From Mary El Pearce. Follow her on Twitter@CupcakesDC and email her at maryelp[At]borderstan.com.
Those of us who live in Borderstan know D.C. is on the up-and-up when it comes being cool. We’ve got our own music, food and fashion scenes going on, and more importantly, we’ve got an influx of fresh, creative ideas and people who like to share them with each other.
Feastly, co-founded by Danny Harris and Noah Karesh, is a great example of what’s happening in this new D.C. Not too long ago, Karesh was traveling in Guatemala and wanted a home-cooked meal to experience the culture, but he couldn’t find one.
That’s when he decided to start a business in DC that would facilitate meals in people’s homes, to be attended by “feasters,” or people who are a part of the Feastly community. He told the idea to fellow entrepreneur Harris, and the two launched Feastly this past January. Karesh is also one of the owners of Blind Dog Cafe, which operates out of Darnell’s Bar during the day at 944 Florida Avenue NW. Harris became known for his site, People’s District, which told stories of D.C. residents in the first-person, and for his focus on the importance of oral storytelling.
“We’ve created an online marketplace so people can engage in all kinds of food experiences that take place in the homes,” said Harris. “Do you want to have a meal where you carbo-load before a big race happening in town? Have a fundraiser for the political candidate of your choice? The food is the center and it goes from there.”
Since Feastly launched, they’ve hosted more than 15 meals with various chefs, including Harris’s mother.
“We grow up eating around tables in homes, and we move away from that,” Harris explained. “We can bring back the home-cooked meal and empower cooks and chefs who may not be able to bring their goods to market.”
To participate in one of the meals, simply sign up on the website then peruse upcoming meals every Monday in the weekly e-newsletter. Meals vary in price, anywhere from $25 to $50.
“Someone might want to do an Italian meal on his back porch,” Harris said. “People show up at a certain time. You schmooze for a few minutes. The chef comes out and talks you through the meal. Meals have gone on for hours.”
“There’s an element of intimacy you find in a home you can’t find in any commercial space,” Karesh said. “I met a 60-year-old artist the other night, and it was fascinating to talk with her and share that bond.”
So the next time you’re looking for a new restaurant, you might want to consider checking out Feastly instead. What better way to get to know your neighbors than to eat their food in their home? And not knowing who will join you at the table, there’s a great chance you’ll meet someone to share your great ideas with.
Borderstan: Why did you decide to start your own business?
Karesh: I’ve been in the tech and start-up industry pretty much my whole career in the mobile and Internet side, as well as food-based ventures. It was a natural progression for me to merge the online and offline world.
Harris: I came to the city to do public policy work and ended up doing entrepreneurial work focused around storytelling and community development. My passion is around connecting people and figuring out the tools to do that. D.C. is an incredible city because so many are new to the city and trying to find their people. It’s also a great food town. We see that the table is the original social network. As everybody is trying to figure out how many friends you have on Facebook or how many followers you have on Twitter, the reality is that you’re having dinner by yourself at home. Our goal is to create a real community in real time around the table.
Borderstan: How have your lives changed since you started Feastly?
Karesh: It’s gotten a lot better. Hundreds of cooks approach us who want to do this. It’s amazing to me that there are all these people out there who cook professionally but want a more creative outlet.
Harris: What’s been most profound to me is we’ve been to almost every meal, and you see how people respond to the meals. They want this. They need it. People send handwrittten letters to the chefs afterward. They’re so thankful for the opportunity. They’re also thanking us. It’s unique to its users and founders.
Borderstan: What the biggest challenge of being a small business owner in D.C?
Harris: There was an assumption that the shareable economies hadn’t made their way into DC. But our growth shows us it’s the right city for us. People in D.C. may not be familiar with shareable economy and collaborative consumption, but they’re familiar with hosting dinner parties.
Borderstan: What advice do you have to anyone wanting to start a business?
Karesh: Do it. Don’t think about it anymore, just do it. You’ll learn more from executing than thinking about it. There are a million possibilities of what could happen. Don’t be afraid of failure.
Harris: It’s the most rewarding feeling to do something and show people what you’ve been thinking about doing.
- “Pop Up” Blind Dog Cafe Uses Daytime Space at Darnell’s Bar
- Tuesday: Prepare for Valentine’s Day with “Stories About Not Love”
From Michelle Lancaster. You can follow her and tell her your news on Twitter @MichLancaster.
