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Chefs at Home: Spike Mendelsohn's Revamped Schoolhouse Apartment

Chefs at Home: Spike Mendelsohn's Revamped Schoolhouse Apartment

We stopped by the chef's apartment in Washington, D.C. to check out his loft kitchen (and, okay, his vintage Playboy magazines)

Jane Bruce

Spike Mendelsohn cooks steak and eggs in his Washington, D.C. apartment.

While Spike Mendelsohn is busy juggling his Good Stuff Eateries and upcoming steak frites joint Bearnaise (slated to open next month, he says), he has a pretty sweet bachelor pad of sorts to go home to.

Mendelsohn's open loft in the Atlas district of Washington, D.C. not only has a pool in the back with barbecue grills and a jacuzzi, but also comes with enviable chalkboards thanks to its history as a schoolhouse. The quiet building, with less than eight apartments, is pretty much what you need when you're a busy chef.

"I chose it because it’s a beautiful loft," Mendelsohn told The Daily Meal. "There's 100-year-old wood floors, an old-school chalkboard. I thought was just a really great cool space. It’s kind of like the bachelor pad I never ever had."

And sticking with the bachelor pad theme, Mendelsohn has decked out the apartment with a wall of graffiti, a killer dining room table, and a fish tank that currently houses a tiny 4-inch shark (and let's not forget the stack of vintage Playboy magazines). Click through our slideshow to check out Mendelsohn's updated schoolhouse apartment, as he cooks up a mean steak and eggs for breakfast.

First Look: Ray’s Hell-Burger

At Michael Landrum&rsquos new burger place, Ray&rsquos Hell-Burger, the decorations include a pirate flag, butcher-shop diagrams, and piles of red meat waiting for the grinder in a starkly lit open kitchen. It might look like something out of Sweeney Todd, but instead of the worst pies in London, you&rsquoll find the best burgers in Arlington. Or anywhere in the area.

That&rsquos quite a feat considering that everyone from culinary superstar Michel Richard to Top Chef also-ran Spike Mendelsohn is battling for burger supremacy. Landrum&rsquos thick patties&mdashyou get a hefty ten ounces for $6.95&mdashare made from a blend of hand-trimmed prime beef, some of which comes from his Ray&rsquos the Steaks restaurant a few doors down. Charred over an open flame and cooked to order, they eat like steaks you can even order one &ldquoau poivre.&rdquo

You&rsquoll pay up to $5 extra for certain fancy cheeses, including a wonderfully runny Époisses, but a Danish bleu and a smoky mozzarella are both a buck. Embellishments such as sherried mushrooms and caramelized onions come free. So do the sides: corn on the cob and watermelon wedges.

If we have a complaint, it&rsquos with the sesame brioche bun, which is too puffily thick and tends to be dry. But that&rsquos a quibble. As long as Landrum&rsquos manning the meat grinder, we&rsquore game to go to hell anytime.

Ray&rsquos Hell-Burger, 1713 Wilson Blvd., Arlington 703-841-0001. Open daily for dinner, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for lunch.

The Wrap-Up: The Week in Food

This week brought news of two local chefs who have inked deals to publish cookbooks.

&bull In his First Bite column this week, the Washington Post&rsquos Tom Sietsema wrote about Watershed, the second restaurant from Todd Gray, co-owner of Equinox in downtown DC. At the end of the column, Sietsema tells us that Gray &ldquorecently signed a deal with St. Martin&rsquos Press to write a cookbook with his wife, fellow restaurateur Ellen Kassoff Gray, about their mixed-kitchen marriage.&rdquo Gray says that a potential title for the book is You Say Potato, I Say Latke. (In other Sietsema-related news, his Spring Dining Guide comes out in print Sunday but is now available on the Web. The highest rating among the 15 restaurants: three stars two restaurants earned the lowest: a half star.)

&bull Mike Isabella, Top Chef All Stars runner-up and owner of the soon-to-open Graffiato in DC&rsquos Penn Quarter, will put out Flavors From a Jersey Italian in fall 2012. From a press release, we learned that the recipes&mdashthink potato gnocchi, Italian &ldquogravy,&rdquo and zeppole&mdashare based on ones from Isabella&rsquos grandmother, who passed away when he was 21.

