Host Spotlight: Staying Grounded In Her Bakery Dream

Verlocal Host Spotlight: Nanatang

“Pursing a passion is easy but maintaining it is not” - Serena Tang, Nanatang

1. Can you introduce yourself and tell us more about the experiences that you offer through Verlocal?

Unicorn Cake

Unicorn Cake

Sure! My name is Serena Tang and I created the brand Nanatang, an online bakery, in 2013. Starting out as a small baking business, I was always on the lookout for means to expand my reach. Luckily, I happened to come across Verlocal on Facebook. My curiosity led me to learn more about their marketplace where small businesses like myself were able to host classes. Ryan contacted me soon after, and he was very kind in helping me better understand Verlocal’s platform and complementary services. So far, I am happy with the system that Verlocal offers!



2.     Tell us about your background: When did you first become inspired to do what you love?

3D Unicorn Cake

3D Unicorn Cake

I can’t really pinpoint the exact reason as to why I started baking. It could simply be because I’m a sweets glutton and love desserts! I started baking when I was 16, and my learning was largely based on trial and error. I was constantly watching online baking videos and reading different recipes to find new things to try out! Baking is really therapeutic. Oh, and that satisfaction you get when your friends taste your creation and go "it is sooo gooood!" ? It makes me even more motivated to keep pursuing my passion in baking!


Two-tiered Drip Cake Decorated with Blueberries and Macarons

Two-tiered Drip Cake Decorated with Blueberries and Macarons

3.     What does your passion mean to you?

Simply put, my passion is my life. I’m glad that I’ve found this love for baking, and am certain that this is what I can and will do for the rest of my life. I don’t think I will ever be sick of it! I believe that everyone lives for something or someone, and baking is exactly what I am living for. This passion made me who I am and has become an intrinsic part of me.



Cookie Monster Cake!

Cookie Monster Cake!

4.     How has Nanatang impacted your community and the people who support it?

Hmm, I feel that Nanatang brings joy to people because it revolves around creating beautiful edibles for special occasions. After all, what's a celebration without cake? To make artisanal customized cakes and add a unique touch to every occasion – that is what I hope to give back to all who love and support Nanatang.



5.     What made you want to pursue your passion and become a host?

Pursing a passion is easy but maintaining it is not. An ample amount of time, hard work, and practice had to be invested in baking for me to turn my passion into a way of life. Realistically speaking, this passion of mine has to be sustainable for me. Aside from being a hobby and form of enjoyment, baking also has to be a source of income. Having to sustain Nanatang financially may be draining at times, but it also pushes me to work even harder. At the end of the day, the sense of fulfilment is definitely worth all my efforts.


Gudetama Birthday Cake

Gudetama Birthday Cake

6.     Tell us about your biggest achievement since you started Nanatang?

This would have to be the setting up of a proper studio for Nanatang! Finally, a very own space of mine! I am still in the midst of this project but I am proud to tell you that I worked real hard for it – no shortcuts were taken.

7.     What was your biggest challenge when you first started your business?

To stand out and be different from so many other talented people out there! Everyone has something to offer and there are countless of bakers who are better than I am. Up till now, I am still constantly upgrading my skills and honing my creativity. Learning is endless, there is always room for growth.


Winnie The Pooh Cake

Winnie The Pooh Cake

8.     What inspires you to continue building and improving your business?

All the support that I receive from friends and family really motivates me to continue pursuing my passion.

9.     What are your goals for the future?

To just continue expanding Nanatang as a business and to focus on making this passion a sustainable one! I can't predict what challenges may lie in the future, and that’s why being adaptable and versatile are extremely important for me.



10.   What advice can you give to people who want create a business from doing what they love?

Through my experience, I would say that there really is no fixed way to success. For those of you who wish to create a business out of your passion, all you need is to be brave and try things out. However, ensure that you can afford the time and energy to make this huge commitment. If you believe that you have the capacity to take up this new commitment, the next step is to set yourself a timeline and observe your progress. How much time can you afford to spend on making your passion into something sustainable? Set a time limit to your goal and strive to achieve it. As you work your way up, remember to always be realistic yet optimistic.


Feeling inspired? Discover Nanatang’s baking workshops now at the Verlocal Marketplace!

Elevate Your Cooking with JeffThe420Chef

Who is JeffThe420Chef?


JeffThe420Chef, author of The 420 Gourmet, The Elevated Art of Cannabis Cuisine (Harper Wave, 2016), has quickly risen to prominence in both the cannabis and culinary worlds. Famous for inventing the process which deep cleans cannabis and industrial hemp to create odorless, virtually tasteless, strain-specific canna-oils and cannabutter for cooking, Jeff was recently named one of America’s top cannabis chefs by The San Francisco Chronicle. The Daily Beast has referred to him as “The Julia Child of Weed”.  

Jeff realized early on that the key to safe, healthy, better tasting edibles, is to clean the herb before infusing it (and all that comes with it) into oils and butter used for cooking. Just as one would clean fruits, vegetables, and herbs prior to cooking with them one should clean cannabis and industrial hemp before infusing it into oils for cooking and baking. Until JeffThe420Chef came along, cleaning cannabis and hemp prior to infusion was unheard of and had never been done before.  


The Freeleaf Process

To address the need, Jeff invented FreeLeaf™, a proprietary process which deep cleans and prepares the plant’s flowers for infusion. The FreeLeaf™ process removes a significant amount of the plant’s various compounds that contribute to the herbaceous taste associated with cannabis and hemp infused edibles. The end result of FreeLeaf™ is odorless, virtually tasteless, strain specific cannabis and hemp which is clean, healthy and ready to for infusion.  FreeLeaf™ has been lab tested and proven to contain both decarbed cannabinoids and the beneficial cannabinoid acids that contribute to the wellness benefits of CBD and THC products.


Educating the Public




JeffThe420Chef released his cookbook on June 28th, 2016 but it's not only a cookbook. It educates individuals on how to cook with marijuana responsibly and properly. His book talks about the different methods of cooking with cannabis and perfecting marijuana infused cuisine. Get your copy of "The 420 Gourmet" today!




Quick and Easy Cannabis Recipes

JeffThe420Chef makes cooking with cannabis simple, tasty and easy. He has taught thousands of people through his classes, videos, and published articles. His videos are featured on prominent websites including Elite Daily and The Cannifornian and some have been watched by over 5 million people.  He and his recipes have been featured online, on television, and in high profile podcasts. Visit JeffThe420Chef's website to learn some quick tips on creating cannabis infused recipes.


Take Jeff's cooking class in Los Angeles, CA and learn the Elevated art of Cannabis-Cuisine Brownies and Watermelon Gazpacho with the master cannabis chef!

First 5 people to book his class receive a free, signed copy of JeffThe420Chef's book "The 420 Gourmet".

Book Your Class Today!

