“Taking Care of Business” Transcript
Kerry Diamond: Hi Bombesquad. You're listening to Radio Cherry Bombe and I'm your host, Kerry Diamond. Each week we talk to the most inspiring women in and around the world of food. First let's thank our sponsor, Handsome Brook Farm, pasture raised organic eggs. The secret to making their rich flavorful eggs is simple. The most possible space, the best possible feed and lots of love. It's a healthy and humane recipe that makes your omelets, cakes, custards, and everything in between taste better. Want to get cracking? Visit handsomebrookfarm.com.
Kerry Diamond: We've got a fun show for you today. First, my new friend Joey Wölffer. She's one of the owners of Wölffer Estate Vineyard. The winery located in Sagaponack, New York, which is part of the world famous Hamptons. Wölffer is Joey's family business. Growing up she had no desire to join the family business and gravitated toward the world of fashion. After tragedy struck, things changed. Joey has helped transform Wölffer from a local favorite, to a nationally recognized name for everything from its rose, to its cider, and now gin, and a nonalcoholic rose. Joey is a lot of fun. She showed up rocking a wine colored vintage Gucci dress, and she made me wish it was summer and I was in my backyard drinking a glass of rose. I actually don't have a backyard, but you know what I mean.
Kerry Diamond: And stay tuned for the second half of our show. Cherry Bombe fave, Chef Elizabeth Falkner is back to talk about Chefs Cycle, the annual charity bike ride for No Kid Hungry. She'll be biking ... Are you ready for this? 300 miles. Yikes, I got to get in shape. I'm in pain just thinking about that. But I am very impressed. We'll be back with Joey Wölffer right after this word from Handsome Brook Farm.
Kerry Diamond: Handsome Brook Farm believes that organic and pastured is the way to go when it comes to eggs. Pasture raised means better lives for hens, better lives for small farmers, and better eggs for you. It's also better for chefs who depend on rich flavorful eggs. Handsome Brook Farm's own flock of amazing chefs, their Mother Hens, count on it. Einat Admony is a Mother Hen. She's also the celebrated chef behind Taim, Balaboosta, and Kish-Kash in Manhattan. Want to learn how Chef Einat whips up her red shakshuka, an aromatic spicy tomato sauce, into which she nestles eggs and lets them poach to perfection? You can find Chef Einat's middle eastern egg centric recipes and videos on handsomebrookfarm.com. You can find their eggs at Publix, Kroger, Sprouts Farmers Market, Fresh Direct, and many natural food stores across the country. Here is my conversation with Joey Wölffer.
Kerry Diamond: When people think Long Island, they tend to think of the north fork. They don't necessarily think of the Hamptons. But you've really been a leader in the good wine from the Hamptons.
Joey Wölffer: I would say my dad was a huge risk taker, and I think that's one of the things nobody would have ever thought in that area, with that climate, and the ocean so near that it would be a good area to grow grapes, but it has proven us time and time again that it is.
Kerry Diamond: And your dad really did take a chance. I read that he was out there with just a wine press, begging people to try the wine.
Joey Wölffer: He was so ... I mean as a child it was so embarrassing. We'd go to every restaurant, and he'd be like, "Have you tried the Wölffer?" And it's actually, the way we've grown our brand is 100% because of his inspiration. And even just Friday my husband was on the streets of New York going to all the stores that carry our wine and talking to them about the wine. And it really for us has always been such a family business. And having him be such a risk taker, and having been so involved in it from the beginning, we are still like that. We'll always run like a small company even though we are not that small anymore.
Kerry Diamond: No. And I think people see Wölffer now, and you've got the rose, and the gin, and the cider, and the gorgeous packaging, and restaurants, and tasting rooms, and everything out there. But I think they forget that even just 30 years ago, the Hamptons was not what it is today at all.
Joey Wölffer: But yet it was like this incredibly chic area with fascinating people doing amazing things. And that's what we're always preaching, is at the core, this is what the Hamptons is. And that's what our packaging evokes, that's what our brand mentality ... One thing that I always preach to everybody who works for us, especially on the hospitality side is like, it doesn't matter how big people perceive that we are, or how big we may think we are, we are just a family business doing the work that we believe is right, and that's how we should always remain that way. Because the Hamptons has become pretentious and we are not that way.
Kerry Diamond: Some parts of it though I think are still-
Joey Wölffer: Yeah definitely. And I'm not saying in general, I'm just saying, we never sit on a high horse. And I think people feel comfortable in all our places because of that.
Kerry Diamond: But I think when you hear the Hamptons today, people won't necessarily think, oh wow, Joey's dad was such a risk taker.
Joey Wölffer: No. No. You're right, no. You're right. I think in sense of risk takers, nobody was growing vines there. And he went to a dinner party and this guy that thought was like a Joe Shmoe was starting his own little tiny vineyard. He was like you know what, screw this is my dream. I have potato fields, let's do it. And I think when you have nothing to lose ... I mean he grew up in like a single room home in Germany in World War II. I think he was like, there's nothing to lose here, let's go for it.
Kerry Diamond: So you were born in New York City.
Joey Wölffer: Yes.
Kerry Diamond: And then you moved out there when you about nine?
Joey Wölffer: Nine.
Kerry Diamond: And was that a permanent move?
Joey Wölffer: Yeah. This is a controversial story in our world, but I always like to tell it. Because it's important to understand who I am. But we were living in New York, my mother is English, from London, and my father was from Hamburg, and I'm first generation American. And my mom did not like the kid that I was turning out to be in the schools here. I'm not saying that's for everybody, but for me, it was turning me into something that she didn't like, and she wanted to stop it immediately.
Kerry Diamond: Did the whole family move out there?
Joey Wölffer: Oh yeah.
Kerry Diamond: Wow. Just packed up and moved.
