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Entries in Schmoozing with famous people (52)


Oh, what a night! A recap of the 3rd Annual SAVEUR Summer BBQ

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the 3rd Annual SAVEUR Summer BBQ:  Global Food Tasting Event.  Encompassing the circular, open-air rotunda at the Boat Basin Cafe, 15+ of the country's top chefs - and friends of SAVEUR Magazine - served up their own unique spins on barbecue.  Wait, it gets better:  Each food item was paired with one of two specialty Grey Goose cocktails, a Brewery Ommegang beer, and a wine from Dona Paula.

Here's a list of the chefs who came out - the restaurant(s) that they represent - and the BBQ-themed dish(es) that they made:

  • Chef Chris Cosentino, Incanto:  Calabrian Lam & Corned Lamb Heart Panino
  • Chef Shea Gallante, Ciano:  Maine Lobster Alla Griglia
  • Chef Susan Feniger, Border Grill, STREET:  Chilled Yakisoba Noodles w/ Pickled Green Vegetables & Green Sriracha Skirt Steak
  • Chef Teddy Folkman, Granville Moore's:  Chicken & Waffles
  • Chef Gavin Kaysen, Cafe Boulud:  Blackened Grilled Shrimp & White Polenta w/ Pico de Gallo
  • Chefs Warach Lacharojana & Patharaphon Phutpha, Spice Group:  Grilled Esarn Pork Jaw
  • Chef Anita Lo, Annisa:  Green papaya Salad w/ Pork Jerky
  • Chef Seamus Mullen, Tertulia:  Pulpo A La Brasa, Grilled Octopus w/ Summer Squash
  • Chef Sisha Otruzar, Riverpark:  Grilled Brisket Quesadillas
  • Chef Francois Payard, FPB:  Chocolate BBQ Macarons and Toasted Marshmallow Milkshakes
  • Chef Andy Ricker, Pok Pok:  Marinated Flank Steak w/ Galangal Chili Paste
  • Chef Ben Pollinger, Oceana:  Blackened Louisiana Shrimp w/ Mirliton Salad
  • Chefs Max & Eli Sussman, Mile End Deli, Roberta's:  Peanut Butter Cheesecake, Raspberry Jam Gelato, Fried Banana
  • Chef KN Vinod, Indique Heights:  Masala Lamb Chops
  • Chef Damon Wise, Monkey Bar:  BBQ'd Tri-Tip
  • Chefs Chen-Hua Yang & Shao-Lung Huang, Mr. K's, Maruko Sushi & Tea:  BBQ Pork Sausage, Hot Stone Beef BBQ, & Mushroom Melody

Inside of the open-air rotunda at Boat Basin CafeI made an attempt to photograph every chef's offering but, while some pictures were lost due to bad exposure/lighting, others simply weren't taken.  Sorry, guys, I was just too afraid to sample Chris Consentino's "Calabrian Lamb & Corned Lamb Heart Panino"...

Below, please enjoy my gustatory photo tour of everything that I ate, chronologically, at the 3rd Annual SAVEUR Summer BBQ:  Global Food Tasting Event:

Grey Goose Cherry Noir "Hamptons Punch"Chef Teddy Folkman, Granville Moore's: Chicken & WafflesChefs Chen-Hua Yang & Shao-Lung Huang, Mr. K's, Maruko Sushi & Tea: BBQ Pork Sausage, Hot Stone Beef BBQ, & Mushroom MelodyChef Gavin Kaysen, Cafe Boulud: Blackened Grilled Shrimp & White Polenta w/ Pico de Gallo Chef Susan Feniger, Border Grill, STREET: Chilled Yakisoba Noodles w/ Pickled Green Vegetables & Green Sriracha Skirt SteakChef Francois Payard, FPB: Chocolate BBQ Macarons and Toasted Marshmallow Milkshakes Chefs Max & Eli Sussman, Mile End Deli, Roberta's: Peanut Butter Cheesecake, Raspberry Jam Gelato, Fried BananaChef Andy Ricker, Pok Pok: Marinated Flank Steak w/ Galangal Chili PasteChef KN Vinod, Indique Heights: Masala Lamb ChopsChefs Warach Lacharojana & Patharaphon Phutpha, Spice Group: Grilled Esarn Pork JawChef Shea Gallante, Ciano: Maine Lobster Alla GrigliaChef Anita Lo, Annisa: Green papaya Salad w/ Pork JerkyChef Ben Pollinger, Oceana: Blackened Louisiana Shrimp w/ Mirliton SaladChef Damon Wise, Monkey Bar: BBQ'd Tri-TipChef Sisha Otruzar, Riverpark: Grilled Brisket QuesadillasMe and my "rover," Emily...