Speaking of local Top Chef alumni, Spike Mendelsohn of Capitol Hill&rsquos Good Stuff Eatery and We, the Pizza, was featured on People&rsquos District, a blog that asks Washington residents to tell their story in their own words. At the end of his monologue, Mendelsohn said, &ldquoHere, I opened one restaurant, Good Stuff, that developed my entire career. It is nice to be in a second-tier city where you can be a big fish in a small pond.&rdquo Those words incited some vitriolic responses from Don Rockwell and the Hill Is Home blog. Tim Carman of the Washington Post wrote a blog post entitled &ldquoIn Defense of Spike Mendelsohn&rdquo and went so far as to ask four local restaurateurs (Ashok Bajaj, Mark Bucher, Jamie Leeds, and Michael Landrum) their thoughts on Washington as &ldquosecond tier.&rdquo Let us know your opinion in the comments.

In more news to be filed under &ldquowhat you say or do in front of the media can go viral on the Web&rdquo: At Monday night&rsquos James Beard Awards, Restaurant Eve chef Cathal Armstrong&mdasha nominee in the Best Chef Mid-Atlantic category&mdashdidn&rsquot take home the win, and his wife, Meshelle, posted a Twitter picture of her giving the middle finger about the situation. She gave a response in Tom Sietsema&rsquos Wednesday chat.

Here&rsquos an award Cathal Armstrong did get, and may be more distinguished than a Beard recognition: The White House named him a Champion of Change for his work on improving school lunches. Last summer he founded the nonprofit Chefs as Parents in an effort to get healthy food into cafeterias.

Wednesday we received a press release saying that celebrity chef Bobby Flay is opening Bobby&rsquos Burger Palace . . . in a student center at the University of Maryland in College Park. There have been rumors for a long time about Flay&rsquos burger concept coming to Washington, but signs have always pointed to downtown DC. The release says the space is 3,500 square feet and should be open September 1. There are currently five other Bobby&rsquos locations on the East Coast. Philadelphia magazine has this to say about his outpost there: &ldquoThe buns are old-school sesame seed the patties, juicy, grill-flavored, and exceptionally well seasoned. For sides, add the crispy, slightly spicy fries or one of the rich milkshakes.

Eater reports that the cute little house that was Gillian Clark&rsquos General Store, until an abrupt closure in March, will become Pacci&rsquos Trattoria & Pasticceria at the end of next month. Spiro Gioldasis&mdashthe landlord of the building, owner of Pacci&rsquos Neapolitan Pizzeria in Silver Spring, and general manager of Mrs. K&rsquos Toll House&mdashis behind the new restaurant. There&rsquoll be an espresso bar for morning jolts, as well as pasta, pizza, and sandwiches. Bethesda Magazine adds that dinner entrées will be less than $20, and the place will be open from 7 AM to 9:30 PM daily.

Last Saturday, the Obamas visited another local restaurant: Tosca in DC&rsquos Penn Quarter. The white-tablecloth Italian restaurant is helmed by chef Massimo Fabbri and is known for its pastas and power players.


David Picket, president of New York-based developer Gotham, sees the charm in older buildings with character, both for his business projects and his personal home.

At 53 stories, this is the latest residential high-rise being completed in an area marketed as the Brooklyn Cultural District. Located at 250 Ashland Place, it's called The Ashland. Nearly half of the 586 apartments are affordable. In addition, the building offers plenty of amenities.

A recent report claims that nearly 40,000 new market-rate apartments are coming to New York City in the next three years, but it&rsquos unclear if the spike in supply will overwhelm or barely faze the market.

FORT GREENE &mdash As leasing is set to launch at Fort Greene&rsquos newest luxury tower, the high-rise&rsquos developers have released new images of the 53-story building and the ground-floor food hall set to open there this fall.

Construction is wrapping up on the The Ashland, a 53-story mixed-use skyscraper in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. In anticipation, the building&rsquos website has launched ahead of the July 19 opening of its leasing office.

The rapid change of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill is continuing apace, with major real estate developments sprouting seemingly everywhere.

At the crossroads of Fort Greene, Downtown Brooklyn, and the BAM Cultural District, The Ashland rises. Next Tuesday, July 19, the 53-story, 586-unit tower will open its leasing office to prospective renters interested in its one-, two- and three-bedroom no-fee apartments, priced from $2,600/month for studios to $7,500/month for three-bedrooms.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


EPISODE# 1: Worst Than Ever 14 to Start.