Joey Wölffer: We packed up and moved.
Kerry Diamond: Okay.
Joey Wölffer: You know my dad's business was slowly kind of going everywhere, and my mom wasn't working, was really interested in the local schools out there. So she got involved in working with the schools, and she got involved in the Hamptons Film Festival. And really truly, my father hated New York. So he was so happy to be out there. We were on the farm every day, so I did my homework and be on the farm. And that's how I was raised. And so that has filtered into every aspect of my life. That's kind of who I am, because-
Kerry Diamond: You're a farm girl.
Joey Wölffer: I'm a huge horseback rider.
Kerry Diamond: Oh yeah?
Joey Wölffer: Yes. I still compete a lot. So that's like my ... I always say that's my therapist, so I'm very, very into the horses, and we have a farm. So the vineyard is attached to a farm. So I grew up at the barn basically. I was a barn rat. I think they never saw me on the weekends. I was there all day.
Kerry Diamond: So you went to Vanderbilt for college down in Nashville before the city took off from a food perspective.
Joey Wölffer: I know. What a bummer.
Kerry Diamond: What did you study at college? What did you think you would be doing post college?
Joey Wölffer: I studied human and organizational development. Its sounds really fluffy, and actually it's probably one of the best majors for someone like me who wasn't like I want to be ... You know my husband was a triple engineering major. I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I was always into design, and I was always making things. And that was just like using my hands. So I ended up specializing a little bit in art as well. But human and organizational development covered everything. Like economics, politics, human resources, kind of any angle. And it really helped you think in other ways, than just simply focusing on what you were interested in. I think, especially at that age, you have no idea.
Kerry Diamond: Did you think you would go back to the family business?
Joey Wölffer: Absolutely not.
Kerry Diamond: Okay. What did you think you would do?
Joey Wölffer: I think I always was into the idea of fashion. I interned at a magazine. Once I interned at a magazine, I knew I wasn't going to work in the magazine world, but I really liked creating and designing. And when I ended up going from Vanderbilt to London, because I was trying to escape a boyfriend, to be honest. But I ended up with a fantastic internship with a woman who loved me. So she fired a designer, and of course I was so cheap because I was 22 and I knew nothing. And I just took on the whole design role. Which was good. I never got to do my traveling part that I wanted to do, but I designed for all the major high street stores there. And I really got into how to do it from the beginning to the end process, from design to production goods stores.
Kerry Diamond: So fashion design.
Joey Wölffer: Yeah. So I did jewelry. And then I was lonely in London, even though my family is there, it was a lonely place at my age. So I ended up moving back here and getting a great job with a company that ... All the companies I worked for now no longer exist. Welcome to fashion. It was called Accessory Network, and they owned a bunch of brands, and I designed all their jewelry. And then I went to Jones Group, which was Nine west.
Kerry Diamond: Are they still around?
Joey Wölffer: They are, but they're-
Kerry Diamond: Oh wait they divided.
Joey Wölffer: Yeah. Lots of companies. So I was there until my dad passed away. And then my dad always said ... No matter what promotion, I had like a tremendous amount of success in the corporate world at a young age. But my dad was like, "I think it's great, but you just need to start your own business." He was all about that. So I was like I'm going to do it, and that's when I started my truck. But still in that time I was like, I'm selling to my brother, I'm not going to take part in this winery. I'm too young.
Kerry Diamond: Oh interesting. You thought you would sell your-
Joey Wölffer: Yeah we were planning on it.
Kerry Diamond: Wow.
Joey Wölffer: The estate took so long to settle, because it was complicated. It was a complicated time. The economy had just tanked. Literally he died December 31, 2008. October was the crash, September was the crash. So it was a very complicated time. And so I'm so thankful that it took so long. Because in those three years I realized, I don't have anything to pass to my kids that's like heritage, that shows your family legacy, what your family has done here. Whether they want to be a part of it or not, I have no idea, but I wanted to preserve that family legacy. And the nice thing about being 28, or 29, was that I wasn't ... Like I didn't have kids, I wasn't afraid. I still wasn't afraid. When I started my own business I wasn't afraid. I had no real responsibilities with myself and now at that point my husband. So I was like ... And it was making no money. I knew there was a lot of risk but-
Kerry Diamond: Wölffer wasn't?
Joey Wölffer: Yeah. I mean like a little bit of profit.
Kerry Diamond: Okay.
Joey Wölffer: But my dad ran it as a hobby, so it was like the winery needs a tractor-
Kerry Diamond: So it was never his full-time thing?
Joey Wölffer: No.
Kerry Diamond: Okay.
Joey Wölffer: He was in finance. He was a venture capitalist. So he was investing in commercial real estate, and warehouses, and-
Kerry Diamond: Got it.
Joey Wölffer: So it was always run like, Roman needs a tractor, okay Christian will buy a tractor. It was never run properly. And then he did two years before he died, bring in somebody to kind of fix the numbers, and that was thankful. So I was like, I may make no money from this. I have to pay my brother. My brother helped me buy my sister out, to pay him back. I may not ever make any money from this, but I am going to do this. And I can't say that now I would have been the same way, just where I'm at in my life. But I was young and I was like let's do it. And thank God, because I'm so grateful to be part of it. It's weird how life ... You think you're going to go one way, and you just go a complete other. But I wouldn't change any of that. I love where I live. My kids have the best life. I get to live in an area that's really hard to live in because it's hard to find jobs like what we have.
Kerry Diamond: Had your dad been trying to get you to come work for the company?
Joey Wölffer: No. He was a tough German. I mean, I am not going to tell you that he was like a sweetheart. He was a tough German guy, who'd grown up in World War II. I mean any kind of privilege was like his worst nightmare. So he was like, you guys don't even have any interest in this. I don't know if many 20 year olds ... Now, different. But at that point, no one cared about wine.
