Fresh food. Simple and seasonal. Mostly Mediterranean.

New York Entrepreneur Shines Spotlight on Ethnic Cooks



Pantry Road hit the road last month to attend the International Association of Culinary Professional Conference (IACP) in Washington DC. This incredible four-day meeting gathers food writers, chefs, cookbook authors, cooking teachers, food innovators among others to share ideas, discover trends, and spark discussion about the world of food. It's a highlight of the year to connect with like-minded professionals eager to share their passion. A bonus of the culinary profession is that it attracts givers who nurture by nature. Unwilling to let the flame of that generosity and inspiration dim, we are eager to share stories of some of the amazing people we met. Our inaugural story is very spicy ... both figuratively and literally. The League of Kitchens, an accidental business.... Lisa Gross didn't intend to create an innovative cooking business unlike any other. The League of Kitchens evolved from an art project designed to highlight great ethnic cooks. But the deeper Lisa delved into the project, she realized there was a rich pool of talent waiting to be tapped, and once unleashed, there was no putting that genie back in the bottle.

Here's the formula: Best immigrant cooks teaching their native cuisine at home + food enthusiasts eager to learn and cook authentic ethnic cuisine. So Lisa created a business plan, emptied her savings account, built a website and launched the League of Kitchens. Her first task was to find the best home cooks hidden in the boroughs of New York. When she put out a call, she received over 150 eager applicants. She winnowed that pool down to 25 who were invited to cook for her and her team. From that subset she chose 6 charismatic women who not only had a gift for cooking, but also a talent to teach. Among her top candidates was a young Greek woman who shared her recipe for "Horta," a simple, tasty dish for which we've featured the recipe below. On the other side of the equation is a growing cadre of people eager to learn how to cook authentic ethinc food. We are eager to attend their classes soon. Next time you are in NYC, give them a try. Booking is easy through

Greek "Horta" (Boiled Leafy Greens) -- serves 4 to 6.

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2. Add the chicory and cook for 10 minutes. Add the spinach and dandelion greens and cook for 3 minutes.

3. Drain, pressing to squeeze out most of the water. Put in a serving bowl and drizzle with lemon juice, olive oil, and salt to taste. Cut up with kitchen scissors and mix together.

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