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Entries in Interviews / Q+A's (16)


The Lunch Belle interviews RHOA's infamous Mama Joyce!

Love her or love to hate her, Mama Joyce is the unofficial matriarch of The Real Housewives of Atlanta.  Personally, while I've always remained neutral in tiffs between her and famous daughter, Kandi Burruss, it wasn't until I actually got to speak with Mama Joyce, one on one, that I absolutely fell in love with her. 

Photo credit: Jessica from Reality Wanted dot Com Southern women, especially of the older school, are tough cookies.  They don't put up with a bunch of crap and are more than happy to gingerly put you in your place.  By the same token, you will never meet a more outwardly warm, gracious, polite, or welcoming woman than a Southern dame.  And Mama Joyce is no exception.   While she may come off as a fire cracker on television, she could not have been more lovely over the phone.  If I could describe my interaction with MJ (Mama Joyce) in one sentence, I'd say that she is like the grandmother you never had.  But always wanted.  Sweet and loving...with a dash of Southern sass.


TLB = The Lunch Belle

MJ = Mama Joyce

TLB:  "Hi MJ!  Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with me!"

MJ:  "Hi!  You are welcome."

TLB:  "So I heard that you've lost quite a bit of weight.  Congratulations!  40 pounds, to be exact!  Can you divulge how you did it?"

MJ:  "Thank you!  I started a program called Dramatic Weight Loss about 2-years ago.  Actually, it was Kandi who first told me about it.  And, yes, I've lost 40 pounds!"

TLB:  "Well, congratulations again!  But I want all of the dirty details.  What did the diet entail?"

MJ:  "For the first 3-days, I had to drink a protein shake every 3-hours to prevent hunger.  Once I went in to ketosis, I was able to add food back to my diet like salads and fish."

TLB:  "Shakes, eh?  Were they gross?" 

MJ:  "Girl, no!  I still drink them - by choice - to this day!  I love the chocolate or vanilla flavor that I make extra sweet with Sweet 'N Low."

TLB:  "Interesting.  That really says a lot about the company's products if you drink the shakes now, in your maintenance phase, by choice!   Speaking of maintenance, don't you find it to be harder than the actual diet, itself?"

MJ:  "You know what's funny?  I hadn't had fried chicken in months until the other day and, wouldn't you know, it upset my stomach!  Also, I can now be around sweets without having to indulge in a piece of cake or candy.  I don't crave those things anymore.  It's crazy!"

TLB:  "That is crazy, because no matter how far in to a diet I am, I still crave donuts/cake/gummy candy/ice cream, etc. on a daily basis.  God bless you, MJ!  So, I have to ask, do you cook at home?  If so, how often per week?"

MJ:  "(Chuckles) Thank you, baby.  Yes, I do cook at home.  About two times/week."

TLB:  "On the off times when you aren't cooking, do you go out to eat?  If so, what do you order at, say, an American restaurant?"

MJ:  Girl, I love Red Lobster.  I usually order some kind of baked fish, salad, and either a baked potato or rice."

TLB:  "...and I love Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay Biscuits!  Do you let yourself indulge in those?"

MJ:  "(Chuckles) Me too!  Well, mayyyyyyyyyyybe just one."

TLB:  "Switching gears now.  How's your granddaughter, Miss Riley, doing?  I haven't seen her on the show all season!"

MJ:  "Oh, she's wonderful, thank you.  She is doing great."

TLB:  "I loved seeing your sisters with you a few episodes back.  You can see the resemblence!"

MJ:  "Thank you.  Did you know that I am the baby of fourteen?"

TLB:  "No!  That is amazing.  And so interesting!  I love it.  Now, MJ, in closing, is there anything that you'd like for me to share with my readers?"

MJ:  "Just let everyone know that I am self-sufficient.  Kandi and I have rekindled our relationship and we're stronger and better than ever.  I love my daughter."



Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


'Dish Envy' interviews The Lunch Belle

Dear readers,

Click here to read my Q&A with Dish Envy, a fantastic source that will help guide you (via tips and photos from "real" people) towards the best item on every menu!  How cool is that?


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


An interview with Magnolia Bakery's Bobbie Lloyd: When life hands you lemons, bake (lemon) cupcakes!

"When life hands you lemons, bake (lemon) cupcakes!" 

How much do you love that quote?  I saw it posted on my girlfriend, Stacey's Facebook "wall" recently and smiled.  A lemon-flavored cupcake sounded utterly delightful, summer-y, and definitely more satisfying than a glass of lemonade.  No doubt about that. 

And speaking of everyone's favorite hand-held dessert, I'm curious: how do you eat a cupcake?  Seems like a simple enough question, doesn't it?  Now before you blurt out the *obvious* answer, take a minute - close your eyes - and imagine yourself about to partake in a heavenly cupcake from Magnolia Bakery.  Flavor of your choice, of course.  I think you'll be surprised by *your* unique answer.

Gorgeous photo found on: www.lovescool.comI had the honor/pleasure/privilege of getting the opportunity to chat with Bobbie Lloyd, Magnolia Bakery's C.B.O. ("Chief Baking Officer") about, among other things, how she eats a cupcake.  Enjoy!


*TLB = The Lunch Belle // BL = Bobbie Lloyd

TLB  I love all-things-Magnolia Bakery but, I have to be honest with you, I find it extremely difficult to eat a cupcake in public. 

BL  (Laughs)

TLB  How do you eat a cupcake? 

