Hello My Name Is… 39th Street Office

Victoria (left) and Ellie (right) in Shakespeare mode.

Sure our restaurants are where the magic happens, but did you know that our back office has some action of its own going down? Above the quaint little courtyard of Always Flowers, 50 Northeast 39th Street houses Michael, our bookkeeping department, Director of Operations Charles Bell (he also has a desk in the Miami restaurant mezzanine,) two boar busts named Carlos and Pedro, and a few other new faces that it’s time to introduce.  Ellie Groden, whom you may know already for her kick butt writing skills and Italian sensibility, joined us a few months ago as Chef’s assistant and is my office mate, and this summer we have welcomed two bright new additions — Victoria Calleja and Junior Navarez.  Again, I have lucked out with smart and responsible interns, thanks to good referrals.  Forager Ali Lauria found Ellie, her longtime family friend. Victoria comes to us on the recommendation of Mark Kuller (Proof and Estadio, D.C.; husband of Whisk Gourmet’s Kristin Connor) and Junior, a peer at Miami Ad School of Renata Herminio, our longtime graphics design intern now studying in Berlin for her ‘Greenhouse’!  (She’s doing great by the way and sent us an email the other week that made us giggle. We’ll post a little story on her adventures in Bratwurst, Currywurst, Shnitzel, Spaetzle, and Strudel abroad here soon…)  Learn a little more about the additions to our growing stable via the questionnaire below:




Junior Navarez (JN): Graphic Design Intern
Victoria Calleja (VC): PR Intern
Ellie Groden (EG): Assistant to the Chef

Childhood ambition:
JN: Become an artist!
VC: I still consider myself a child, so to become a Hollywood publicist. No matter what, I want to be happy.
EG: Fighter Pilot

First job:
JN:Recruiting aspiring actors or models for International Models, Inc.
VC: Doing bookkeeping for my mom’s business (I hate accounting, by the way)
EG: Secretary at my dad’s construction company

Favorite dish at MGFD:
JN: The skirt steak is delicious! But I need to try more things.
VC: How about 3 favorites? Pulled Pork Sandwich, any ceviche, and Hedy’s homemade Pop-tarts!
EG: Half chicken if I’m being good, Manny’s sandwich specials if I’m being bad

Most popular food prepared in your home:
JN: Salpicon (Nicaraguan dish), Includes green pepper, onion and meat all mixed together in small pieces.
VC: Probably sweet & sour brisket with mashed potatoes and pretty much any dessert
EG: My husband is Italian – Pasta

Wildest food ever eaten:
JN: Cow tongue, or how we call it: LENGUA! I would eat it all the time in Nicaragua, but then it began tasting weird and wasn’t fond of it anymore.
VC: Sea urchin (hated it)
EG: Brains, fried fresh after slaughter (sweet and delicious I might add….but still ew)

Favorite beverage at MGFD:
JN: Have yet to try, but they all look good!
VC: Homemade Ginger Lemongrass Soda
EG: Tatanka

Proudest moment:
JN: Being able to hold a full conversation in Portuguese (self-taught)
VC: When I fixed a collapsed birthday cake, and no one could even tell… and when I got into Georgetown!
EG: Having an Italian woman ask me if I understood English

Biggest challenge:
JN: Being away from my dad and older brothers. And at one point balancing school and work, but I kinda enjoyed it! Made me feel very occupied and doing constructive work :)
VC: …keeping myself from overeating…
EG: Remembering to do everything I have to in a day

Perfect day:
JN: Visiting a new country and meeting new people
VC: Sleeping, eating, beaching, then eating some more… Really, it just needs to include great food!
EG: Good friends, my family, sun in the sky, a mountain before me and ski’s on my feet.

Ideal spot for your vacation home:
JN: Switzerland or Brazil
VC: Laguna Beach, hands down.
EG: North shore of Maui, or Big Sky, MT

JN: Korean soap operas, ice cream cake,
VC: Food: Cheez-It and beef jerky; TV: “So You Think You Can Dance”
EG: Gelato. And shopping.

JN: Simplistic design, music and culture
VC: amazing chefs, amazing dancers, and people who always enjoy the good things in life
EG: Selfless people, warriors for the good team. My grandparents, my niece.

My life:
JN:should be filmed! Ha!
VC: …revolves around lunch & dinner reservations. I never stop eating–honestly, it’s worrisome.
EG: Is happy and hectic, and crazy and beautiful. I’m thankful for every second of it.

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