Justin Chan

Food StoriesWhat To Buy

How to Build an Ethnic Pantry: Halal

By Justin Chan | July 17, 2012

Photo: Matthew Mendoza

Photo: Matthew Mendoza

Hidden between two stores on 74th Street and Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights is a halal market that carries a number of products that attract Muslim customers daily. The place seems sparse at first look, but a close observation reveals a shelf lined with unique spices and a small fridge filled with different kinds of raw meat.

Halal food has become a mainstay in New York cuisine, and markets such as Yusuf Mohammad’s are taking advantage of its popularity. In fact, people of various backgrounds have visited his market. Mohammad, a Bangladeshi who works the store’s cash register, said that Bangladeshi, Indian, Chinese and American visitors have purchased goods, and he was more than eager to share the kinds of ingredients that should be found in every Muslim pantry: Read More

Food PoliticsNews

The Dirt in Your Food May Actually Save Your Life

By Justin Chan | July 10, 2012

Photo: Ari Moore

New plants

In a city where skyscrapers and massive buildings outnumber arable land, community gardens are hard to come by. Those that are fortunate to plant a few crops in their backyards rarely do so, leaving millions of residents scoping for processed food at their local supermarkets. Some products contain chemicals that the average consumer has little knowledge of and they may do more harm than good. Read More

TipsWhat To Buy

How to Build an Ethnic Pantry: Chinese

By Justin Chan | July 5, 2012

Photo: Jan Zeschky

Photo: Jan Zeschky

Chinese cuisine has become a huge part of American culture. Nearly every city and town across the country has a restaurant dedicated to serving Chinese food, and it seems as if the average American can’t get enough of it. In fact, Chinese food has become so popular that many non-Chinese have tried to imitate it, but few have successfully replicated it. Chinese chefs often stress that preparation is key, but what may be even more important is the selection of ingredients. Read More

Who To Know

Landscapes Through a Lens: An Interview with Photographer Lauree Feldman

By Justin Chan | June 12, 2012

Photo: Justin Chan

Photo: Justin Chan

Located at the corner of West 129th Street and Lenox Avenue is a small specialty coffee house that serves rich coffee, an assortment of pastries and bagels. The shop has a rustic feel: The entire floor is covered with dark mahogany-colored wooden planks. The brown tin ceiling adds to the space’s antiquated décor, but the photos on one sidewall represents a contrast to the coffee house’s old world theme.

The works are part of FutureSelf, an exhibit by Lauree Feldman, a photographer who holds a contract with Getty Images and has an office in Harlem. Feldman first began her career as a technical animation photographer and later made the transition to stock photography. Her journey to Asia eventually led to her production of “Eye on Asia,” an exhibition of black and white silver bromide prints that chronicle her travels.

Her images stir emotions from her viewers and the minute we saw them displayed at Lenox Coffee, we knew we had to speak with her. Check out her incredible story as a photographer and how she uses her lens to view the world… Read More

What To Buy

How to Build an Ethnic Pantry: Latin American

By Justin Chan | June 8, 2012

Photo: Julien H

Photo: Julien H


To celebrate the many different types of cuisines around the world, we’ve created a mini-series, “How to Build an Ethnic Pantry,” that offers some advice on the kinds of ingredients every cook should have when they make a particular cultural dish. We also asked grocery store owners and chefs for suggestions and what they think makes their food unique. Check out what ingredients fill Latin American kitchens throughout the world…

Interested in making Latin American cuisine but don’t know what ingredients you need?

Don’t worry! The folks at Mi Tierra Supermarket in Jackson Heights were kind enough to share some knowledge this week. Located on 85th Street and Roosevelt Avenue as well as on Northern Blvd and 81st Street, Mi Tierra is the hub of Latin American grocery shopping. The market spans half of a block and caters to a predominately Mexican customer base. But all other Latin Americans also visit the store regularly and navigate through the long line of shelves in order to get the products they need to whip up a tasty traditional dish.

Ericka Ramirez and Jackie Hernandez, sales counter associates at Mi Tierra, offered some insight into what every aspiring Latin-American-loving chef should have in his or her pantry Read More

NewsWhat To Buy

How to Build an Ethnic Pantry: Moroccan

By Justin Chan | May 24, 2012

Photo: Paul Goyette

Photo: Paul Goyette

To celebrate the many different types of cuisines around the world, we’ve created a mini-series, “How to Build an Ethnic Pantry,” that offers some advice on the kinds of ingredients every cook should have when they make a particular cultural dish. We also asked grocery store owners and chefs for suggestions and what they think makes their food unique. Check out our first entry below.

