De La Tierra and the 2013 Vegetarian Food Festival!

facebook cover photoHello Readers!  This is the blog for De La Tierra (from the earth...), a Vegan Restaurant  founded by me, Melinda Abbott and my partner Julio Gutierrez.  We are a start up company with a vision of bringing Vegan food to Washington Heights, NYC. Until we have the financing to open a location, we  grow our business step by step, documenting it all right here and on our Facebook page:

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Read our previous post (See right side of screen: De La Tierra, Blog Style!) for details about our history and background.

Since our last post we have been foraging ahead with our efforts to gain experience and exposure in the restaurant industry.  Melinda is apprenticing at a restaurant twice per week (experience: check!) De La Tierra had a table at the 2013 Vegetarian Food Festival (exposure: check!)

Melinda works at Left Bank, continued…(Yes I am still a Yoga teacher! Teaching Yoga @ Equinox is going really well, actually. Grateful!) Below you will see me ready to work at LeftIMG_0260[1] Bank, the hottest spot for dinner in the West Village.  For the past few weeks I have been a Food Runner: bringing food to the table! And although it can be stressful especially when customers remember they are allergic to things (yikes!) or suddenly go on a diet that very moment, mostly its a happy job, met with smiles and gratitude. More than that, the runner can also be the eyes and ears of the Chef. Picture it: the wait staff graciously attends to the overall satisfaction of multiple tables and customer personalities; the kitchen tends to the fluid execution of multiple orders and last minute changes.  The runner can easily slip by and help make sure things are happening as they should: delicious food coming on time=happy customer.  There is an entire synchronized team orchestrating your meal! In a well run restaurant like Left Bank, Chef Laurence Edelman, Manager Micheline Gaulin and the whole crew spend time and energy making sure the food is excellent and their customers are not only extremely happy, but that they return again and again. You just cant learn that in a book! You have to be absorbed in that standard of work to appreciate just how crucial it is that every piece of the puzzle fit together.

IMG_0275[1]De La Tierra debuts at the 2013 NYC Vegetarian Food Festival! To the left you see me, Melinda Abbott and Rynn Berry, the author of the Vegan Guide to NYC. Rynn has authored this book since forever, and was kind enough not only to autograph my copy but to sign Julio’s 2013 copy as well. A gracious and knowledgeable man!  For those of you who have written a business plan (or tried to), having data about your specific industry is like a Christmas present!  The Vegan Guide is just that: the good, the bad and the beautiful in vegan and vegetarian NYC eating.

The good news!  We sold out of all our food: Chef Oscar’s vegan mac n’ cheese and vegan tuna were major hits with the crowd. Festival Camera_3We sold out of mac and cheese so fast, we considered somehow airlifting Oscar back home to the Bronx so he could make more, but the Festival was so crowded we actually didn’t take a break for about 10 hours, except to pose (Julio, Oscar and myself to your right). Additionally VeganBakingMama (aka Kim Lipstein) and NothingChocolate (aka Donna Joseph) made such delicious cookies and cupcakes that our table was mobbed at times.  We walked away with an updated mailing list, lots fewer business cards and a sense of pride that only a successful venture will bring you. Most importantly, we know what our customers like and don’t-like-as-much. Congrats team!  Thanks to everyone for such hard work, delicious food and good spirits. Special thanks to those friends, colleagues, family members and yoga students who braved the crowd and made an effort to come say hi, lend support and buy some food. Cant wait till next year!

Whats next?  Licenses to get, more apprenticing to be done, more edits of the business plan and then a push towards a commercial loan or investor pitch. We will strike up our Kick-starter page soon for some additional funding, and be that much closer towards opening day! Stay tuned and see you there!

Cant wait? Email melinda at for any special orders, parties, or other reason for amazing vegan food!  We will bring it to you customized and can always prepare gluten free versions.

De La Tierra…Blog-style!

facebook cover photoHi readers!  This is a new 2013 blog about our journey as a restaurant start up.  We are De La Tierra (from the earth) : a vegan food company. I am Melinda Abbott.  My business partner is Julio Gutierrez. Our Chef is Chef Oscar of Vegan Revolution and Jivamutkea Cafe. Our pastry geniuses are NothingChocolate and Vegan Baking Mama. We have a passionate idea…Vegan food in uptown NYC (awesome right?) but no financing..yet. We have an awesome business plan but no financing..yet. We have tutors, mentors and advice from financial power players.  In fact,  this blog is a brilliant suggestion from Akash, my finance mentor at the Columbia Business School, MBA 2013. We have a Facebook page and a newsletter (check your inbox next week!) and now our blog: to document the process from the ground up. One day we will open our Vegan restaurant in our neighborhood and look back with equal amounts of pride and amusement at our struggles and triumphs.  Expect pictures, updates and announcements from us at De La Tierra…enjoy!

Next Event: 2013 NYC Vegetarian Food Festival!  Get a taste of De La Tierra: vegan cookies, cupcakes, mac n’cheese and burgers!   Sunday March 3rd, 10am-5pm, Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street between 6th and 7th Aveune. $5 Entry fee. Flyer below. 

First installment: Melinda works at a restaurant, Weeks 1 and 2 (But I thought your were a yoga teacher?)

I am a yoga teacher!  And I will continue to be one. But I also want to own a restaurant. Turns out that being a Yoga teacher is very different from being a restaurant owner. Go Figure! Luckily, I have friends.   Amazing friends who are willing to give me a chance to gain experience in the industry. Chef Laurence Edelman and co-owner Micheline Gaulin of Left Bank ( have opened their doors to me to soak up every bit of what goes on at their bustling West Village bistro.  Here is the proof…That is me!LeftBank_1

Not glamorous… Now,  I enjoy looking pretty like any other lady, especially on a Saturday night downtown.  But working in a kitchen is most definitely not about looking pretty!  Its about covering your hair and wearing a chefs coat so you don’t get scalded by numerous hot objects. It is about work.

A busy kitchen is a sight to behold.  There are so many things going on at once and every single last thing is important!  Clean dishes, clean floors, hot appetizers, salads, desserts, pasta, you name it! Efficiency and attention to detail are key.  Leading by example and having a professional yet relaxed demeanor will direct the energy of the team towards maximum productivity. I learned so much more about the nitty gritty workings of a busy commercial kitchen in just two weekend nights than I could ever learn reading a book or going to a workshop. Nothing compares to experience. Here we go…Careful what you wish for!

Next post will have stories from my food running shifts at Left Bank.  We’ll also show you some photos of spaces we’ve seen (now gone) and business plan angst (still very much present) plus highlights of the food festival and much more.  Please support us on this journey!

Be sure to “Like” us on Facebook, and check out our flyer for the 2013 NYC Vegetarian Food Festival, where we will have a table March 3rd, 10am-5pm. Food festival