  • Author of The 420 Gourmet, The Elevated Art of Cannabis Cuisine 
  • Inventor of a proprietary process which deep cleans cannabis to create FreeLeaf™, clean, odorless, virtually tasteless, strain-specific cannabis for MMJ Patients.  
  • Named One of America’s Top Cannabis chefs by The San Francisco Chronicle’s 
  • Called “The Julia Child of Weed” by The Daily Beast 
  • Jeff his recipes, videos and articles have been featured online, on television, and in high profile podcasts including Wolf It Down with Tyler Florence, Super Into with Margaret Cho, Watch What happens Live with Andy Cohen, TMZ, Newsweek, The Boston Globe, The New York Daily News, The San Francisco Chronicle,, The Huffington Post, High Times, Vice, Playboy,, Culture Magazine, High Times, Green Flower Media, The,, Edibles Magazine, Emerald Magazine, The Forward, WeedmapsTV, Playboy, WorldStarHiphop, and The Daily Beast.

Host Spotlight: Inspired by his Students and Masterpieces They Create

Can you introduce yourself and tell us more about the experiences that you offer through Verlocal?


Hello! Hola! I am the artist Diego Marcial Rios! I am a formally educated art teacher. I have a BA- UC Berkeley, MA & MFA- University of Wisconsin at Madison in fine art and art education. I am currently offering a unique Mexican Sugar Skull making and decorating class via Verlocal on October 8 ( time: 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM)- special night class.  I am one of the very few professional artists in the USA currently teaching this type of an art class.


Tell us about your background: When did you first become inspired to do what you love?

Photo by: Ana Aragon

Photo by: Ana Aragon

I have been creating fine art from the time I was 3 years old.  I grew up in the turbulent 1960's. Both parents were political activists in the USA.  At age 3 my father took me to see the powerful mural called " El hombre de fuego" in Mexico by Jose Clemente Orozco.  I saw the mural and was stunned and forever impressed! I knew from the instant I saw this mural that I had to become an artist.  


What does your passion mean to you?


"Passion" means a great desire to create beautiful and powerful art!

Helping others create art and express themselves through that art is what truly drives my passion. Being able to inspire others and pass on my knowledge and experience in art fills my heart with joy and I am extremely grateful to have this opportunity.


What made you want to pursue your passion and become a host?

I love art and I wanted to share my expertise with others, so I thought that joining Verlocal will be the perfect choice for me to help get the word out about the experiences I offer. Something that I really struggled with was marketing my art classes to the general public and Verlocal allows me to do that by posting them on their platform.


Tell us about your biggest achievement since you started your business.

My biggest business achievement in the art business so far is the ability to become accessible to the general population which is something that I really struggled with when I first started my business. Verlocal has definitely helped me move onto the next step in my entrepreneurial journey by promoting my classes on their platform.


What was your biggest challenge when you first started your business?

The biggest challenge is marketing my classes to the correct demographic! In addition, obtaining an elegant and up-to-date website was also a challenge in addition to locating the correct consumers for my art classes.  What I discovered was the demographic that buys tickets for my art classes are higher social economic/managerial females over the age of 55.  


What inspires you to continue building and improving your business?

I am inspired by the attendees of my art classes! Often they show such fantastic imagination! I love it! In my continuation to improve my business, I learn new technologies and even artistic crafts. 


What are your goals for the future?

My Goals are to continue to build my business and increase profits by teaching, learning and creating art. As business continues to improve I would want to have more classes listed on Verlocal so that I may satisfy the demand.


What advice can you give to people who want create a business from doing what they love? 

My advice is to become the best at your craft! In addition to getting excellent at your craft, study business and marketing.  If you are not good at these skills surround yourself with others that are.



If you are located in the Bay Area join Diego at his 4th Annual Day of Dead Mexican Sugar Skull Decorating Art Class this October 8th at 8pm. Save your spot today!

Host Spotlight: She Left Math and Became An Award-Winning Artist

“Learn from the mistakes, take the risks and keep making more art. Take what you have learned and make it your own.”

When your heart tells you to go a different direction in life, would you have the courage to go for it? For Jayashree, that is exactly what she did in her pursuit of art. After spending years studying and teaching Mathematics, she realized that it is still art that brought her the most joy in her life. Jayashree followed her heart, resigned from her job and made art a full-time pursuit. Read on to learn more about Jayashree‘s story and how she is sharing the process of creating art to the community!

Hi, can you introduce yourself to our community and tell us more about the experiences that you offer through Verlocal?  

Hi, I am Jayashree. I love playing with paint every day. Two years ago, I stumbled upon an absolutely addictive and amazing style of art called Fluid Painting. After many trials and experiments, I have come up with a way to teach anyone (with little or no background in painting) how to make absolutely beautiful pieces of art in three hours.


Tell us about your background: When did you first become inspired to do what you love?

Ever since I can remember, I have sketched, doodled and painted. However, all through my college years and years afterward, I studied and later taught Mathematics. Not art. It is art that brings me joy. In a moment of epiphany, two years ago, I decided to pursue making art as a full-time job. Now, I rent a large studio space at a prime location, teach workshops to share my work, participate in 15 local juried shows, take on large commission pieces for clients and paint all the time. I truly enjoy every minute of it.

What does your passion mean to you?

It is the fuel that keeps me going every day.

What made you want to pursue your passion and become a host? 

My background in teaching has made it easy for me to share my work and the process in an effective manner with anyone that is interested. I have invested a lot of time in breaking down the steps to making a fabulous piece of artwork. It is really the most fun and rewarding experience for me to see someone else follow the steps and make it their own.

How would you describe the link between your classes and the community around you?

After starting these workshops, I held one at my studio for some youth in the community that is at risk of dropping out from school. Along with their mentors, 12 youth came over to create artwork. It was probably one of the most rewarding aspects of what I do when I get to share and be involved in giving back to the community.


What advice would you give to someone who wants to learn more about your passion?

Like what I told one of my Verlocal students who wants to pursue this form of art on her own, you have to keep at it. Learn from the mistakes, take the risks and keep making more art. Take what you have learned and make it your own.

How long have you been living in Seattle? What are some insider tips you’d like to recommend to someone who just moved to the city?

I have lived here for 25 years and have a lot to share. The Pacific Northwest is rich in natural beauty with hiking trails within driving distance and tons of other outdoor activities apart from fun things to do within the city.

What is your favorite piece of work and the story behind it?

I am getting ready with a series in preparation for a solo show on March 9th in Capitol Hill, Seattle. My favorite piece is one that was inspired by a hiking trail in North Bend. It is titled “Rattlesnake Reflections”.

Tell us about your favorite moment/ biggest achievement since you start teaching art?

One of my youngest students was a 12-year old that made a beautiful circular painting she wanted to turn into a clock. Her mother later told me that she redesigned her room around the colors of her painting.

What are your goals for the future?

To make art that starts conversations; to bring people from all walks of life together through art.


Any recommendations for someone who might want to start exploring a new passion?

Yes. Just try it. Experiences are richer than any other way to spend your time. You can only grow from them. What is stopping you?

What does Verlocal mean to you?

It has been very easy to set up the workshops on my calendar and let Verlocal take on the rest. It frees up my time and lets me create more art. I love that so many different people sign up for workshops. It makes the experience a rich one.

Share one quote that resonates with you the most and what it means for you?

You will never know until you try it. I tell myself this whenever I want to try something new and there is some hesitation.

