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SUMMER 2015 | Volume 7.1

‘BEING’ LISA VIDAL Actress Talks Life, Work & Whitestone Youth

It’s List




One Man’s Quest to Bring a Distillery to Astoria


Borough’s Top Five Chefs Summer 2015


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Executive Editor Shane Miller

Senior Editors

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Art Direction/Graphic Design Shane Miller John Sanchez Jen Khedaroo


Kathleen Connell

Business Manager John Sanchez

Volume 7 Number 1 – Summer 2015 It’s Queens is published quarterly. Postmaster, send all address changes to It’s Queens – PO BOX 780376 – Maspeth, NY 11378. It’s Queens is a consumer magazine covering the people who move and shake Queens, from real estate trends to transportation, politics to entertainment, It’s Queens will bring our readers the ins and outs of the borough. It’s Queens is wholly owned and published by the Queens Ledger/Greenpoint Star Weekly Newspaper Group. We know enough about the borough, covering it week in and week out since 1873. Bulk mail Flushing, NY Permit #652. Copyright ©2015 It’s Queens. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without the permission of the publisher is prohibited. Any news or feature solicitation for publication in It’s Queens should be done so without expectation of use and without expectation of return to solicitor. Send correspondence to . Subscriptions are $7.95 per year. Inquiries for subscriptions - Mail to PO BOX 780376, Maspeth, NY 11378. (718) 6v-7000.

On the Cover: Lisa Vidal (Photo: Marc Cartwright) 2 • Summer 2015

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Contents 15 The It’s List FEATURES

It’s Queens ranks the Top 15 Doctors keeping the borough healthy.

28 Vidal Statistics Actress Lisa Vidal discusses her new role on the BET show Being Mary Jane and her youth growing up in the shadow of the Whitestone Bridge.

36 Cold Gin

In the age of craft brews, Chris Murillo finds his ‘courage’ in the art of distilling.

42 On the Menu

Serious foodies are discovering Queens, and these are the Top 5 Chefs they will be talking about.

47 Working Out(side) The Top 5 Parks where you can get in shape without the gym membership.


7 Buzz

What’s hot and what’s not in Queens.

8 Made in Queens For this Woodside designer, it’s always the holiday season.

12 Technology The manufacturing scene in Queens is getting multi-dimensional.

55 Events

A rundown of the hottest things happening this spring & summer.

58 Entertainment

Queens duo is bringing a touch of poetry to rock music.  Summer 2015 • 5

Kick back with a Queens-inspired cocktail and enjoy the summer issue of It’s Queens!


isa Vidal, one of the stars of the hit BET show Being Mary Jane, is a pretty hot commodity these days. The Whitestone native describes her career in show business and why she’ll always be a “Queens Girl” at heart (Page 28). Who knew the borough had signature cocktails with its own namesake spirit? Chris Murillo is the creator of Queens Courage (Page 36), an old-style gin he hopes to one day distill right here in Astoria. He believes in the economy of Queens, so much so that he Think you have to spend quit his day job to bet on his big bucks to get in shape? gin. Think again. We found some Speaking of courage, it great parks in the borough that took some courage for Jen Khe- are also great places to workdaroo to rate the Top 5 Chefs out (Page 47), and we had in Queens (Page 42), because an expert – Bill Burgos, forI’m sure everyone is going to mer strength and conditionhave their own opinion. There ing coach with the Knicks and are so many great restaurants now with the Orlando Magto choose from in Queens, but ic - tailor a workout for each you should give all five of these one. The Parks Department spots a shot. You won’t be dis- has been putting state-of-theart workout equipment in city appointed. parks for quite a while now, so What wasn’t quite as hard you have no excuse not to get was finding 15 amazing doc- your body in beach shape. tors for our It’s List (Page 15), We love to feature local who aren’t just working to keep their Queens patients healthy, musicians in It’s Queens. This but are also at the cutting edge issue we turn our focus to Rocof their fields. Who says you co & Lizzie (Page 58), who have to go to Manhattan for play what they call “Queens Rock.” state-of-the-art health care? 6 • Summer 2015

Queens Buzz is a favorite among readers. From coyotes to summer concerts, it’s what your neighbors are talking about. Speaking of summer concerts, there’s still some tickets left for the James Taylor, Alabama Shakes and Santana concerts this summer at Forest Hills Stadium – get them while you still can!

Walter H. Sanchez Publisher

Queens Buzz

A quick rundown of what Queens residents are talking about, as well as what they no longer care about.


Long gone are the days when a trip to the local park meant only having to contend with nasty bathrooms and the occasional aggressive squirrel (or teenagers!)—now we actually have to deal with wildlife. In case you’ve been stuck underneath a rock for the past few months, we hate to be the ones to tell you, but you should probably know: it appears that coyotes are staging an imminent takeover of our city (so if that rock is in a park probably leave?). For the past couple months, every week seems to have brought news of another sighting, from Chelsea to Juniper Park to the roof of a Long Island City bar and even near LaGuardia Airport. And if you think this is a passing fad, think again: experts say the Bronx is already home to an established population, who might be edging into Manhattan.


Forest Hills Stadium concert season is upon us, and it appears last year’s controversy du jour is now something people are actually kind of excited about. That might have something to do with the line-up, a pretty fantastic group of performers that run the gamut from fresh-faced British crooners (Ed Sheeran) to whatever-theopposite-of-fresh-faced-is British crooners (the Who). And if some in the neighboring Forest Hills Gardens community still have some residual reservations about the event (i.e. noise), the concerts seem to have garnered a lot more champions this year. “What if we want to hear the Who?” asked a Forest Hills resident at last month’s town hall meeting about noise mitigation.



Queens’ most talked-about neighborhood just keeps getting cooler. Whether or not that’s a good thing largely depends on who you’re talking to, but with new restaurants popping up, a slew of dedicated neighborhood blogs and bearded Brooklyn defectors moving in by the busload, most locals can agree Ridgewood is in the midst of a Renaissance of sorts which doesn’t look to be letting up any time soon. The neighborhood had even achieved that ultimate marker of mainstream national relevance: an anesthetized FOX sitcom about 20-something’s set in it. And if only to emphasize it’s cool, it was abruptly canceled because you can’t boil Ridgewood down to 23 commercial-free minutes! And if old-timers and cheap rent-seekers alike are increasingly fretful about gentrification, many say the neighborhood fabric is only becoming stronger. The newly-formed Ridgewood Tenants and Neighborhood Association just held their first meeting in late April.


For the first few months of 2015, you couldn’t drive past a public school throughout the city without seeing students and teachers gathered in protest. The focus of their ire? Governor Andrew Cuomo, and the education overhaul he introduced in his State of the State, a wide revamp of the system which drew fury from teachers and parents alike and spawned an all-out battle with the United Federation of Teachers. In protests at local schools, borough halls, and all the way in Albany, teachers rallied against Cuomo’s agenda, specifically his plan to make state standardized tests comprise 50 percent of a teacher’s rating. But now that the state budget has passed, with schools getting an additional $1.4 billion in funding and evaluation breakdowns left up to the state, those human chains and pictures of children toting hand-drawn signs lamenting the demise of their schools is all but forgotten.


The thing of choice to complain about for the last five months, winter is now gone, and with its abrupt exit so too disappeared the one thing every New Yorker could agree on. We might not have the same opinions on De Blasio, on Obama, on gentrification, tax abatements or the Mets, but from Park Avenue penthouses to Bushwick lofts to Flushing studios, on this we could all agree: this winter was the worst. Words can’t quite do justice to the horror of the season, which often felt not like a season at all, but an apocalyptic climate episode threatening to upend the fabric of our entire city. But now that we can finally emerge from hibernation, a little vitamin-D deprived and pastier for the wear, winter seems now like a distant nightmare. Cue the humidity.

The era of baker Dominque Ansel’s flabbergastingly coveted croissant-doughnut hybrid seems to have finally come to a close. At its height, the pastry spawned two-hour lines outside its Soho bakery, black market asking prices upwards of $100, a spot on Time’s list of the “25 Best Inventions of 2013” and far too many Instagrams to count. However rat sightings at Ansel’s namesake bakery and three-hour wait times soon marred the novelty of the cronut, as did news that bakers with lesser PR teams across the country had been frying up croissant dough for years. The final nail in the coffin came in the form of a Dunkin Donuts’ knock-off, the croissant doughnut, a depressing, crumbly affair that all but put us off croissants in every form. However don’t fear, carbo-loaders looking for the next big thing—Ansel is recently out with a chocolate chip cookie cup.  Summer 2015 • 7





he building that houses Spaeth Design is very gray. To be fair, that’s to be expected on this industrial corridor of Woodside, a street largely concerned with churning out soft drinks and plastic furniture and other things whose manufacture one would associate with “grayness.” However, tucked within a 8 • Summer 2015


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row of nondescript concrete buildings, David Spaeth and his crew are hard at work on a decidedly different endeavor: designing, painting, molding, and 3D-printing things so beautiful that come December, people the world over will flock to New York City for just a peek at his handiwork. For over 30 years, Spaeth Design has been the preeminent maker of Christmas department store displays, having constructed pieces for blockbuster clients like Lord and Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue since the 1950s. David Spaeth, who’s been at the helm of his family’s company for nearly that long, says he always knew he wanted to pursue the family business, even while working as a mechanical engineer in the aerospace industry fresh out of college. He said that even while working on plane mechanics, he was considering how his skill set might translate to displays. “As a kid, I’d see little moving figures [in displays],” he said. “I’ve always been an engineering guy, and even then those little moving things intrigued me.” He took over the company in the 1970s, and shortly thereafter utilized his knowledge to produce a display that would forever revolutionize the industry. “Lord and Taylor heard we had been making some inroads in moving, mechanical displays,” he said. “They hadn’t seen any moving displays we’d actually done yet, but they called us up and said ‘can you do our windows?’ So our first job doing moving displays was for the biggest job in the country.” While displays had long been stuffy, traditional affairs, featuring Dickensian figures and cherubic carolers, Spaeth said that by the 1970s, windows were largely designed with an eye towards the simple, modernist aesthetics of the mid-century. While other department stores were decorating their windows with plain green Christmas trees bedecked in simple strands of lights, Lord and Taylor unveiled Spaeth’s mechanical display in 1976 to an incredible reaction 10 • Summer 2015

“No one had ever seen windows done like that,” he said. “Our figures didn’t look like Dickens characters, they looked like real people, but scaled down with historically accurate costumes. And all our figures were moving.” The display told the history of Lord and Taylor and included meticulously researched costumes, a scale model of a 1914 Cadillac, and a moving elevator, among other elements. No department store had ever unveiled a display with so many mechanized parts, he said, and New Yorkers ate it up. “The lines were so long you couldn’t get near the windows,” he said. “Our costumers lived around the corner, and every night instead of watching TV they would go to the windows to listen to people’s comments.” Soon, he said, Spaeth Design was getting calls from other major department stores in New York, like Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as from stores around the world requesting similar moving displays. “Certainly it put animated displays, and us, on the map,” he said. “It showed

how it could be done.” What’s followed has been a rich and diverse body of work, including huge displays for some of New York’s swankiest stores, including Saks, Bloomingdales and Bergdorf Goodman’s, as well as small-scale displays for yet-swankier stores, like Hermès and Cartier. Spaeth has also dabbled in film sets and props; his workshop is responsible for Zoltar, the mechanical circus fortune teller that turned a 13-yearold boy into Tom Hanks in the 1988 film Big. David’s favorite project to date? “That’s like asking who my favorite child is,” he said. “And if I had a favorite child, I wouldn’t tell you.” Spaeth is sworn to secrecy about the projects he’s currently working on, but a tour of the factory revealed a flurry of intricate, Santa’s Workshop-type work underway. In one airy room, a young woman with a fine-tipped brush painted a delicate diorama of a forest. In another room, shelves brimmed with hand-molded elf faces contorted into an array of expressions, and limbs of various lengths and widths scaled the walls.