Kerry Diamond: So was your dad's passing a surprise?
Joey Wölffer: Yeah. He was killed. He was swimming in Brazil and he was run over by a boat.
Kerry Diamond: I'm so sorry.
Joey Wölffer: It's 10 years now. I mean thank you, but it was a very crazy accident and crazier is that he didn't really want to go on the trip. It was very strange the way it happened. In true my father's style, who never did anything quietly, there were two Brazilian celebrities who were staying at the same house as him who had seen him get run over and they swam out to try to save him. And so it ended up like, you could tell any Brazilian about my father, and they know the story, because it was all over all the tabloids. Which was like my dad in a nutshell. Just like going out with a bang. But it was a very shocking thing to happen, but also like life changing for everybody. I have a funny way. I've experienced several sad tragedies. And I think your time's up your time's up, and I think about him as an old person, and I don't think he would have liked that either. He was 71. He was still a party animal, still loving life. Had a nice relationship with all of his kids at that point, which was really good. Having gone through this, you know. So I think he wouldn't have regretted it if he had known that was going to be his time.
Kerry Diamond: So let's talk about the turnaround at Wölffer. We talked about people who were kind of in the know and understood New York State wines were fans. And people who would summer out there, or live out in the Hamptons, adored you because you kind of represented wine in the Hamptons. But now I feel like I see Wölffer in a lot more places, I read about Wölffer more, the design on the bottles is so awesome. What changed? What happened?
Joey Wölffer: Well when Mark, my brother and I took over the winery with Max, my husband, we knew that it needed some youth. The quality of the wine has always been there. That's never been an issue. But we had a label that I had always told my dad that I didn't like it. It's not that I didn't like it, just it didn't do anything. Just sort of sat on the shelf and kind of didn't stand out. And I think that was one thing that was really important to us, is that we injected some kind of youth. And actually really where that started was with cider. Cider was just ... I have a fantastic entrepreneurial genius friend who had just come back from London, and she was like, "You know you guys should just do cider." I remember where we were sitting. My brother, my husband, me, and her in my living room in lower east side. And she was like, "You should just do a cider." So we talked to Roman and he's like, "I would love to do cider." He's like "I always used to make you apple cider as a kid." So we had an orchard, and he would make us ... They would drink wine and he would make us apple cider.
Joey Wölffer: So it's like, it had the story, it had ... And no one was doing it in the way that ... And we're like, let's turn it pink. Great. And so that's where this packaging with this designer ... We were like, we really need to get our advertising ... We really need to get back to like why we're doing this. The area, the importance of the Hamptons, what the Hamptons used to be. Not that we're like, anti what it is now. But let's just embrace that. Because that's who we are. And we have the most magical spot that shows exactly what the Hamptons was and it still remains. We had the sunset at the wine stand. You see that incredible sunset every Friday or Saturday, you know when people are sitting out there with their families. And so I think we really wanted to kind of bring that youth to the brand. And it started with Cider and then really just like trickled into our other packaging. Now then to Summer in a Bottle, and now we've done the gin and the Petite Rose, which is the nonalcoholic, which is delicious. The struggle is always with that, that you have to remain on your plan about the quality, because the quality is still there. We really push that. But the packaging is just to bring a youth to the brand.
Kerry Diamond: Why did rose explode the way it did?
Joey Wölffer: We at Wölffer are not ... We do not follow trends. We really believe that we set trends. We are the first to have done a pink cider. And I think that people started to see it coming. They embraced Summer, they embraced the feeling of Summer, they embraced rose. I think people used to like used to like poo poo rose, even though in Provence, people were drinking it all the time. And I think maybe it's just like oh I came from Europe and they're all drinking that, okay. And it just trickled down, and now it's exploded.
Kerry Diamond: How would you describe your job at Wölffer? What do you do?
Joey Wölffer: Because I have my own businesses too, I'm definitely more on the creative side. And I work a lot with Allie and Nicolette, and luckily we kind of are ... I think we're like a dream team. But I'm definitely more on that side. And then I will go out and kind of represent the brand in other ways, because I kind of go across a lot of categories.
Kerry Diamond: So tell me about your other businesses.
Joey Wölffer: I started the first fashion truck. Which I kind of went from house to house delivering fashion.
Kerry Diamond: This is out in the Hamptons?
Joey Wölffer: Yeah. And I did it in the city. Talk about illegal. Like totally went rogue. Like just parking on the sides of the street in [inaudible 00:18:01]. And I never got in trouble but I knew it wasn't sustainable, because you weren't allowed to do it. And I am like, I'm the kind of person that I could never get away with lying. If the teacher yelled at me I cried. I'm just not good. I'm not good at getting in trouble. So I knew that wasn't sustainable. And when I got pregnant, I was like, now what? I have traveled. I went to Montreal with that thing. I am the most hard headed person you've ever met.
Kerry Diamond: You drove through the Adirondacks with your fashion truck.
Joey Wölffer: With my husband. We'd exchange naps in the back. I am the most stubborn person you've ever met. So like, tell me no and I'm going to do it anyway. So I think finally I had sort of done it for three years at that point. I was like, I got to open a brick and mortar store and do it in the Hamptons. I'm about to have a baby. There's no way I'm driving that truck with ... I think the last time I had broken down like, while four months pregnant on the side of the road at three in the morning. And I was like, this is just ... No more. So then I started opening stores, and now I'm doing more like kind of popup opportunities. I'll keep my brick and mortar store in the Hamptons. And I'm so excited about it, because I have a name out there and because I have a really committed clientele, which is so nice, that I'm going to do a lot of concept stuff in there too. So I'm designing my own thing with different brands as well as we're going to do a Wölffer bar in the store now, and we're going to sell Wölffer glasses and cool to go cups, and trays that say Summer in a Bottle on them, so that kind of tying the brands together. And I really enjoy that angle.