1 . BENJI 29 Live Music Booking Agent Nashville, TN
2. CASEY 26 Nurse North Hollywood, CA.
3. AMBER 36 Tatto Artist Redlands, CA.
4. MIKE 36 Writer Chicago, ILL.
5. LANCE 31 Music Producer New York City, NY
6. DANNY 43 Radiologist Long Island, NY
7. JAMIE 41 Flight Attendant New York City, NY
8. MUNEERAH 33 Abstinence Advocate Philadelphia, PA.
9. CARIE 34 Promotional Model Chester, VA.
10. CAROL 64 Real Estate Broker Manhattan, NY
11 . STEPHANIE 26 Secretary Washington, DC
12. DANIELLE 25 Staten Island, NY
13 . JOE Dancer Studio City, CA.
14. KEN 29 Seattle, WA.

CHEFS: Anne Burrell Bobby Flay

BASELINE SKILL DRILL: to determine which team.
- prepare your signature dish from scratch in 60 minutes.
- WORST: Muneerah & Jamie.

MAIN DISH CHALLENGE: Toss Your Pizza Pies.
- replicate your chef's pizza.

JUDGES: Maneet Chauhan
Spike Mendelsohn, Chef & Owner
Jimmy Bradley, Chef & Owner.


Capital Chefs: Amber Bursik of DC9

When you hang out with a crowd that goes to see a lot of concerts, as I do, you are occasionally going to find yourself eating in a concert hall.

You might do so in the moment, and you might not expect the food to be too good. So you may find it refreshing when the food at your favorite venue is really consistently great.

Things make sense once you look behind the curtain at DC9, however, and find Amber Bursik in the kitchen. After finishing culinary school, Bursik worked at Georgetown fish house Hook for several years and then popular Mediterranean restaurant Palena for several more before going to work at DC9 a few years ago.

“When I came in here, there was a menu in the place and I had to work within the parameters of the menu in place and the size and capabilities of the kitchen,” Bursik told me. “Because of that, I was told I had to have the burgers on the menu. I could change the burgers, but we had to have burgers.”

In her last five months at the now-shuttered Palena, Bursik was working the grill station, where she was responsible for cooking what many called the best burger in DC.

“It was fun and interesting but at the same time, you are working at this fine dining restaurant and you’re cooking burgers!” Bursik said. “So it was funny to come here and cook burgers again. But we have a great burger because of it.”

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Kitchen Rap with Louis S Luzzo, Sr.

From the moment I stepped on the property, I felt different. The welcome I received was genuine and by the end of my weekend I had come to believe, somehow, that these folks had known me and I them, all of our lives. They treated me like family. While I was busy thinking very highly of myself, feeling special indeed, I witnessed them offer this same level of hospitality and pureness of human interaction to everyone, famous or not, chef or student, writer or blogger, or guest. This is just who these folks are and I realized how lucky we all were, in this place at this particular moment, to be invited and sharing this with Lee and his Chef's Garden family.

The specialness of this place goes beyond tilling the ground and working it with love to produce some of the most incredible produce you can imagine. This place seems to also till the souls of those that come in contact with it. It nourishes you, fertilizes your mind and spirit, inspiring you always be at your freshest, most flavorful peak. That is the real secret of this place. Lee explained this to me as we talked in the study, surrounded by his history, sitting in high back chairs high above the kitchens below, chefs bustling about readying their entrees for the competition. "The land is special," he began, "due to the glaciers. This had been a lake bed and it's nutrient rich. That's what makes this place special." In Huron, Ohio, the lake winds bring sweet, moist air the soil, which was formerly lake bottom, is sandy and fertile. This combination offers the perfect micro-climate for "growing vegetables slowly and gently in full accord with nature."

I completely agree that the produce is special and even the land. I disagree, however, with what makes it so. Lake bed aside, someone had to love this land enough to fight for it and lovingly work it to help it produce its bounty. I have come to believe it is the people here at Chef's Garden who make this particular land special. With love, caring and devotion to each other first, with the land in common. And, they do it with people too. I think if you picked up this team and moved them anywhere, they would have the same result. It was my pleasure to sit and discuss with Lee, on this occasion of the celebration's 10 year anniversary, how it, this farm and this unique family came to be what it is today. He brought me back in time.

