When life gave chef Lisa Costa lemons in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic, she began a bakery out of her house kitchen in Queens and made lemon-blueberry scones.
The pastry purveyor was a part of a flurry of New Yorkers who spent lockdown cooking of their residences — a few of whom have emerged from the pandemic with profitable food businesses.
Now, as the Big Apple reopens, right here’s how these entrepreneurs are persevering with to present high quality nourishment, in addition to much-needed hope by dedicating sizable parts of their earnings to charity.
Currying taste for her neighbors
For Nupur Arora, feeding her fellow Rego Park residents wholesome Indian fare throughout the pandemic helped her survive the ills of the outbreak.
“Making people happy through food gave me the will to carry on through these difficult times,” Arora, 48, informed The Post
A local of New Delhi, Arora started making ready, promoting and personally delivering plant-based delicacies of her homeland to her neighbors in Queens final May.
After making them some conventional Indian favorites — equivalent to the celebrated kidney bean curry, rajma masala, and the hearty cut up lentil dish, chana dal palak — she discovered herself flooded with requests for her homestyle vegan cooking.
“Once friends put my food on Facebook, people from all over the city began reaching out to me on social media for meals,” the style designer-turned-chef mentioned.
Arora named her cooking providers Queens Curry Kitchen, and it feeds a hungry clientele from her borough in addition to Manhattan and Long Island.
She now single-handedly whips up her recipes from the kitchen of her husband’s restaurant throughout off-peak hours, and safely delivers the entrees, sides and handmade roti bread to every buyer’s doorstep.
Orders for her weekly meal platters, ranging from $45 to $80, roll in regularly by way of cellphone, e-mail and social-media direct messaging.
Arora hopes to in the future remodel her food-delivery providers right into a catering firm.
“Running the Queens Curry Kitchen is a labor of love because I believe helping others is the greatest act of kindness,” the cultural prepare dinner mentioned.
She just lately donated 100% of her weekly proceeds in direction of COVID-19 relief in India.
“Helping people heal through wholesome food after the year we just had means everything to me.”
Making some dough for a change
When Lisa Costa was laid off from her job at Planned Parenthood at the onset of the outbreak, she didn’t know what to do.
“I was really lost,” Costa, 34, informed The Post. “So I just started baking to keep my spirits up.”
With a level from the Culinary Institute of America and almost a decade of expertise as knowledgeable pastry chef, Costa began the Peace, Love & Dough bakery from her house kitchen in Queens final September.
“People can’t get enough of my morning buns,” she mentioned of the buttery brioche with layers of caramelized cinnamon and sugar.
“Baking them can be labor-intensive, but I love doing it because they make people happy.”
Customers place their orders for Costa’s assortment of buns, sourdough focaccia, croissants and brown-butter chocolate chip cookies by way of weekly order varieties at PeaceLoveAndDough.com.
She and her dad, Gus, ship the baked items to shoppers close to her Rego Park house, and provide pick-up service choices for foodies in different elements of the metropolis.
Her candy treats value between $2 to $12 every. And she donates a share of the proceeds to charities preventing starvation equivalent to Together We Can Community Resource Inc., Heart of Dinner and the Okra Project.
“It’s an honor to make good food that people look forward to enjoying,” Costa mentioned.
“Even though losing my job sucked, it’s kind of cool that I found my true calling in the middle of a pandemic.”
Raising the bar for social justice
Bartenders and buddies Blake Walker and Sean Johnson spent lockdown creating recipes for his or her natural liquor line, Day and Night Cocktails, from their neighboring residences in Bushwick.
“We wanted to create a unique cocktail that brought people comfort in the middle of chaos,” Walker, 35, informed The Post.
Last May, the seasoned mixologists formulated a menu of natural scaffas — cocktails served at room temperature with out ice or dilution — for New Yorkers to take pleasure in as both daytime delights or night nightcaps.
“Our ‘Day’ beverages are bright and highlighted by fruity vegetal flavors like lavender and grapefruit,” Walker mentioned. “And our ‘Night’ drinks are richer with spicy herb-driven tastes from ingredients like chicory root and red bell pepper.”
When New York officers handed the invoice permitting institutions to provide booze for take-out or delivery final March, Walker and Johnson started making and promoting their particular blends out of a bar named Subject on the Lower East Side.
There, cocktail connoisseurs should buy their natural hooch for takeout at costs ranging from $25 to $135.
Not solely did the enterprise assist Walker and Johnson stay financially steady throughout quarantine, it enabled them to donate a bit of their income to foundations aimed toward ending the virus, food insecurity and social injustice.
And as metropolis authorities proceed lifting restrictions on eating places and bars, the duo plans to proceed making their inventive to-go libations for his or her rising clientele.
“During lockdown, people developed some really beautiful rituals for drinking cocktails at home,” Johnson mentioned.
“Even though restaurants and bars have reopened,” Walker added, “people are still going to want to enjoy staying in with their loved ones and sharing our cocktails.”