  • BL  I cut my cupcake in half and flip it over.  Icing first!

TLB  I like your stance.  To heck with "saving the best for last!"  (Chuckle)  So, what is your favorite Magnolia Bakery cupcake flavor?

  • BL  Pistachio, lemon, and chocolate cake with chocolate-buttercream icing.

BL  And how do you eat your cupcake?

TLB  Are you ready for a "Lunch Belle" Magnolia Bakery visual?  OK, so I walk over to your West Village location - wait x-number of minutes on line - grab a small box - fill it with 4-cupcakes - pay, then walk out.  There's this cute park across the street from the bakery, but I wouldn't dare eat one of my cupcakes there/in public.  Nope, I wait until I get home.  It's a process, really: I grab a juice glass from my cupboard -  reach in to the small bakery-box for a cupcake and remove the wrapper - I cut the cupcake in half and put both pieces in to the juice glass.  Using a spoon, I stir/fold the cake and icing together, so that each bite incorporates a healthy amount of every component.  Believe it or not, I add a dash of salt before one final stir/fold, et voila!  It's gross to look at but, boy, is it good!

BL  (Laughs)

TLB   Speaking of your original West Village bakery, it's pretty small.  I did read, however, that one of your locations in Manhattan has a "party room."  Can you tell me a bit more about that and where it is located?

  • BL  Our Upper Westside location is much larger and does, in fact, have a party room that can accommodate up to 24 guests.  In the event that a client would need more space, we cater off-site, including but not limited to weddings, bar/bat-mitzvahs, birthday parties, etc.

TLB  I'm really looking forward to seeing Magnolia Bakery at the annual New Taste of the UWS, May 20-21!  What is your role at the event?   

  • BL  Magnolia Bakery will have a table where we'll be offering an array of our delectably sweet, American-comfort classics!  It should be a great time.

TLB  I heard that Magnolia Bakery is going to begin shipping products nationwide.  Like Sprinkles, will these items be "bake-yourself?"

  • BL  No, our products will be shipped pre-made. 

TLB  One of my readers, in Kuwait, has spoken very highly of your Dubai location.  What are Magnolia Bakery's most popular items in the Middle East?

  • BL  Cheesecake!


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


Q&A with "Food Porn Daily, The Cookbook" author, Amanda Simpson

Click. Drool. Repeat.

Of all of the famous chefs, cookbook authors, and television personalities that I've had the pleasure of interviewing, I have to say that Amanda Simpson, author of Food Porn Daily, The Cookbook, has been my favorite.  After our nearly 30-minute phone conversation, I smiled and thought to myself, "Now this is the kind of girl that I could become great friends with."  

Photo: LeenaEats

In 2005, after Amanda Simpson's then boyfriend received a digital SLR (camera) as a college graduation gift, the couple found themselves photographing nearly every curiosity that they encountered.  Food, in particular, quickly became a focal point.  And the rest, as you will read in our Q&A below, is history!


*Note: "TLB" stands for The Lunch Belle, and "AS" stands for Amanda Simpson

TLB  Where are you from?

  • AS  I'm from a very rural town in northern Virginia, but I went to college at LSU (Baton Rouge, LA).

TLB  Where did you garner your restaurant-industry experience?

  • AS  Since the day that I was legally old enough to work (I assume that she meant "16."), I earned my keep at restaurants!

TLB  So, when did you start writing about food?

TLB  What brought you to San Diego, CA?

  • AS  Work!  I packed up my life in Baton Rouge and became a counselor in sunny California.

TLB  At what point did you return to the "industry?"

  • AS  Don't get me wrong, I loved working as a counselor but, after a couple of years, I chose to follow my heart and return to where I was most comfortable: the kitchen.  I was hired as a personal chef for a family living just outside of San Diego.  I worked with them for three years.  

TLB  How were you approached to write the cookbook?

  • AS  Everything happened after I founded Food Porn Daily.  Believe it or not, I was approached, via email, by a publishing house representative! 

TLB  Did you already have an arsenal of recipes, or did you create those found in your cookbook from scratch?

  • AS  Yes, I did have an arsenal of recipes however, for the cookbook, I created all of those from scratch.  I would sit at the beach with my ideas for certain dishes, and wonder how I could make them extra delicious, and that much more food porn-y.  

TLB  Your cookbook is divided/organized by season, with 5 starters - 1 breakfast - 1 drink - and 12 main courses, per season: what advice would you give someone who, say, lives in another part of the country and wants to cook something that is "out of season" for their respective region?

  • AS  Whew!  Good question.  I would tell them to replace what is out-of-season in their region, with an ingredient that is in season.  For example, where I live (in San Diego), the weather is mild and fresh produce is readily available.  What may be in season in California, obviously may not be in season in Maine.  Go ahead and substitute, say, blackberries for strawberries.   

TLB  You recently finished your cross-country book tour.  How was that?

  • AS  It was amazing!  Me, myself, and I drove from San Diego to 26 cities across the USA in about 5 weeks!

TLB  OK, since we're both Southern girls, what are some recipes, from the pages of Food Porn Daily, The Cookbookthat would you recommend whipping up for a Super Bowl-watching party and/or a tailgate? 

  • AS  Another great question!  I would recommend, from the cookbook: Asian Sliders (mini hamburgers), Spicy Chipotle Buffalo Wings, Hearty Short Rib Chili, or my Duck & Linguica Gumbo.


Read it & eat...and go getcha' a copy of Food Porn Daily, The Cookbook!

The Lunch Belle