Joey Wölffer: And I design my own clothes as well that are ... I use repurposed fabrics. So clothes that I haven't been able to sell, or ... With all my travels I have amazing fabrics, so I've been making these really cool coats. So I think sustainable fashion is kind of the way of the future too. And I'm tired of looking at old inventory that's really quality, and you can't sell it because it's one piece. So reuse it.
Kerry Diamond: Absolutely. And you're wearing some amazing vintage today.
Joey Wölffer: Yes. Vintage is definitely like ... I would say vintage hunting is my passion.
Kerry Diamond: You broke out the vintage Gucci for us today.
Joey Wölffer: For you.
Kerry Diamond: Yes. I appreciate that.
Joey Wölffer: You don't understand. I'm like a relentless negotiator. I would love you to know how much I paid for this.
Kerry Diamond: All right let's talk the other products that Wölffer has, because you're not just wine anymore. You mentioned the cider, but you also have gin.
Joey Wölffer: Yes.
Kerry Diamond: What's that all about?
Joey Wölffer: And brandy.
Kerry Diamond: I saw that on the website.
Joey Wölffer: I am not a brandy drinker. But this one is actually very delicious and drinkable, and the bottle is beautiful. Do you want me to be honest, or do you want me to-
Kerry Diamond: No, lie.
Joey Wölffer: Okay lie.
Kerry Diamond: Tell us lies Joey.
Joey Wölffer: I was like, I don't know, why are we doing spirits? Like this is crazy. I don't know. Let's just drink ... And Roman is an innovator, and he is a genius. And he was like ... Don't mess with Roman. If he wants to do something he's going to do it. And honestly it was genius. It exploded. I don't think we ever got that many press hits in the entire existence of our company as we did for the pink gin. It was insane. It went everywhere. And I like a gin and tonic.
Kerry Diamond: I love a gin and tonic.
Joey Wölffer: And now I can have a pink gin and tonic.
Kerry Diamond: Tell us the secret to your gin and tonic?
Joey Wölffer: A lot of lime.
Kerry Diamond: Yeah.
Joey Wölffer: And now there are like the more special tonics. I think the old Seagram style was getting a little tired. But now that they have-
Kerry Diamond: I have a Fever-Tree. That's great stuff, right?
Joey Wölffer: Yeah.
Kerry Diamond: Okay, let's talk about sustainability.
Joey Wölffer: Okay.
Kerry Diamond: You mentioned that you're interested in sustainable fashion.
Joey Wölffer: Yes.
Kerry Diamond: Has that crossed over into the winery?
Joey Wölffer: Yeah. I mean we are always working on that. Obviously you know, with cutting back on chemicals, we're doing solar panels now at the wine stand. There's a lot of initiatives for that. I think the big fit ... Just the fact that we preserved 150 acres in the Hamptons is pretty sustainable in itself. Really we have buildable land, we don't really want to build on that.
Kerry Diamond: So Joey I read that Wölffer is a founding member in the organization Long Island Sustainable Wine Growing?
Joey Wölffer: Yes, we are. You know our wine manager Richie, he is always on the forefront of that, and has been. He's been with us since the beginning. And so that's always been the most important thing for him. And it was for my dad. You know he was always against cutting back on weeds that were naturally there. He wanted the deer to be part of it. Even if they were destroying certain parts of the winery. It's like the natural habitat was always really important to him. And that has gone through all over these years. And you know, obviously you can't be 100% chemical free, but we are working every year and cutting back on that.
Kerry Diamond: That's great. What advice do you have for our listeners who want to get into the wine world professionally?
Joey Wölffer: From what I've seen ... For me it was sort of like happenstance. I can't say that would do it again, but I'm so happy I did it. I think it's really to work with someone like a Roman, and work from the bottom, and have no ego. I mean I don't think this is just about wine. I think it's in any business that you get into. If you want to be successful, you have to start from the bottom and you have to be completely egoless. And go in and do every part of the job, and then you'll figure out what you like about it, or what you don't like.
Kerry Diamond: I also want to talk about one of my favorite subjects. Choosing wine by the label. So, there's so much ... You know this.
Joey Wölffer: You set me up for this.
Kerry Diamond: There is so much intimidation with a lot of people about buying wine. They walk into a wine shop, they are embarrassed to ask questions, they don't know what to choose. I do think you can sometimes choose a wine by the label. I mean especially now, Wölffer's label's gorgeous. So you gravitate right toward it. But what advice do you have for people who have that sort of ... I don't know, what's the name for it? That just like, that wine moment when they walk in and they don't know what to choose?
Joey Wölffer: Because I'm kind of that. I am hardly making the wine. I know what I like. And I think it's like ... I think you have to kind of taste the wines that you like, and then choose based on that. And honestly, if you like a label, try it. Who cares? Go with it. I think you go with gut. There's so many options now. Find an area you like, which I do. I'm trying to branch out and try it. Because you can't only drink Wölffer, even though I would. And find different areas that I like. Now I'll choose it ... Okay sometimes I do choose it based on label. I don't have any ego about saying that. And I think it's okay. Because a lot of the time we're not trying to cover up anything, it's just part of who we are, and that's what Wölffer is. We are quality wines in beautiful packaging.
Kerry Diamond: I would imagine when you go out to dinner with your girlfriends though, they all hand you wine list.
Joey Wölffer: It's so annoying. Like I don't actually know that much more than them. Thanks guys. Now I'm not even seeing the labels. I just go to the area again that I like.
Kerry Diamond: You do?
Joey Wölffer: Yeah.
Kerry Diamond: Okay.