Dishes that made me swoon (...so much so, that I turned around and grabbed seconds):

  • Chef Susan Feniger, Border Grill, STREET:  Chilled Yakisoba Noodles w/ Pickled Green Vegetables & Green Sriracha Skirt Steak
  • Chef Gavin Kaysen, Cafe Boulud:  Blackened Grilled Shrimp & White Polenta w/ Pico de Gallo
  • Chef Sisha Otruzar, Riverpark:  Grilled Brisket Quesadillas
  • Chef Francois Payard, FPB:  Chocolate BBQ Macarons and Toasted Marshmallow Milkshakes
  • Chef KN Vinod, Indique Heights:  Masala Lamb Chops
  • Chef Damon Wise, Monkey Bar:  BBQ'd Tri-Tip

Chefs that made me swoon/drool:

  • Chef Chris Cosentino, IncantoPhoto found on Incanto dot biz
  • Chef Shea Gallante, CianoPhoto found on nymag dot com

Personal highlights from the event (...aside from all of the delicious food I consumed):

  • Catching up with Chef Marc Murphy, and getting introduced to his adorable Director of Communications, Emily
  • The fact that, despite the predicted forecast, the weather remained precipitation-free.
  • I took some seriously awesome food photos!
  • I ran in to my good buddy, Dana.
  • I scored the recipe for my favorite cocktail of the eve, Grey Goose Cherry Noir "Hamptons Punch!"  See below...


Grey Goose Cherry Noir "Hamptons Punch"


Ingredients :

  • 5 parts GREY GOOSE Cherry Noir Flavored Vodka 
  • 4 parts fresh-squeezed white grapefruit juice 
  • 3 parts strawberries
  • 1 part basil simple syrup (recipe below)
    • To make basil simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and hot water with 10 fresh basil leaves. Steep until dissolved and cool.

Method:  Thinly slice strawberries and place in a punch vessel.  Add remaining ingredients and chill for two hours.  Serve over ice, and present with strawberries.


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


An evening with Mindy Fox: Salads that will change your mind...about salads.

This isn't the first cookbook that Mindy Fox has written.  Actually, it's her third.  But, unlike the previous two that she has co-authored, Salads: Beyond the Bowl is unique in that it contains 100 recipes.  All for some variation of a salad...

Does the word "salad" make you yawn?  Scare you, perhaps?  OK, fine, but don't roll your eyes and stop reading this post just yet.  Why?  Because, I think I can change your leaf-hating prerogative.  Look, I'll admit that, up until last night, "salad" frightened me and made me yawn, too.  I mean, it's generally so boring.  So...healthy.  Cold.  Wet.  And it never seems to have the right ratio of dressing to greens.  In fact, just typing out these boring, rainy adjectives is making me yawn... 

However, I figured that, if I was going to attend the cookbook launch for an author who was quoted as saying, "The one food that I would take with me to a desert island would be salad," I knew that I had better start practicing my best "salad poker face."  

When I arrived at the serene loft space for the launch, I was taken aback by the gorgeous, poster-sized photos of Mindy's salads adorning the walls.  A bowl of greens topped with crumbled feta, grilled shrimp, and pickled purple onions - a close-up shot of octopus tentacle "tendrils," set against a black background.  Those were just two of my favorite images.   

As I made my way further in to the space, I came upon a table topped with two different salad samples.  Salads that looked nothing like the generic, leafy, green crap that I so often refrain...and run from. 

Clearly, Mindy and I had not been eating the same salads all of these years...

Blueberries, Feta, and Mint:  How often do you see blueberries and feta cheese together?  Never.  I knew that I had to sample this salad first, because I was so perplexed by its unique ingredients. 

The sweetest, most plump blueberries were topped with salty feta cheese crumbles, torn mint leaves, sea salt crystals, coarsely-ground black pepper, and finished with a heavy drizzle of a strong, rich and peppery olive oil.  It would be safe to say that this is the "salad" that changed the way I think about salads. 

PS:  I bought Mindy's cookbook and will share this recipe with you, further below!

Panzanella di Farro:  Based on looks, alone, I wasn't as eager to sample this salad.  Maybe it was all of those vegetables?  However, after one bite, I was blown away by its electrifying flavor and burst of different textures.

A melange of briny, sliced cucumber, halved cherry tomatoes, corn kernels, and edible flowers were combined with plump barley beads and tossed in a savory, garlic-y dressing that exploded with pep and delight. 


