqft recently visited him at the shipping container to learn more about this very unique idea.
The full story from François
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
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.
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