Food Tech

Ms. Michelle cookies, now in a Big Box

By GREGORY ZELLER // Ms. Michelle’s is going to Walmart. Still baking inside Stony Brook University’s Calverton Business Incubator, gluten-free goodie gourmet Michelle Gillette Kelly and her husband/business partner Chris Kelly have cooked up a deal with the preeminent retailer that puts the Ms. Michelle brand inside Walmart Stores in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Contractually, Kelly can’t reveal the numbers, but she confirmed this week that four varieties of her gluten-free cookies –…


Moustache Brewing does a little aging of its own

By JIM MCCUNE // Enjoy them now, because they grow up so quickly. We’re talking, in this case, about Riverhead’s award-winning microbrewery, Moustache Brewing Co., which turns 2 on April 30. If you’re not familiar with the Moustache story, it started back in 2012 when Lauri and Matt Spitz decided to give up their day jobs, launch a KickStarter campaign and pray they’d reach their goal of $30,000. More than 500 pledges and $31,413 later, the…


At Botticelli, tapping into next-gen tastes

By GREGORY ZELLER // The irony is not lost on Salvatore Asaro. The president and CEO of Hauppauge-based Botticelli Foods recognizes the dichotomy in using social media, smartphone apps and other e-commerce solutions to maintain culinary traditions that stretch back through centuries and all the way to the old country. But this is a new world, one in which millennials increasingly do their shopping – including grocery shopping – on mobile devices, and where major…


Craft brewers take another giant hop

Craft brewers expanded their market share by 13 percent in 2015, cooking up 24.5 million barrels worth $22.3 billion, the Colorado-based Brewers Association announced this week. The dollar value now represents more than a fifth of all U.S. beer sales, an increase of 16 percent year over year. “For the past decade, craft brewers have charged into the market, seeing double digit growth for eight of those years,” said Bart Watson, the association’s chief economist….


It’s crunch time for Decision Nutrition

By GREGORY ZELLER // It’s a chip off the old fitness-nutrition multimedia empire. Great Neck-based Decision Nutrition, which husband-and-wife power duo Keren and Jonathan Gilbert have nurtured into a national healthy-living brand since launching in 2009, has spun off a new subsidiary based on its popular line of chia-seed bagels. Chia Bagels and Chips Enterprises Inc. officially incorporated in January, founded by the Gilberts and partner Jon Doneson, a principal on the sales and consulting…


Big growth in the ag-tech sector

Funding in the ag-tech sector nearly doubled in 2015, with more than $4.5 billion invested in everything from food e-commerce platforms to farm-2-consumer services, cannabis technology and drones used in what’s known as “precision agriculture.” The investment total represents a 94 percent increase over 2014 totals and included 526 deals with 672 unique investors, according to ag-tech funding site Agfunder. While the sector continued to diversify last year, food e-commerce continued to capture the largest…


The long road to short-order artistry

By GREGORY ZELLER // It’s your typical career trajectory. Start in the hospitality industry, busing tables and supporting kitchens and tending bar and whatever, at age 13. Skyrocket through the commercial-division ranks at Hicksville home-security specialist Slomins until you decide suddenly, at age 22, to purchase a building and open a bar. Sell the bar three years later, keep the building, manage Capital One Bank’s executive dining services for a while, and then, about a…


Suffolk IDA takes a shine to incubator project

To give spirits-focused startups a chance to properly ferment, two East End entrepreneurs have launched a “distillery incubator” – and the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency is picking up the first round. The Suffolk IDA has approved a 10-year, $120,860 tax break for the Matchbook Distilling Co., the brainchild of East Enders Leslie Merinoff and Brian Kwasnieski. Their plan: help regional beverage-makers break into the small-batch market through with a complete farm-to-bottle distillery incubator. “We…


Wading once more into the crowd that loves them

By GREGORY ZELLER // Consider it a home-brewed version of Kickstarter. Riverhead’s Moustache Brewing Co., which launched following a successful 2012 campaign on the group-funding site, is once again appealing to its growing fan base – this time, to help fund new fermenting tanks essential to the microbrewery’s expansion plans. Building on their successful Growler of the Month Club, owners Lauri and Matthew Spitz have created The Moustache Brewing Co. Society for Fine Liquid Provisions,…


Life is sweet for Backyard Brine. And sour. And spicy and …

By GREGORY ZELLER // Randy Kopke knows there’s an artisan in all of us. For the self-employed contractor – tile and masonry, mostly – it turned out to be pickling, a hobby he shared with his wife, Cori, a freelance bookkeeper. Just two years after the amateurs supplied 200 jars of handcrafted pickles as favors for a relative’s Montauk wedding, their inner entrepreneurs have come roaring out. Their 2013 startup Backyard Brine Inc. is graduating…


Collaboration that goes well beyond the pale

By JIMMY MCCUNE // Several years after opening A Taste of Long Island, a shared commercial kitchen and local-specialty food market, home brewer and foodpreneur Jim Thompson and his daughter Courtney have launched New York State’s first co-working brewery, an incubator located on Main Street in downtown Farmingdale. The brewing incubator is accessible to all aspiring brewers and fosters the development of local craft breweries by providing a pilot brewing facility, business consultation, storage, tap…


At Ms. Michelle’s, the chips are up

By GREGORY ZELLER // Michelle Gillette Kelly is living the American Dream. The gluten-free version, anyway. The baker and her products have gone through several permutations in recent years, from sales at local farmer’s markets to opening and shuttering a Bayport bakery to focusing exclusively on Internet sales. Now things are getting real: With a new website that went live in October and the Ms. Michelle’s brand gracing a growing number of Long Island and…


Paumanok scores big at Wine Advocate

Mark Squires, a former Philadelphia attorney turned full-time wine obsessive, is taking his new assignment on Wine Advocate’s Long Island watch seriously. Beginning in June, when he released some of the best reviews ever of local vintages, Squires has shown a clear thirst for Long Island wines, with a second round of reviews just released and more coming in December. In all, 26 wines scored 90 or above, with Paumanok Vineyards the big winner with…


On LI, it’s hip once more to grow hops

By JIM MCCUNE // It’s been nearly three years since Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the New York State farm brewing law to spur demand for locally grown products and increase the economic impact of the burgeoning craft brewing industry. And it’s apparently working, at least here. Long Island already has a dozen farm breweries, with a dozen more in the planning. The law created a new brewery license that, among other things, allows farm-based breweries…


Add a little amber to the orange and blue

The Blue Point Brewing Co. is going to the World Series. A pint (or six) of the Patchogue craft brewery’s flagship Toasted Lager is on the line – along with other spoils from across the Empire State – as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s World Series bet with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon. In addition to wearing the other team’s jersey to work, the loser will deliver a care package of home-grown goodies. In Cuomo’s case, that…