Now, in addition to Mindy's mind-blowing salads, a handful of her finest food-and-wine purveyor friends provided accompaniments that perfectly complimented Ms. Fox's recipes:

Bountiful bread baskets from Hot Bread Kitchen

A Grana Padano cheese wheel

*Did you know that Grana Padano cheese is lactose-free?  Now that is some food-for-thought!

A phenomenal olive oil tasting, courtesy of DeMedici Imports

*Did you know that olive oil tastings and wine tastings are almost identical in structure?

In the top picture, orange segments were sprinkled with sea salt and paired with Colonna, a very light, subtle olive oil.  The sample was consumed like a "shot." 

In the bottom picture, a piece of French chocolate was sprinkled with sea salt and paired with Albereto, a heavier, more spicy and peppery olive oil.  This sample was also consumed like a "shot."  

Both samples were delightful, but my preference was the AlberetoThough that *could* be because it was paired with French chocolate!

An exquisite brut, courtesy of Ferrari


As if the evening could not get more exciting or delicious, the lovely Gail Simmons arrived!   Moments after my irregular, star-struck heartbeat resumed its regular pace, I walked over to the cookbook-topped table, and began to flip through its glossy pages and intrigue-provoking chapters.  And, that's when it hit me:  Salads don't have to be boring, one-note, restrictive "dieter's lunches."  No, they can be amazingly delicious side dishes or even entrees, incorporating fruits, grains, meat, fish, poultry, cheese, nuts...you name it.  "That's it.  I have to have this cookbook!" I exclaimed to my friend, Helen.

Afer purchasing Salads: Beyond the Bowl, I approached Mindy to congratulate her and confess that, because of this particular evening, I had been transformed in to a "salad optimist."  Oh, and I also asked her to autograph my copy.  :)

Like Mindy says, it's not so much the "health" aspect of salads; for her, it's "...how delicious and show stopping a well-made salad can be."  Because, at the end of the day, shouldn't healthy also taste fabulous?  Salads: Beyond the Bowl certainly makes that possible. 

And, speaking of, I cannot WAIT to whip up Mindy's amazing recipe for "Blueberries, Feta, and Mint," which I plan to make this weekend!  You, should, too! 

RECIPE:  Blueberries, Feta, and Mint

Ingredients - serves 4

  • 3 cups blueberries (about 1.5 pints)
  • 1 cup mint leaves, large leaves torn
  • 5 ounces feta cheese (1 cup), crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons very good extra-virgin olive oil
  • Flaky course sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, crushed

Divide the blueberries among small shallow serving bowls, then sprinkle with the mint and cheese.  Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil over each serving.  Crush several generous pinches of salt over each dish and sprinkle with the pepper



Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


THIS Thursday: Meet "The Bachelorette," Jillian Harris!  

OK.  So, I just had a total star-struck moment.  Remember Jillian Harris, The Bachelorette's Season 5 star?  Well, I literally just got off of the phone with her...

I'll be the first to admit that I'm a die-hard Bachelor/ette fan, and Jillian Harris is my all-time favorite from the franchise!  She's adorable, smart, witty, funny and, most importantly, she's real.  So, you can imagine my overwhelming excitement when I was given the opportunity to interview Jillian about her upcoming NYC appearance for...are you ready for this...CINCO DE MAYO!  Only my most favorite holiday of the calendar year!  Seriously, could this be any more fitting?


Here's the skinny:  Extreme Makeover Home Edition designer and former Bachelorette, Jillian Harris, has partnered with Madria Sangria to help New Yorkers celebrate 'Cinco de Mayo' in style!  On Thursday, May 3rd, she'll be taking over Union Square to launch the Pop-Up Madria Sangria Fruit Stand.  And best of all?  YOU'RE INVITED!

  • WhatJillian will be offering *complimentary* bags of fresh fruit, festive party glasses, and tips on how to host a fabulous 'Cinco de Mayo' fiesta.  (The only thing left for you to do is to purchase Madria's delicious pre-made sangria!  Click here for retail locations in NYC...and beyond.)
  • When:  THIS THURSDAY, May 3rd, from 12pm-2pm
  • WhereUnion Square West, between 14th & 15th Streets.  *Note that the Farmer's Market is closed that day, so you won't have a hard time finding Jillian and the Pop-Up Madria Sangria Fruit Stand!
  • Admission:  FREE!  Open to the public!
  • P.S.:  In addition to her outstanding entertaining tips, Jillian is also open to sharing details about The BacheloretteDoes it get better than that?  No!


Without further ado, please enjoy my Q&A with her Bachelorette majesty and entertaining goddess, Jillian Harris:

TLB (The Lunch Belle) / JH (Jillian Harris)


TLB:  Hi Jillian, thank you so much for speaking with The Lunch Belle!  I'm a huge fan. 