Host Spotlight: Designing Experiences Through Movements

Dance With Your Heart, & Your Feet Will Follow

Mikka has been producing events & retreats in the bay area and around the world for over 9 years. She is known for creating memorable experiences, both lavish and intimate. Her regard for lush cozy spaces, incredible music, unique performances, and themed decor creates an immersive container, where connections enliven and grow.

Deeply moved by her global exploration of aerial dance teachers and training, Mikka creates classes that are fun, creative, and inspiring. She draws on her background in dance and acrobatics to put a spotlight on playfulness, flow, and the love of self-expression through movement.


The start of Minx Productions

Mikka is passionate about designing experiences. Through her passion she offers pole dancing classes, acro-yoga, and a retreat at the end of the year. Her goal is to bring together individuals of all backgrounds through an art of expression; movement.

Acro-yoga Classes:


Pole Dancing Classes:

Mikka Minx

What differentiates Minx Productions

The individuals that participate classes by Minx Production, will become a part of a tight knit community.  Individuals experience a feel good movement by joining a pole dancing class where you can explore a free style movement or dance therapy. Students of all-levels are welcome to join the class and participate with new theme new choreography.

Her biggest achievement

Retreat in Maui, Hawaii.

Every year Mikka hosts a unique retreat dedicated to inner beauty, outer expression, and a deep, throbbing lust for life. The retreat will be filled with revitalizing yoga, mind-blowing pole dance classes, inspiring activities and individualized instruction. Participants will be nourished with 3 fresh, local, organic meals everyday. All set in the beautiful retreat paradise, Hale Akua Garden Farm. Salt water pools, hot tubs overlooking the Hawaiian coastline, a 150 foot waterfall and everything else that makes a Hawaiian retreat amazing.

The retreat is open to 40 participants in a week long adventure. Individuals will immerse in dance, movement, and outdoor activities. There will be a big performance showcase at the end of the week, where students will take the stage.

mika minx.jpg

What inspires Minx Productions

Fitness professional can relate in having consistency in student base in order to build a community. Minx production has a purpose of inclusion providing a place to gather through experiences. The one thing that keeps Minx productions to thrive and continue every day is through inspiring retreat goers and hearing their positive feedback. Helping other people grow in their practice and change their view of life and continue to return to a class.


The future of Minx Productions

Produce more retreats and expand globally with different instructors, under the same model of our current retreat. With summer summer slowly coming to an end, 2017 Maui Retreat is approaching slowly.

You can join Minx productions on November 24th through 30th, on their Maui retreat. Thus far, 20% of the spots are filled. Sign up now to be a part of a movement of expression.

San Francisco's Pop-Up Color Factory Experience

San Francisco's Pop-Up Color Factory Experience

The word “factory” might bring thoughts of gray scale assembly lines, but the only things being assembled in San Francisco’s Color Factory in Union Square are smiles and perfect Instagram shots. The creation of Oh Happy Day’s Jordan Ferney and artists Leah Rosenberg and Erin Jang, the Color Factory deploys a wonderful mix of both fun and colors, along with the hip way to do art these days: interactiveness.

Host Spotlight: Crawling Your Way to Success

1. Can you introduce yourself and tell us more about the experiences that you offer through Verlocal?

SPC V2.jpg

I’m Mogan and I’m the co-founder and chief entertainment officer of the Singapore Pub Crawl.

At its core, the Singapore Pub Crawl is a social nightlife experience. We bring our "crawlers" to four bars and a club and create an atmosphere that helps people meet new people. In today’s day and age, it's not really in our culture to just start a conversation with strangers. That's just missed opportunities to learn something new, make a professional connection or make life-long friends! Here at Singapore Pub Crawl we aim to get the conversation started in a very fun and informal setting. That's why we say, "There are no strangers on the Singapore Pub Crawl". 



2. Tell us about your background: When did you first become inspired to do what you love?

I am an educator by training, a sociologist by nature, and entrepreneur by accident. I recently graduated with a degree in Logistics and Supply Chain Management from Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). My love for travel, the occasional impromptu celebrations and the opportunity for growth of a new business inspire me to do what I do. You know, after tertiary education all of us reaches this fork in our lives where we must make a decision whether to pursue our dreams or fall back to a regular day job.

In fact, I first came up with the idea of setting up a pub crawl while I was in Hong Kong many years back. My best friend and I were traveling and we decided to try out a pub crawl since we were in Hong Kong simply out of curiosity and didn’t expect much from the experience. As the night went on, I enjoyed myself so much and managed to connect with so many people from all around the world that I had positively the best time in my life! That was the moment a crazy idea hit me - let’s set up a pub crawl in Singapore! I told my best friend who was there with me and he’s been my co-founder ever since. I think ultimately, it was the opportunity to create something bigger than myself and to impact others that led me to become a business owner.


3. What does your passion mean to you?

We were 2 best friends with a fantastic idea, trying to start a business and make it work. We were pumped up about making the business work so we put our heart and soul into it but it was an extraordinarily uphill task. Convincing others in Singapore that this was a fantastic idea and to trust two young guys with neither real experience nor wasn't easy, to say the least.

SPC V1.jpg

We wanted pub crawls to be a regular activity and it was tough convincing locals, perhaps due to our relatively conservative society. When we first started, we had to knock on so many doors and counters where we faced many skeptics who shot our idea down. Amongst those we approached, a few polite ones told us 'no' but there were others who told us point-blank that it would never take off and it would crash within 6 months. But we did the only thing we could... we kept knocking on every door we saw until we got enough people to give us that one chance and after months of hard work, we finally got CRAWLING!

Through these trying times, I never had the thought of giving up as I always knew that there was a solution to every problem we faced. Our team had the willingness to dig down and make things happen. To me, it is the dedication- or rather obsession- the sacrifices and hard work that constitutes what passion is.


4. How has Singapore Pub Crawl impacted your community and the people who support it?

SPC V%.jpg

One of my aspirations behind starting Singapore Pub Crawl is to bring the businesses of the Food & Beverage and the Tourism Industry together. We hope to do this by promoting social nightlife activities that foster social cohesion and bring groups to nightlife establishments here in Singapore.

In terms of helping the community, we help our partners by driving footfall to their pubs, increasing their customers' exposure and evolving the pub crawl scene in Singapore. Our partners and stakeholders work hand in hand to give the best value to our crawlers and contribute immensely to creating a community of friends.


5. What made you want to pursue your passion and become a host?

It was not an easy decision to make, but we'd come so far and put in so much work. Having to spend countless nights managing schedules, payments and other administrative tasks were a nightmare. I thought the time was right and decided to go "full-time" to pursue my passion and become a host.  We took it one crawl at a time, always thinking about what our customers wanted. What do they need more of, what they needed less and we did our best to find a balance. We got through our first six months, and then a year and now it's been 5 years since we first began. I felt that it was the right time to take my business further so I decided to become a host.

6. Tell us about your biggest achievement since you started Singapore Pub Crawl.

SPC V3.jpg

Being listed on TripAdvisor and the winner of the Certificate of Excellence Award 2015 and 2016 and 2017 as well. They are very meaningful to us because it represents the work and service that we do. Our personal motto is to always strive to do good work for our customers and always provide value for both sides.


7. What advice can you give to people who want create a business from doing what they love?

Grit, consistency and the belief in your idea. It's very hard work to make a dream real and you should go all out and make it a reality.


