Masterminds of Flavored Popcorn: Q&A with Stefan Coker of What’s Pop-in’

[Photo credit: Eric Frick]

What’s Pop-In’ Gourmet Popcorn was founded by two food industry professionals who wanted to make something that was both affordable to all and associated with happy times. As one of the most approachable and popular snacks, popcorn seemed just the ticket. The business they started in 2018, What’s Pop-in’, offers flavors from sweet to savory, from familiar to off-the-wall. For your sweet tooth, enjoy peanut butter cup, white chocolate truffle, or animal crackers. To satisfy a classic salted popcorn craving, reach for dill pickle, salt and vinegar, or garlic parmesan. More creative and wacky flavors are promised  on the regular. Whatever you choose, have a second bag ready; this snack is addictive.

[Photo credit: Eric Frick]

How did you get started?

Stefan Coker: We met when we worked together at the Filling Station. Dave started as a dishwasher there. We saw the potential in him. We’ve been rolling ever since. He’s an owner, but he’s also my family.

Why popcorn?

At the Filling Station, I got sick of sending out side salads and wanted to do something different. Somebody came in and gave me a popcorn sample, and we got the idea—it was just a joke at first—to open up a popcorn concept. It got serious once I started doing my homework and researched the popcorn industry. If you’ve had my food from the Filling Station, you realize that I do things differently. It’s not like work. We’re goofing off all day, coming up with cool and funny flavors. It’s cool we can be ourselves. And my children are my inspiration. The work ethic it’s building in them is amazing. Read the rest of this entry »

The Bloom & Rose: Bringing artisanal knishes to Buffalo

 The Bloom & Rose

27 Chandler Street, Suite 204A

406-7522, thebloomandrose.com

Entering the food scene with an unfamiliar product can be challenging, but the reward can be immediate credibility. The Bloom & Rose has become Western New York’s face of knish since 2018, when the owners feared the Jewish favorite may become extinct. It now offers an array of knish flavors termed “vaguely traditional; weirdly delicious.”

[Photo credit: Eric Frick]

What’s a knish? It’s a savory pastry filled with anything from potatoes to cheese to fruit and then baked or fried. Imagine a British hand pie or fill-in-the-blank stuffed dough from nearly any culture. Each week, the B&R team plans its production schedule and makes its dough in small batches. Every batch is rolled thin, by hand. Filling is laid onto the dough and then the long sheet is rolled around the filling a few times. Each knish is hand cut, formed, and topped with a unique spice mixture. Finally, the knishes are par-baked to ensure easy baking at home. Read the rest of this entry »

Blue Eyed Baker: Get your hands on these pastries

Blue Eyed Baker

33 Elm Street, East Aurora

blueeyedbaker.net

Colorful macarons, decadent croissants, and sizable scones line the pastry cases at Blue Eyed Baker in East Aurora, and are among the shop’s most popular items.Owner and pastry chef Alexandra Robinson started Blue Eyed Baker when she moved back to the Buffalo area in 2015, and opened the doors of her first storefront in February 2020, in collaboration with Kornerstone Cafe & Juice Bar. Her business began with custom orders, weddings, and farmers markets, which eventually led to wholesale pastry sales to businesses all over the region. The impressive list includes Whole Foods Market and several area coffee shops and restaurants.

Although she always had a passion for baking, Robinson began in the corporate world, working at Fisher-Price for five years. While there, she was promoted and moved to the Mattel headquarters in Los Angeles, where her love for pastry exploded as she explored the city’s seemingly endless bakeries. She studied with Clemence de Lutz Gossett, owner of the Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories, who became an influential figure in her journey. “She taught French techniques and methods that I will never forget and that I mirror in my bakery to this day,” Robinson says. “She is an icon in the LA pastry scene and does consulting with all of the best bakeries.” In addition, Robinson learned from Roxana Jullapat, owner of Friends & Family Bakery in LA. “I feel very lucky to have learned from some of the best female pastry chefs in one of the best food cities in the world,” Robinson says. Robinson and her husband also spent time in Paris exploring its pastry shops and classes.

