Setting up a Table 4 Two With Melba Wilson

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the “Table for 2” entrepreneur sessions at the New York Public Library hosted by the famous, Melba Wilson.

I must say it was by far one of the most inspiring sessions that I have attended. Literally from beginning to end everything was positive.

Let me give you a little history about Melba… she was “born, bred and buttered in Harlem”, which is something she stands strongly by. Her drive for success started at a very early age, when she landed her first opportunity to shine in the restaurant industry. The famous Sylvia’s “Queen of Soul Food” restaurant welcomed Melba with open arms as she transitioned from a cashier to managerial positions.

Her popular Sunday Gospel brunch not only caught the attention of the community but also a few culinary elites, such as Michael Lomanco, former Executive Chef of the 21 Club and Executive Chef of Windows on the Worlds Restaurant. Following their union, Melba produced live weekly Sunday Brunch sessions, within six months  her “Champagne Sunday Brunch” increased 65% of her revenue. Like a domino effect, Melba was presented with opportunities from renowned restaurateurs from Drew Nieporent, Robert DeNiro of Noru and more.

Funny after the presenter shared Melba’s journey with the audience. The first thing Melba said was “golly did I really do all of that”. Which showed that despite her success, she is an extremely humble person.

Being that she has a southern spirit, she kicked off the session by making everyone stand, look to their neighbor and say this phrase, “if you can believe, you can receive it and you can
achieve it”. This is something that I believe whole-heartedly, if someone does not believe in their capabilities, they may never reach their full potential.

If you were someone who wasn’t sure what your next step was, looking to jump into the restaurant business, your passion is taking over your thoughts, or you simply wanted to be free of the corporate world! This was the place that you needed to be. I found that I was in the right place and the right time, for where I am in life.

Over the next hour, Melba described her journey, her obstacles, how she tackled fear and the ambassadors in her life that kept her strong. Let me take a moment to share with you a few key learning tips from Melba.

How do you decide to leave your corporate job? Do what you’re most passionate about. Never let money be the driving force behind your goals. You have to do something that hits you in the heart.

What is the first thing new entrepreneurs should do? Align yourself with people who know the industry you want to go in. Get a good lawyer or CPA to review all of your documents and help you with permits and licenses.

Do you recommend anyone? Sure, my attorney Andrew Maloney is here with me today.

Attorney Maloney shared the importance of bringing passion to the table, along with commitment, tenacity and strong goals. Oh and being a restaurant critic! 🙂

Wait! Did I mention that we were served, Melba’s delicious strips of catfish along with chipotle sauce by a wait staff? 

I must say, it was simply delicious. I had to try it, even though I would pay for it later. But, I was extremely excited to hear, Melba is working on a recipe for gluten-free fried chicken! Oh Yeaaahhh!!!

Give me a moment, I am having a moment with my taste buds. Ok, I’m ready. 🙂

Melba, do you have any tips for upcoming restaurateurs? Ask yourself this…if not me? who? if not now? when? When you can answer that, create a list of your goals.

1) Write down the goal 

2) Create a timeline of how you can do it, when do you want to and what it will take to accomplish it. 

3) Get a mentor and get your hands dirty. 

Now that I have shared with you one of the most inspiring sessions that I have attended, you’ll have to wait to hear my takes on how good her food is. We will be stopping by Melba’s Restaurant next Tuesday, just in time for a jam session with Peta Wane and Fred McFarlane. I wish I would have stopped by last night to dine in the company of Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis. 🙂

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Finding A Little Part of India in Orlando

LaurenAsh and I have to enjoy Indian cuisine at least once a week. Something about the spices creates an small addiction for our taste buds. So imagine how excited I was when LaurenAsh told me about the Living Social deal she found for Saffron Indian Cuisine. Now generally we use our trusty source Groupon, but this deal was a good one.

We arrived just in time as the lunch buffet was being set up. We sat comfortably in the front of the restaurant, to do what we do best…people watch. For some strange reason we enjoy watching the interaction between everyone in the restaurant, rather it be the customers, staff or people walking by.

Everyone at Saffron were extremely friendly and made sure they explained everything on their menu. We piled our plates with Chicken Tikki Marsala, Sofiyaki Chicken Biryani, Shahimutter Paneer, and Vegetable Samosa (starting from left).