8. What does Verlocal mean to you? (Latin word for "true, or to see, one belonging to a community")

The word Verlocal is definitely in line with our ethos of creating a group and having no strangers on the Singapore Pub Crawl, Verlocal has been very supportive of its engagement with us. To me, Verlocal helped us connect better to our customers and has become an integral part of our community. As a partner, this is awesome.


About the Company

Singapore Pub Crawl was founded based on passion – a passion for meeting new people, good conversations, fun nights and well, cheap drinks. It was incepted and founded by locals – Mogan and Varman –  in 2011 and both of them have since conducted hundreds of crawls between them.

Ready to spice up your social life and experience the Singapore nightlife? Book your slot now and join the Singapore Pub Crawl! Laughter is guaranteed as strangers turn into friends on this night you won’t forget.


Host Spotlight: Creating New Experiences Through Her Passion for Tourism

like a local tours.jpg

"I am passionate about introducing our guests to all the amazing people that make this city so great."

Located in the city that never sleeps, Lauren takes her passion of tourism and creates an experience that allows tourist to fully immerse themselves like a local. Like a Local Tours was awarded for their niche concept and popularity among travelers. We got the chance to ask a couple questions to the founder herself: 

1. Can you introduce yourself and tell us more about the experiences that you are offering on Verlocal?


I'm originally from Wisconsin, but I grew up in Minnesota, Texas, and Pennsylvania. I graduated from Pennsylvania State University and have lived in NYC since 2004 and in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, since 2008. I have over 10 years of experience in the tourism and hospitality industry and I am passionate about people and knowing the best places to go. Like A Local Tours specializes in exploring neighborhoods through food, fashion, and art. Our two most popular destinations are Williamsburg (Brooklyn) and Flatiron District.


2. Tell us about your company background: When did you first become inspired to create your own tours?

I started informally showing people around Williamsburg on weekends. This was before it became as popular as it is today. I’ve always wanted to start a business and luckily Like A Local combines my love of New York City and Brooklyn with my passion for people and travel.


3. Can you tell us more about your inspiration?

I am inspired by all of the amazing businesses that we work with. For example, OddFellows Ice Cream where their chef (who was a contestant on Iron Chef) comes up with the most incredible flavors and everything is handmade in their Brooklyn location. 


4. Can you tell us what differentiates your tour?

It’s no secret that there are tons of options when it comes to tours and things to do in New York City but we offer an opportunity to do what locals do. To learn history while eating great food and meeting locals. Plus, all of our tour guides are not only experienced and licensed, but they are also working actors. They are literally professional storytellers with incredible personalities!


5. Tell us about your biggest achievement since the start of Like a Local Tour?

I would say that my biggest achievement is earning the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence every year we’ve been in business. Oh, and being listed in the Fodor’s Guide Book for New York City. They are very picky, and especially as a small business, that was a big win for us. I just love having the book and seeing us in print; with a glowing recommendation nonetheless!


6. What was your biggest challenge when you first started your business?

The biggest challenge when I first started was getting the word out. But eventually word is spreading, and with our excellent reviews, I can’t complain!





7. What inspires you to continue building and improving your business?

Like any entrepreneur, I want Like A Local Tours to flourish. I have 15 tour guides and I also want to make sure we’ve got enough work for them. It’s a lot of pressure but it’s also very rewarding.



8. What are your business goals for the future?

I want to continue to create new, exciting experiences! We are currently developing food tours in other neighborhoods.





9. What advice can you give to people who want create a business in the guided tour industry? 

My advice would be to serve an under-served market, like Queens for example. Or come up with something completely new and creative!


Lauren J. Beebe Founder, Like A Local Tours

917-417-0378 | | |
Insider Tours of NYC & Brooklyn

Artists You Should Start Listening To From This Year's Outside Lands

From Friday’s mad rush around the park in an attempt to not miss a single performance, to getting lost in Sunday’s wall of pure fog that wreaked havoc on glasses and cameras alike, I would call Outside Lands 2017 a success. Compared to last year’s (near-arctic for San Franciscans) festival, temperatures were chilly, but comfortable and the thousands that packed Golden Gate Park we’re happily running from Lands End to Twin Peaks wearing everything from tank tops and flower crowns to immaculately bedazzled suits and top hats.

Besides the never ending conversation of outfits, layers, and temperatures in the city of San Francisco, Outside Lands brought a large crowd together for an unrivaled music experience.

You’ve been listening to Gorillaz for over a decade and you had an unforgettable experience at Solange, but what about some of the other artists who killed it at OSL this year? I wasn’t able to catch every show, but I was able to attend many that had an impact on both myself and others.


My Favorite “Who’s On Sutro Absolutely Killing It Right Now?” Band: Joseph 

Image from @kfogradio on Instagram – J O S E P H ✨

Image from @kfogradio on Instagram – J O S E P H ✨

Joseph gave me the feels I once felt experiencing Haim for the first time in yester-OSLs past. The three sisters, Allison, Meegan, and Natalie Closner (I wasn’t kidding about that Haim comparison), went on early Saturday at the Sutro stage and it was true coincidence that I didn’t plan accordingly to see Guy Branum’s Talk Show The Game Show and ended up sitting down on the hill at Sutro.

The crew from Oregon gave an incredible performance and the crowd couldn’t help but dance. I’ll be blasting White Flag in my headphones at work for the next few weeks, but it was their second to last song, Sweet Dreams, that provided an unforgettable, almost-end to an entrancing set.

(Folk, Indie – Songs to get you hooked: White Flag, SOS, and Sweet Dreams)


The One I Was Stoked To See Announced ON THE Lineup: Sofi Tukker

Sofi Tukker – Outside Lands Music Festival 2017

Sofi Tukker – Outside Lands Music Festival 2017

I figured Sofi Tukker would bring out a good sized crowd, but boy did I underestimate the numbers. They pulled out all the stops for an insane crowd at Twin Peaks on Sunday. Sofi Tukker, who I believed to be a French group this whole time, actually comes to us from New York. I was hooked the second I heard Drinkee a year ago and couldn’t wait for their set time at Outside Lands – me and a few thousand of my closest friends.

Aside from fully embracing the audience in every part of each song, they surprised us all when they brought Maggie Rogers for a fantastic trio on Awoo. There was a consecutive reaction from the crowd around me once Maggie Rogers showed up – “did you catch her set? She’s incredible!” That brings me to my next recommendation…

(Dance, Pop – Songs to get you hooked: Drinkee, F**k They, and Awoo)


The Artist I Missed, But Everyone Was Talking About: Maggie Rogers

Image from @maggierogers Instagram – Photographer: Jack Gorlin (@jackgorlin)

Image from @maggierogers Instagram – Photographer: Jack Gorlin (@jackgorlin)

Outfitted in a red jumpsuit with silver streamers flying from her arms and waist, Maggie Rogers was apparently one of the shows you didn’t want to miss at the Festival this year. I did, however, so I had to catch up on Spotify for the surprise artist everyone was talking about on Sunday. From what I’ve heard so far, she boasts catchy tunes and an incredible voice worth blasting through the car speakers.

