Tag Archive | "Queens"

Care for some brains?


By SONYA REHMAN

“Katakat” (pronounced “Ka-ta-kat”) is a popular offal Pakistani dish served at Kabab King Diner in Jackson Heights, Queens. It’s a tantalizing, spicy mutton dish that is an assortment of kidney, brain and lamb chops, and the meaning behind the name, Katakat, is an interesting one.

As the offal is sliced and diced swiftly, the sounds that the knife makes as it hits the cutting board makes loud and clear “kut, kut, tuk, tuk, kut-a-kut” sounds.

Spiced with coriander, red chili powder, salt and green chilies, and fried in oil with onions, ginger and garlic, Katakat resembles a plate of fine mince once prepared and ready to eat.

Served with soft naan bread and fresh salad, Katakat remains a favorite Eastern delicacy among locals and foreigners alike.

Address:

Kabab King Diner
7301 37th Road.
Jackson Heights, NY 11372

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The Queen of Edible Queens


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McLaughlin at the Edible Queens headquarters — her apartment. (Photo: Nushin Rashidian)

By NUSHIN RASHIDIAN

Putting two famous chefs, Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert, on your food magazine cover drinking pints of beer is a sure way to attract readers. And that is exactly what Edible Queens did for its premiere issue released in September.

Edible Queens is the sister publication of Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn, and is the newest New York-based addition to the parent company Edible Communities, a nationwide publishing network that lets anybody start a community-based, local-foods focused magazine by buying the license for the name. Each magazine is filled with stories and recipes that inspire readers and inform them about what is going on in their neighborhood’s food world.

A typical issue of Edible Queens would include a discussion of a socioeconomic or political food topic, recipes surrounding a single chosen ingredient, the cuisine behind a traditional celebration, a profile of a local restaurant and its owner, an exploration of a bizarre food item, or a neighborhood’s eating and shopping scene.

Leah McLaughlin, the owner and publisher of Edible Queens, lived in New York for 20 years and worked as an editor for several national publications that focused on women, fitness and health. She became familiar with New York while living in Manhattan and Brooklyn, but only recently did she realize the appeal of Queens.

“It was just not on my radar,” McLaughlin said. “It might as well have been Montana.”

“It’s one of the biggest cities in the world, but it’s definitely a small town after a while,” she said. “But when I came to Queens, it was just like the whole city was new again. It just made everything fresh and made everything new and it was like this undiscovered paradise.”

After spending 14 years in publishing, McLaughlin felt the itch to start her own magazine. While searching for career opportunities, she found Edible Communities and thought the do-it-yourself model was perfect for her. She called the company and asked if anybody had already pitched an Edible Queens, and the answer was “no.”

“It’s such a natural fit that I feel really lucky, like I’ve found out some secret and just happened in it at the right time with the right skills and the right amount of chutzpah to go right ahead and just do it,” she said, laughing.

McLaughlin’s timing was just right. A couple of weeks after she signed papers finalizing her ownership of Edible Queens, she got an e-mail from a man who had been eyeing Queens and thinking about Edible Communities. But when he finally made the call, it was too late.

McLaughlin has always been interested in food and travel, and she believes that Queens’ ethnic diversity satisfies both of those passions because cuisines from many parts of the world are available within walking distance from one another.

“If you like food and you like travel and you like learning, this is probably the best borough you can possibly be in,” she said.

McLaughlin spent the first three months of this year interviewing publishers so that she could better understand how to eventually make a living with Edible Queens, which is quarterly, free and primarily supported by ad sales ($3,250 per page) and the $28 annual mail subscription.

In April, McLaughlin began interviewing candidates for ad sales, as well as recruiting NYC-based writers and bloggers.

“It was pretty hard to find good writers, but I found some and I was able to find writers who lived in different parts of the borough,” she said. “One of my best writers lives in Forest Hills, another in Astoria, and a contributor in Jackson Heights. People gradually came out of woodwork, but it was hard at first.”

Queens-based writers jumped at the opportunity to work for McLaughlin. Andrea Lillo, who wrote a story about beer gardens for the first issue of Edible Queens, spent years as a journalist in trade publishing and had been familiar with the Edible publications for a long time.

“Earlier this year I saw an announcement online looking for sales reps for a new Edible Queens publication,” she says, “and I knew I had to see if I could write freelance articles for it.”

Lillo pitched a few story ideas, and she and McLaughlin settled on beer gardens. Lillo was thrilled.

“It was a wonderful story to both write and research,” she says.

Joe DiStefano, a blogger for Serious Eats New York and author of Edible Queens’ cover article on Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert, had a similar experience. When he heard about Edible Queens, he contacted McLaughlin immediately. Much of DiStefano’s blogging revolves around Queens’ ethic eateries, so McLaughlin asked him to choose where Bourdain and Ripert would spend a day eating, and then write about it.

“The whirlwind day we spent eating was fun but also exhausting on a physical and emotional level,” DiStefano says. “I say emotional because this was my first print magazine article and it was to be the cover article.”

After recruiting some writers, McLaughlin sought to pinpoint what she needed to do differently in order to appeal to readers in Queens.

“There’s no pretension here. Even when you have restaurants that are the best of their craft, it still has the feeling of a neighborhood restaurant,” she said. “People are just regular people. They’re not really impressed by a whole lot of flash the way they sometimes are in other boroughs. This is where there are a lot of working-class people; here there are a lot of immigrants. There are a lot of people who are trying to make a life.”

The many Edible magazines that McLaughlin has collected. (Photo: Nushin Rashidian)

The many Edible magazines that McLaughlin has collected. (Photo: Nushin Rashidian)

The cover shoot for the magazine’s first issue was completed in July, and August was spent on final production. The magazine went to print, and McLaughlin got the first issue — the final result of four months of hard work — in early September.

But the work wasn’t over. McLaughlin needed to distribute nearly 20,000 magazines with only a storage unit, a Zipcar and the help of an editorial intern. Edible Queens is distributed at many locations in Queens that deal with food — mainly greenmarkets and advertisers’ “brick-and-mortar” locations. For the first issue, Whole Foods in Manhattan was one of the heaviest distributors; McLaughlin aimed to get the widest distribution possible so that the magazine would be seen, read, and talked about. But she plans to pull back and keep most copies of the magazine inside Queens.

“This is a publication for people who live in Queens and people who care about Queens,” she said.

McLaughlin plans to have Edible Queens distributed on every major street in the borough. Currently, it is distributed in Astoria, Long Island City, Forest Hills and Flushing. McLaughlin wants to reach out further, and to make the magazine bimonthly. She also wants to develop the Web site to have different content from the magazine, and be interactive so that she can build a community online as well as on the ground. But before she can do any of these things, McLaughlin will need a larger staff.

“I’m everybody,” she says, laughing.

“Do I want to hire someone who focuses entirely on editorial, be it on Web or magazine? Do I want to hire someone who is full time ad sales rep publisher, and I will edit the magazine? Or do I want to hire a personal assistant?” She asks, laughing.

McLaughlin said that because of the workload, there were many days during the summer when she never left her apartment — the headquarters of Edible Queens. And it is hard to edit a magazine about Queens without going into Queens, she says.

But the work is starting to pay off already. The Edible Queens Web site has almost 5,000 unique visitors and 17,000 page views. McLaughlin is confident that Edible Queens is going to be successful.

“I’ll come out of it two or three years down road as either the queen of Queens or I’ll be walking into my next employer saying ‘I created this magazine and it had a great run and I learned more in my first three months than I ever learned as employee of a publishing house,’ and I’ll have a lot to offer.”

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