Q&A Michael Lessing

Your family has been in the restaurant business since 1890. Tell me a little about your growth and how the firm grew from beyond Manhattan and into the catering business, for example?

The company was founded by Maxwell Lessing in 1890 and is operated to this day by 15 family members representing three generations of Lessing’s. Our highly diversified company feeds more than 40,000 guests a day at over 100 corporate, educational, country club, and manufacturing plant locations throughout the Northeast. Maxwell Lessing was an innovator. He responded to the explosion of the urban worker population in the 1890’s by opening the first convenient lunch counter. By the late 1920’s, Lessing’s was serving meals to New York’s workforce in as many as 20 locations in the financial district and the New York Stock Exchange.

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Q&A Bruce and Eric Bromberg

What attracted you both to the restaurant industry?

BB: We love cooking and making people happy. Restaurants were always such a huge part of our childhood, and we had our favorite in every place we used to travel to.
EB: Rocky Aoki of Benihana was a huge inspiration.

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Q&A Marc Murphy

So how did you end up at the Institute of Culinary Education? What impact did that have on your career?

I didn't do well in school, I'm very dyslexic. My high school counselor looked at my grades and said: “Well, son, we think you should just go get a job. We don't think any colleges are going to take you.” I thought, well, if I learn how to cook, I'll be able to eat. The one thing I didn't want to be was hungry! So I decided to go to a cooking school and I ended up getting addicted to it.

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Q&A Jim Calvin

Convenience stores have gone from places where you can just buy a big soda to where you might even buy dinner these days.  Jim Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS) talks about the growth of this “neighborhood” industry.

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Alan Rosen

Not everyone wants to go into the family business.  But some, like Alan Rosen know they’re going to do it from just about the day they’re born.

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Geoffrey Zakarian

Geoffrey Zakarian is an Armenian-American Iron Chef, restaurateur, television personality and author. He is the executive chef of several restaurants in New York City, Atlantic City and Miami. He's currently starring in the Food Network's top-rated Chopped series.

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Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart is an American businesswoman, writer, and television personality. As founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, she has gained success through a variety of business ventures. TFS visited with the icon at the recent Tri-State Foodservice Show in New Jersey.

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Q&A Jonathan Wright

Jonathan Wright has been appointed Executive Chef of Rainbow Room. Lauded for his ability to command a kitchen and execute a wide range of cuisines, Chef Wright brings more than 20 years of international culinary experience to the iconic New York venue.

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Q&A Mark Grossich

Mark Grossich has had many careers. He ran a chain of newspapers.  He ran a modeling agency.  An ad agency, a PR company.  The list goes on and on.

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Q&A Sabrina Capannola

Sabrina Capanola likes to tell this story. "If you find somebody who's 18 and knows what it is they want to do with their life, could you please have them call me?

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