We all know the live performance is one of the best parts, so I’ll be catching her next San Francisco show!

(Folk, Dance – Songs to get you hooked: Alaska and On + Off)


The Band My Friend Told Me To Meet Them At When I Had An Opening In My Schedule: Dawes

Dawes – Outside Lands Music Festival 2017

Dawes – Outside Lands Music Festival 2017

Sharing in the experience of music with friends is the best, and somehow that feeling is heightened when you’ve never heard of the band before that moment. One of the more stranger occurrences is never hearing of the band yet somehow knowing the words to more than one song. It’s a great surprise, but also a bit puzzling.

This happened at Dawes, a rock group out of Los Angeles that performed on the Sutro stage Saturday afternoon. I was on a high from finding Joseph right before and having Dawes, a steady, great rock band with songs like “Things Happen” and “Somewhere Along The Way,” follow them up was great lineup move.

(Rock – Songs to get you hooked: Things Happen, When My Time Comes, and All Your Favorite Bands)

The Who – Outside Lands Music Festival 2017

The Who – Outside Lands Music Festival 2017

Between the ticket madness, thirty-minute-before-the-set dropouts, and Presidio Stage walk bys that had me grabbing friends asking if we could stay for “just one second,” Outside Lands was one for the books on its Tenth Anniversary.

Thanks for another memorable year in Golden Gate Park, Outside Lands Music Festival, and here's to ten more!

Host Spotlight: Kaori Served Her Heritage On a Plate and Turned it Into a Career

"Every cooking class is an opportunity to bring people of different ages, races, and beliefs together centering on the love of food, and an enthusiasm to make dishes that I hold close to my heart. I love seeing the joy on people's faces when they make and enjoy a unique dish, and when they share that joy with those around them. Food is love."


     1. Hi Kaori, can you introduce your company and tell us more about the experiences that you are offering on Verlocal?


My company, called Kaori's Kitchen, officially started last year in October. I had been teaching cooking classes for a few years prior as an instructor in various schools but decided it was time to start my own. I'm currently offering mochi classes on Verlocal, where you learn to make 4 types of sweet and savory mochi dishes from Japanese glutinous rice. I will also soon be offering a Japanese sweet breads class and homemade Vietnamese pho class.


     2. Tell us about your company background: When did you first become inspired to join the cooking class business industry?

I first became inspired to teach cooking classes about 3 years ago, when I was volunteering at a local cooking school in Columbus, Ohio, where I was living at the time. I was assisting a cooking class where someone (who wasn't a certified chef) was teaching a cooking class of foods from their heritage. It was a "Eureka!" moment when I realized I could teach a class without having to have gone to culinary school. I could teach classes about dishes from my Japanese heritage! I already loved cooking a lot, and I was at that time studying to be a teacher, so I believed I could combine these two talents to teach cooking classes.


     3. Can you tell us more about the design process of your cooking classes?

I usually start by planning the menu and then the order in which guests will get to cook and enjoy various dishes. I think the order is important, for managing time, and so that guests can learn a variety of techniques and get to enjoy their dishes in a timely manner. Also, I think about which dishes are most interesting and would bring people the most joy through taste and through the cooking process.




     4. Can you tell us what differentiates your cooking classes?

I think what differentiates my classes is a sense of warmness and openness to students' questions during the class, and that I let students learn on their own time and at their own pace. I think it is also unique that my Japanese mother usually assists with my classes, and people said it has been fun and hilarious watching the dynamic of our relationship at times. My classes also cover a lot of ground and in an in-depth manner, so that students will truly be able to recreate the recipes they learn in class, in their own homes. Also, they get to eat delicious food in class, and then take some home, too!


     5. Tell us about your biggest achievement since the start of Kaori's Kitchen.

My biggest achievement has been hitting my net income goals at the earlier part of this year. I set a financial goal for myself, and with the support of my business mentor and family, I was able to hit that goal. It made me realize and kind of prove to myself that I could make a great income for myself doing something I love. It showed me I could set a goal and achieve that goal through hard work and thinking outside the box.


     6. What was your biggest challenge when you first started your business?

My biggest challenge was figuring out which classes I wanted to offer, where to offer them, which kitchen to use for my classes, and getting those initial reviews from customers.


     7. What inspires you to continue building and improving your business?

I aim to become a better cook and teacher each and every day. I became a better cook through testing my recipes and fine-tuning them. I became a better instructor through refining my teaching method, making sure I thoroughly explain the processes in a step-by-step manner that is easy for students to understand, and making sure I have a deep knowledge of each dish I am making. This motivates me to improve myself every day.


     8. What are your business goals for the future?

I aim to work more with businesses and team building experiences. I had a great time teaching a cooking class to a group of employees recently, and I would like to do more of that. I love bringing people together and facilitating closer and more connected relationships through cooking together.


    9. What advice can you give to people who want to create a business in the cooking class industry?

I would say develop a simple but tasty menu from your heritage, and then give it a try! You don't have to be a certified chef who has graduated from culinary school in order to teach a class. Redefine what's possible for your life, and include your passions in your career! It might feel risky at first, or not as secure as working a 9 to 5 job, but the satisfaction of running your own cooking class business is so worth it!

Art You Need To Check Out In San Francisco

The 7x7 boasts a beautiful setting for both creating and appreciating art of all techniques – sometimes resulting in a drain on the pocketbook. Thankfully, the city by the bay has many ways to enjoy art, specifically for those looking to conserve cash.

Whether you’ve lived here for three generations, or are just visiting for the weekend, finding something new and beautiful to take in – with low to no price tag – is an experience worth penciling into your week. Check out the list below for some of our favorite art installations in San Francisco – no admission fee required!


1. Fnnch’s Honey Bears (Along with some Lips, Balloon Dogs, Butterflies, etc.)

Red Lips Image Courtesy of @fnnch on Instagram

I was still living in the East Bay when I attended one of fnnch’s art shows back in 2014 and his honey bears captured my heart, as they have many. A street artist in San Francisco, fnnch spray paints through the use of handmade stencils – some seemingly larger than life! His street art pops up throughout the city, sometimes commissioned by businesses or homeowners, sometimes on blue mailboxes or street corners, and is very Instagrammable – if that’s what you’re looking for.

Although a bit difficult to publish for the fear that it may vanish tomorrow, there are a pair of lips in North Beach, a honey bear around Cole Valley, and a mailing sticker Honey Bear I saw once on the pool table at The Page, but the best way to view a piece is to find him on Instagram. Do it for the ‘gram.


2. Spire by Andy Goldsworthy in the Presidio

Image courtesy of Ernest McGray, Jr. on Flickr

Taking on an environmentally conscious angle, Spire was constructed out of 37 fallen Monterey cypress tree trunks and is a symbol of rejuvenation of the Presidio forest. The towering Spire reaches over 90 feet into the sky, but fear not – it’s anchored into the ground by a metal sleeve, so it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

Visit the Presidio and see the Spire for yourself via the Bay Area Ridge Trail.


3. San Francisco’s Columbarium in the Inner Richmond

Photo taken by Kimberlea Buczeke

Still a well-kept secret, the Columbarium is a historic building of beauty. Erected in 1897 and restored to its former glory for last 30 years, the Columbarium boasts a peaceful, enriching experience. Between the architecture, stained glass windows, and sheer grandeur of this hidden gem, it’s bound to make it on your list of spots to pay a quick trip to.

