Employee Spotlight – Athena Hay

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March’s Employee Spotlight is a shout out to Athena Hay.  Athena’s contagious smile has been welcoming our guests at EVOO for almost a year.  As a host she is often the first and last person to interact with our guests, and she is exactly the type of person we want for that job:  friendly, outgoing and affable.  When you arrive at EVOO she may be there to greet you with her professional yet vibrant demeanor shining through, assuring you that we will take great care of you.

As usual Steve Kurland our General Manager and business partner, took on the task of presenting this month’s employee spotlight, Athena Hay, with questions.  Read on and get to know her a little better.

How long have you worked at EVOO and in which job(s)?   I’ve worked at EVOO as a nighttime host for about a year or so.

What’s your favorite food item on our current menu?   Current favorite is the Beef Tartare, but the Chinese Box is still my go-to item.

What have you enjoyed about working at EVOO?   Often when beginning a new job and learning about the “behind the scenes” work, the magic of a place can be lost. But, what I loved about EVOO is that the magic just grew. Learning how much EVOO takes to heart the mission to be environmentally conscious and support and serve local.  And, the actions taken that not all patrons might first notice, like how we reuse all our plate liners and how the server notepads are made from our re-purposed menus.  Or how we grow our own herbs and little tomatoes right on the roof of our building!

What are you watching on TV these days?   Planet Earth II on Netflix is a must see if you haven’t watched it yet!

Do you have any pets?   I do not unfortunately! I do try to keep animals in my life as much as possible however. When I’m not working at EVOO, I have an independent dog boarding and walking job so it is not uncommon to see me walking around town with a posse of pups!

Where did you attend college? What was your favorite class?   I attended Massachusetts College of Art and Design where I graduated with a BFA in Architecture. I loved all my design studios but it was also great to step out of my comfort zone with classes like Introduction to Jewelry Metal smithing.

What is the last show you attended?   Last show I attended was a jazz show at the Beat Brasserie in Harvard Square.

Where did you grow up? How did you end up in the Boston area?  I am from the suburbs of Boston and first moved into the city for school, Boston is definitely my hometown!

What is your dream job (other than EVOO)?   Researching and designing public outdoor communal spaces is what excites me most in design so my dream job would be working with a like-minded, passionate team designing for a future communities.

Athena

In 1982, at least 15 years before she was born The Who wrote a song about her.

 

 

Employee Spotlight – Hannah Schwab

 

 

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Hannah Schwab, no, it’s not her high school yearbook photo

 

February’s employee spotlight is Hannah Schwab.  Hannah has many roles at EVOO and Za, most importantly she is half of our events team, corresponding with, helping plan and execute our private events.  She also can be seen waiting tables, running food and being a shift supervisor at any of the restaurants.  I am often lucky enough to share the office space with Hannah, between her many emails and phone conversations, she always has a story to tell, most of them are quite amusing.  When Hannah isn’t fulfilling one of her many roles with us she is often training for her next physical challenge, anything from a 5K to a marathon or a triathlon, Hannah is always pushing herself to great achievements.

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Hannah on the right is all smiles after finishing the Cambridge 1/2 Marathon with Kylie Millbern, Colleen and me.

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Hannah during a recent triathlon

Steve Kurland, our General Manager and business partner, came up with this insightful list of questions for Hannah. Continue reading to learn more than you ever wanted to know about Hannah.

How long have you worked at EVOO and in which jobs?   I started working at EVOO in 2011.  I first started working at Za (EVOO’s sister restaurant) in Arlington back in 2005.  In 2010, when we opened Za and EVOO in Kendall Square, I began working full time. At EVOO I am currently part of the events team, supervisor, and serve two nights a week.

What do you enjoy most about your different job roles?   I love the variety that it provides each day.  It’s great to see an event from the first initial phone call to actually serving the party.  I think it is helpful when planning events to also have insight on serving the group as well.  I am a firm believer in the phrase :variety is the spice of life!”

Tell us a bout being a Doula:   One of my really good friends (and a past employee of the restaurant) recently asked me and another friend to be her doulas for her second child’s birth coming up this February.  For those that have never heard of a doula, they are meant to help provide support to the mother and family during child birth and after.  I took a class and learned all there is to know. I am excited to support my friend. I also think that is not something you normally hear about. How awesome to have a support system built around you for not only the mother and baby but for the significant others as well. You never know, it could be a future side job.