The Jones Boys: Bob Sr., Lee & Bob Jr .
"When this story began. some 40 years ago, not far from the shores of Lake Erie, my dad was working with our old John Deere tractor, designing modifications that would increase the efficiency of field production on the farm. Every week, Dad, Bobby and I harvested and packed produce, then took it to the Cleveland farmers' markets. We also had a daily stand in the front yard of the house." In 1980, a hailstorm devastated the family farm leaving them but 6 acres and the life Lee and his family family had worked incredibly hard for their whole lives, his mother's car, their acres of well-toiled land and their cozy family home, was gone in a day.

"My parents were nondrinkers, nonsmokers, and didn't miss a day of church in 25 years," Farmer explains proudly, "When they made money, they reinvested back in the farm. When interest rates hit 23 percent and the storm devastated our crops, we started over from almost nothing. I saw my dad very broken spirited," Lee remembers, "I left college, worked 10 years with no paycheck and helped put my brother and sister through college. I can't imagine doing anything else. Working with my dad is amazing."

Bob Jones, Sr.
In the farming business for more than 50 years, Bob Jones, Sr. has led The Chef's Garden to innovate how vegetables are grown, harvested, packaged and delivered to the kitchen door of top chefs around the world. It was Mr. Bob, as he's fondly referred to on the farm, who recognized the value in meeting the needs of chefs who were driving a return to sustainable agriculture, a reconnection with food producers and a focus on quality and flavor. Lee explains further, "Well the real story on how we came to be a chef's garden is a bit different than most think. All our literature says it was a family decision," winking he added, "but let me tell ya how it really happened. When that hail storm hit, we lost everything except for 6 acres. Out of 600. We were devastated," he recalled. "I had a met a French chef who had asked me about growing some vegetables, particularly, squash blossoms. The chef was looking for the same quality product available in France, so we took care of this chef and others as well. At this time we had a big decision to make, being down in acreage. Do we stick with the farmers markets or do we specialize in chefs and their needs? My dad put it to a vote. 5 hands around the table, including mine, all voted for the farmers markets. My dad looked around the table, slammed his hand on the table and shouted. "Then it's final. we're doing chefs!" That is the real story of how the 'family' decided to cater to chefs," he laughed.

To many chefs, Farmer Lee embodies The Chef's Garden. Perpetually clad in his trademark overalls and a red bow-tie, it is not uncommon to see Farmer Jones at the culinary industry's top shows and events. We spoke about his choice of attire just hours before the festival. "I've been everywhere in my overalls, Iron chef to The James Beard Awards, where everyone was in a tux and I had on my overalls," he paused, "a new pair of course but, they were still overalls." Lee has been featured in numerous national publications, including Bon Appétit, Cooking Light, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine and The Washington Post. The farm has been featured on The Martha Stewart Show, Food Network's Roker on the Road, CNN Business Unusual, and ABC World News. He was also the first farmer ever

Lee, Michelle Obama, Robert Irvine
to judge the popular Food Network TV program Iron Chef America. "It has become a trademark," he says with a gleam in his eye, "and I'm very protective of the image and how it affects the farm. I love it though and am happy to be the face of The Chef's Garden."

The Famous Red Bow-Ties
On this topic I could not help but to inquire about a rumor I had heard throughout our years knowing each other. I asked Lee if it were true that in his closet, he had nothing but white shirts, overalls and that he had all his ties lined up. He laughed and replied, "Yes that is actually true," and immediately invited me up to the house, a large spacious log cabin that serves as his and Mary's home and is located in the the back corner of the property that houses
It's True! Just overalls & white shirts .
the Culinary Vegetable Institute . Indeed, as you can see from these exclusive pictures, seen here first, Lee indeed has a closet full of overalls, white shirt and clearly his ties are all neatly lined up.

It is here, basically in Farmer Lee's front yard that the tents and trappings of the festival take place. It seems fitting, almost like it's just a big ol' barbecue with a few hundred of your closest friends and some world famous chefs and culinary personalities thrown in. This year's headliners were Restaurant Impossible's, Robert Irvine, Top Chef Just Desserts', Johnny Iuzzini, BBC America's Clair Robinson, Madison Cowen from No Kitchen Required and Amanda Freitag from Chopped to lend it some sizzle.