Shhh… the Columbarium is the final resting place to quite a few San Franciscans (escaping the 1901 law banning burials within city limits), so the key to a visiting this site is respecting the neighborhood it sits in and those who may also be visiting as well.


4. My Neighbor on McAllister’s Ever-Changing, Incredible Mobiles

Images from Hoodline, taken by Michael Renee Armida and Miguel Gutierrez-Ranzi

Although I spend most of my time complaining incessantly about Muni and its atrocities, one of my favorite parts of the ride on the 5R is passing by the Victorian with the incredible mobiles in front of the garage. According to this Hoodline article, these are the work of Miguel Gutierrez-Ranzi at 1269 McAllister Street that I, among many others, have been enjoying for years.

Take a walk through the Alamo Square neighborhood and enjoy one of his art pieces – they change monthly!


5. The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps in the Sunset

Image courtesy of Ed Bierman on Flickr

These gorgeous steps in the Sunset are definitely not a well-kept secret in San Francisco, but that doesn’t take away from their beauty. Created for and by the neighborhood, this work of art was made possible through the help of over 300 neighbors. Walk up the steps and travel from sea to sky.

This one comes with a built-in workout as well, so even better!


6. The Labyrinth at Land’s End

Image courtesy of George Williams on Flickr

This labyrinth has seen some battles with people attempting to destroy it on multiple occasions, but it continues to be rebuilt, showing symbolism in more ways than one. Overlooking the gorgeous Pacific Ocean, the labyrinth was created by Eduardo Aguilera.

Pro-tip: head out there early to avoid the masses.

NYC DopeFoods Update!

The Summer Fancy Food Show is one of the biggest events in the food industry. Taking place at the Javits Center each year, thousands of people gather to learn about the innovation of the industry and what’s “hot” in the world of food. This year, we were invited to attend the show as press, taking notes on some of the over 2,500 vendors.

We woke up bright and early to get to the festival as soon as it opened at 10 am and stayed until it closed at 5pm. Sadly, we couldn’t finish the entire show in seven hours, but we tried our best. Although after a while many vendors began to look the same, there were so many others that stood out. We couldn’t eat as much as we wanted, but still wanted to try everything so we came home with heavy duffel bags full of samples. Even though the show was last month, we’re still going through samples and gathering our favorites foods to share with you in a post soon. I know you want to read it already, but there are just too many to go through!

PRO TIP: NBA Dance Team Auditions

By Shonna Chiles

Hi! My name is Shonna Chiles, and I’m the founder of ConfiDance Fitness and a former NBA dancer for both the Oklahoma City Thunder and the 2017 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors dance teams. I was with each organization for two years and have also done work for the NFL Super Bowl Committee.


The Practice, Experience, & Inspiration.

I was born in California but grew up in Moore, Oklahoma. I trained competitively in a dance studio from the time I was three years old until I was eighteen. I auditioned for my first team out of high school. I had an awesome career in professional sports dancing and was fortunate to have really cool experiences from being in movies to dancing with recording artists. After retiring from NBA dance, I started my own dance instruction business ConfiDance Fitness.

I have always wanted to do NBA dance. I love the energy behind basketball. It’s a fast paced and exciting sport. I first saw the Laker Girls perform when I was 8 years and was in awe of them. I remember telling my mom after that game that I was going to do that one day. My initial plan was to move back to California right away after high school and audition for teams here, but that was a scary reality for an 18-year-old who grew up in the midwest. The Oklahoma City Thunder moved to town, following Hurricane Katrina and our test run with the Hornets, and it gave me an opportunity to take a leap toward my NBA dreams while staying close to my family.

My inspiration never left after that Lakers game. I had an older friend and mentor who was dancing for the Thunder at the time. She encouraged me to try out and helped me through the audition process.


The Application Process

Typically, teams will post all of the audition information online. You have to fill out an application and submit a resume, just like any other job, before the audition. You bring a headshot with to the audition or submit it beforehand as well. The best piece of advice I can give to aspiring dancers is to check and see if the organization you are interested in will be offering dance clinics before auditions. These clinics are a great opportunity to gauge a team’s dance style and get helpful feedback from coaching staff prior to the audition.


Shonna Warriors

The Audition Process

The audition process is many steps before a team is selected. You have to submit a resume and fill out an application. You have to physically attend the audition and make it through around 6-8 hours of dancing and selection rounds until the organization decides on a group of finalists. From there, you have an interview with the organization and go through a week of rehearsals before you have your final audition. The team is usually selected and announced 24 to 48 hours after the final audition. The audition process in whole is around a week long and some teams do a longer “training camp” before selecting the team. Every team member, new or old, has to re-audition each season.


list of Do’s and Don’t list For The audition.

Preparing for audition day is crucial to your success. There is a lot more that goes into preparing than most people know. Below are some tips to help your process go more smoothly:


  • Bring water and snacks, it will be a long day.
  • Bring an extra audition costume and tights, just in case.
  • Bring the essentials that you need to touch up your look at auditions. (hairspray, safety pins, bobby pins, lipstick, false eyelashes, etc.)


  • Don’t be nervous! Leave your nerves at home, bring your confidence, and have fun. No matter how the day goes, you should be proud of yourself for attending the audition and pushing yourself as a dancer.


The Physical Fitness

Endurance is the most important part of NBA dance. You are in rehearsals for 2-4 hours multiple times a week. During a game, there will be times when you have to dance for extended periods, for example, if there is a nationally televised game with longer commercials during timeouts. Running, circuit training, and any fitness regimen that focuses on building endurance will help immensely. Additionally, you have to take care of yourself. Sleep, nourishing foods, and self-care are very important.


Important Takeaway

Don’t be afraid to go to the dance clinics, as mentioned above. Be sure to ask the coaching staff and veteran team members for feedback. Also, with social media today, use it to your advantage to reach out to former dancers and ask for help. Many dancers train auditionees privately.

There isn’t a “lifehack” to achieving your successes and we all define success as something different. But, I think with hard work and a positive mindset you can accomplish anything. I always tell my students that confidence is half the battle. If you find yourself in need of preparation and a #confidanceboost, you can always come see me at a ConfiDance Fitness class.

Come hang out with me and other professional dancers at ConfiDANCE Fitness, we host weekly classes for everyone on Verlocal! If you’re going into auditions this summer and interested in group training, or one-on-one training feel free to contact me, I’ve been there and I’d love to help!


She Inspires Self-Confidence Through Dance

“Dance is art, self-expression, therapy, and exercise all in one. My passion is sharing my passion. I love introducing new people to dance and sharing the diversity that it offers us all.”

Even after dancing for more than 20 years, Shonna‘s passion and love for it has never stopped! With a rich experience in tap, jazz, lyrical, and hip hop, she has been making waves in the world of professional sports dancing with appearances in NBA franchises and toured during the Superbowl XXVIII & Superbowl 50. After dancing for the professional basketball team in the 2014-2015 season, Shonna stepped away from the courts and gave Confidance Fitness her utmost attention as the founder of the business she started in 2012.