Spaeth and his crew are still getting used to their new Queens environs, having moved their whole operation to Woodside from Manhattan a year ago. A homecoming of sorts for Flushing-born Spaeth, whose parents began their business in Queens and operated out of Astoria before switching boroughs. He said that his new location has been more convenient than he could have imagined. “Most of our clients are on 5th Avenue, and they can get here faster than they could get to 12th Avenue in Manhattan,” he said. Having worked on Christmas displays for close to four decades, Spaeth says he still feels a sense of pride over the windows he creates. “There’s really a tradition involved with the displays,” he said. “I think a lot of people would be disappointed if they didn’t see them. I think the windows are a big part of Christmas in New York City.” He said that after all these years, he still visits his windows to see revelers’ reactions. “We don’t tell the people we’ve made them,” he said. “But we’re really proud.”

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A NEW DIMENSION TO QUEENS The Future of Manufacturing is Making a Home in the Borough


o n c e p t u a l l y, 3D printing is somewhat inaccessible to the general public; it’s still an involved industrial process on the manufacturing scale, and on a smaller, do-it-yourself scale, it’s unaffordable. Eventually that will change. While a 3D-printed future where we’re driving our 3D-printed cars to a 3D-printed restaurant that serves 3D-printed filet mignon on 3D-printed plates seems like a hazy dystopia and wholly unreal, there are much more practical applications. The process of 3D printing is a lot less of an actual printing process than its name may lead one to believe. Mansee Muzumdar works for Shapeways, a 3D-printing facility with an office in Long

By Patrick Kearns Island City. She said those in the industry know the process instead as “additive manufacturing.” “You’re building something in layers and layers,” she explained. At Shapeways, the products are built with layers of powder that are laserfused together. There are myriad materials to choose from, including different types of plastics, nylon, silver, gold and sandstone. “We have over 50 types of materials we can print in,” Muzumdar said. “You can actually buy something in 14-karat gold.” The process is simple, in terms of manufacturing. A customer sends Shapeways one of their personal designs and chooses the materials they’d like their product to be created with. To create that design, there

are plenty of readily available 3D-printing programs online, such as Blender, Maya and Rhino - even Photoshop now has a 3D-printing component to it. A design team at Shapeways then checks the object in their computer system to make sure it’s possible to make the design a reality. For example, sometimes a product will have parts that are too small that can break apart during

An engineer at Shapeways reviews a design before sending it to the printer. 12 • Summer 2015

the process. Depending on the materials desired, Shapeways either sends the completed design out to one of their manufacturing partners or does it in-house. The metals and sandstones are done at facilities around the world, but the flexible plastic – for products like phone cases – is created right inside their warehouse space. The whole process can take anywhere from eight to

24 hours with printers running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Technicians create massive blocks of powder, with the shapes embedded right into the blocks, for some of the products. They then take them to a room where they excavate the products like an archeological dig. Workers sift through the powder, pulling out toys, figurines and other small objects. While looking through an array of 3D-printed items it’s easy to question the usefulness, but even in its early stages 3D printing is revealing its potential impacts on a much grander scale. “It’s really just a new way of manufacturing,” Muzumdar said. The product potential is endless. From children’s toys to life-saving medical supplies, these products can be mass-produced quickly and efficiently in a smaller space. It’s also helpful for a DIY designers. “3D printing is

really great for designers that are trying to do something on a smaller scale,” Muzumdar said. Personal 3D printers are still a luxury. A simple shopping search on Google shows most home printers priced at well over $1,000. As more and more are produced and the power and practicality of the printing is slowly uncovered, it could, like all technology, become affordable for the average consumer. But is getting a 3D printer into the average consumer’s hands necessarily a great idea? Progress is, of course, a double-edged sword with stories about the ills and triumphs of 3D printing coming out daily. In Brazil, thanks to a 3D-printed ultrasound, a blind woman was able to “see” her son for the first time. The viral video tugged heartstrings across the world. But there’s also some danger associated with 3D printing. There’s a significant

“Soon, everyone will own a 3D-printed object.” - Mansee Muzumdar Shapeways amount of controversy surrounding home-printed guns and weapons. Likewise, unregulated products can be produced simply and efficiently, making their way onto the black market. So what is exactly is the future of 3D printing?

Is it desktop machines for everyone, like regular printers, or an integral part of manufacturing? It’s likely somewhere in between, but Muzumdar has a bold predication. “Soon, everyone will own a 3D-printed object,” she said.



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TOP 15

DOCTORS When it comes to health care, Queens has had a rough go of it as of late. The borough has seen hospitals close and communities struggle to keep their health care facilities open, but the prognosis isn’t all negative. The borough has its own unique challenges when it come to health care, especially with its large immigrant population, but thankfully the borough has amazing doctors who are up to the challenge. This issue, our It’s List runs down the Top 15 Doctors who prove you don’t have to leave Queens to get state-ofthe-art medical care.  Summer 2015 • 15


Dr. Concepcion Songco Elmhurst Hospital Center Department of Pediatrics

As Associate Medical Director of Pediatric Ambulatory Care at Elmhurst Hospital Center, Dr. Concepcion Songco has spearheaded a variety of efforts to bring the best possible care to her patients, including the creation of agespecific care plans, the restructuring of the medical home team, and improvement of patterns of work flow. She has also been instrumental in implementing the department’s performance improvement project around HPV vaccinations for young males, an initiative presented at the HHC Teen Health Improvement Conference in April 2014. Dr. Songco also serves on a number of institutional committees at Elmhurst Hospital, including the Child Protection, Performance Improvement and Trauma Performance Improvement committees. Originally hailing from the Philippines, Dr. Songco graduated cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas in 1970 and earned her medical degree from the same university in 1974. She completed her pediatric residency and fellowship in pediatric ambulatory care at Elmhurst Hospital/Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She is currently an Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics.


Dr. Che-Kai Tsao

Mount Sinai Hospital Attending Physician, Infusion Center

Having lived in Queens all his life, Dr. Che-Kai Tsao, Associate Professor Hematology and Medical Oncology at Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai, knows alltoo-well the perceptions associated with health care in his home borough. “The perception is that patients who go to Manhattan receive superior care,” he said. “I think one of the missions of Mt. Sinai is to be able to provide first class high quality care.” Dr. Tsao works closely with Dr. Howard Greenberg (see #6), and focuses on genitourinary, prostate, kieny, bladder, testicular and adrenal cancers. In 2012, he was chosen as Mt. Sinai’s Physician of the Year. He is also an attending physician at the newly opened infusion center, which he says will bring first class care to all of Queens. “With the establishing of the center, we’re glad we can give first quality health care to the whole borough,” he said.


Dr. Patricia Dramitinos

New York Hospital Queens Director, Division of Urogynecology

Dr. Patricia Dramitinos, who joined the staff at New York Hospital Queens in 2012, specializes in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS). Experts estimate that more than half of adult women suffer from disorders of the pelvic floor including: accidental loss of urine, rectal gas and/or feces; bulging of the bladder, abdominal contents and/ or rectum into the vagina; abnormal and/ or painful bladder function, and loss of support for the uterus, which may fall and bulge into or through and outside of the vagina. FPMRS is a fairly new specialty in medicine, with the first board certification examination conducted in 2013. Women in Queens have access to one of the few FPMRS specialists in the United States via Dr. Dramitinos. She has academic and practical training and experience with the latest diagnostic, medical and surgical techniques to correct female pelvic floor disorders.


Dr. Martin Maurer Queens Hospital Center Director of Psychiatry

Dr. Martin Maurer knew he wanted to pursue a career in psychiatry from the very first job he had in the field, when as a young college student he began working at the Creedmoor Psychatric Center. What followed was training at the Hahnemann Medical University in Philadelphia, where he earned his medical degree in 1986, and a psychiatric residency at Beth Israel Medical Center. Currently the Director of Psychiatry at the Queens Hospital Center, Dr. Maurer has worked in tandem with numerous community organizations to make sure every member of the community is receiving better psychiatric care, not just in a hospital setting. He has consulted for The Association for Rehabilitative Case Management and Housing, which shelters the mentally ill, as well as the Salvation Army Assessment Shelter system. Dr. Maurer has also worked extensively in teaching the next generation of psychiatric professionals, work for which he’s been widely lauded. He is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and was the recipient of the Mount Sinai’s Institute for Medical Education Teaching Award. He was also voted Teacher of the Year by residents at the Beth Israel Medical Center, as well as Elmhurt Hospital.


Dr. Cynthia Pan

New York Hospital Queens Chief, Division of Geriatrics & Palliative Care Medicine

Dr. Cynthia Pan initially joined New York Hospital Queens in September 2010 to launch the Palliative Care program and now works hand-in-hand with hospital leadership and interdisciplinary physicians, as well as community agencies, to boost palliative care and transitional care services for patients with serious illnesses. In addition, she is focused on expanding the hospital’s ambulatory geriatrics and palliative care services and bridging the gap between the geriatric and palliative care fields.  Summer 2015 • 17 The push to expand these services comes at a time when the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population consists of those 85 years old and up (according to the U.S. Department of Commerce). By 2050, people age 65 and older are expected to comprise 20 percent of the total U.S. population. Dr. Pan is multi-lingual, speaking Chinese Mandarin and Spanish to better serve all of her patients in Queens. Her academic interests include teaching medical students, residents and fellows about palliative care, end of life care, geriatrics, cultural competency and communication skills  Summer 2015 • 17


18 • Summer 2015

Dr. Edward Yang Mount Sinai Queens Chief of Orthopedics


Dr. Edward Yang says he was immediately drawn to orthopedics in medical school, not just for the work, but the personalities he saw in the field. “Orthopedic surgeons are laid back,” he says. “They’re very personable. They enjoy what they’re doing.” Dr. Yang spent more than two decades in the emergency wards at Elmhurst Hospital before joining Mount Sinai. While he says he loved his time as an emergency room doctor, working in a calmer environment has presented its perks. “As you get to the next stage in life, you don’t need the excitement of an emergency room,” he said. “I don’t have to deal with waking up in the middle of the night for emergencies. Here I have time to develop rapport with patients and physicians.” Dr. Yang’s focus includes the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries including fractures, dislocations, sprains, and strains, as well as total joint replacements and skeletal reconstruction of nonunion and malunion. Although he has been working in orthopedics for more than two decades, he says he still finds his work exciting. “This isn’t mundane work,” he said. “You’re all over the body, working on everything from the toes to the neck.