[Photo credit: Eric Frick]

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100 Acres: Delivering its farm-to-customer promise in new ways

Picnic meals can be enjoyed on the Richardson Olmsted grounds.

ICECREAM AND PICNIC PHOTOS BY EASE FOR EYES, NICOLE A. BUNDY

 

100 Acres

Located in Hotel Henry Urban Resort Conference Center

444 Forest Ave., Buffalo

955-1511, 100acresbflo.com

 

Since spring, restaurants have continually adapted to new models. When 100 Acres morphed to provide curbside pick-up and delivery, Hotel Henry owner/partner Diana Principe says that, “It was more an organic occurrence, an immediate visceral reaction to the surreal news that our industry would have to close to in-person dining.” It was also a way to maintain jobs for at least a few employees. For the owners, as well as 100 Acres chef Mike Thill and kitchen manager Eric Granville, it became an opportunity to create new and attractive options. Several years ago, South Side Pick Up was a part of the plan for 100 Acres, but fundamentally designed as a gift card sales program. The restaurant’s marketing team repurposed that into a fully functional e-commerce platform for orders and launched a touchless curbside pickup model.

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Produce Peddlers: The farm from your phone

Flat #12 mushrooms on Chandler Street is a supplier for Produce Peddlers.

PHOTOS BY LUKE COPPING

 

Names:

Gary and Gina Wieczorek

Ages:

50 and 41, respectively

Location:

Across Western New York

Years of industry experience:

40 years combined

Over fifty-two billion pounds of food from manufacturers, grocery stores, and restaurants end up in landfills. The majority of the food grown doesn’t meet the stringent quality control measures set by retail outlets, or it has simply been overstocked. Every year, an estimated $160 billion of fresh produce is thrown out. Gary and Gina Wieczorek are working to change this harsh reality by offering an alternative for farmers and growers who lose precious dollars while also providing a service to restaurateurs and others in need of specific products.

In a world where we can shop for anything we want from our mobile devices and have it delivered to our door, the Wieczoreks knew an app would be the perfect vehicle to make Produce Peddlers come to life. Produce Peddlers allows sellers and buyers to connect anytime, anywhere. The passion this duo has for their work is obvious. Here’s how the business got its start and where it’s going:

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Buffalo Tikka House: Zabihah Halal Bangladeshi cuisine spices up Allentown

Tikka House lamb

PHOTOS BY ERIC FRICK

 

Buffalo Tikka House

23 Allen Street

240-9324, buffalotikkahousetogo.com

Western New York can lay claim to a respectable number of Indian restaurants. And it’s easy to play favorites or get in a rut. Luckily, Buffalo Tikka House offers more than the usual Indian fare—it’s Zabihah Halal Bangladeshi and Indian—and its menu includes options perfect for those well-versed in the cuisine and newcomers alike. Located in the Allentown district, the spartan space is promising; what it may lack in interior design, it makes up for in flavorful food and friendly and generous service. The simple dining room is small, but the restaurant also handles a steady stream of takeout business.

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Jazzboline: A festive option in the Northtowns

Lamb ribs are tangy, sweet, and saucy

PHOTOS BY ERIC FRICK

 

Jazzboline

5010 Main Street, Amherst

839-2220, jazzboline.com

Located next to upscale boutique hostelry Reikart House, Jazzboline Restaurant & Bar offers a lively atmosphere for everything from happy hour cocktails to intimate dinners. The restaurant’s inspiration is tied to the legacy of the Reikarts, who, after years of performing on the Vaudeville circuit, relocated to Amherst. Frank and Dolly Reikart operated a variety of shops at their homestead on Transit Road in the early 1900s, and hosted many visitors, including fellow entertainers. They became well-known for their hospitality and entertainment, which served as inspiration for the restaurant, named for Frank Reikart’s most popular musical creation, the jazzboline—an instrument with an angular body that’s played like a banjo.

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