How did you become involved with Madria Sangria?

JHHi!  It's my pleasure.  Thank you!  Well, prior to The Bachelorette, I did a lot of interior design for restaurants, so the foodie aspect was always there.  I love sangria, and enjoy experimentation with different fruits and herbs.  Madria came across one of my blog posts about sangria and, pretty much, the rest is history! 

TLB:  Speaking of experimenting, what are some of your favorite ingredients to add to sangria?

JHWhile citrus fruits are always fantastic, I love to utilize seasonal ingredients, local fruits, and herbs.  Pomegranates are amazing in the winter, for example.  Whatever is available at the farmer's market is always ideal.

TLB:  Yum!  Thank you.  What other tips can you give us?

JHWhen hosting, it's really fun to arrange a "make your own sangria bar," and offer select fruits for your guests to experiment with.  Additionally, you can freeze your fruits of choice and use them in place of ice cubes (in the sangria).  Serve the frozen fruits in mason jars.

TLB:  Um, that's probably the coolest entertaining tip ever!  Frozen fruit in mason jars to be used in place of ice cubes?  Unbelievable.  I love it!  Plus, who wants their sangria to get all watered down with ice, anyways?  Blech, not me!

TLB:  I'm getting so excited!  Now, tell me how we'll be able to spot you/the Pop-Up on Thursday?  Should we look for a specific color?

JH(Giggling)  Actually, I will be wearing a fluorescent yellow blazer, so there shouldn't be too much of a problem spotting me!


The whole time I was speaking with her, I thought, Wow, I would love to have Jillian in my circle of friends!  Look, I've had the honor and privilege of chatting with quite a few celebs and famous chefs, but I don't think I've genuinely clicked with anyone quite like I did with Jillian.  She's truly fantastic!  

I sure hope that you all get a chance to meet Jillian in Union Square on Thursday!  If so, I want to hear all about it!  I'm telling you, she's the best! 


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


Toast to the Children 2012: I'll drink to that!

Having twice attended Toast to the Children as media, this was the first year that I got to enjoy the incredible, star-studded food and wine event as a Children of Bellevue committee member. 

What is Children of Bellevue?

"Children of Bellevue ('Bellevue,' being Bellevue Hospital Center) provides more than just comfort and compassion to the thousands of of children who enter Bellevue Hospital Center each year.  Critical growth, development programs, and other services are delivered to ensure that these children's families, most from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, have access to resources and knowledge deemed vital to raising happy, strong, and healthy children.  Children of Bellevue‘s programs ease the pain, loneliness and fear of hospitalization; help abused and neglected children cope, recover and heal; advance language development of at-risk youth; and nurture psychiatric patients from early childhood through adolescence."

What is Toast to the Children?

Toast to the Children is Children of Bellevue’s largest fundraising event.  Held annually, Toast to the Children raises funds for various children’s programs at Bellevue Hospital Center.  In 2011, Toast to the Children raised over $240,000 dollars through ticket sales, journal advertisements, individual donations, and sale of silent auction items!

At Toast to the Children, guests sample signature dishes from some of New York’s finest restaurants - sip wines from around the world - and mingle with celebrity chefs and fellow foodies.

New York’s most celebrated chefs delight guests with samples from their menus.  This year’s restaurants included:

Barbuto, Blue Smoke, Colicchio & Sons, Craft, Craftbar, Frankies 457 Spuntino, Hearth, The Hurricane Club, Jacques Torres Chocolate, Kin Shop, Lincoln Ristorante, Monkey Bar, Pearl Oyster BarPerilla, Rappahannock River Oysters, Riverpark, Saxon + Parole, South Gate, ‘wichcraft


Pretty great organization, isn't it?  OK, so now that you've learned a little bit about Children of Bellevue and Toast to the Children, here's a peak at what you missed from one hell of a fantastic evening at Riverpark...

(Photo: www.foodrepublic.com) Tom Colicchio, Marcus SamuelssonFabulous oysters courtesy of Rappahannock Oyster Co.Hearth's Crostini with fava bean, pecorino salad, and spring onionsRiverpark's grilled mackerel, gingered pea soup with rhubarb & merkenThe Hurricane Club's crispy cones of salmon tartare with cured lemon and noriThe Monkey Bar's wagyu steak with beans and crispy riceBlue Smoke's ruby red shrimp and organic blue corn gritsLincoln's braised pork spareribs with green olives, capers and chili Saxon + Parole's pork "meat pies"'wichcraft's peanut butter & jelly ice-creamwiches~~~

Until Toast 2013!

The Lunch Belle