Moroccan cuisine may possibly be the most diverse in North Africa. It draws mainly from Berber, Moorish and Arab influences and makes heavy use of Mediterranean spices. Luckily for New Yorkers, there are tons of Moroccan restaurants in the city that locals can visit. One of them is Barbes Restaurant, located at East 36th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues. According to its site, the eatery is named after a popular Paris neighborhood close to the end of Sacre-Coeur, otherwise known as the “little piece of North Africa.” It should come as no surprise to first-time patrons, then, that Barbes’ menu is a combination of Parisian and North African foods.  Read More


The Fifth Taste That Few Know About

By Justin Chan | April 24, 2012

Photo: Sifu Renka

Photo: Sifu Renka

Contrary to popular belief, we have five, not four, basic tastes. Many of you are probably aware of the first four: sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Most do not know what the fifth taste is, and who can blame them? For awhile, scientists debated over whether this taste, known as “umami,” was credible. Some had trouble describing it, while others simply defined it as the taste of glutamates and nucleotides. It has definitely proven to be the “je ne sais quoi” of the senses.

So what exactly is umami? Read More


BPA-Free Products Get Innovative

By Jeannette | April 20, 2012

321 Water Bottle

By: Justin Chan

Not only is Earth Day all about conserving the environment, but also about raising awareness on healthy habits for your body, too. Clearly, the better and more natural a product is can benefit both your health and the planet.

Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration decided last month that it would not ban the use of bisphenol A in food packaging, many companies have made a conscious effort to make BPA-free goods amid concerns over the compound’s potential effects on a child’s brain, behavior and prostate gland. Some of these businesses have added a creative twist to their items in order to make them more eco-friendly and appealing.

Check out our list below for some cool BPA-free products to help get you in that Earth Day mentality… Read More


USDA Says Food Stamps Brought Down Poverty Rate

By Jeannette | April 11, 2012

Photo: NCReedplayer

Photo: NCReedplayer

By: Justin Chan

As President Barack Obama and his administration attempt to quell the fear over the recent recession, the public can find solace in knowing that those who have been hit particularly hard by the economic crisis have benefitted somewhat in the past few years.

According to the New York Times, the United States Department of Agriculture released a new study that claims that food stamps have significantly reduced the country’s poverty rate during the recession. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which administers the food stamps, reportedly lowered the poverty rate by 8 percent in 2009, the latest year noted in the study.

Although the food stamp program serves more than 46 million people and is considered to be one of the largest efforts against poverty, its history dates back to the early 1900s, when unemployment became rampant. Read More


10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Mexican Food

By Jeannette | April 6, 2012

Photo: rdpeyton

Photo: rdpeyton

By:Justin Chan

The Wall Street Journal recently paid tribute to the power of Mexican food in America by running an article that lists several fun facts that you might find interesting (you can find them below). The piece was published in concurrence with Taco Bell’s 50th anniversary last month.  While Taco Bell cannot be classified as traditional Mexican food, it is undoubtedly a fast food version that Americans, particularly the hungry and on-a-budget college students, seem to like.

Taco Bell, in fact, is one of many chain restaurants that helped put Mexican cuisine on the map. Chipotle Mexican Grill is also gaining prominence, as more and more Americans try to satiate their growing desire for the Central American cookery. Although such chains have made Mexican cuisine trendy, the roots of Mexican food in the United States can be traced as far back as the 1800s. Tex-Mex food, for instance, originated during that period, and the term “Tex-Mex” was first coined in 1875, when the Texas Mexican Railway was chartered. Since its creation, Tex-Mex food has incorporated influences from Spain, Mexico and South Texas and has spread across the country. Although it is generally described as a regional American cuisine, it was created by Mexican Americans who borrowed largely from the Mexican food culture. Read More


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Whether it’s finding the best goat tacos in LA, spotting a well-worn vintage bag in Sweden, or interviewing the “crab man” selling seafood on a corner in Harlem, we tell stories seen from Chef Marcus Samuelsson‘s point of view. MarcusSamuelsson.com strives to create conversations about food, nutrition, culture, art, and design. We want to find Read More


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