Dr. Hadi M. Jabbar New York Hospital Queens Director, Pediatric Asthma Center

For more than 35 years, Dr. Hadi Jabbar has been dedicated to helping children with asthma breathe better and participate in sports and daily activities without regular trips to the emergency room. He is at the forefront of innovative treatments to address childhood asthma. Asthma is one of the leading causes of emergency room visits, hospitalizations, missed school days, and can be life-threatening. As the most common chronic condition among children, in New York City more than 170,000 children live with asthma, including approximately 50,000 children in the borough of Queens. At New York Hospital Queens, Dr. Jabbar helped initiate a comprehensive asthma management program, where disease interventions are based upon treatment protocols, and includes disease education for patients and their families, home environmental analysis to identify asthma triggers and barriers to care, behavior modification, school programs, and more. In 1997 he launched the New York Hospital Queens Pediatric Mobile Asthma Van as a way to bring asthma screening and treatment directly to families in underserved communities, which typically report higher rates of asthma. Today, the van is supported by a $326,000 grant from TransCanada, a North American energy company, which enabled the establishment of a mobile asthma program at Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City – the nation’s largest public housing facilities. The van is stationed at Queensbridge Houses two days each week. It allows walk-in appointments and accepts most major insurance providers, including Medicaid.

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Dr. Marlon Brewer

Elmhurst Hospital Center Chief Physician, Primary Care Clinic Associate Director, Ambulatory Care

In the 25 years he’s practiced medicine, Dr. Marlon E. Brewer has amassed a number of national accolades, including the Physician Recognition Award from the cancer support organization SHAREing & CAREing, and mention in the U.S. News and World Report as a top internist in New York City, as well as on the Castle Connolly Guide as a “Best Doctor in the NYC” area. In addition to the patient work that has won him such praise, Dr. Brewer has worked to help train the next generation of physicians. He holds the faculty title of Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where he was a principal contributor to the Art and Science of Medicine Program. He also trains other health care professionals in smoking cessation, and has worked to improve care to patients specifically with asthma, diabetes and hypertension. In 2006, Dr. Brewer was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg as a member of the Board of Health of the City of New York.


Dr. Ari Bunim

New York Hospital Queens Director, Hepatology Division of Gastroenterology

Dr. Ari Bunim has helped expand access to care for patients with liver diseases, including those who need transplants, by developing a joint program in conjunction with the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation. Dr. Bunim sees patients with advanced liver disease or liver tumors who may require a liver transplant. For liver transplant candidates here in Queens, pre-surgery evaluations and assessments are performed close to home, right at the hospital. After the patients are evaluated, then, the actual transplantation is performed by worldrenowned surgeons at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation. Dr. Bunim is an advocate for hepatitis screenings, including Hepatitis B, (a disease that is more commonly found in the Asian population). In New York City, 67 percent of all newly reported cases of chronic Hepatitis B are found in Asians. He has spent time in the community, hosting educational seminars on the importance of detecting and treating this disease.


Dr. Howard Greenberg Mount Sinai Queens Director, Infusion Center

Although Dr. Howard Greenberg began his career at Mt. Sinai Manhattan, he quickly fell in love with practicing medicine in Queens after visiting at the request of an old associate. “He asked me if I wouldn’t mind dropping over and seeing a few patients,” he said. “I soon realized this is a great place, an oasis. There was a level of anonymity in Manhattan that never made me 100 percent comfortable like in Queens. It’s a smaller hospital, everyone was super friendly, you know everyone, it’s sort of an extended family for me.” Dr. Greenberg has remained in Queens since, focusing on patients with lung, breast, colon and other gastrointestinal cancers. He is currently the Director of the Mount Sinai Queens Infusion Center and Associate Professor of Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology, at the Icahn School of Medicine. Having worked at the hospital since it was Astoria General, before the site partnered with Mt. Sinai in 1993, Dr. Greenberg has seen the hospital undergo extensive changes, many of which have taken place in the last few years. He currently oversees the brand new state of-the-art Infusion Center that just opened next to the hospital last month, and which he says has enhanced the hospital tremendously. “The only problem [with the hospital] was we weren’t able to get truly state-of-the-art care,” he said. “Now, with this facility, its all come together. We’re now able to treat patients closer to where they live, and give them amenities you would normally only get in large New York cancer hospitals.”



Dr. Daniel Skupski

New York Hospital Queens Associate Chairman, Obstetrics & Gynecology Director, Maternal-Fetal Medicine

In addition to his already important positions at New York Hospital Queens, Dr. Daniel Skupski also holds another very important role as principal investigator in clinical research studies. The hospital is a member of the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network as a satellite of Columbia University Medical Center. As part of the network, Dr. Skupski is conducting two studies: a randomized trial to prevent Congenital Cytomegalovirus Infection and an observational study of Hepatitis C Virus in pregnancy. Being part of two landmark perinatal research studies allows the hospital and its doctors and specialists to understand and apply the latest learnings to patient care. His research has ranged from issues of multiple gestations, to diagnosis and treatment of fetal conditions, to management of pregnancies complicated by conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and cervical abnormalities. His research success has led to the publication of many peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and he has served on the editorial boards of the Ultrasound Review of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Journal of Maternal Fetal Medicine. The Maternal-Fetal Medicine Unit Network is designed to conduct perinatal studies to improve maternal and fetal outcomes. The major aims of the network are to reduce the rates of preterm birth, fetal growth abnormalities, neurologic sequelae of the newborn, and maternal complications of pregnancy; and to evaluate maternal and fetal interventions for efficacy, safety, and cost-effectiveness.

Dr. Joseph Masci

Elmhurst Hospital Center Director, Department of Medicine

Dr. Joseph Masci’s 30-year career can be characterized by three major themes: medical education, HIV/AIDS treatment and research, and, more recently, global health. Currently serving as the Director of the Department of Medicine at Elmhurst Hospital Center, a position he has held since 2002, Dr. Masci first joined the Mount Sinai School of Medicine faculty in 1982 as an attending physician in infectious diseases. For years, Dr. Masci has been dedicated to teaching aspiring physicians as they’ve progressed in their career, for which he has been recognized with a number of honors, including the Solomon A. Berson Award (1990), the Housestaff Teaching Award (1996) and the Distinguished Educator Award from the Mount Sinai Department of Medicine (1996), among other accolades. Dr. Masci has also worked extensively in HIV/AIDS prevention and research, founding the Elmhurst Hospital AIDS program in 1986, and serving as the Chairman of the HIV Special Needs Plan Program Committee of the Health and Hospitals Corporation. Currently, he is a member of the Quality of Care and Medical Care Criteria Committees of the New York State AIDS Institute. He has also written a book, Outpatient Management of HIV Infection, which published its 4th edition in 2011. In terms of international work, Dr. Masci is currently the project director for two federally funded projects focused on HIV and TB care, in Ethiopia and Russia. He has also worked in international medical education, helping to develop a curriculum in HIV/AIDS care for the Orenburg Medical Academy in the Russian Federation, and has served as a visiting professor for the past two years at the Pavlov University Medical School in St. Petersburg, Russia. For his extensive work abroad, Dr. Masci has received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the United States Agency for International Development, and the Ruth Abramson Award for humanism from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.  Summer 2015 • 21


Dr. Farshid Radparvar Queens Hospital Center Chief of Cardiology

Dr. Farshid Radparvar has worked throughout his tenure to retool the care given heart failure patients at Queens Hospital Center, who traditionally have one of the highest rates of re-admissions. Under his leadership, QHC has taken a patient-centric, multi-disciplinary approach to patients with heart failure, including the creation of a dedicated Heart Failure Unit, established in November 2014, new heart failure clinics, implementation of a heart failure registry to track patients, and new computer programs to help patients learn about the resources available to them, among other initiatives. Dr. Radparvar also played a pivotal role in establishing QHC’s Chest Pain Unit. By cutting down on the number of re-admissions, QHC announced it would be relieving the economic burden that re-admissions have on the health-care system, and more importantly, cutting down on the number of fatal heart failure episodes A significant part of Dr. Radparvar’s work is not just in providing new ideas and infrastructure throughout QHC, but enabling patients to become and stay healthy after they’ve gone home. QHC now provides patients who have experienced heart failure a nurse who helps them set healthy goals for themselves, and achieve those goals. Patients in the cardiology unit are also given patient education materials that provide logs to help them track their weight and physical activity, and chart the progress towards their goals.


22 • Summer 2015

Dr. Pierre Saldinger

New York Hospital Queens Chairman, Department of Surgery

Dr. Pierre Saldinger joined the staff at New York Hospital Queens to lead the effort in expanding the scope and depth of surgical services to increase access for the Queens community. He earned his medical degree Switzerland’s University of Basel School of Medicine and completed a residency in general surgery at Beth Israel Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston and a clinical fellowship in hepatobiliary surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Dr. Saldinger has lectured nationally and internationally on surgery of the pancreas, bile duct and liver, as well as on surgical quality improvement. He is a member of many prestigious societies, including the Society of Surgical Oncology and the Society of University Surgeons and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery. Under his leadership and direction, he added more clinical talent to the hospital’s medical staff in breast surgery, colorectal surgery and neurologic and spine surgery. During his tenure and thanks to his initiatives, some of the hospital’s surgeons now see patients in the community at practices across the borough, including Maspeth Multispecialty Care and Fresh Meadows Surgical Care.