What Shonna offers to her students are not your average dance classes – with specialty classes that range from music superstar inspired regimessexy chair dance to a Roller Disco, 70s-themed class,  Shonna creates a comfortable environment for non-dancers to feel confident and empowers all her students to feel positive about themselves and instills confidence in them.

In this week’s Host Spotlight, find out more about professional dancer, Shonna‘s story and join her on her journey of how she is advocating a supportive dance culture in the community through her classes today!

Hi Shonna, can you introduce yourself and tell us more about the experiences that you offer through Verlocal?

Hi! I’m Shonna Chiles, owner of ConfiDance Fitness. Our mission is to offer “fierce fitness for all” by way of specialty dance classes designed for any level of dancer. Our offerings on Verlocal range from basic hip hop classes to happy hour dance classes on a rooftop.

Tell us about your background: When did you first become inspired to do what you love?

I have been dancing for 20 plus years, it has always been my first love. In 2010, I began teaching and dancing professionally for two different NBA franchises. I continued to do so until 2015 when I stepped away to focus on my business. I loved the impact that our classes were having on the community and the family of dancers we were building through ConfiDance Fitness.

What does your passion mean to you?

Dance is art, self-expression, therapy, and exercise all in one. My passion is sharing my passion. I love introducing new people to dance and sharing the diversity that it offers us all.


What made you want to pursue your passion and become a host?

I was honestly sick of working for other people. I took two things I knew I loved, dance and Beyoncé, and started teaching our heels optional “Don’t Worry, Be Yonce’” class. The response was incredible and because of that, I was able to expand the business with other classes and more instructors.

How would you describe the link between your classes and the community around you?

The community is everything at ConfiDance, we even have a cute hashtag, #confidancecrew. It’s about embracing the people in class, new client or return client, and making them feel free to express themselves and have fun. Outside of the classes, we also do a lot of community builders and non-dance events.



How long have you been living in San Francisco? What would you recommend to someone who just moved to this city?

I have been here for almost five years. My favorite place in San Francisco is anywhere near the water. I recently moved to Oakland and I’m happiest when I’m crossing the Bay Bridge at night into San Francisco. The lights on the bridge and view of the skyline amongst the water is breathtaking.

Tell us about your biggest achievement since you started teaching your classes.

We have had so many milestone moments & I have my students and team to thank for that. Last year we were asked to coordinate a surprise performance or Re:Make at the Fort Mason Center, which is an all-encompassing women’s event featuring Tyra Banks as their keynote speaker. Surprising all of the women in attendance with a Beyonce’ flash mob & getting to meet Tyra was awesome, but reaching out to my students and coordinating over 50 dancers in less than 24 hours showed their loyalty to our community and mission. They have been my biggest accomplishment so far.


What is your favorite performance & the story behind it?

My favorite piece of work has to be our first anniversary flashmob. We wanted to do something that would catch people’s attention and make our students proud of their hard work.

Share with us a favorite story you’ve had between you and your students when you were hosting your classes.

My favorite moment by far was after a class when a student came up and said: “I just want you to know, because of this class, I never walk down the street with my head down.”

The largest part of my job as a teacher is coaching confidence. It’s very rewarding when my students apply those skills in everyday life.

Do you have a favorite dance regime or workout?

I teach about 10+ hours a week, so work is definitely my workout!

What advice would you give to people who are new to dancing and are interested in learning about your passion?

Go for it. The hardest part of taking a dance class is showing up, but what makes us different is that part. We have built a very solid, supportive community where people can explore dance comfortably and without judgment. Trust yourself enough to show up and let me take it from there.

It’s a really unique way of how you’re are celebrating your birthday with a Roller Disco Party! What is the inspiration behind this?

I grew up roller skating in my hometown, Moore, Oklahoma. My mom was really good on skates; skating backward, jam skating, tricks. It was part of our culture growing up and I still skate with her when I go home. I wanted to do something I really loved this year for myself, so I took Beyonce plus ConfiDance and put them on wheels. It’s going to be epic!

What are your goals for the future?

We’ve accomplished a lot in our short two years. The impact is my most immediate goal. I love what we have built and want to continue to grow this community to effect positive change in people’s lives through dance. In the long term, I have a lot of ideas, but I’m still really honing in on where I want us to go. Stay tuned!

What does Verlocal mean to you?

Verlocal has been a game changer. The staff is friendly and helpful. We’ve streamlined our ticket sales. I’ve got to have tons of interaction and receive feedback from all of my students. I love Verlocal and appreciate what they do for “passion-istas”.

Do you have a quote that resonates with you the most? Share it with us and tell us what it means to you!

I wouldn’t say it’s a quote, but my favorite phrases are “confidence is half the battle” and “live it, love it, own it”. I believe in being your biggest fan and pushing yourself to new heights. If you believe you can, then you will. And when you get there, relish in it!

Shares Culinary Passion Through Cooking, Classes, and Cannabis

Mary White spent more of her early adult life talking, selling, and cooking. She combined her expertise in radio, film, TV, and cooking to share her experiences with you. As a kid growing up in Seattle, food is something she was always excited about, especially mom's cooking! Good was something that would always bring happiness and make uplift a situation.

After working in sales for a while she was later introduced to some broadcasting work on the radio and immediately fell in love. Till this day she still does some radio work, a little bit of acting, and also teaches classes on cooking with medical marijuana.

Hi Mary, Can you introduce yourself and tell us more about the experiences that you offer through Verlocal?

I’m Mary White, Seattle native, and lifelong foodist. After a long career in broadcasting, I get to do what I love – helping people learn to love their food. I teach Kitchen Survival, Cooking with Cannabis, and Cooking with Cannabis 2 and Cooking with Cannabis 3. There’s also Girls Night In, 50 Shade of Food, and others. Food = love!!

Tell us about your background: When did you first become inspired to do what you love?

After my radio career ended I wanted to expand my small cooking classes. Around that time I also began using cannabis for some intractable medical issues. Now, thanks to cannabis, I’m quite healthy. I love helping people learn their way around cannabis; now that it’s legal tons more people can learn about the incredible health benefits of this ancient medicinal (and FUN) plant.

What does your passion mean to you?

My passion for cooking means that every day I focus on how I can help people – to learn to take care of themselves, to save money and eat well, and to quit eating crap and get dinner on the table with a minimum of drama.

What made you want to pursue your passion and become a host?

After years spent broadcasting to lots of people, becoming a host means I can interact directly with people. Hands-on is really important to me, so all my classes are about getting in there and taking charge of your food.

What was your biggest challenge when you first started your business?

The challenges in running a small business are huge; one thing I like about Verlocal is that I don’t have to advertise as much and I attract people that might not have found me otherwise.

What are your goals for the future?

My goals include getting more people to class! I sincerely want to spread this knowledge around; whether cooking with cannabis or becoming the boss of your kitchen, being aware and in charge of what goes into your body is hugely important for your physical, mental, and financial health!

What advice can you give to people who want create a business from doing what they love? 

To anyone that is starting a business that involves interacting with other humans, I’d def recommend Verlocal; huge audience, great support, and cool people.


To learn more about Mary White take one of her "Cooking with Cannabis" classes or check out her blog!

