Ironically, it was a broken foot that led Sarah Lasry on the path to pursue her passion for food, a journey that, to date, has included three cookbooks, two blogs and ten years as the co-owner of Tastebuds, a popular eatery in Lakewood, New Jersey.
Sarah had been working as the director of marketing for a big firm in New York when the injury occurred and she found herself out of commission for months.
“By the time I came back the market had crashed and the business went under,” Sarah told The Jewish Press.
After spending the next year pairing people up with job openings, Sarah, who came from a family of foodies, opened up her dream shop, at the urging of her sister.
“She told me that if I don’t do it now, I never will,” explained Sarah. And with that Tastebuds Cafe and Flower Shop was born. It was intended to be a flower store that featured a small indoor cafe. The original menu had just seven items and the cafe had a maximum seating of 35 people.
“The food just went like gangbusters,” recalled Sarah. “I used recipes from my mother and my grandmother and everything was fresh, fresh, fresh, from scratch.”
Sarah’s food became so popular that Tastebuds stopped selling flowers and switched to just food, with a menu that deviated from the norm, offering unique fares that locals weren’t accustomed to seeing.
“No one in Lakewood even knew what panini was,” said Sarah. “We were the first to offer it locally. I told people to taste it and if they didn’t like it I would give them something else and they were willing to try new things. If something tastes great, people will eat it.”
Sarah, who had already written one cookbook based on the menu at Tastebuds called Dairy Gourmet in 2006, and was working on a follow up book titled At Home Gourmet, was also doing food editing for a magazine that catered to the Orthodox Jewish community.
“I was so limited in what I could write for the magazine,” said Sarah. “If I included cumin in a recipe, people would freak. The kosher food world has always been two to three years behind the regular world and the recipes I was giving them in 2009 and 2010 are only now coming up in the kosher world. I was always fighting with the editor because I knew what kind of food I wanted to show but it wasn’t what the readers in Williamsburg, who were perfectly happy with another heimishe recipe for chicken cutlets, wanted.”
Sarah’s thoughts turned to blogging, a phenomenon that was relatively new at the time.
“I loved the idea of talking to an audience but there really were no Jewish blogs back then,” said Sarah. “I thought it would be so cool to do it online.”
Sarah co-founded the website Kosher Street and started blogging. The site became popular very quickly, at one point garnering over 100,000 hits per month. As the demands of real life became too much, Sarah, a newly divorced mom, pulled back from Kosher Street and started The Patchke Princess, which she describes as “a personal lifestyle blog, recipes and whatever is going on in my life.”
The Patchke Princess is a reflection of Sarah’s life with the spotlight focused on the integral role that food plays in our lives.
“Of course we all eat food to live, but there is a real passion for food and everything in life somehow relates to food. There is comfort food, there is happy food and it is worth the small amount of extra effort it takes to make real food. If you are spending the time in the kitchen, make it worth the effort. Make it taste good. Make it look nice.”
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