Monday, October 11, 2010



African Inspired Fine Foods Catering

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Fine, Fabulous and Fearless Women of Hospitality

Dining With Grace Presents…

The Fine, Fabulous and Fearless Women of Hospitality



It was a very personalized and selfish mission, but I knew it had to be done and after searching high and low, I found my 3 women.


In an industry where many do not dream big enough for true wealth (being successful enough to give back plentifully) these women continue to take great strides in building their national Hospitality empires.  One coined the "black Martha Stewart", and another's name is synonymous with Soul Food but the last find was the most challenging- the only African-American female hotelier I've heard of! These 3 women are reshaping the mold of the business-savvy Hospitality Entrepreneur!

With pride, Dining With Grace introduces:  Barbara Smith, Sylvia Woods, and Sheila C. Johnson- our Fearless Women of Hospitality!


Barbara "B." Smith


A restaurateur and home décor authority, Barbara "B" Smith began her career as fashion model and was the first African- American woman on the cover of Mademoiselle magazine.  She soon became the face of Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Lawry's Seasoning, and Mercedes Benz and went on to develop a brand as lifestyle and entertaining expert.   Currently, Barbara is the owner of 3 "B. Smith" restaurants located in NYC, Washington D.C and Sag Harbor, NY, the first of which opened in 1986.   She has also created a lifestyle line of home furniture, serve-ware and décor for Bed, Bath and Beyond and several luxury home furniture stores.  Additionally she is the author of two tabletop books on entertaining, several cookbooks and DVDs.  She will soon have her own show to appear on PBS this Fall, "The Very Best of B. Smith, With Style".   While speaking to the Congressional Black Caucus B. Smith was honored with a partnership with Missa Bay Frozen Foods to create a B. Smith Line of prepared foods- Just Like Home Series, to be served to troops abroad starting Fall 2010.



Sylvia Woods

The Queen of Soul Food, Sylvia Woods, is founder and owner of world-renown Sylvia's Restaurant located in Harlem since 1962.   Upon earning her beautician's license while attending school at night during her Junior HS years. she opened her first beauty salon in Hemingway, South Carolina.  After getting married in 1944, she and her husband moved to New York City's Harlem where she became a waitress at a local luncheonette.  In 1962, after several years of dedicated service,  the Owner witnessed Sylvia's entrepreneurial spirit and sold the restaurant to her.  Sylvia's mother, a farmer and midwife,  mortgaged her farm to help her daughter with the payment.  The small luncheonette since then has flourished into a family owned enterprise that includes:  Sylvia's Restaurant in Harlem, Sylvia's Also, a full-service catering hall, Sylvia's Catering Corp., a nation-wide line of Sylvia's Food Products, two cookbooks, and ATOC, Inc., a real estate firm.  The Woods family created the Sylvia and Herbert Woods Scholarship Endowment Foundation. The SHWF disburses 4-year partial scholarships to children of and around the Harlem community.   As a local NYC "celebrity"  Sylvia, has rung the bell at the NYSE, received several merit award from the city, made several appearances on national lifestyle shows as well as in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Ebony Magazine.



Sheila C. Johnson


The first African-American female billionaire.  The first woman to build a luxury hotel.  Co-founder of Black Enterprises Television.  First African- American woman to own a sports team.  CEO of Salamander Hospitality.  Sheila C. Johnson is a force to be reckoned with.  Salamander Hospitality, founded in 2005 currently manages several hotel properties and is currently building a five star resort and spa hotel in Middleburg, VA.    As CEO of Salamander Hospitality Ms. Johnson oversees a growing portfolio of luxury properties.  Woodlands Inn, in Summerville, SC, is one of only a handful of properties in North America to receive the prestigious Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond ratings for both lodging and dining.  In 2008, Travel + Leisure selected Woodlands as the #1 hotel for service in North America and #3 in the world (it was the only US hotel ranked in the Top 10).   Most importantly, Ms. Johnson is a generous philanthropist to various humanitarian causes.  In 2006 Ms. Johnson was named global ambassador for CARE, whose mission is to fight global poverty.   Her focus is building solidarity and empowering women and girls to become catalysts for change in communities around the world. 



