Meet & Eat: Francine Cohen, Inside F&B

Meet and Eat: NY

Conversations with chefs and food personalities in New York City.

"We launched 'Inside F&B' so there would be a place where the industry could learn from each other."

Francine Cohen's love affair with the hospitality industry began at age two, when she eagerly ate escargot each time she visited her family's favorite neighborhood restaurant. As part of their visits, she was taken through the kitchen to say hello to the cooks, who gave her tastes of their creations. This behind-the-scenes view continues with her recent launch of Inside F&B.

Name: Francine Cohen
Location: Upper West Side
Occupation: Editor-in-Chief, Inside F&B
Website: www.insidefandb.com

How does your love of food, wine and cocktails translate into a career? I'm pretty sure this love for good food, wine and cocktail runs in the Cohen genes. I've always wished someone would come up with a way you could enjoy every taste you crave in just one meal and never be full. Once I got old enough to drink, I discovered that I could satisfy the need for multiple tastes by pairing wines and cocktails with food, to hit every flavor note and play textures off one another.

I like to blame my career on Bobby Flay. I had spent years in advertising and PR and it never was a perfect fit, so I started doing some freelance entertainment and food writing to make myself happy. Bobby was the subject of my first interview and I got such a thrill out of talking with him about his approach to his business. Taking that interview and turning it into a real story, I decided I had to pursue writing as a career.

How did Inside F&B come to life? Though I've been covering the industry for close to a decade, the time seemed right to create an online source that covers the business of the business. Inside F&B really has a life of its own, and at the heart of it are folks in the industry I've had the honor of working alongside. We launched Inside F&B so there would be a place for those conversations—a place where the industry could learn from each other.

How is it different from other food publications? We are talking about the business of the business. As we explore both food and beverages,we will educate and engage the folks who flock to the service industry. Editorially, our mission is to provide an inside, experienced viewpoint and offer value in every story—whether it's a new technique learned, a better business practice shared, or just an "aha" moment.

What do we have to look forward to in the near future? In our feature stories and columns, Inside F&B gets behind the scenes to gather insights from industry leaders who aren't afraid to tell us the unvarnished truth. Just a few things we'll be looking at in upcoming issues: mezcal, agave nectars, tax implications for the restaurant business, Japanese ice carving, and how the hospitality industry gives back to the world.

Tell us a little about the charitable component of Inside F&B. We'll be pulling a percentage off of each ad sale and putting it into a fund that is two-pronged—a portion of that money is earmarked for donations to f&b related charities such as City Harvest and C-CAP and the balance is available for someone who wants to tap into it for industry related needs.

If you could put together a three course meal with dishes from three different NYC restaurants, what would you include? That's a tough one. I'll answer it just based on what I'm craving this minute. My first course would be the Croquetes de Queijo from Yerba Buena Perry, wings from Virgil's, and the Daikon Duck Hash at Bar Bao. I'd take it easy for the next course and just enjoy the Loup de Mer from Anthos (but I might need a side of the smoked octopus too). Dessert is hard because I don't really have a sweet tooth, but I'd love the cheese plate from Porter House and a selection of desserts from Oceana and Daniel. In addition to a nice strong cup of coffee I think a Golden Ticket would help me digest things and make for a nice end of the night.

What are your favorite local hangouts or places you might be considered a regular? I constantly return to Accademia Di Vino Broadway, Kefi/Gus & Gabriel/Anthos, Miyako Sushi on Amsterdam and 91st, The Randolph, and Louis 649 (Both of which have become my neighborhood bars, though they're nowhere near my neighborhood. I wish someone would open up a great cocktail place on the Upper West Side!)

Best late-night eats, both out and at home? I LOVE late night snacks at 'inoteca. And there's something to be said for the grilled cheese sandwiches at the bodega on Mott and Kenmare.

Hidden NYC gem? Alibaba on Amsterdam and 85th is completely underrated for their shwarma.

What is in your fridge that you'd be embarrassed to tell us about? I will fess up that I have minced garlic in a jar. Every time I look at it I feel guilty that I use it sometimes instead of just chopping a fresh clove of garlic.

Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant/bar recommendations. Who's yours? Actually, I'm usually that person. When I'm stumped I will call Chefs Sam Hazen or Carmen Gonzalez.

What's the best recommendation he/she has given you? He turned me on to Rack and Soul right after they opened. She took me uptown to Charles' Country Pan Fried Chicken, where the pigs' feet were so delicious, they're still on my mind.