Joey Wölffer: I do. I think that's ... And like, you know I love pinot noir and I love pinot noir from Oregon. So like that's pretty easy. It depends on where you are. New York is easy, because you have huge options. But when you're traveling, like Florida wine menus are like ... Just end up with my gin and tonic. This is too complicated.
Kerry Diamond: Do you ever feel pressured though that you have to act like a grand sommelier?
Joey Wölffer: No, because that's like part of who I am too. I'm not going to pretend that I am a grand sommelier. I will continue to learn more about wine, but I'm not going to tell you I'm a professional. That's not my job in the company. And even Max my husband, when he started, he's like "I am a beer drinker." I'm like okay, and he took these wine courses, now he's learned a lot, and he continues to learn. But I think you learn by drinking it too. And we really enjoy trying different wines. We moved into our home last summer and we're like going to build a wine cellar now. And we want to start collecting and kind of learning more again, by doing.
Kerry Diamond: What are you excited about for the summer?
Joey Wölffer: We have so many ... The nice thing about owning your own company and not having to run things by like a huge corporation, is like, we get to try a lot of exciting things and we're always innovating, and we're always doing new activities, new activations. A thing that we've started doing, which I love, there's a woman's ... They do like women's work spaces. It's called The Shed. We started this master class series with them. Where we're like ... And trying to get people out in the community and come in during the week. So we've been doing monthly on Thursdays, we're doing classes. So we just did one with Mala beads and crystals, and different essential oils. And next time we're going to do a wine making one with, mixing with Roman. And then we're going to do a flower making. So I'm excited about that, that we're able to bring in the community, and especially as a woman, kind of have something for my peers and us to do when it's quieter out there. That's really fun and our new Summer In A Bottle label is, I don't know if you've seen it, but I can't believe he made it even more stunning, but it is more stunning.
Joey Wölffer: So that's really exciting. We are redoing our wine stand. We've had this sort of same table setting area for 10 years. And one of my really good friends owns a landscaping and design shop in Bridgehampton and she's redoing and designing the whole space. So that's exciting. We're going to have a beautiful lounge basically on the wine stand so that people can look out and then you can rent the space and do more private events there.
Joey Wölffer: The petite rose is my baby and my favorite too. It's a way for me to share rose with my daughter. And she loves it obviously. I kind of-
Kerry Diamond: You said it's alcohol free.
Joey Wölffer: It's alcohol free, yeah.
Kerry Diamond: How did that come about?
Joey Wölffer: I think other than health there's a big movement of people who don't drink anymore and I think it's awesome. And I want to not only support it but I also think it's an opportunity for people to feel like they're part of something and part of a brand that they loved or still love and they can drink a sparkling pink drink that's delicious. And it's a great mixer. You can mix it with water, you can mix it with alcohol.
Kerry Diamond: Right. There are all these alcohol free spirits now. Alcohol free beers.
Joey Wölffer: Yeah.
Kerry Diamond: It would always make me crazy when I would go into a restaurant and they would give no attention mocktails.
Joey Wölffer: Agreed.
Kerry Diamond: It's such an easy way for a restaurant to show off its creativity.
Joey Wölffer: I think also, enough of isolating people. You don't have to be alcoholic, nonalcoholic and be separated. We can all be together doing the same thing and be enjoying it. And I think petite rose is an opportunity for that. It's not that it's healthy but it's obviously nonalcoholic so it adds to that.
Kerry Diamond: But that's nice that you can drink that and feel like you're part of the celebration or whatever's going on.
Joey Wölffer: I think that's a big thing. It's like how do you let the people that don't necessarily drink celebrate and feel celebratory? And really, as kids all I remember is Martinelli's apple cider. And that was such a special thing. I would love petite rose to be that way too.
Kerry Diamond: We do a little thing called speed round.
Joey Wölffer: Oh God.
Kerry Diamond: Most treasured kitchen implement.
Joey Wölffer: My cutting board.
Kerry Diamond: Your cutting board. That's a good one. I think in the history of Radio Cherry Bombe you're the first to say cutting board.
Joey Wölffer: Well I have a huge one that was a wedding gift from John Derian, like this oversized round one. It's fantastic.
Kerry Diamond: Oh that's chic. Last book you read or attempted to read?
Joey Wölffer: I'm reading Educated right now.
Kerry Diamond: Oh, are you loving it?
Joey Wölffer: Yes.
Kerry Diamond: Yeah, everybody loves that book.
Joey Wölffer: Yes. I think it's nice to read about somebody else's life that's a little ... too. Am I allowed to say ... on the radio?
Kerry Diamond: We might bleep you but it's okay.
Joey Wölffer: Oh they bleep me?
Kerry Diamond: But you can. A song that makes you smile?
Joey Wölffer: Right now it's Maggie Rogers' Lights On. I love it. And my three year old says this is our favorite song so we do sing it together.
Kerry Diamond: Food you would never eat?
Joey Wölffer: Liver.
Kerry Diamond: Liver? Okay.
Joey Wölffer: I can't. I've eaten it. But I can't.
Kerry Diamond: If you had to be stuck on a desert island with one food celebrity, who would it be?
Joey Wölffer: Definitely Daphne Oz. She has fast become my soul sister. I adore her and everything she stands for and we have become fast friends so definitely her.
Kerry Diamond: She's awesome. She moderated a panel at our Jubilee Conference a few years ago and she's so nice and down to earth.
Joey Wölffer: And she means it.
Kerry Diamond: Yeah.
Joey Wölffer: There's no baloney about her. She's a wonderful human and her and her husband have become really good friends of ours. And their kids and everything. So I would definitely be okay being stranded with her.
Kerry Diamond: Well tell her Cherry Bombe said hi.
Joey Wölffer: I will. Definitely.
Kerry Diamond: So Joey that's it.
Joey Wölffer: That's it?