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Dr. Margaret Kemeny

Queens Hospital Center Director, Queens Cancer Center

In a field largely dominated by male practitioners, Dr. Margaret Kemeny has made a name for herself not just as one of the best female surgical oncologists around, but as one of the best in the country. Period. Dr. Kemeny’s path to her current position as director of the Queens Cancer Center at QHC began at Harvard University, where she graduated cum laude, before receiving her medical degree from Columbia. She completed her internship and residency at New York Presbyterian Hospital, the University of Colorado Medical Center, and the Downstate Medical Center. After beginning her career in Duarte, California, just outside Los Angeles, Dr. Kemeny made her way to New York, holding esteemed positions in surgical oncology in Manhattan, Manhasset and Stony Brook before eventually settling at Queens Hospital Center in 2001. Since becoming director of the

Cancer Center, Dr. Kemeny says she has worked to increase the quality of care available to her community. “Our plan is to raise the level and type of cancer care by bringing together the three elements of medical, surgical and radiation oncology and by introducing advanced, state-ofthe-art equipment,” she said. An important advancement and milestone of her career has been a technique she developed for treating patients with liver cancer, in which chemotherapy is administered to patients via a pump into the main artery of the organ. Work like this has gained Dr. Kemeny prestige throughout the medical community. She serves on the National Cancer Institute committees and advisory boards, the Women’s Health Initiative, and on the editorial boards for a number of esteemed medical publications, including the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the American Journal of Surgery, and HPB Surgery: A World

Journal of Hepatic Pancreatic and Billiary Surgery. In addition to selecting and editing articles, Dr. Kemeny has contributed a vast body of work to publications throughout the country, detailing her extensive research. Dr. Kemeny’s work has been recognized by major mainstream publications as well. She has been featured in the perennial favorite New York Magazine annual piece “How to Find the Best Doctors in New York,” as well as in the Castle Connolly Guide’s Top Doctors in the New York Metro Area. Despite all the accolades and strides Dr. Kemeny has made, she has an extensive list of programs and initiatives she hopes to implement as she continues her tenure a director of the center. An immediate goal includes the creation of cancer prevention programs for residents throughout Queens, wherein staff could study different preventative measures and medicines for breast cancer, for example.  Summer 2015 • 25

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LisaVidal Born June 3, 1965 and raised for most of her childhood in Whitestone, Lisa Vidal has worked with some of the most prominent figures in show business, yet she still remains a down-to-earth Queens girl at heart. Lisa attended the High School of the Performing Arts, followed by a stint with the La Familia Theatre Company, where she worked with a cast including Julia Roberts under the tutelage of Raul Julia before moving on to secure her place in Hollywood. We recently had a chance to catch up with Lisa to talk about her rise from the funny girl in class to become one of Hollywood’s hottest – and most respectable – moms. Here’s what we learned: By Chase Collum Photos: Marc Cartwright 28 • Summer 2015

AT A GLANCE • In season four of Miami Vice, Vidal became the only person ever to shoot Crockett as the character Angel. • Her first movie appearance was in the 1985 film Delivery Boys with Evan Handler. • She appeared on The Cosby Show in 1987, I Like It Like That in 1994, and The Commish in 1995; • In 1996, she appeared in 22 episodes of High Incident, as well as 19 episodes of Third Watch from 1999-2001. • In 2009, she appeared in the movie Star Trek. • Vidal married real estate agent Jay Cohen in 1990, and the couple has three children, Scott (1992), Max (1998) and Olivia (2003).  Summer 2015 • 29

Let’s start from the beginning. What was your experience like growing up in Whitestone? We moved to Queens when I was about 11 from the Bronx. My parents didn’t want us growing up in the neighborhood we were living in and I had a cousin who lived in Whitestone, so my parents decided we should move there. It was an interesting experience, in part because there weren’t a lot of Puerto Ricans in Whitestone at that time; it was not very diverse. So, you know, I had to kind of find my place and make friends. But then you know what, if you look at some of my Facebook friends, some of them are friends from Whitestone who I’m still in touch with. And it’s kind of where I discovered my Queens girl. I was such a Bronx girl and then I moved to Whitestone and then it was like, Queens Girl! Me and my sister grew up there, and we loved it and we made it our own. It was there that I discovered that I love to perform. I used to be the funny girl in class.

ting to work as an actress, joining the La Familia theater troupe at the age of 14. What was your experience like working with the likes of Raul Julia and Julia Roberts at that stage of your life? Really, that experience, it was all about shedding any kind of inhibitions that you have as a person and that’s kind of what performing arts and La Familia and my training was really about. We had to learn to be private in public. And that was learning about setting any division aside. You had to learn to expose yourself and be comfortable in your own skin, because as an actor you can’t have any inhibitions. What I mean is, you have to be free enough

in my career and life as an actor. Then Steven Spielberg sent me a fan letter and sent it to my house. He was singing my praises and saying, “I’m so happy I hired you, you’re such a great addition to the show” and “you’re so talented.” I just couldn’t believe that Steven Spielberg was writing me a fan letter. It was for real! I opened it up and I was like, this must be for someone else, this couldn’t be for me. It was so exhilarating. I’ve absolutely adored and admired him since I was a kid and to receive a letter like that, it really did something for my confidence and my selfesteem as an actor. It confirmed I was in the right place and doing the right thing. With your marriage to Jay Cohen in 1990 and giving birth to three children over the next decade or so, how did you manage to maintain your career trajectory? It was both exciting and really, really challenging because I’d always wanted to be a mom first. I’m a real family person; I wanted to have a family I wanted to be married, and that part of my life was very important to me but I was also very passionate about acting and fulfilling that part of my life. It kept just happening together, so that I wasn’t in a position where I had to drop out, so to speak.

“When you’re doing the stuff you love, you find the energy, you find the passion, the motivation and the drive.”

Once you realized that you love to perform, how long did it take before you decided that becoming an actor was your dream? At what point did you realize that you were going to get to live out that dream? I always loved performing. When my parents sent me to camp, if there was a play to audition for or a singing contest, I was the first one signing up. I loved making people laugh, I loved acting, and really right from the start it was something that I really knew I enjoyed. Then, when I went to junior high school we had that big day where all the high schools come, like Bronx Science, and they tell you about their school, and a friend of mine came up to me and was like, “I’m going to the High School of Performing Arts, I’m gonna audition.” I thought, “What’s that?” “Oh, that’s where they teach you how to be an actor and a dancer.” And I was like, “Oh, I want to go to that school!” So that was it—I applied. I didn’t even know at the time what a monologue was. But my mom had a friend who was an actress/model and she gave me The Glass Menagerie and I pulled a monologue out of there. And that was it. That was my audition. It was terrifying. I had to really kind of expose myself in front of people I didn’t know and I was so young, but it was the most fun. I got accepted and I was a drama major. You definitely didn’t waste any time get30 • Summer 2015

to be expressive and that was what the whole point of the training I had. At La Familia, I got to take acting classes with Raul Julia and that was amazing. It was a repertory theater with mostly minorities, and it was really kind of New York street style. The exposure I got, the experience we got, it was incredible and I learned so much. Of all the experiences you’ve had in your career - from being the only person ever to shoot Crockett on Miami Vice to working on The Cosby Show to some of your more recent work such as the Star Trek film in 2009 - did you ever have an “a-ha moment” when you became absolutely sure that you were on the right path? I would say that moment came when I had a deal with ABC. Well, first of all, I got cast in this two-hour spin-off pilot and it was me starring with Michael Chiklis (The Commish, The Shield). I was terrified because I would be carrying the whole pilot, but it was also at that moment that I decided, “I can do this,” that I was successful and I could do it and it was going to be great. As scary as it was, it was like moving toward those things that we fear the most. You know what I mean? From that pilot, I got cast in a Steven Spielberg show for ABC called High Incident. He used to come in and direct some of the episodes, and it was just amazing. I mean starring on a series, I felt like I had crossed over. It was life changing for me – a turning point

I had a lot of work coming my way and I had a tremendous support group, my family – my parents, my sister, my grandmother, my husband – I mean, everyone was supportive; it was my village. Because I was succeeding, everyone was willing to be a part of helping that process. I was really one of the lucky ones. I was able to enjoy having my family and a lucrative career that just kind of kept growing and moving forward. I mean, it’s not for the meek. It’s been hard. I’ve been nursing in the middle of the night and had to know my lines with a 6 a.m. call to be on set. But I was up for the challenge. It was hard work but I was doing everything I loved. I was being a mom and I had my kids, and I was being a part of something that I loved, and it was all good. When you’re doing the stuff you love, you find the energy, you find the passion, the motivation and the drive. Right now you’re working on the BET show Being Mary Jane opposite Gabrielle Union, which just got picked up for another season. Tell us about your character on that show, Kara Lynch, and how that role has evolved over the  Summer 2015 • 31

course of the show so far. Are there some parallels for you as a working mother? Oh yeah, I mean totally. My life has always been a balancing act and my character’s life has definitely been a balancing act. I would say that she speaks to and represents a lot of women today who are working mothers who are challenged by wanting their careers – actually, most of the time needing their careers because both parents have to work – and also wanting that side of their domesticity, wanting to be mothers and wives. It’s a real balancing act, and sometimes you drop some balls. That’s what I like about these characters. They’re not perfect, they’re flawed. They make mistakes, you know, and that’s important to represent because that’s reality. I think I can relate to Kara and that’s why I love playing her. A woman who’s in a power position under so much pressure to conform, but also to be better - better than the men, better than her peers. So she’s juggling a lot of balls and I like the way some of them fall and then she finds herself trying to pick up the pieces from there. I can identify with that. You know, as women, we try to be all things to all people, and it’s not easy. But most of the time we’re up for the challenge. And most of the time we do a pretty damn good job. The creative producer, Mary Brock Akil, she and I had a three-hour lunch and talked about the character and she told me the direction Kara was going in, and that she wanted Kara to represent the working mother and the challenges that arise from that. I was so excited about that because I have so many friends who are working mothers – in the industry and outside the industry – and being able to be honest with a character is really exciting. She talked to me about some of the challenges that Kara was going to be having, and sometimes how she sacrifices too much from her family and her husband and there are consequences that come along with that. She wanted Kara to have to deal with those consequences. It sounded really exciting and interesting. I love conflict because we deal with it every day. Can you tell us a little bit about the direction the current season took viewers? The show definitely got sexier and things happen in Kara and Mary Jane’s relationship. They’re both passionate women, they’re opinionated, and they’re strong. They can be fearless but they’re flawed, and there are some issues that come up with these women. You see a lot more of Kara’s personal life develop and more conflict there. Like every woman who goes through a divorce, she’s looking for love and afraid of finding it. It’s really challenging when you’ve 32 • Summer 2015

been burned, when you’ve given your heart away and it gets crushed. You know, dealing with the issue of “does a man want a woman with a family and a career woman.” She’s bossy, she’s in charge, and she’s got issues, Kara. [Laughs] Are there any other projects in the pipeline for you at the moment? I am involved in trying to get into some producing and developing some projects. That’s something I’ve always wanted to do, to create something. So I’m getting involved in that and working on a few things on the side there. And I recently did a film called Victor, which was a beautiful film. It was a period piece and based on a true story about this man named Victor Torres and how his life was really destroyed by heroin and drugs. It’s back in the 1950s when a lot of Puerto Ricans came to New York and things didn’t go that well. A lot of the neighborhoods, there was a lot of heroin. So it’s this man’s beautiful life story and how he overcame that and he became one of the most influential pastors in the country. Actually in the world, as well, because he has programs in other countries. I play his mother who was really his champion and who pulls him out of the depths of darkness. We’re hoping to get a release

date soon and we hope that it comes out soon, too, so everyone can go see it. As a Puerto Rican woman, a wife, a mother and an actress, do you ever find yourself filling an ambassadorial role to other Puerto Rican women? Do you find yourself gravitating toward certain types of roles more than others? You know, it’s funny, I like to play roles that everyone can relate to, but I definitely do consciously choose roles that have a strong opinion or representation of positivity. I am pretty proud of my culture and where I come from and it is important to me how I represent Latina women. That has always been in the back of my mind, although first and foremost I’m an actress, so it really it is about telling someone’s story. But I am careful about what I choose to do. I do seek out roles that champion women. Is there anything else you’d like to say to your fans in Queens? Well first, my little girl wants me to say that I love my daughter, and she wants to say hi [Daughter Olivia yells ‘Hi!’ into the phone, and assures us that she’s good.] But also I want my fans in Queens to know that I am a proud Queens girl that will always love my home. That’s where my heart is and it always will be. So a shout out to my Queens people because I love them.