Johnny Iuzzini, me, Lee, Clair Robinson
From celebrities to chefs, to volunteers, to sous chefs and students, whomever you are, here, the hospitality of this team of people is palpable. I was fortunate on this their 10th Anniversary to be invited into their home and really get a behind the scenes look at the back bone that supports this farm: The Jones Family. On that topic, I must digress and tell a story which summed up my day with this family and team.

We have all heard the phrases, 'out of the mouths of babes' and 'everything has its start at the head and trickles down." Well, as I prepared for the day, Lee offered his home as my base of operations covering the festival, and as it was a hot day, with my physical limitations, a place to rest and take a break from the festivities. As I got myself situated, behind the island in the kitchen was a cherub faced little girl, about 8 yrs old, with red curly hair, wearing a chef's coat that said "Chef's Garden.' She introduced herself as Mary Grace, Lee's granddaughter. I introduced myself as well and she asked if I would care for something to drink. I replied, "That would be nice, yes please." She then turned her back to me, took something out of her pocket and stood hunched for a few seconds. Then she whirled around and handed me a hand written list, on a small message sized paper on which she had written five or six items to choose from, such as Water, Juice, Coke, etc. I placed my order, which she wrote down on a separate piece of paper and then she proceeded to get my drink and serve it to me, asking, "Would you like anything else?" I said no, thanked her and handed her a dollar, eliciting a big grin, and polite thank you. I later heard that she was telling everyone who would listen about the experience. I guess it was a special to her as it was to me. This, my friends, embodies the spirit of every person I met over the course of this celebration. Warm, engaging, real and well, downright hospitable.

The Chef' Garden

Chef's Garden Herbs
As the direct connection to the chef, Lee leads the passionate team members at The Chef's Garden to continually excel beyond their own high standards in quality and service, in order to deliver the finest quality vegetables direct from Earth to Table® to the world's greatest culinarians. The Chef's Garden grows and innovates as a partnership between chefs and farmers. They grow what chefs want, often what is otherwise impossible to find. And they host hundreds of chefs at their farm each year, where those chefs‚ "can do R & D or get R & R," Jones explained, " at the Culinary Vegetable Institute, a retreat with culinary library, private kitchen, and Jacuzzi." He continued, "This is a really special place. I have seen and been part of many special moments here at CVI. My dad envisioned it as a place where chefs and culinarians could come and reconnect with the land, the
Clair Robinson, Johnny Iuzzini, Madison Cowen
ingredients, with their passion for cooking and food again. So we built these kitchens and a chefs suite along with a suite downstairs for the chef's sous chefs and team and it's become almost like a retreat house for chefs. One experience I remember in particular," he smiled before continuing,"because it was so special to my Dad, was when we first opened. We were seeking help getting the word out, Charlie Trotter, who is a dear friend and has supported us from the beginning by telling other chefs about us, arranged a dinner with all of us here and Ferran Adria. My dad was just thrilled. We have had a lot of well known chefs come through here. For instance Grant Achatz came and spent quite a few days here, working on new menus and dishes with his team."

The Culinary Vegetable Institute
Sitting on approximately 100 acres, the Institute includes a 1,500 square foot state-of-the-art two story Kitchen designed by Mark Stech-Novak with full audio-visual capabilities for demonstrations a 1426 square foot Dining Room with 22 foot ceilings (capable of seating 90) an Executive Chef Suite with luxury amenities accommodations for visiting chefs’ teams a Culinary Library Root Cellar, Wine Cellar and it also includes an experimental vegetable, forest and herb gardens.

Chefs’ Haven:
Visiting chefs can utilize the CVI’s facilities and gardens for educational, team building and retreat purposes. With the farm nearby, chefs can experience The Chef’s Garden planting and harvesting methods, pick vegetables themselves and return to the CVI for relaxation or to experiment in the kitchen. Today, the CVI continues its commitment to its chefs, but they have also opened their doors to the community by sharing their facility with corporations, organizations and people who seek a unique venue for the finest in agri-culinary experiences. For more information, visit CVI's website here.