Friday, January 29, 2010

DWG Start-up Hustle- PART III

DWG Start-up Hustle Part III
Anticipate Growth

Dining With Grace started from a vision. Nothing complicated, just a thought. A thought that perhaps “impossible” was really just a figment of my imagination. And from Day One with this thought in mind, I have continued on this journey to put myself out there to prove relentlessly that this can be done simply by not quitting when the going gets hard. I’ll be honest, quite early on I was met with disappointments, betrayals and hopelessness but fortunately for me I have that tough African skin!! Haha! No, but perhaps I am a little stubborn. I ask a lot of Why’s. Why can’t I be successful from doing what I love? Why not me when others have done it successfully? Why do people quit so easily? Why shouldn’t I think outside of the box? So on and on I go, my vision still bright. I’ve recently learned something along the way though: when planning for the future, think big. Don’t worry about all the minutiae right away, you can build up your building blocks later. But keep that vision big and bright and do something, anything, towards it. It’s your life and thank God for giving us the creative freedom to live vicariously through ourselves.

Doubt, of whatever kind, can be ended by action alone.
-Thomas Carlyle

DWG Celebrates the Cuisines of Africa

Introducing our new mission to elegantly introduce the flavors of the African Diaspora.

Dining With Grace is now offering a menu showcasing the delicacies of African-inspired cuisine. From the spices of the East such as cardamom & curries to the provisions of the West such as maize and yams; from the Mediterranean cuisine of the North to the international flairs of the South, Dining With Grace is introducing these flavors in a new way- the New African way. Extending our reach beyond the continent into its far flung influences in the Caribbean, India, Brazil, Cuba and the American South, we will offer our clients a menu of delicacies bursting with purposeful flavor.

Feature Presentations Include:
Potato & Leek Soup w/ Merguez Sausage &Chives
Mixed Green Salad with Goat Cheese, Roasted Beets, and Candied Walnuts
Herbs De Provence Grilled Chicken Breast w/ Spinach Puree
Haricot Vert with Spicy Sautéed Onions
Saffron Rice Pilaf

Stay Tuned for our New & Improved Website Featuring new Menus, Newsletter page, Testimonials, and Order Online Features still at!

The Gourmet's Bare Necessities

It’s a New Year and nothing starts it better than freeing up your space. Whether it’s in the closet or under the bed; in the refrigerator or the kitchen cupboards, it’s time to take inventory of what’s important and what’s not. Here are some of my tried and true kitchen equipment necessities.

 Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet -Perfect for pan-roasting and grilling proteins

 Calphalon Non-Stick Skillet – Made for omelets, eggs, pancakes, French toast, grilled sandwiches, yum!)

 Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer- For the bakers, trust that it’s just much better off this way. If you miss your arm workouts spend extra time at the gym!

 CuisinArt Food Processor- Making Burgers, Pesto, Salsa, Bread, Sauces, etc. You kind of need this for…everything

 Microplane Grater- Perfectly Grated Citrus Zest, Fresh Nutmeg or Fresh Cinnamon. It kinda just looks cool too!

 Scale- For precision (especially in baking) measure by weight.

 Stovetop Smoker- Smoked Salmon, Hickory Smoked Ribs, Rotisserie Chicken…this is an amazing product! Get some woodchips and make some authentic smoked treats.

 Mortar & Pestle- Take it old school, make your sauces and ground seasonings in a way the releases maximum flavor.

 Silicone Spatula- Never made a cake without it. Heatproof and flexible. Get’s every drop from the Bowl .
 High Quality Knife Set with Sharpening Stone- Cutting onions with a blunt knife sucks!! And it makes me cry! :-(

 Pepper Grinder- Freshly Ground Pepper all the time please! Thanks.

 Stainless Steel Pot Set- Non Stick Chips (Sounds yummy right? No)
Now go on! Cook up a storm!
Chef Gracie

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

As Serious as Drunken Man Noodles!