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La Ninez Mexicana De NYC

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RAVTV Big Cheese Comedy Experience

Technically Tomorrow  Summer 2015 • 35


36 • Summer 2015



With his specialty gin Queens Courage on shelves throughout the tri-state area, Chris Murillo’s ambitions aren’t subsiding. He’s trying to open the first craft distillery in Queens since prohibition, with a wide variety of spirits that reflect the cultural diversity of the borough.

BY PATRICK KEARNS  Summer 2015 • 37

Chris Murillo has a chance to do something nobody has done in Queens in over a century: open a craft distillery. Not since prohibition was ratified as the law of the land has a spirit been produced within the borders of Queens. While every participant in the recent craft brewing and distilling zeitgeist zigs, Murillo zags, and that’s what makes him and his product, Queens Courage, unique. “It really kinda came from this idea that nobody’s doing it in Queens,” Murillo said in his Astoria office on a Monday afternoon. “Queens has this phenomenal cultural heritage and diversity. Wouldn’t it be awesome to do a distillery that celebrates that diversity and that cultural heritage?” The idea started modestly enough: on New Year’s Eve 2011 – with a cocktail in hand, of course – Murillo came up with the idea. He wanted to do something that nobody was doing in the borough, a place he and his wife had called home since moving from Manhattan in 2008. At the time, Murillo was an attorney with no practical experience in the spirits business.

distributing myself on the back of while it works well with any classic gin-based cocktail, it’s also a great my bicycle,” he said. drink neat because of that roundHe explained that he’d ride around ed taste. Astoria and pop into bars and liquor stores to make his sales pitch. “It took us a year and half to formulate [the gin] because The flavor of the gin can speak for we were doing someitself, but the aspect of it bething so new, that hadn’t ing a local prodreally been produced for uct - a 100 years,” Murillo explained. “I think that’s why we picked gin, because we thought it would be a great opportunity to revive this kind of spirit.”

distiller you can actually meet and talk to - had a large draw in the infant stages. Queens Courage is made with 100 percent New York wheat to create the base and 100 percent of the honey – which adds a touch of sweetness – is from New York (including a nearby rooftop Murillo pointed to outside his Astoria office window).

But he began the process of developing an idea for a spirit and educating himself on every aspect of opening and operating a distill- Queens Courage is an Old Tomery. The most important aspect of style gin, a slightly sweetened that: creating the perfect spirit. style popular in the 1800s. Prior to prohibition, it was a ubiquitous “There’s room for craft distillers, spirit. Most bars carried it and it but you still need to be bringing was used how vodka is used pressomething unique to the market,” ently: as a great base for creative Murillo said. “Coming up with mixed drinks and cocktails. As our idea for a first spirit, which is vodka gained popularity, the Old Queens Courage, was part of that Tom style began to fade. process. We spent over a yearand-a-half developing it to make “With the renaissance of classure it was absolutely superlative sic cocktails and with bartenders and also unique.” creating new classics, I thought it would be a great opportunity to In the summer of 2014, after quit- actually recreate one of these Old ting his job, Murillo also made his Tom gins,” Murillo said. “There first sale. While Queens Cour- was only a handful on the market age is available at bars and liquor and that was the opportunity we stores throughout New York and wanted to capture.” New Jersey (just use the locator on the Queens Courage website), Murillo says the gin has a “beauit’s something that Murillo had to tiful round flavor profile,” that you grow himself organically. don’t typically associate with gins. With a smaller amount of juniper, it “For the first couple months, I was has less of a fresh pine taste. And 38 • Summer 2015

With the signature spirit on the market, the focus shifts back to Queens. Folks from Buffalo to the North Fork can go out and purchase Queens Courage to add to their liquor cabinet, but Murillo has bigger plans for the future. He’s still looking at opening the first craft distillery in Queens, to create more spirits and host different events and tastings. Murillo wants to create signature cocktails that reflect the diversity of the borough, flavors that compliment the myriad cultures available in just a short ride along the 7 train. Tastes as diverse as Queens, that’s what Murillo is working towards.


1 tbsp kumquat puree 2 oz Queens Courage 3/4 oz chamomile tea 3-4 dashes of cherry liqueur Combine ingredients, except cherry liqueur, in mixing vessel and shake with ice. Strain into tumbler filled with fresh ice and add cherry liqueur. Kumquat Puree: blend 4-5 seeded kumquats with 3 tablespoons of sugar.

JITTERBUG PERFUME 1/2 oz rosemary syrup 1/2 oz Barrow’s Intense ginger liqueur 1/2 oz lemon juice 1 1/2 oz Queens Courage (infused with beets) Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with rosemary sprig (optional). Rosemary Syrup: pour 1 cup hot simple syrup over 3 tablespoons of rosemary leaves. Steep for 12-16 hrs and strain. Queens Courage Beet Infusion: peel and cube one beet for every cup of Queens Courage. Macerate at room temperature for 48 hours and strain.

THE LITTLE BIRD 1/2 oz rosemary syrup 1/2 oz lemon juice 1 1/2 oz Queens Courage Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon peel (optional). Rosemary Syrup: pour 1 cup hot simple syrup over 3 tablespoons of rosemary leaves. Steep for 12-16 hrs and strain.  Summer 2015 • 39

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The restaurant scene in Queens has steadily changed in the past couple of years. While the borough has always been known for its diverse cuisine, this new culinary Renaissance is steering away from the typical quick and cheap eats. Instead, chefs are starting to concentrate more on quality food and experience. But how do you know where to go when there are hundreds, if not thousands, of restaurants available? These five veteran chefs were chosen because they exemplify finedining. Their passion for creating truly superior food certainly shines through. They all have a tendency to go out on a limb to create exquisite dishes that we mere mortals can’t even dream of. From Mexican to New American and Vietnamese,

they each cook food that is better than grub at any Manhattan or Brooklyn establishment, but with prices that won’t break the bank. Some have been given recognition by the respected Michelin Guide while others are steadily on the rise. Each chef has developed a loyal following which is bound to escalate in the upcoming years. Their stories are as good as their dishes. Whether they’ve traveled through Europe for inspiration or learned how to cook on a Ecuadorian sugar cane farm, each chef has a unique story that drives their determination to elevate the borough’s restaurant scene. They each bring something special to this melting pot.



On a stretch of Ridgewood defined by its factories, loading docks and delivery trucks, it’s impressive that Bun-Ker Vietnamese has managed to stay in business. So when the restaurant received Michelin recognition for good cuisine at reasonable prices, it made everything a little bit sweeter. After all, the road to their current success was a risky one. Owner-chef Jimmy Tu said the space wasn’t even originally intended for a restaurant. “We were in the pro-

cess of opening up a seafood supply company,” Tu said. “We were going to sell fish, but then Hurricane Sandy came along and created a lot of damage to the business.” Along with his brother Jacky, the former CEO of Korilla BBQ food truck and now Tu’s sous-chef, and childhood skateboarding pals Roy Zapanta and Shea Hsu, the group of friends decided to open up a restaurant in its place after falling short on cash. The decision to stay in Queens,

JIMMY TU & ROY ZAPANTA even in industrial Ridgewood, was an easy one. “Queens is home to us all,” Tu said. “We grew up in Elmhurst and we wanted to create authentic and quality Vietnamese food for the commu-


Fans of French-Canadian chef Hugue Dufour were upset when they heard that the original M. Well’s Steakhouse in Long Island City had shut down due to rent issues in 2011. Although Dufour and his wife, Sarah Obraitis, opened up the M. Wells Dinette within MoMa’s PS1 museum, it still hadn’t captured the originally wild and unpredictable restaurant dining experience that they had

become known for. “We were upset that the rent kept increasing because the landlord saw the traffic coming into the diner,” Dufour said. “We had to leave but we eventually opened the dinette to earn enough money that we could reopen our own M. Wells.” You can easily walk by the joint without realizing it’s a restaurant that was awarded a Michelin star in 2015. Funnily

42 • Summer 2015

enough, Dufour originally sought out a place that could fit something else he really wanted: a boat. He’ll have to keep looking for a place because the second M. Wells has taken off. There are a fair amount of dishes that have placed Dufour’s cooking on the tips of everyone’s lips. At a Brooklyn food festival, he once served grilled cheese sandwiches that contained foie gras, pork fat and horse meat. He wanted to serve a dish featuring horse meat CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE

nity.” His take on simply divine Vietnamese street food like beef pho and papaya salad won over fans in places like the New York Times and the television show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Drives” within a matter of months. It may seem like nothing short of destiny, but it’s Tu’s talent and passion that drove the restaurant to success. The self-taught chef fell into cooking at his father’s old Chinese restaurant in Manhattan. When he got older, he ended up working at the fine-dining restaurant Eleven Madison Park, where he trained in French and American cuisine. His parents are ethnically Chinese but had lived in Vietnam, and Tu traveled to the country several times to learn more about Vietnamese cuisine and cooking

techniques. His food is as authentic as it gets. The chef has mastered difficult dishes such as the Cha Ca dish, which consists of salmon covered in turmeric, ginger and fermented shrimp paste alongside vermicelli noodles. Another crowd pleaser is the jumbo lump crab fried rice with curry, dried shrimp, pineapple and basil. And although foot traffic was a bit slow in the beginning, now hungry visitors are willing to wait an hour outside of the cramped space just for the chance to sample crispy softshell crab or lemongrass chicken banh mi. Oh, and don’t expect any upscale decor when you visit. The Asian meets surfer dude and skateboarder atmosphere is meant to create a warm and chill hang out spot in your otherwise hectic life.