Kerry Diamond: Yes. Thank you. Thanks for everything you do. Thanks for putting that awesome wine out into the world. I had a lot of fun summers-
Joey Wölffer: I cannot take responsibility but thank you for drinking it.
Kerry Diamond: Lot of fun summers with Wölffer on the table.
Joey Wölffer: I love hearing that. Thank you. Keep drinking it please.
Kerry Diamond: Will do. Bye.
Joey Wölffer: Okay, bye.
Kerry Diamond: Thank you so much to Joey Wölffer for stopping by. Next up are Adele Nelson and Chef Elizabeth Falkner. They're here to talk about Chefs Cycle, the fund raising endurance event featuring award winning chefs and members of the culinary community. This annual charity bike ride raises funds for No Kid Hungry and the goal this year is $2 million. Adele is the director of the event and Elizabeth is one of the chefs taking the 300 mile trip. I cannot imagine biking 300 miles but apparently Chef Elizabeth can. So let's hear what she has to say.
Kerry Diamond: I want to start with No Kid Hungry so Adele can you tell us a little bit about No Kid Hungry?
Adele Nelson: Sure. No Kid Hungry is a campaign of the Share Our Strength Foundation. Basically it's focused on ending childhood hunger in the United States. And one in six kids are struggling with hunger every day and so we have worked to create school breakfast programs and summer meals programs focusing on getting kids three meals a day. It's a national organization and the No Kid Hungry campaign has been around for about 11 years. But the Share Our Strength organization has been around for just over 30.
Kerry Diamond: It's a remarkable organization and I've been part of a lot of different things that you've done, as has the chef community. Why do you think the chef community has such a bond with your organization?
Adele Nelson: They have so much access to food all the time and they see people coming into their restaurants and spending $100 on a meal, when for a family that could mean your entire month budget on a meal. So I think that there are so many chefs who feel so linked into the idea that hunger actually exists in the United States when we don't see it and it's a really difficult thing to see, especially in children, that they have really kind of latched onto what we do as an organization. And we're feeding so many children and making so much change where it really needs to start. If we want a strong economy 30 years from now we have to really look at the children who are growing up now and being fed now and learning now and making sure that we're giving them the strongest start possible so that we can have kind of the strongest future.
Kerry Diamond: Absolutely. It makes me personally insane that that is not the government's priority, everybody on this planet's priority so I'm very grateful for the work that you and your organization do. So you have a very unique job. Director of Chefs Cycle. How did you wind up in that position?
Adele Nelson: Just by chance. I had been with the No Kid Hungry campaign for two years in various capacities, mostly focusing on culinary events. And ended up just kind of being wrapped into working the first Chefs Cycle kind of pilot and seeing 30 riders that just embarked on a 300 mile journey and I thought this actually-
Kerry Diamond: Wait, everyone's probably just falling off their chairs at this point. Or slammed on their car brakes. 300 miles?
Adele Nelson: It is 300 miles over three days. It is 100 miles each day.
Kerry Diamond: Still that's 100 miles a day, yeah.
Adele Nelson: Yes. It's intense. But something that we know about chefs in the community is that they don't do anything that's just easy.
Kerry Diamond: They're crazy?
Adele Nelson: Right. They're always going to do something that just takes them to the brink.
Kerry Diamond: I love that. They don't do anything that's easy. That's true. That pretty much sums up all the chefs we know.
Adele Nelson: Yeah.
Kerry Diamond: Are you a cyclist?
Adele Nelson: I was not and i was actually-
Kerry Diamond: So it wasn't a prerequisite for your job?
Adele Nelson: No. I was completely clueless actually. I was a runner and I still am but I have now found that I enjoy cycling so much more and it's just so much easier on your body. You can't go run a marathon and do a marathon the next day. You can't walk the next day if you're me. But riding 300 miles and getting off your bike and getting a really good massage and some great food, you can get back on your bike the next day and do another 100 as long as you take care of yourself. And I think that what we're really teaching chefs about and really able to also then ... I can convey into the world of a child is that food is fuel. And when you put the good fuel into your body it returns in a really strong way the next day and the next day. And I think that what we've really been able to promote is just this really wonderful community of cycling chefs who we never thought that we could put this big of a group together.
Kerry Diamond: How many chefs this year?
Adele Nelson: This year we have now just reached 275. We believe that we'll probably max out at about 300.
Kerry Diamond: Tell us the deets and where it's taking place.
Adele Nelson: Sure. It is May 14, 15, 16 in Santa Rosa, California.
Kerry Diamond: And how can people register? Do you have to be a chef? Can you be chef aspiring?
Adele Nelson: No. We are open to members of the culinary community. So in any aspect of that. And there's a lot of leeway there. At chefscycle.org there is a contact us button. You can go through that process and register just online.
Kerry Diamond: What are the fundraising requirements to join?
Adele Nelson: We ask that each chef commits to raising $7,500. And for some that's easier. And for some that's a little bit harder. But that's why we ask chefs to ... Some of them create teams where the team gets to kind of spread out that burden. Some chefs are much more connected and they want their line cook to come with them and then there's kind of that support that they feel both in the kitchen and on the road so they can help with the fundraising aspect.
Kerry Diamond: Wow. I'm so impressed. All right, and here to talk about it a little bit more is one of our favorite Radio Cherry Bombe guests, Chef Elizabeth Falkner. You all know and love Elizabeth. How the heck did you get involved in this?
Elizabeth Falkner: Well I've heard about Chefs Cycle for a few years and know a lot of people who have done it before. And I've always wanted to do it but the last couple of years I've been running marathons and half marathons. And last year I ran three half marathons and found out that I have-
Kerry Diamond: I'm sorry. I'm just dying here. Of course you did.