The sharp increase in childhood obesity and diabetes in our nation is nothing short of alarming. It's clear the majority of children today have little or no connection to the food they eat, where it comes from and how it impacts their health. This reality prompted Bob Jones and his wife Barb – along with chefs, nutritionists, doctors, educators and volunteers -- to create and launch the Veggie U program. Since 2003, Veggie U has been committed to changing these trends by reaching out to teachers and children across the country. Located in Milan, Ohio, Veggie U is a national not-for-profit organization that offers an Earth to Table™ science curriculum to fourth grade and special needs classrooms. Their goal is to place this exciting hands-on curriculum in all 93,000 fourth grade classrooms nationwide in an effort to decrease childhood disease and increase youth awareness of healthy food options and the importance of sustainable agriculture. Healthy kids also learn better and become more active contributing members to their families and communities.

Veggie U's Earth to Table™ curriculum recognizes that children would greatly benefit from understanding the connection between what they consume and how that food is grown. Educating children in an engaging, experiential way helps them to learn. Veggie U's science-based program offers a hands-on seed-to-planting-to-harvest experience. A complete grow kit is provided along with a comprehensive teacher's manual written to cover state and national 4th grade science standards. The benchmarks for these standards are included at the beginning of each lesson so that teachers can integrate them into existing curriculum.

Robert Irvine cooks with Veggie U kids
In addition to a hands-on, scientific approach to learning about plants and their components, the Veggie U curriculum incorporates extensive journal activities, mathematics, language arts and fine arts, providing an interactive and enjoyable way for students to study these core concepts. The classroom lessons include studies of soil, composting, planting, nutrition and plant anatomy. The students also care for a worm farm, raise a mini "crop", and celebrate the end of the program with a vegetable Feast Day. Veggie U has delivered more than 1800 classroom kits across 26 states. To learn more about Veggie U, visit the Veggie U website.

As we got ready for the start of the day's festivities, heading out of our cozy space high atop the CVI kitchens into the throngs waiting to greet Lee, he turned to me with an after thought, "Ya know," he smiled putting his arm around my shoulders as we walked, "it's a great place. We have a wonderful team that's dedicated and who keep me going. I can't let them and all the kids down. And, based upon the outpouring from chefs and the culinary establishment, we're blessed to have so many folks who understand our vision. The Farm and these Veggie U Celebrations, as well as our little piece of the earth out here has become world reknown. Pretty cool." I would have to agree, Lee, pretty cool indeed. This place and these people have a new fan and new member of the family and I am blessed and glad to be a part of it. I hope you enjoyed a look at this enigmatic man and his Chef's Garden family. It was my pleasure and I look forward to next year's event and bringing you more of the adventures of Farmer Lee Jones. international man of mystery, intrigue, bow-ties. and squash blossoms.

David Picket, president of New York-based developer Gotham, sees the charm in older buildings with character, both for his business projects and his personal home.

At 53 stories, this is the latest residential high-rise being completed in an area marketed as the Brooklyn Cultural District. Located at 250 Ashland Place, it's called The Ashland. Nearly half of the 586 apartments are affordable. In addition, the building offers plenty of amenities.

A recent report claims that nearly 40,000 new market-rate apartments are coming to New York City in the next three years, but it&rsquos unclear if the spike in supply will overwhelm or barely faze the market.

FORT GREENE &mdash As leasing is set to launch at Fort Greene&rsquos newest luxury tower, the high-rise&rsquos developers have released new images of the 53-story building and the ground-floor food hall set to open there this fall.

Construction is wrapping up on the The Ashland, a 53-story mixed-use skyscraper in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. In anticipation, the building&rsquos website has launched ahead of the July 19 opening of its leasing office.

The rapid change of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill is continuing apace, with major real estate developments sprouting seemingly everywhere.

At the crossroads of Fort Greene, Downtown Brooklyn, and the BAM Cultural District, The Ashland rises. Next Tuesday, July 19, the 53-story, 586-unit tower will open its leasing office to prospective renters interested in its one-, two- and three-bedroom no-fee apartments, priced from $2,600/month for studios to $7,500/month for three-bedrooms.

Is Your Brand Adaptable to Change?

March 27, 2020

The entire world is currently focused on a singular topic: COVID-19. This is not only an unprecedented time in terms of the epidemic we’re facing, it is also one of maybe a handful of times in history where every country is working to reverse the same global problem. Every person, every company, every government is worried about the same issues: how to keep their communities safe, and prevent their economies from crashing.