at his restaurant, but there was too much public backlash to go through with it. At M. Well’s Dinette, there was a dish featuring chicken blood straight from the butcher. And at his current restaurant, the classic crowd pleaser is Truite Au Bleu. The dish is such a staple that he created a two-ton trough near the bar that houses the live Cold Spring trout. Dufour first heard about the meal after reading about it in an Ernest Hemingway novel. He explained that the game plan is simple, and all you need to do is “kill it, gut it, drown it in a white vinegar for a couple of seconds, then poach it in salty courtbouillon.” Unlike most chefs who believe in cooking meals that are in demand, Dufour wants people to experience something that they


haven’t had before. “Unconventional food is tricky but it is important to offer so that people can enjoy different things that they would have never thought of trying before,” Dufour said. “How are people going to know if they like something if they have never tried it?” After meeting in Florida, Dufour moved to Queens to be closer to the love of his life. Little did he know that he would take the borough to extremes. And Queens has certainly become his second home over cutthroat Manhattan. “To me, Queens is the better place because this is where real people live and work,” he said. “I’d take a train to Grand Central Terminal and enjoy a meal at The Oyster Bar, but that’s as far into Manhattan that I’ll go.” JULIAN MEDINA

TACUBA MEXICAN CANTINA 35-01 36TH ST. the neighborhood where he lived nearly 20 ASTORIA years ago. He was pleased to see that the

Nine months ago, chef-owner Julian Medina opened up Tacuba Mexican Cantina in Astoria. Medina, who hails from Mexico City, envisioned a restaurant that would provide an upscale standard to Mexican food. It’s also the result of years’ worth of risks the chef has taken. Medina grew interested in cooking after watching his father and grandfather in the kitchen. Then 16-year-old Medina started following his role models and began cooking as a hobby. Once he graduated prep school, he was unsure if he could make it as a chef. “Back then, being a chef wasn’t as popular,” Medina said. “It only got trendy about a decade ago, but at that time it was difficult because there were just a few culinary schools in Mexico.” Still, Medina tested his passion for the culinary world by applying to various restaurant jobs. He began as an unpaid hourly worker but eventually earned a spot at a hotel restaurant when a chef hadn’t shown up to work one day. From there, the rest is history. He worked at the hotel for three years before deciding it was time to see the world beyond Mexico City. A friend used a connection in New York to land him an interview, and while he was rejected at first, the company asked him back within the next day and he has been cooking here ever since. Fast forward to present day and Medina has ownership in seven restaurants around the city. Through his experience, he has developed advice for anyone who wants to cook for a living, whether they are currently an executive chef or an intern. “It’s important to know about numbers, how to run the place, how much food costs and how to manage money,” Medina said. “Yes, sitting in the office doing numbers is boring and cooking is more fun to do, but it’s important to know every single detail.” He chose to open Tacuba in Astoria because he believed there was potential for a casual yet swanky Mexican restaurant in

size of the space was perfectly matched for his vision of Tacuba as a chic city restaurant and bar, contrary to typical Mexican restaurants that usually do not emphasize decor and atmosphere as much as food. “We try to elevate it a little bit,” he said. “Mexican food has always been big here, but what sets us apart is that we are able to seat much more people than the traditional Mexican restaurants and we also play more with the menu.” One of Medina’s favorite dishes is the lobster ceviche, an exclusive Tacuba dish. He also recommends the aguachile en molcajete dish which features lobster, shrimp, jalapeño, avocado, a cilantro and cucumber-lime mixture. But, in all honesty, there are options up and down the menu to please anyone.



“I worked in restaurants in places like Danny Brown’s restaurant first received a Michelin star back in 2011 and has con- France and Italy, and when you work in a restaurant that’s more formal, you go out sistently been on the list ever since. and see a differHe has certainly come a long “There is definitely something ence in nightlife and way from cooking here in Queens and especially in wine bars,” Brown said. “It was fun, at Bridgewater’s Forest Hills.” exciting and they South Street were very casual Seaport Catering in Lower Manhattan as a teenager. Back atmospheres.” His travels also inspired the type of cuithen, he only cooked in order to make enough money to support his rock band sine he shares with locals in his native Forest Hills. His menu is stocked with reinterpreted dreams. And although his parents were in the classic European dishes. One of his favorite wine business and he grew up lending a dishes so far was the Hare Royal, a French hand whenever they hosted wine dinners, dish from the 1700s featuring wild rabbit. Brown also claimed that the customer his wine bar and restaurant wasn’t inspired by those particular experiences. Instead, has great power over what dish ends up on Brown found inspiration while traveling the constantly changing menu. He believes CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE  Summer 2015 • 43


Although Casa del Chef only opened in late 2014, the restaurant and its owner-chef Alfonso Zhicay are already forces to be reckoned with. In an area filled with cheap eats from around the world, this New American fine-dining Woodside restaurant can easily compete with any top-notch Manhattan joint. After all, Zhicay has experience working in famed city establishments such as Union Pacific and Bouley Bakery since arriving in New York in 1994. Zhicay is from Ecuador, which is where his passion for cooking stems from. He grew up on a sugar cane farm and claimed that “just being raised there around all of my mom’s cooking with the best and freshest ingredients helped influence me on the type of chef I became.” He carried that passion for quality ingredients when he began working with fellow chef Dan Barber at Blue Hill NYC. Zhicay worked his way up to head catering chef and manager when the company expanded within the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills. There, he sourced food from the center’s four-season farm, fields and pastures to create an ever-changing menu. To this day, Zhicay maintains a fresh farmto -table dinner by stocking Casa del Chef with items from a nearby market. “My biggest focus is to work with the small community of local farmers,” Zhicay said. “They offer beautiful produce every Sunday in the Jackson Heights Greenmarket that I enjoy using.” Fresh fruit and vegetable availability has allowed him to play around with unique meal options for a limited time before switching it up again. On special occasions such as New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day, Zhicay’s entire lineup changes into what he calls “tasting menus.” What works as a pleasant surprise for restaurant-goers, they are offered three to five seasonal courses that go anywhere from spinach risotto to butternut squash soup with parmesan foam to chicha, an Ecuadorian fruit confit with a lemongrass infusion. Crowd favorites to watch out for include the fresh lobster, rack of lamb and short ribs. Working with his brother, Florencio, and his daughter, Sandra, Casa del Chef’s manager, the family looks forward to bring their community meals that are a bit unexpected. “People get excited when a restaurant does something different besides just a straightforward menu.” 44 • Summer 2015


their feedback can be the biggest influence on how a chef cooks. Interacting with customers is imperative, especially since he knows many of them personally. Brown grew up just five blocks from the restaurant. He much prefers the residential neighborhood over places like SoHo, where he used to work. “Working in Manhattan has a transient aspect to it,” he said. “This is an area where people are mostly from around here or have ties to it.” He’s also quite pleased with the new dining options that have popped up around the neighborhood. When he opened nearly 10 years ago, there weren’t many out-of-thebox establishments. But now, there are gastro pubs, places selling craft beers and more wine bars. “It shows some thought,” Brown said “There is definitely something here in Queens and especially in Forest Hills.”



GooD EatS DineR, the newest addition to Grand Avenue in Maspeth. Located right off of 69th Place, the cozy yet elegantly styled eatery offers everything from scrambled eggs to steaks. Owned and operated by the Kolombos family, Good Eats offers a comfortable environment and friendly service, seven days a week. Heart, Soul, and top notch ingredients all combine for an elite dining experience. Come by and see what the entire neighborhood is buzzing about.

G oo D EatS 718-478-2420 | 69-32 Grand Ave Maspeth, NY 11378


FULLY INVESTED "Diversity is the key to building a successful financial strategy."

Vincent C. Renda is a financial advisor with Edward Jones, and has been serving the Sunnyside, Queens Community for over 10 years. Renda grew up in Sunnyside, and understands the values and needs of the community.

Vincent is an active member of the community, serving as Vice President of the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Astoria, as an active member of the Kiwanis Club, and has been awarded multiple service awards by presitigous institutions.

Using a personal, holistic approach, Renda's five step program focuses on your financial needs. "Vinny went above and beyond for me," said one Sunnyside resident we spoke with. Robert, who is technician with IBM technician commented, "Vincent didn't blow smoke. He talked with me, and educated me on the benefits of a long term financial plan, and his level of support was much higher compared to my previous experience with Morgan Stanley." "Vinny helped me better understand my portfolio, and I highly recommend him to anyone looking to build a strong financial plan."

"I believe that it's important to invest my time to understand what you're working toward before you invest your money," says Vincent. By working closely with you and your CPA, attorney and other professionals, he can help determine the most appropriate financial strategy for you and your family. Vincent C Renda's office is located at 4701 Queens Blvd Suite 203 Sunnyside, NY 11104. He can be reached at 718.361.1306.  Summer 2015 • 47



As the current head strength and conditioning coach of the Orlando Magic, and former strength and conditioning coach for the New York Knicks, staying active isn't only a priority for me... it's my job. What's great about this park fitness routine, is that you have the opportunity to get stronger and fit-ter, while enjoying the beautiful parks that Queens has to offer. I will provide instruction for these basic but effective bodyweight exercises: Pull-ups, Dips, Step-ups, Sit-ups, and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This regimen will help improve stability, balance, overall strength and burn calories. These simple bodyweight exercises, in collaboration with HIIT Training can be easily executed in your local parks. Not every park has a workout area, so my #1 HIIT workout can be executed at any park with a track, field or even a small multi-purpose area. To get the most out of your training session outdoors, create a fitness map in which you will create several stations that have a designated body weight exercise in which you can either walk to, jog to, or sprint to each station, which increases the intensity of the workout. So, work hard and have fun while you “GET BETTER, WHILE ENJOYING THE WEATHER!”

48 • Summer 2015

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

Target Areas: Cardiovascular Conditioning Total Body Conditioning

Warm up by stretching, jogging and doing some dynamic mobility work, (squats, lunges, jumping jacks, etc.) in order to get your body primed and ready for HIIT Training. A HIIT workout on the track will combine jogging, sprinting and bodyweight exercise to maximize fat burning, strength building and cardiovascular capacity. HIIT CIRCUIT: 1. Jog for 30 seconds 2. Sprint for 15 seconds 3. Bodyweight exercise for 30 seconds (squats, lunges, planks, pushups, etc.) 4. Rest for 30 seconds *Repeat for 5 sets*

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www.itsqueens.comâ&#x20AC;&#x201A; Summer 2015 â&#x20AC;˘ 49

Pull Ups Target Areas: Upper Back | Core | Arms

Place your hands shoulderwidth apart on the bar with an overhand grip. Let yourself hang from the bar while engaging your core.