Elizabeth Falkner: Well, you know, and I played soccer for many years, worked in the kitchen for many years, so a lot of wear and tear on the body. While it was amazing, probably tore up a few things or maybe wore out all my cartilage in my left knee. Anyway, so I went to a doctor and I was like "Oh, that's what's going on." And I said okay fine, well I guess I'll just start the Chefs Cycle. I can do that this year. I'll just ride 300 miles instead of a marathon.
Kerry Diamond: Have you always taken good care of yourself? Like have you always been in shape physically?
Elizabeth Falkner: No, I have. I would say yeah, because I started playing ... I was swim team, volleyball team, all that stuff as a kid. And I started playing soccer at nine years old and I played until I was 38. But I love just doing all kinds of sports stuff. I've always had that kind of weekend warrior mentality like a lot of chefs. I think it kind of comes with our territory sometimes.
Kerry Diamond: What was it about the No Kid Hungry mission that appealed to you?
Elizabeth Falkner: Well I've also done a lot of things with No Kid Hungry on the culinary side so I've cooked at a lot of events. So that's always been around me and I, just like many chefs, believe here we're cooking all the time and it's not a privilege to eat, it's a right to eat. So this really is resounding for me because I just ... And I do a lot of fundraising in different ways too. And for all different kinds of events. But this is just something that's really important to me just to raise the money, raise the awareness, be physical, have chefs be physically active. Everything kind of ties together.
Kerry Diamond: So if you want to help out by donating, where can you donate? Can you find your favorite chef and donate to their team?
Adele Nelson: Yeah, absolutely. At chefscycle.org there's a search for the rider and you can kind of type in a rider name and find them and donate directly to them there.
Kerry Diamond: Oh, very cool. You've got so many friends in the food world Elizabeth. Are you doing this with any of your buddies?
Elizabeth Falkner: Actually we do have a team. We have Team Last Call. I don't really like that name personally because I don't want to be last. It's cute because it's related to the last call in the restaurant world. But Tanya Holland's riding, Duskie Estes, and ... I forgot. Oh, my friend Katharine Elder. She's outside of Wichita. She actually has a really cute farm and a restaurant and it's the real farm to table concept. It's just like that. We've got a few more people too. Everybody's starting to train, talk about it. And I got to tell you it's hard to train for this in New York because I'm just not really thrilled about riding a bike all over New York City. It just kind of scares me. I have a new road bike that I got from Liv Giant Bikes. It's so cute. It's definitely my new girlfriend. But she's sitting in LA. It's a long distance relationship.
Kerry Diamond: Your girlfriend's in LA.
Elizabeth Falkner: So I've been training. I'm just doing a ton of indoor cycling. Once it starts getting warmer I'll be outside more. I'm going to go to California and get my bike, ride before Pebble Beach, ride after, and then get it back here, put some more in, and then head out to Santa Rosa.
Kerry Diamond: So Elizabeth why has it taken so long for the chef community, the food media, all of us to start talking about chef's health? Mental health, physical health.
Elizabeth Falkner: That is interesting because, like I said I have been so physically active my cooking, restaurant career. I remember in ... I'm from California and I remember working at this restaurant in San Francisco called Rubicon when Traci Des Jardins was the chef. Traci's done the ride before. That's when I was a pastry chef only and people would say to me "You make the deserts? But you're a skinny chef. I thought I wasn't supposed to trust a skinny chef." And I'm like "Well someday you will." And that day is arriving because I think a lot of chefs have really run into a lot of mental, physical health issues over the years and it's really scaring people. So it's just not a sustainable model. I think what we were talking about it ... I come from that generation too where the lifestyle was more military really. Like go out late at night, crazy behavior, and then come back on time in the morning and just get through it and do it every day for many, many years.
Elizabeth Falkner: I can't do that all the time. I have certainly come from that sort of rock and roll chef's lifestyle but I have always said I've just got to be able to go out and run in the morning or do something that will make me more focused. And to be honest, as a long time business owner when I was in California, I felt like if I didn't go running and think things through or go to yoga that I just wouldn't be a good boss. And I think more and more people are starting to discover that.
Kerry Diamond: You were in the minority for a long time.
Elizabeth Falkner: Definitely. Yeah.
Kerry Diamond: I feel like it took Kat Kinsman's project to kind of crack this open.
Elizabeth Falkner: Yeah.
Kerry Diamond: In a sense. Her whole chefs with issues project.
Elizabeth Falkner: And that's true. And it's not just the physical. I mean the mental side comes with the physical side. I feel like you're just more stable if you can get out there and exercise and then you can talk about issues. But people haven't even had the space to talk about their issues. So I love that Kat's kind of brought that ... The cat's out of the bag basically that a lot of chefs have had life or death situations. And that may be just from being overweight sometimes and not taking care of themselves.
Kerry Diamond: And then I think Sean Brock announcing his sobriety was a big moment also for the industry.
Elizabeth Falkner: Absolutely. And same with the guys from Joe Beef. I mean I'm just seeing it all over the place. I know I've been friends with a lot of chefs who've had weight issues and not physically taking care of themselves who've had to make a change. And now they're having sort of like a second chance.
Kerry Diamond: Right. And I feel like for the first time I'm hearing chefs talk about the wear and tear on their bodies and having to be mindful of that and even telling younger chefs start taking care of yourself now because 20, 30 years if you're still doing this and you're still on the line that is a lot of wear and tear.
Elizabeth Falkner: 100% true. And I feel like that's ... When people say what's your best advice for young cooks I'm saying do something physically active outside of the restaurant business. Because it's like saying you're going to be in the Army your whole life out in the trenches. You can't do that forever unless you're really taking care of yourself and thinking about what's ... That's what I love about this too, it's like it changes your diet when you're training for this and when you do the race. It's such a different kind of focus and it's actually fun because it makes you think about different kinds of food stuff. We were talking about some chefs who've really influenced their teams to ... I mean their cooking teams. And they've already changed the lifestyle in the restaurant and just everybody's focus and what they're cooking. So they're starting to change what's on the menu. This is a really exciting food time for me because of that.