While this feels like the perfect time for companies to panic, it is also a time where brands can learn what they are made of. It will push every brand to realize what their top priorities are, how their customer communications are working, and how well they can adapt to change.

Many of those in marketing have turned to past outbreaks like SARS to find patterns and data that can help brands this time around. The general consensus is to think about this in terms of individual companies. We can see from what is happening now that not everyone is being affected the same. Each brand individually must think about how their relationship with customers is changing right now, and how the health of their company is being impacted.

In a recent webinar from Nielsen, predictions about consumer attitudes showed trends in everything from grocery spending to sustainability opinions. But the underlying fact of it all was that the data is available to understand your audience, and you need to utilize it.

Analytics can not only improve your understanding of the marketplace, it can help you be nimble. Tracking analytics can help companies see a change in perception from the start, and provide an opportunity to course-correct if needed.

Two of the largest things that’s been seen with COVID-19 is the spike in people consuming media and the amount of young people playing video games. Is there a way to use either of those discoveries for your brand? Can you find a way to connect with consumers in a way that makes sense?

Along with data about trends with your consumers, it’s also important to track data and utilize data based on your communications. Testing advertising messages can be a great way to track audience perception, eliminating some of the guesswork. Strategic tests and implementation also helps utilize budgets in the smartest way possible, allowing brands to reach the widest and most interested audience.

These are unprecedented times for sure, but also a time where we have so much data and information at our fingertips. Use what you have to proceed down this path with care and confidence. Find where you fit in all of this as a brand, adapt quickly and communicate clearly, and create short and long term plans based on the data you have now. But remember just like everything else going on, be ready to change plans and steer down a new path if necessary. Agility and strategy will be key.

15 New Year's Party Ideas to Celebrate the New Decade

You can't just pop a bottle and call it a night. If you're hosting a New Year's Eve party or pregame this year, you need to go all out&mdashit is the end of the decade, after all. Whether you want to go bold with the decorations, or keep it elegant, we've got plenty of ideas on this list to make sure yours is a party for the books. Ahead are 15 New Year's Eve party ideas that promise 2020 will begin on a strong note.

This year, skip the photo booth and set up a photo wall instead. This holographic balloon backdrop is unbelievably cool&mdashand a lot more affordable than renting out an actual photo booth.

For a New Year's Eve dinner party, decorate your table with mixed metallics and moody purples and blacks. Stylists Sara Rodrigues and Robert Rufino tucked some Queen Anne's lace into the flowers, too.

Champagne is the point of NYE, right? Set up a bubbly bar with lots of mix-ins like rosemary or pomegranate seeds and your guests will never forget it.

Want the most Instagrammable NYE party ever? Go bohemian, with a touch of glam. Think feathers, cozy floor seating, and pops of gold.

No one wants to knife-and-fork it on NYE, but that doesn't mean you have to stick to dips and crudité platters. These steak frites bites will be the hit of your bash.

Missing summer hard? We feel you. Skip the champagne and set up a tropical-inspired sangria bar. Everyone will be dreaming of the beach.

Poppers are classic, but they're totally next-level when they're the size of a toddler. Confetti for days.

New Year's Eve doesn't necessarily need to involve sequins, glitter, and a wild night out. Invite your friends and family over for a cozy few hours in, complete with festive winter decor and plenty of board games to cycle through.

You don't have to go OTT with the glitter and confetti&mdasha simple, elegant table setting looks just as gorg, and takes way less time to set up.

Set up a DIY smudge stick station so your guests have something to take home with them. It's the perfect New Year's Eve party favor since the new year calls for a clean slate and good vibes only.

These simple photo props are stupid easy to make, but provide hours of fun for all your guests.

Is it really even a party without balloons? Better yet, giant balloons?Add streamers and you're set.

Stocking it with alcohol isn't enough&mdashyou need to make your bar cart look extra festive with banners, confetti, and metallic accents.

Make these mimosa floats for a sweet start to the new year.

Is this not the chicest color combo ever? It's a no-brainer for New Year's.

Watch the video: Collettis Smokehouse Burger with a Toasted Marshmallow Shake. Chef Spike Mendelsohn (October 2021).