What’s your favorite food item on our current menu?   I LOVE everything on the menu. The burratina dish is always great.  We have just started to have a burger on the menu and it changes weekly, and they are all amazing.  Who doesn’t love a burger?  The Haddock dish has some great flavors.  I could go on and on. I always tell everyone how spoiled I am working here and having the opportunity to eat great food all the time. It’s a blessing.  My all time favorite dish is our strawberry gazpacho in the summer and the strawberry rhubarb crisp!  And don’t even get me started on the pizza at Za.  

What have you learned working at EVOO?   Wow, there are so many things.  I guess the skill of being great at customer service. Whether at a table talking about our menu or helping someone planning a party, a smile, thank you, and overall enthusiasm for our food and mission goes a long way.  I feel very fortunate to be a part of a great team here!

What’s on your music playlist right now?   I have recently been on a music surge lately of some artists.  Currently in rotation are Big Thief, Colter Wall, and Lisa LeBlanc. The later two are both from Canada.

What was your favorite clothing item in high school?   I don’t think that I had a favorite clothing item.  I had a red Jansport backpack that I  loved.  I really liked the television series “My So Called Life”.  And the lead character had a red Jansport. So I thought it was pretty cool.

What is the last show you attended?   I recently went to see Greensky Bluegrass at the House of  Blues in Boston .  There’s nothing like adding a little twang to your evening to make your soul happy. These guys are really great musicians and put on a fantastic show.

Where did you grow up? How did you end up in the Boston area?   I grew up in Western Pennsylvania, a little town called Beaver Falls.  Famous for the being the home town of  Jets quarterback Joe Namath.  After high school, I joined the United States Coast Guard.  I was stationed in Buffalo, NY and Cape Cod.  I met a bunch of awesome friends and overall had a great experience.  After the Coast Guard, I moved to Boston and went to college and have never left. At my heart I am still and will always be a Pittsburgh Steeler fan!

What was your first car?   A 1994 Toyota Corolla.  It was a great car. Drove cross country in it.  I should never have traded it in but liked the look of the old Jettas so off it went.  I now have a 2004 Honda Civic Coupe, Scooter, he’s the best!  Trying to keep him on the road for another year!

What’s your dream job (other than EVOO)?   This is a tough question.  There are lots of things I would like to do. The next step would likely be some role within event planning and maybe not at a restaurant but within the arts world some how.  I always wanted to be a park ranger (since High School) and work a historical site giving tours.  I also went to school for radio broadcasting so maybe working for public radio.  

What is one thing you are passionate about?   I don’t think that I could list just one thing that I am passionate about; it’s like naming one band as your favorite band.  So here are a few: Family, Hankers (Hannah’s boyfriend Hank), Friends, Work, Running, Triathlons (my picture is from after I finished an Olympic distance triathlon this past Summer), Biking, Ocean, Swimming, Music, Concerts, Records, Reading, Walden Pond, Cooking, Knitting, Yoga, Movies, Eating, Dancing, Outdoors,  really just enjoying all there is too life!

What’s Cooking: Keeping it local in January

Okay so it’s late January and nothing is growing in the fields of New England. What does a restaurant that prides itself on really being farm-to-table do to maintain a menu that is true to their ideals during a long cold winter?

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Local cellared roots

Well, fortunately for us more and more local farms either have, and are now using or they have installed root cellars.  These farms are able to supply us with all the root vegetables, winter squashes and cabbages we need.  Great local carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips, radishes, kohlrabi and potatoes are easy to come by.  Many farms also have have heated greenhouses that provide us with lettuce, arugula, spinach, pea greens and even some herbs.  Getting local  sustainable livestock is not a problem, all of the land-based proteins used at EVOO year round are from independent small family-owned farms.

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A greenhouse at Red Fire farm in Granby, Ma

However, the most important thing we do is plan for it.  Throughout the local growing season starting in the late spring and finishing well after the hard frost we pickle, can, preserve, dehydrate and freeze.  This is a lot of work and it comes at great expense to us.  But, we made a commitment to ourselves and our community, to be as local and sustainable as possible.

Some of the items we pickled this year include: asparagus, rhubarb, fiddlehead ferns, garlic scapes, cucumbers, onions, garlic, okra, beets, green beans, peppers, jalapenos, cauliflower and green tomatoes.  Some of the pickles are sweet, some are dill and some are fermented.  Many pickles are canned in glass mason jars, while others are in big buckets finding their way to the inner depths of our walk-in refrigerators.