Kerry Diamond: How have you changed your diet to go with your training? Or have you? Do you just always eat healthy?
Elizabeth Falkner: No. I mean I still kind of think of myself as being ... I always tell people "Look, I'm focused on nutritional things and the intake of different nutrition in the foods." I'm always looking at that. I want to get a diverse kind of menu though. I've taught classes to trainers like at Equinox and stuff about how to kind of change it up because they get kind of bored with their same routine. Kind of like when we go to the gym and we need to change it up. It's so similar. So I'm very conscious about it, but I look at it like in a week's time and then I'll go to a restaurant and ... Like I was doing an event for a compass group in Miami last week and went to Michelle Bernstein's restaurant and she sent me foie gras and empanadas. Okay, well that's not part of my routine right now.
Kerry Diamond: Wait, it's not?
Elizabeth Falkner: But it was so delicious. And I was like fine, whatever. I'm just going to eat this and then the next day I'm going to have California rolls or something. Whatever. Salad. And just kind of think about it that way. Okay, last night I had this so today I'm going to have this.
Kerry Diamond: What do you snack on when you're doing these 100 miles?
Adele Nelson: Everything. I mean really in 100 miles you're going to burn anywhere between five and six thousand calories so it's really about replenishment. So we do a lot of things like peanut butter and Clif bars and just stuff that's really packed nutrients and protein. You have to balance it with some good salt because you lose so much salt sweating. And some good sugars. Make sure it's actually quality like honey and really stuff that's going to go into your body and help you function better. Nothing that's going to really kind of drown you out. We also have a lot of coffee everywhere.
Elizabeth Falkner: But let me give you an example. Yesterday I made some ... Have you ever heard of Anzac cookies? Like they're little oats. I use apricots, coconut, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds. I made those with some dates in it too. That's like my own little homemade granola bar basically. This morning I already rode 25 miles and I had a smoothie with banana, dates, cocoa nibs, peanut butter protein, and-
Kerry Diamond: Wait. I had a smoothie like that and all I did was walk to the subway. I'm ashamed.
Elizabeth Falkner: No. You shouldn't be ashamed Kerry, you look great. So yeah, I'm planning on bringing some of my own sort of food stuff too.
Kerry Diamond: Where do you put it all? You've got those skinny little bike shorts.
Adele Nelson: I've got three pockets in the back and I kind of stick it in there. But this is not uncommon. I think every chef will sit around on the first night and be like "What did you bring?" And they're all trying each other's bars at the stops. I mean it's really incredible to see kind of all the different things and people will create their own throughout the days and ask to go into the kitchen at the hotel and just really get creative. It's fun.
Kerry Diamond: I love it. And do you have your sunscreen plan worked out?
Elizabeth Falkner: I don't. I hope you have just like a spray of that right?
Adele Nelson: It's at every rest stop. Yeah.
Kerry Diamond: Okay. Good. I'm just worrying about you in advance. Well we are going to push the Bombesquad to donate and they're going to donate first to Last Call. Team Last Call, look for them on the website. If you're a chef there's still time. A chef or an industry professional. Still time to sign up. Plenty of time to donate. But then in the bigger picture what are some things all of us can do to just help further the mission of Share Our Strength?
Adele Nelson: Well, first I will ... You made a call out to the Cherry Bombesquad. I would love to see a Team Cherry Bombe at some point. I think it'd be really fun. I'm just saying. I had to plant that out there.
Kerry Diamond: I might die.
Adele Nelson: No. I think Elizabeth will take you on training rides. It'll be great.
Kerry Diamond: That's all Elizabeth needs.
Elizabeth Falkner: And then there is another one right? Another Chefs Cycle later in the-
Adele Nelson: Yeah, so actually we will-
Kerry Diamond: Sort of like a chef promenade?
Adele Nelson: There is, funny enough. We're going to be piloting a ride just outside of Washington DC in Maryland in the fall. And there will be a chef aspect to it, there will be a kind of family ride aspect to it. We really want to make this more of a public event.
Kerry Diamond: Like promenade I did kind of mean just walking.
Adele Nelson: There might be a walking component too. We'll see what we can figure out.
Kerry Diamond: Okay. But that's a good goal. That's a good goal. A Team Cherry Bombe. We're all about goals.
Kerry Diamond: Well Adele thank you for the work that you do and Elizabeth you're always stepping up to the plate whether it's fighting for women or fighting for hungry children. Thank you for everything you do. And yeah, we're excited to watch and donate and get everybody behind you and I hope you all have a great ride.
Elizabeth Falkner: Thank you.
Adele Nelson: Thank you so much.
Kerry Diamond: That's it for today's show. Thank you to Joey Wölffer of Wölffer Estate Vineyard for sharing her story with us. And thank you to Adele Nelson and Elizabeth Falkner for talking to us about Chefs Cycle. To everyone raising money for No Kid Hungry, you are amazing. If you'd like to donate or learn more, go to chefscycle.org. Thank you to Handsome Brook Farm for supporting this season of Radio Cherry Bombe. For more, visit handsomebrookfarm.com. Today's interviews were recorded at Cherry Bombe headquarters in Caroll Gardens, Brooklyn and at The Wing in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Thank you so much to the team at The Wing Dumbo. Radio Cherry Bombe's associate producer is the one and only Jess Zeidman. And our theme song is by the band Tralala. Thanks for listening everyone. You're the bombe.
When Harry Met Sally Clip: I'll have what she's having.
Lydia Weintraub: Hi. My name is Lydia and I'm a former Cherry Bombe intern. Do you know who I think is the bombe? This isn't a hot take but Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen is the bombe because she inspires me to cook.