Yup, its getting serious. Real serious. I mean doesn't the year 2010 sound like a serious year?? I think any number with TWO ZEROES is a pretty darn serious number. Therefore, I need some pretty serious things to happen. No games, no playing around, no toying with the idea...I gotta move!

I am excited though because I've already begun some great programs

I begin my Hospitality Management program in January and I'm excited to make new connections there.

I am working with the Food Bank of New York City to teach cooking techniques and nutrition to inner city kids and their parents!

I am participating in a NYC Small Biz program called FastTrac NewVenture that helps launch new businesses *Coined an MBA on Speed*

These are the main things that are only beginning in January!! Wait till you see what February has in store!! The life of an entrepreneur is never idle...

Ahh, now back to the food. I found a winner!

I've recently stumbled upon a pretty darn awesome restaurant in Park Slope. It's a cute little Thai spot with such original and elegant decor called Born. I had a chance to speak with the Owner and she along with the entire staff is so sweet and funny. The whole place was created and decorated by a group of young artists and you can probably tell- the space just seems very original and artsy- probably more similar to something found in Williamsburg.

And the food...I really couldn't believe how great it was. The first time I was there I had the Basil Stirfy which was delicious. Then on the next occasion I had the Drunken Man Noodles and I nearly lost it. What did they put in it?!!! It was perfectly Spicy, Savory, Chewy with the Udon noodles (yes they used udon noodles!) Crunchy with the String Beans and Peppers...Honestly guys, I can't remember the last time I LOVED a restaurant entree to shreds. I think I cried after I ate it. I was happy.

I told the Owner I was coming by again this week to talk about their dessert menu (I think its lacking and perhaps I can do something about it!). I'm all of a sudden dreaming of this one Drunken Man...

293 Flatbush Ave. between Prospect & St. Marks.
Check it out when you're in the nabe!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Wow, December Already??

Hello Friends!!

I know it's been a while but never fear, Dining With Grace is still here!
What have I been up to? Quite a few things, and I guess I don't mind sharing...

Well, I know I ought to be embarrassed to say but... I finally got my license! Yes, Brooklyn girl is all grown up! I knew that I needed to drive ASAP to get my catering business on the level that it needs to be and with the visions of my custom Dining With Grace decal on the side of my ride, I knew that time was of the essence! ;-)

Secondly, I've been researching grants, many people don't realize how many opportunities are out there for small businesses and even for education. My point is this, yes you have to work hard to get the reward but the reward is still out there to be taken. I decided to go to school part-time to study Hospitality Management while I continue working on my business. Very excited.

Then of course, there's my marketing campaign. Folks, have the idea, you have the product or service, the next important thing is MARKETING it. Creativity, persistence, and a visionary eye is key here. I'm back to the drawing board, utilizing professionals to get it done right.

Oh and let's not forget to mention Thanksgiving! I had a few orders to handle then went to work on my contribution to the family meal. What was on the menu this year you ask?? This is how eclectic my family is! I love it! We had Egusi soup and pounded yam, a Jerked Leg of lamb, Beef Vindaloo, Creamed Spinach, Cajun Fettuccine Alfredo with Garlic Shrimp, Spring Salad with Beets, Red Grapes, Goat Cheese & Candied Walnuts w/a Honey Vinaigrette and lastly a Pumpkin Ginger Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting & Dried Cranberries! Don't pigeonhole my family (or DWG!!), we are connoisseurs of Fine International Cuisine! :-)

Other than that, I've been scoping out new potential sites for a commercial kitchen, fine-tuning business plan, getting some legal advice and continuing to take this adventure one day at a time.

2010 lays ahead as 2009 winds to an end, on the 12th of this month I will be 1 year older but much more the wiser. Thank you God for the opportunity to experience this journey. Thank you friends for being there, I look forward to sharing much more Dining With Grace moments with you!


Grace O.

P.S. Dining With Grace is now on Twitter! Follow me!

Stay tuned for our Revamped Website and our December 2009 Newsletter!