 

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We make gallons upon gallons of apple butter, which we use in our apple crisp at EVOO, on a winter squash pizza at Za and whatever other way(s) we can come up with.  Big vats of jalapeno and habanero hot sauces are made, processed and put-up. Many flats of local berries and grapes, at the peak of their ripeness are made into jellies and jams, and we canned more cherries than anyone would ever want to pit.

 

 

We oven-dry and vacuum seal cases of plum tomatoes, so that in the dead of winter we are still able to have local tomatoes on our menu.

 

 

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We shuck, vacuum seal and freeze bushels of corn. We had local corn salsa on our menu last week with a pastured MA beef empanada.

 

 

 

 

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Kohlrabi Kimchi

We also make buckets of kimchi, some using the traditional napa cabbage, while others are made with kohlrabi and still others are with zucchini or butternut squash.

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Dried mint and basil from our Rooftop garden

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Dried chives from our Rooftop Garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our rooftop garden often provides us with more herbs than we can use, so we dry them for use in the winter months.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We dry and grind locally grown chile peppers, using them wherever a little bit of heat is needed.

Running a sustainable restaurant in Massachusetts has its challenges and we have been taking them head-on for years.  During our 20 year tenure it has gotten a whole lot easier, the local movement has helped us immensely.  Farmers who used to look at winter as a time for a short break and planning for the upcoming season are now figuring out ways to grow, store and sell more to restaurants and at winter farmers markets.  We have also learned how to plan better for the winter, making sure we take the time to preserve our short growing season’s bounty for use throughout the whole year.

If you’re into root vegetables, pickles, preserves and greenhouse greens, come on in and see how we are serving them, at the same time you will be supporting us and your local farming community.

A link to our menu:

http://evoorestaurant.com/#menu

Employee Spotlight: Ryan Krystoploski

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January’s Employee Spotlight is Ryan Krystoploski, he is someone who I have a great bond with.  Ryan first joined EVOO in 2010, soon after we moved to Kendall Square; while he was still in culinary school and not yet old enough to drink.  Ryan had a brief reprieve from working with us, he was a sous chef in a north shore Italian restaurant, fortunately for us he decided to EVOO was the place to be.  He was very green, with limited experience in real food cookery.  Through his hard work, perseverance, and some guidance Ryan has become a very good cook.  Ryan is hard-working, conscientious and well liked by his co-workers.

One of Ryan’s best attributes is how much he cares, he really wants to do a good job; making great food, keeping the kitchen clean and organized.  He helps us strive to ensure every guest has a great experience.

Ryan, even with his poor taste in music, think adolescent female pop, is a pleasure to work with. He has become a big part of the core team here at EVOO.  His efforts are greatly appreciated, I look forward to watching Ryan grow as a cook and as a person.

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As is the new custom, Steve Kurland, EVOO / Za general manager and co-owner came up with the following list of questions for Ryan to answer.

January 2018, Spotlight Questions

How long have you worked at EVOO and in which jobs?   On and off for about 5 years, starting off as the fry guy going to culinary school and worked my way up to lead line cook with aspirations to be sous chef one day.

What’s your favorite food item on our current menu?   I’m a big guy so I always go for the studded beef tenderloin. In late summer, when we have the heirloom tomatoes I like to substitute the vegetables for a creamy tomato and onion salad; delicious!

What have you learned working at EVOO?   I could write a 15 page paper on what I’ve learned at EVOO. This place has taught Me how to care, cook, plant, think, and become an overall better person. This place has helped me reach goals I never thought I could obtain. The best part is I’m still not done learning, even after knowing Pete for seven years!

If you received $1,000,000 tomorrow, what would you do with it?   Tell Peter [McCarthy-chef/owner] and Randy [Platt-sous chef] I’ll be back in a month!

What’s the last book you read?   I am currently reading It by Stephen King.

What was your favorite class in high school?   My favorite class in high school was Art and Animation. I took 3 years of that class and enjoyed every minute of it.

Do you have a pet?   I personally do not, but the rest of my family does. Combined they have 5 dogs and one cat. My sisters puppy Max is my best bud though.

What do you do on your time off?   I try to stay active as well as visit new restaurants and catch up with family and friends. Life is too short to let it pass by.

What was your first car?   ‘91.5 Acura Integra 3 tone crapbox; drove that bad boy to the ground.

Do you speak any languages other than English?   Thanks to my friends in the back kitchen and prep room, I can carry on a conversation in Spanish.