Maurice Park, M

Pull your body up with your legs slightly forward in order to engage your core. Once your chin reaches the bar, begin to lower yourself back to the starting position. Sets: 3 | Reps: 10-15 Rest 1 Minute


Dips Target Areas: Chest | Triceps | Core

Start with your hands on the bar, shoulder width apart in a 90-degree angle. Begin to push yourself up (make sure that your arms are fully extended) while activating your core and ensuring that there is an imaginary straight line from your shoulders all the way down to your ankles. Once you are in the up position, begin to lower yourself down to a point where your arms are at a 90-degree angle. Sets: 3 | Reps: 20-25 | Rest 1 Minute 50 â&#x20AC;˘ Summer 2015â&#x20AC;&#x201A;

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Sit Ups Target Areas: Core | Abs | Obliques

Have your knees bent and the balls of your feet and heels placed flat on bench. Tighten your abdominal muscles gently by drawing in your belly button to your spine. Lift your torso up from the bench until you're at a 90-degree angle or when the elbows are on, or past, the knees. Hold the position for a second. Slowly bring the torso back to the floor but try to keep it slightly elevated off the ground.

Victory Field, Woodhaven

Sets: 3 | Reps: 15-20 | Rest 1 Minute

Step Ups Begin with one leg on the bench and the other leg on the floor. The quad muscle of your leg on the bench should be parallel with the park training surface to avoid placing any unwanted stress on the knee.

Sets: 3 | Reps: 15-20 | Rest 1 Minute 52 â&#x20AC;˘ Summer 2015â&#x20AC;&#x201A;


Step up onto the bench while flexing the opposite knee. Once you are in the up position you will be standing on one leg for balance. Lower yourself back to the starting position and then repeat with the opposite leg.

Juniper Park East, Middle Villag

Target Areas: Quads | Glutes | Hamstrings

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54 • Summer 2015

Entertainment Calendar The Little Neck Douglaston Memorial Day Parade This parade is known as the largest in the NYC area and one of the biggest gatherings in the country. It will run on Northern Boulevard from Jayson Ave. to 245th Street. @ 2p.m. | Little Neck/ Douglaston The Whitestone Memorial Day Parade The parade will kick-off at 149th Street and 15th Drive! @ 12 p.m. | Whitestone THURSDAY, MAY 28 36th Anniversary Annual Gala Come celebrate the borough’s diversity, arts and community. There will be food, fun and friends waiting for you! NY1 reporter Ruschell Boone will be the night’s emcee. @ 6 p.m. | Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., Flushing

SATURDAY, MAY 23 World’s Fair Train Show All aboard! Grab the “express” for a train ride throughout the Garden. Then check out working G scale models make their way through an outdoor display that also features a miniature of the World’s Fair Unisphere. The event runs from May 23 to 25 @ 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. | Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main St., Flushing. Woodside Festival The festival runs on Woodside Avenue from 63rd Street to Roosevelt Avenue. @ 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. | Woodside SUNDAY, MAY 24 The Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade The parade starts at Metropolitan and Ascan Avenues and continues west to Remsen Memorial Park at Trotting Course Lane. @ 12 p.m. | Forest Hills The Maspeth Memorial Day Parade The parade begins at Walter A. Garlinge Memorial Park. The festivities include the Colors Mass at Monument and memorial services for deceased veterans of WWII Korea, Vietname, Persian Gulf & Operation Iraqi Freedom. @ 1 p.m. | 72nd St. and Grand Ave., Maspeth MONDAY, MAY 25 Broadway Astoria Festival The street festival, sponsored by Broadway Merchants & Professionals, will taake place along Broadway from Steinway to Crescent Street. | Astoria

Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men This major exhibition explores the creative process behind Mad Men. It includes a large-scale set of Don Draper’s office and the kitchen from the Drapers’ Ossining home. There will also be 25 iconic costumes, props, video clips, advertising art and personal notes and research material from series creator Matthew Weiner. Ongoing until June 14. | Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Ave., Astoria FRIDAY, MAY 29 From Gulf to Gulf to Gulf A part the exhibition After Midnight Indian Modernism To Contemporary India 1947/1997. This film is a result of four years of dialogue, friendship and exchange between CAMP and a group of sailors from Kutch. Their travels and those of co-seafarers from Sindh, Baluchistan and Southern Iran show us a world cut into many pieces, not easily bridged by nostalgics or nationalists. Instead, the artist’s follow the physical crossings made by these groups of people who make and sail boats and who also make videos, sometimes with songs married to them. @ 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. | Queens Museum, Flushing Meadows Corona Park

of incredible performances featuring the musical saw. @ 2 p.m. | Trinity Church, 31-18 37th St., Astoria Galapagos: Nature’s Wonderland in 3D Now through June 30, a screening of the 3D movie where viewers travel to the Galapagos archipelago and meet giant half-ton tortoises and marine iguanas that spit sea-salt from their noses. Narrated by Jeff Corwin. Monday – Friday @ 11 am & 2 pm; Saturday & Sunday @ 1 & 3 pm. | New York Hall of Science, 47-01 111th St, Corona Music for Brass and Percussion: For The Uncommon Woman The Astoria Symphony Orchestra presents music for Brass and Percussion, featuring Joan Tower’s celebratory Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman and Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyrie. @ 8 p.m. | Mt. Caramel Church, 23-25 Newtown Ave., Astoria OYE Corona! A free monthly cultural celebration with live music concerts of local and global talent. Dance and connect with each other in Corona Plaza, our neighborhood public pedestrian plaza. Oye Corona is a celebration of art, music and exercise in diverse forms. @ 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. | Corona Plaza, 103rd St. & Roosevelt Avenue, Corona SUNDAY, MAY 31 Click, Clack, Moo! When his granddaughter Jenny comes for a visit, Farmer Brown declared the farm a “tech-free zone.” So the cows go on strike and the chickens join them in solidarity. A “moo-ving” musical about negotiation and compromise. @ 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. | Queens Theatre, 111-01 Corona Ave., Flushing Meadows Corona Park

SATURDAY, MAY 30 Musical Saw Festival Watch a variety  Summer 2015 • 55

JUNE 2015: WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3 Monthly Jazz Clinic: Songbook of Ella Fitzgerald If you are interested in learning about jazz or playing alongside talented musicians, attend the clinic and stay for the jam session later on. For high school students and up. @ 6 p.m. | Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., Flushing Monthly Jazz Jam Come join the Queens Jazz OverGround as they lead the house band in this monthly jazz session. @ 7 p.m. | Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., Flushing THURSDAY, JUNE 4 Long Island City Block Party The American Folk Art Museum Annex will host a block party featuring live entertainment, refreshments and a tour of the museum’s new annex. There will also be a live performance by LaLa Brooks, former lead singer of The Crystals. @ 6 to 8 p.m.| 33rd Street between 47th and 48th Avenues FRIDAY, JUNE 5 Living in the Age of Airplanes June 5 – 30, 2015; Watch this immersive film experience from National Geographic Studios that takes viewers on a journey through 95 locations in 18 countries. Narrated by actor and pilot Harrison Ford, it offers a fresh perspective on a modern-day miracle that many of us take

for granted: flying. Runs from June 5 to June 30. Monday –Friday @ 1 pm; Saturday & Sunday, @ 12 p.m. & 3 p.m. | New York Hall of Science, 4701 111th St, Corona Stable Views: Life in the Backstretch Thoroughbred Racetracks Explore the community of the thoroughbred racetracks such as Belmont. The backstretch includes the world of trainers, exercise riders, jockeys and saddle makers. Ongoing until June 28. @ 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. | Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., Flushing SATURDAY, JUNE 6 LGBTQ Voices

To kick off Pride week, artists of all disciplines, incluging music, dance, spoken word/poetry, theater and performance art will come together in conjunction with Flushing Town Hall. @ 5 p.m. | Diversity Plaza, 37th Rd. at 74th St., Jackson Heights Two Trees in Balance Through drawing, photography and sculpture, artist Gabriella Albergaria seeks to examine and deconstruct the cultural and social beliefs surrounding images of the natural. Her exhibit will feature a 10foot concrete wall adorned with two suspended trees. Ongoing through August 30. @ 10 a.m. to sunset | Socrates

Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City SUNDAY, JUNE 7 World’s Fair Anniversary Festival Celebrate the 75th and 50th anniversaries of the NYC World’s Fair with different cuisines from around the world as well as cultural music and dances. @ 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. | Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park Suspect Terrain Fasnacht details the creation and aftermath of a sinkhole. In Fasnacht’s vision, the particularities of fragmentation span 30-feet above ground and are detailed in painted plywood, a standin for the cement, asphalt, and rock substrate that the sculpture maps. Fasnacht’s surface was inspired by striking media coverage and documentation of massive sinkholes, including the pit created in the Shenzhen region of China and the 2010 occurrence in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Ongoing through August 30. @ 10 a.m. to sunset | Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City Design Your Own Racing Silks Workshop Meet Antoinette Brocklebank, a silk maker for jockeys a

56 • Summer 2015

through August 30. @ 10 a.m. to sunset | Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City

Belmont Race Track. If you bring your own t-shirt, you can design your own outfit using provided fabric paint. For ages 8 and up. @ 1 p.m. | Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., Flushing The Queens Memory Project Make your memories of the World’s Fairs part of history and get your family photos digitized for free! In conjunction with the World’s Fair Anniversary celebration, staff from the Queens Memory Project will scan your photographs, postcards and other memorabilia and save them to a thumbdrive you can take home. @ 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. | Queens Museum, Flushing Meadows Corona Park SUNDAY, JUNE 13 Strawberry Festival Come try the best strawberry shortcake in New York City. @

12 p.m. to 4 p.m. | Onderdonk House, 1820 Flushing Ave., Flushing Center of Attention Visitors are invited for a monthly opportunity to deeply engage with the Museum’s collection through hour-long conversations on single works of art. This month’s work of art will be the sculpture Nameless. Free. @ 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. | Noguchi Museum, 9-01 33rd Rd., LIC. The Living Pyramid This spring a major project by New York City-based artist Agnes Denes will add life to the city’s skyline with a curving pyramid. Titled The Living Pyramid, Denes’s new large-scale, site-specific earthwork will span 30 feet at its four-sided base and ascend 30 feet high, created from several tons of soil and planted grasses. Ongoing