For dessert we tried the Mughlai Kheer and another dish that I forgot to grab the name of…but it was like a fruit custard. I only tried a little…this was my first Indian dessert and I was unsure what I was eating :-). But it was delicious!! I would have went for seconds, but we were pressed for time.

If you are not familiar with Indian food, here is a little lesson on their cuisine:

Chicken Tikki Marsala- Tandoori chicken breast cubes cooked in zesty tomato gravy

Sofiyaki Chicken Biryani-Chicken breast marinated with yogurt, spices, herbs & baked w/saffron basmati rice

Shahimutter Paneer-Paneer cubes cooked with green peas in a rich tomato & herb gravy

Vegetable Samosa-Crispy pastry filled with potatoes, green peas & spices

Mughlai Kheer –Rice & milk pudding garnished w/nuts & raisins

We definitely got our fix for Indian Cuisine satisfied, we were stuffed and ready for the next adventure during our stay in Orlando. We were even more pleased with how they presented our Living Social deal, not to mention how much money we saved.

The lunch buffet is $12.95 a person including your drink, had we paid full price it would have been $27.95. The deal included $18 towards our total purchase, which we ended up only paying $9.60 for our both of our meals. Can you say a still?!

We definitely recommend this restaurant to any and everyone within the Orlando area and if you are visiting you must stop by during lunch time.

A big thanks to the team at Saffron for giving us a little piece of India, during our stay in Orlando! 

(Check out “Eat, Pray and Lovin Life at Karma Cafe” for our other  Indian Cuisine experiences)

Sipping Away at Infusion Tea

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Fresh off the plane of course the taste buds were connecting with our stomachs, sending a nice little signal of hunger. No worries, we are planners so we already know where this journey will leads us. Our trusty friend Groupon provided us with a delightful little special for Infusion Tea, a known tea cafe within the metro area. Being avid tea drinkers this was right up our alley.

It wasn’t hard to find and provided great scenery for visitors, the atmosphere was also peaceful and inviting. We were greeted by the laughter of school girls doing their homework while enjoy assorted teas and splitting egg salad wraps.
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The menu gave such a variety of food selections that our taste buds simply could not make their minds up. Our groupon allowed us to have 2 entrees, a pot of tea and 2 gelatos…yummy. For entree, I will have the Tempeh Taco Salad something about the organic tortilla strips and house-made chipotle ranch dressing invited a fiesta in my mouth.

As LaurenAsh decided on the Avocado delight wrap filled with fresh avocado, hummus and sunflower seeds. Something else caught my eye…silky avocado, chopped apples, citrus vinaigrette dressing…excuse me miss can I change my order?! I made my mind up on the Uptown Apple Salad.

Whew! Now that we have the entrees down next comes the real challenge…which tea will we have? Behind the register holds at least 100 selections of rare teas. How can we decide? Unfortunately we had to decide quickly because the line was starting to get long.

We mostly drink green teas so we asked the barista what she suggested…Midnight Jasmine…she answered immediately. Great! We’ll go with that. Within minutes we were presented with a pot full of happiness.

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The aromas became more evident as we patiently waited for the tea to steep. The waiter instructed us to allow this particular tea to steep for three minutes as he turned the timer. Once the timer ran out, we were ready!

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It was rather amusing seeing the honey that was placed at each table. We had the pleasure of using not just any honey, but Winter Park raw honey made only in Florida. This showed the support that this community had for each other, which made the experience even more enjoyable.

I must say the barista’s recommendation was a perfect choice. The tea was simply sensation, it went perfectly with our meals that was both light and delicious. After finishing our meals and two cups of tea each we were ready for dessert.

Having gelato only once so we were eager to try it again. I chose the Dolce Leche as LaurenAsh selected the Pineapple. They were more than gracious with the portions and we were grateful for EVERY bite.

After such a delightful experience, we couldn’t leave empty handed! The staff at Infusion gives their guest the wonderful choice to take the selection of rare teas home. My excitement level was climbing the ladder about now…we decided on the Midnight Jasmine due to our calming lunch experience.Great things come in pairs, so we also selected the Moroccan Mint Green Tea, something about the name screamed “refresher” after our long journey back to NYC.

The barista even gave us a menu to keep! We will definitely be ordering next samples faithfully. This cafe comes highly recommend for anyone who is visiting or living in the Orlando area!

Before we go..we have an announcement…Infusion Cafe…YOU’VE BEEN BUDDED!!!