What is one thing you are passionate about?   I’m passionate about cooking and I can attribute that to Peter, Randy, and Anthony [Mazzotta], the old sous chef. They continue to show me what it means to be a chef and not a plain old line cook.

What’s your favorite song right now?   Anything but Wilco…[Peter’s favorite band-always on the EVOO music playlist].

 

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Don’t diss Wilco or I will post photos like this.

 

 

 

Ryan is looking for an apartment in the Medford, Somerville area, if you know of any availabilities, comment to this blog.

Za final cooking instructions

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1/2 cooked, not cut ‘za

As many of you know Za is EVOO’s sister restaurant with two locations, one in Kendall Square, Cambridge, abutting EVOO and the original Za is on Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington.  When the timing is not right for you to dine at either restaurant, you can still enjoy ‘za on your own schedule.  Below is the best way I have found for finish cooking or re-heating ‘za. So, if you are not sure what time you want to eat, but you know you want ‘za, don’t serve it soggy and cold.  Follow these simple instructions to eat crispy crusted hot pizza whenever you want with little effort.

The first thing you need to do is order a stack of za from either location.  They are 10″ pizzas that will serve one hardy appetite or two can share one za paired with one of Za’s amazing salads.  Order a bunch and finish cooking on your time.  I tend to order them early in the day, asking for them to be 1/2 cooked, not cut and refrigerated until pick-up. There is no need to take them home hot.  When I get home I refrigerate the pizzas until I’m ready, whether it’s a few hours or a few days it doesn’t matter.

When it’s time, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Once your oven reaches 375, place a heavy duty cookie sheet on the middle rack in your oven and heat the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, this will ensure a crisp bottom.  If you have multiple racks and multiple sheet pans you can finish cooking several pizzas at a time, however, be careful the temperature on the bottom and top racks can vary greatly from the middle one.

Now add your pizza, I have found it takes between 8 and 12 minutes to get the crust crispy and the cheese to gooey.  Use a burger flipping spatula lifting the ‘za in the middle.  The sides of the ‘za not being held by the spatula should not droop, the topping should be hot and bubbling in spots. Remove the Za from the oven place on a big cutting board, cut into eight equal sized pieces and serve.

 

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Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

 

 

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Step 2: When oven reaches 375, place sheet pan on the middle rack in the oven for an additional 5 minutes.

 

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Step 3: Place ‘za on hot sheet pan.

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Step 4: Look at doneness, brown edges, bubbly cheese.

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Step 5: Check bottom, za is nicely browned and not droopy.

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Step 6: Cut and enjoy your za.

 

Employee Spotlight – Alex gladwell

Each Month we are going to spotlight one of our employees.  I hope these segments show what a wonderfully diverse workplace we have at EVOO.  This month being the first in the series we choose Alex Gladwell to be our first victim.  Alex is one of our long-term EVOO employees who has worked as a server, bartender and a supervisor.  I also keep trying to get her to work in the kitchen as well; I think she has the right temperament and work ethic to be a very good cook.

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Alex working a recent shift at the bar

Steve Kurland, EVOO’s general manager and business partner, put some questions to Alex, here are her responses-

EVOO’s Employee Spotlight Questions

How long have you worked at EVOO and in which jobs?

I have worked at EVOO since 2013, as server, supervisor, and bartender.

What’s your favorite food item on the menu?

The beef tenderloin and, when in season, the bluefish.

What’s your favorite drink that we serve?

Catcher in the Rye! (Old Overholt Rye, St Elder – Elderberry Liquor, Lemon Juice, Cava)

What’s your favorite app?

Oh man, this is a tough one. Think it’d have to be the Country Pate. That, and the rabbit confit salad. And all things charcuterie.

What’s the last book you read?

 “Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay. And I just picked up Barbara Lynch’s “A life of Playing with Fire”. Both books by strong, inspirational women.

What’s your favorite music?

 Can’t really choose a favorite, per say. Love jazz, R&B, folk, old school country, hip hop. I would say most genres, except for maybe heavy metal and techno—not so much my jam.

Do you have a pet?

No.

What do you do on your time off?

 I love to hike, hang with friends/family, and travel as much as possible. This year I was fortunate to travel to Cuba as well as New Orleans. Hoping 2018 also consists of some adventure, as I’m hopeful it will.

What was your first car?

 Mazda 626

Now that you have gotten to know Alex a little bit better, if there are any other employees that you would like us to spotlight, as well as questions you would like us to ask, just add comments to this blog.