A Short Review: Poke Restaurant

This month, I decided to take a trip to the Upper East Side to try Poke Restaurant, which is all the rage in NYC nowadays. New York City is known for pizza, cheesecake, deli, bagels, pretzels, and much more… but not sushi. For a while, I’ve said that I’ve had much better sushi on vacation that I have at home here in New York. That all changed when I tried Poke Restaurant on the Upper East Side.

 I walked in at around 8:00 pm on a Thursday night and was told the wait was an hour. Because of fomo, I knew I had to wait. While I was waiting, I ran to the bank because this casual, BYOB joint is cash only. I was really excited to try this restaurant because if it lived up to the hype, it’d be perfect- a casual, yet tasty sushi place that is desperately needed on NYC’s Upper East Side. And spoiler: it most definitely lived up to the hype.

When I sat down, before even opening up the menu, I ordered the spicy miso soup because it was something I have heard about from some friends. After tasting it, I was upset because it didn’t reach my expectations. Then I ordered the tuna tataki as an appetizer, and it was probably the best tuna tataki I have ever had -- no overreaction here. But, what really made this the best sushi meal I have ever had was one thing in specific.

I ordered a few rolls. They were all fresh and delicious. But, nothing stood out to me like the Truffle Roll. This sushi roll combined two of my all time favorite foods- salmon rolls, and truffle oil. This was one of those foods you order multiple orders of because it tastes unlike anything else you know off, not because you're hungry. Whenever anyone asks me for a restaurant recommendation in New York, this automatically pops into my head.The name is misleading, however, because the restaurant does not serve any sort of poke bowls. The downsides here are that you may be waiting a while for your food, the space is very loud, and the portions are small. But if you have time to wait, do not pass up the opportunity to try Poke Restaurant. It’s a must!

A review: What you CANNOT miss at this year’s Smorgasburg

With the return of summer each year, we all look forward to something else. What I look forward to is the return of Smorgasburg. This year, as soon as the market opened in April, I made sure to spend an entire Sunday at Smorgasburg in Prospect Park. Although it’s been around for years, the festival remains popular because it is any foodie’s dream come true, with perfect picture lighting and new vendors each year! I had to walk through the market a few times to strategically choose what I was going to try because I knew I couldn’t try everything. Even though I didn’t have every single item at the market, I did try a lot and these are my top five favorites at the SUNDAY market, in no particular order

1. Edamame Soy Dumplings from Destination Dumplings

These are probably the best dumplings I’ve ever had. The only place to try them is at the market because they do not have a shop yet. They are worth the rage and the commute.

2. John’s Juice

Looking for something photogenic and delicious? At this vendor, you can choose from a variety of fruits. The fruit you choose is then cored and blended so that you can drink all the juice, straight out of the fruit. As they say “ all juice, no cups.” It’s delicious, fun, and refreshing when you’re outside in the park all day!

3.  Mushroom Egg Rolls from Lumpia Shack

I have always loved mushrooms and egg rolls but never thought about having them together until I saw Lumpia Shack. They were truly delicious. Any mushroom lover could eat hundreds of these. Either stop by the market or Lumpia Shack in the West Village, but make sure to try these!

4. Spicy Tuna Tacos from Takumi Tacos

I tried these for the first time at Smorgasburg in April. Now, all my friends know about my love for Takumi Tacos. I travel to Chelsea Market on my lunch break just to get these. The crunchy wonton shells make the taco delicious, and it being filled with fresh Tuna that tastes great each time, makes it better..


5. Rose with Cinnamon Roasted Almond Ice cream from Malai

This stuff is the real deal. When I ordered this, I didn’t know I would be craving it randomly for months to come. This doesn’t taste like your average rose flavored water or candy. The handmade ice cream is sweet, floral and spiced. I can’t really describe the unique taste, but trust me on this one -- it’s worth every cent and every calorie.

A Short Review: Loco Coco


Why drink a smoothie from a cup when you could spoon it from a bowl? A bowl gives you toppings, duh. Acai, pitaya, coconut, and kale bowls have appealed to health freaks for a while now, but are finally starting to spread to those who aren’t as healthy. The first time I tried a smoothie bowl was in New Jersey, and I fell in love.

I tried acai bowls from all different places in New York, but none of them hit the same spot that my first bowl did until I tried LOCO COCO. Loco Coco, a newly opened smoothie bowl shop on 63nd and Lexington Avenue, is absolutely amazing. These delicious, vegan, and kosher bowls are blended perfectly and topped with fresh and exotic toppings, such as edible flowers and golden raspberries. Loco Coco serves acai and pitaya smoothie bowl blends, as well as delicious smoothies and juices! My favorite was the ‘Mint Condition’ bowl. No visit to Loco Coco is complete without a picture in front of the neon “Loco Coco” sign! Get there ASAP and get ready to finally love the taste healthy food.

The best pizzas you need in your life right now

In New York City, which is already full of a variety of amazing and well-established pizza spots, it is hard to create something new that is worth talking about. But the hype which surrounds Emmy Squared, particularly on social media, is well earned. This Williamsburg spot offers detroit-style pizza – a thick, square pie with sauce traditionally on top of the cheese. Its name cleverly represents not only the shape of the pizza but also it being Matt and Emily Hyland’s follow up to their original thin crust pizza restaurant, Emily.

The dimly lit restaurant may feel slightly cramped at first and the wait at its busiest hours may not seem worth it, but one bite into a slice will make you completely forget about any concerns. The unique aspect of an Emmy Squared pie is the combination of its insanely crispy corners with its fluffy, cheesy center. It truly makes it like no other. My favorite pies include the Classic and the Vodka. Although Emmy’s classic and margarita pies are more than satisfying, they’ve also got you covered with a variety of crazy and cool combinations. These include the “Angel Pie” which is a white pizza with mozzarella, ricotta, mushrooms, and Truffleist mushroom cream.

Overall, Emmy Squared is one of my favorite restaurants and, definitely, pizza spots to go to. Yes, the wait and the cramped space is a bit of a turn-off but trust me when I say that the pizza is worth it! Check out a few of my favorites to get at Emmy Squared!!

My favorite items on the menu:

Cheese Curds

These are the perfect appetizer to snack on while waiting for your pizza to arrive. The crispy, crunchy outside contrasts with the melted, gooey cheese on the inside. It is served with two delicious dipping sauces to spice things up.


Classic Pie

It really lives up to its name. It really just is a deliciously, classic pizza pie. What is not classic about this pie is as mentioned before, insanely crispy edges which transform your normal pizza experience to an Emmy experience.


Vodka Pie

A twist on the classic pie with vodka sauce! Ever since it was officially added to the menu at the beginning of this year, it has been my Emmy go-to.


“Le Big Matt”

If you visit Emmy Squared on a Friday or Saturday night, you will have a chance to experience their burger bar. It has an exclusive menu, and is only opened on these two nights. The primary burger on their menu is the “Le Big Matt”- a beef burger topped with american cheese, pickles, and Emmy’s special “Sammy” sauce. I would put this burger in my top five burgers ever tried. This burger has been named one of the best in the city and when initially released, had a limited amount made which caused people to line up to experience a taste.