SATURDAY, JUNE 20 Louis Armstrong’s Wonderful World The second annual festival celebrating the life and legacy of one of America’s musical icons, Louis Armstrong’s Wonderful World is a day of music, food, and fun in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Featuring performances by Ms. Lauryn Hill, Antibalas, Ozomatli, Rebirth Brass Band, Shannon Powell’s Traditional All-Star Band. The day recreates the memorable garden parties that Louis hosted for his friends and neighbors at his home in Corona where he lived for almost 30 years. @ All day | Queens Museum, Flushing Meadows Corona Park SUNDAY, JUNE 21 Make Music New York Concert While you shop, stop and listen to performers such as Ken Voisin, TJ Fox, Bailey Poteat, Mercury Morning and The Liasons. @ 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. | The Shops at Atlas Park, 8000 Cooper Ave., Glendale Red Beans and Ricely Yours: Louis Armstrong and Food Examine Satchmo’s love affair with cuisines from around the world through fun photographs, Lucille’s recipe cards, various menus and other souvenirs, and odes to his “birthmark:” red beans and rice. Ongoing through October 4. @ 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. | Louis Armstrong House Museum, 34-56 107th St. Corona Alley Pond Park Adventure Course: The Alley Pond Park Adventure Course offers free outdoor adventure that fosters trust, communication, and team

building. The program is two-hour adventure which includes both low and high elements. The Adventure Course is open for individuals, small groups of friends, and family. Space is Limited. Open to ages 8 and up. Minors must be accompanied by an adult. Valid photo identificaiton required. Sneakers required. For the months of July and August pre-registration is required. @ 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. | Alley Pond Park, Glen Oaks Magic of Motown Enjoy Fathers Day listening to the sounds of your favorite Motown classics. @ 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. | George Seuffret Bandshell, Forest Park MONDAY, JUNE 22 Dancing Under the Stars Enjoy free ballroom dance lessons for people of all levels. @ 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. | Wallenberg Square, Forest Park NY Phil Concerts in the Parks: Cunningham Park The New York Philharmonic will mark the 50th anniversary of the Concerts in the Parks. @ 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. | 193rd St. Field, Cunningham Park WEDNESDAY, JUNE 24 Seasonal Farmstand Find out what’s ‘growing on’ at Queens Farm. They grow over 50 varieties of vegetables, so come by and see what’s in season each week! They’ll give you tips on how to mak12 p.m. to 5 p.m. | Queens County Farm Museum, 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Floral Park SATURDAY, JUNE 27 Warm Up 2015 A New York summer staple now in its 18th year, MoMA PS1’s highly anticipated Warm Up outdoor music series continues its tradition of introducing audiences to the best in experimental live music, sound, and DJs—both local and international— across a range of genres. Ongoing - every Saturday this summer through September 5. @ 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. | MoMA PS1 courtyard, 22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City  Summer 2015 • 57

Rocco & Lizzie

By Jennifer Khedaroo

Rocco and Lizzie want you to experience music that you’ve never heard before. The band, who began performing together last May, pride themselves on music that is an amalgamation of varied sounds and lyrics. Their new EP, #SomethingForEveryone, covers a plethora of genres and subjects, such as punk, bluegrass and astrology. When Phil Duke, the owner of Continental Recording Studios, first heard the EP, he told the group that it was unlike anything he’s ever heard. Megan DiBello, one half of the creative pair behind the band, wanted to coin the term “Queens rock” to describe their sound. “You end up questioning the songs all the time,” DiBello said. “We wrote this album for people to really dig deep, research the lyrics and find out the true meaning of what we’re talking about.” DiBello, a poet and the owner of Queens-based company Poetry Teachers NYC, wrote the lyrics to all of their songs. Her partner Colin Clough, a foreman for a high-end construction company, wrote the music. They have enlisted friends, such as bassist Shako Khiski and drummer Tony Shing Siu Sze, to round out the sound. The group’s name spontaneously oc58 • Summer 2015

curred to DiBello after she gave some thought to their distinct personalities. “I felt like Colin is this cool guy with tattoos who had gone through so many things in his life and had overcome so many adversities,” DiBello said. For instance, Clough was the victim of a hitand-run accident just two weeks before the release of their EP. He’s okay now, though. “I’m kind of the sweeter, more business-focused portion of us,” she said, adding that the name Lizzie came from her middle name Elizabeth. “We both balance each other out even though we are on different ends of the spectrum.” The pair first met in 2013 when Clough was visiting from Virginia. They spent the Fourth of July weekend collaborating on songwriting and ultimately kept in touch. By the spring of 2014, Clough moved to New York and they began performing music together. Their EP has been consuming all of their time lately. Together, they wrote and produced the entire thing in one month. DiBello admitted that recording has proved to be one of the most difficult things that she’s ever done. “You’re the one who is laying down the original track and you’re on such a microscope,” she said. “Now when I hear it, I feel like I’m singing karaoke

Photo: Jase Michael Photography

“Perseus break the bones from the claws of the phoenix medusas neckline hangs from the serpents last sip he makes a wish swallowing back the blood of his beloved constellation is the plan of attack for the evening birth death to another star wisdom warship walk these aisles like a fertile brides casket cheersing wine as the alter ego” - lyrics from “Universe DeGrasse”

to myself.” While they are both still working day jobs, the band hopes to continue touring later in the year and reach a wider audience. They also remain passionate about spreading the arts throughout the borough of Queens. Working with Queens photographers, recording studios and fashion designers like Queens 88 has been important for the band as they want to be Queens-centric and leaders in the artistic community. DiBello called the recent changing arts scene in

Queens a renaissance, and is glad that everyone around her “is a part of something positive and wants to build more.” Additionally, the band’s appreciative that through performances and social media, the community has been supportive. They are now looking to put out a full-length album of 14 extra songs by the end of summer, and they’re hoping to add some more Queens talent. “We want to work with other artists so we’re happy if people reach out and want to collaborate.”  Summer 2015 • 59

Sophie Kempner Is So New York By Jennifer Khedaroo

After moving to Astoria, Sophie Kempner turned her dreams of opening her own fashion label into reality. At The Pop Bar in the same neighborhood, Kempner recently launched her fashion label SoSophie. The line is meant to focus on men’s effortless sportswear. She studied fashion design in school, but left early when she had the opportunity to work in the fashion industry. As part of an internship, Kempner moved from her native London to Los Angeles where she shadowed at a company that designed ice-skating oufits. Then, a family friend helped land her a gig in New York with Rubin Singer, a prominent designer who is best known for creating Beyonce’s Super Bowl ensemble. “That’s where it all started off,” Kempner said. “Also, I had a big fascination with the U.S. and wanting to work here, so I moved to New York.” Still currently working for Singer, she feels inspired by his hard work ethic, even though his feminine designs couldn’t be further from her own brand’s masculine style. Additionally, Kempner has been able to gain business experience while working with the established designer. As his assistant, some of her roles include dabbling in design development, fabric manipulation and managing a team of people. She hopes to use what she’s learning for her own label in the future. After moving to Astoria two years ago, she immediately fell in love with the area’s atmosphere. “Astoria is a very new and upcoming neighborhood,” she said. “I think it’s going to be the new Brooklyn in that it’s very developing and there are a lot of young people here.” Living in Astoria and having an interest in menswear resulted in Kempner’s determination to create the sportswear collection. The collection, which she deemed “cool and edgy,” features t-shirts, tank tops, snapbacks and beanies with logos such as “SoNewYork” and “SoBklyn.” So far, the SoNewYork t-shirt has received the highest praise due to its simplicity. In the future, Kempner hopes to expand her label 60 • Summer 2015

to feature logos for other boroughs. And with a fascination in mens outerwear, she’d like to work on coats and jackets. Ultimately, Kempner wants “to make a guy look good,” by providing him with chic and comfortable clothing pieces. “Whether he’s going out to dinner or going out to the bar at night, he could wear my t-shirt anytime,” she said. Moving to Queens was the turning point in Kempner’s career. She learned to take charge and be present throughout every step of the creative and technical process in building a fashion label. And being known as a local designer is important to her. The label’s pieces are printed locally by Kempner herself. Not only does Kempner design the clothing, but most of her weekends revolve around photo shoots in Queens and Brooklyn. Some of her favorite locations are ones that create a complex background, like walls covered in graffiti. She re-

searches locations, chooses models, takes the photos herself and then shares them through social media. Influenced by the moving image, she might include video in her presentation of SoSophie soon. “Maybe in the future I’ll have a team to do it all, but right now I enjoy doing it myself,” Kempner said. “New York inspiring me is what I needed for something to take off, and that’s what triggered the collection that I’ve now created.” An exhibition of her label is still on display at The Pop Bar, and there’s a Queens store interested in stocking her t-shirts. Kempner also saw a lot of interest when she recently presented her label at the popular Brooklyn market, Artists and Fleas. The sky’s the limit for this local designer. She’s definitely living out the New York City dream. “It takes a lot of time and hardwork to build it all up,” she said. “But it’s fun if you love it, and that’s the secret, I think.”  Summer 2015 • 61

62 • Summer 2015


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64 • Summer 2015  Summer 2015 • 65




The Facebook outpost of the essential We Heart Astoria website, this page features updates on new restaurants, local news and upcoming events from Woodside to Long Island City, all updated multiple times a day.


Featuring event listings and the site’s trademark photos of some of the most interesting homes in the borough up for sale, the Brownstoner Facebook page is also big on posting charming historical photos of neighborhoods from around Queens.


For the veritable gold standard of community Facebook pages - certainly in Queens (and probably the world) - head to this page for local news, accolades and suggestions on community services and eateries, all updated with more urgency than the New York Times breaking news desk. 66 • Summer 2015


The official Facebook page of the Queens Tourism Council, this page does justice to the proclamation in its “About” section that “Queens is where it begins,” aggregating some of the best Queens-centric articles, to-do lists and event listings from around the web.


Also a much-loved website, this Facebook page hones in on the best activities, upcoming events, restaurants and shops for Queens mamas and their young-uns. The Mamas also pepper in local deals and are starting to branch out to their own events, including MeetUp groups and an upcoming The Mama’s Expo in mid-June.


What this account lacks in creative titling, it more than makes up for in succinct, timely updates from around the borough. Head here for up-to-date profiles, community information and breaking news, largely aggregated from the borough’s local newspapers.


The Twitter outpost of another popular website, this account features a bit of everything, including upcoming cultural events, the ever-ubiquitous pictures of drool-worthy Queens dishes, and a smattering of local news.


Head to this account for luscious pictures of some of the best eats Astoria has to offer. And if their Twitter doesn’t quite fill your food porn quota, take a look at @eatastoria’s Instagram for page upon page of sushi from Pink Nori to shepherd’s pie from Astor Bake Shop.


Follow this account if you’re looking for Ridgewood news updates and upcoming events with a bit of a millennial bent. Those who appreciate a good cute puppy picture might also want to take a look, with the account’s launch of a new #PetsofRidgewood feature.  Summer 2015 • 67

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It's Queens - Summer 2015  

Interview with actress Lisa Vidal, Queens Courage founder Chris Murillo, Best Doctors in the borough, Top 5 Chefs & more!

It's Queens - Summer 2015  

Interview with actress Lisa Vidal, Queens Courage founder Chris Murillo, Best Doctors in the borough, Top 5 Chefs & more!