Guarav Gopalan’s Murder Still a Mystery
A Sunday night candlelight vigil was held to remember Guarav Gopalan, an openly gay man murdered near Columbia Heights two weeks ago. Police say they have no suspects and no motive for the murder, which is troubling for a number of reasons. The longer the case is open and ‘cold’, as we know from TV, the harder it is to solve. But the Washington Blade shares concerns from some in the LGBT community that Gopalan was targeted due to his sexual orientation. WUSA follows this with the reminder that several transgender people have been attacked in DC and near the area Gopalan was found recently.
Fiesta DC: Too Much Fiesta?
While we were hard at work giving out stickers, helping the festival organizers and meeting readers at the 17th Street Festival, it seems another festival went less smoothly. DCist has the most comprehensive round up of the Fiesta event on Sunday in Mount Pleasant, including why so many residents were pretty ticked off by the end of the weekend. Apparently, coordination between organizers (it changed while in the planning stages which always creates confusion) and the neighborhood was lacking or virtually non-existent, depending on who you talk to about the event. It was clear, however, that it was a robust celebration of Latino heritage with some delish looking food. Anyone check it out?
But Apparently DC Is Not a Foodie City, Since it Lacks ‘Ethnic Communities’
Some dude named Eli Lehrer wrote a Huffington Post piece about how DC is not a foodie city. While I hate the term ‘foodie’ and find some valid points in his article, I am irritated by it. Apparently, we lack ethnic enclaves (we have Ethiopian but for all others everyone goes to the ‘burbs), we make too much money to build an empire of cheaper, tasty food and don’t have enduring culinary traditions. Apparently, half smokes don’t count, Old Bay doesn’t count because that is owned by Baltimore and while NYC gets to credit their slices as a ‘tradition’, Jumbo Slice falls short.
Look — it is a little silly to continue this asinine argument over whether the food in the town is legit or not. We all eat and eat out and like different things, and I think there’s a lot of great stuff here. I just get irritated when a VP from an organization focused on free enterprise takes to blogs to whine about pricy food. There, I said it. Flame away. (Note: it was an attempt at explaining why we were so low in the Travel and Leisure poll of best foodie cities. Note #2: I don’t think we’re that low. If you haven’t eaten in Nashville, I can’t explain it to you. Sorry.)
Royster Leaves DNC Post
Deborah Royster, elected to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) by the District, stepped down from her position as DC’s DNC committee chairwoman. The news was broken by Mike DeBonis at the The Washington Post. As deputy general counsel for Pepco Holdings, Royster certainly has her hands full in her day job. She also serves as the chairwoman of the Ward Four Dems.
We’re Number One!
In crappy traffic, that is. The NPR story has the best headline on the Texas Transportation Institute study, writing that DC is the “best place to waste time in traffic.” Sounds about right to us — even 16th Street will test your patience immensely on a good morning. We in DC and our neighbors to the north and south apparently waste up to 74 hours in traffic backups a year. I hope you like your car, folks.
I grew up in the Midwest, in downstate Illinois (it’s the equivalent, more or less, of upstate New York). Later, I lived in Chicago for 10 years. Home to millions of people of German or part German descent, sausages are important food group in the Midwest. This is especially true in Chicago with its huge populations of Germans, Poles and Czechs. Lots of varieties of sausages, including the German bratwurt or “brat” and different sausages of Polish persuasion. Some German delis are still operating on the north side of the city.
Until the last few years, the choice of brats in local D.C. supermarkets was disappointing, maddening. It’s gotten better with the influx of more sophisticated food stores. The DCFoodies blog has had some posts about upcoming Oktoberfest… so, courtesty of the DC Foodies, here is a recipie for brats and grilled German Potato Salad:
Bratwurst and grilled German potato salad
(Makes 5 hearty servings)
For the bratwurst
1 five-foot bratwurst (or 10 traditional six-inch brats)
10 buns (optional)
1 lb. sauerkraut (never optional when grilling brats)
For the grilled German potato salad
2 ½ lbs. of fingerling potatoes
2 dozen red pearl onions, pealed and skewered
6 slices of black pepper bacon, cut into lardons (1 inch pieces)
1 clove of garlic, minced finely
2 tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tbs. stone ground mustard
6 tbs. canola oil
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. celery seeds
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. sugar
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Read entire post, with cooking instructions and a recommendation on where to buy your brats. Scroll down the page as this was posted September 22. Also, I have to tell you, Borderstanians, that I find grilled German Potato Salad a bit… unnerving. In the Midwest, we boil the potatoes until they surrender.