Q & A: Delicious & Local Eating with Co-Owner of Brooklyn's Ortine Cafe

Ortine Cafe

Located in Brooklyn's Prospect Heights, Ortine Cafe serves up fresh, organic, and delicious fare to New Yorkers looking for something yummy, reasonable, and healthy. New Yorkers are noticing as Ortine has been featured on NBC, The WB, and New York Magazine. Most of the ingredients used in Ortine's delicious dishes come from local sources — in some instances as local as their own vegetable garden. Ortine's husband and wife team, Sarah Peck (a former manager at Schiller's and Pastis) and Steve Guidi (a licensed acupuncturist in Brooklyn) epitomize mind and body wellness and what it means to run a sustainable and local restaurant.

MindBodyGreen: Why and how did you come up with the concept for Ortine?

Steve Guidi: Sarah and I first met while working at a restaurant (Luck Strike in Soho) and Sarah has spent the last 10 years managing restaurants. We always thought that the next step for us would be to open our own place that embodied our own way of eating: simple, local, healthy, and sustainable food. So when the time was finally right, we opened Ortine, which is only a few blocks from where we live.

MBG: How is Ortine green?

SG: All our meat, dairy, and eggs are from small scale family farms within 500 miles. Most of which are organic and farmed without any antibiotics, hormones — and many without any animal based feeds.

MBG: What do you love about Ortine?

SG: I love that every dish is prepared with a lot of effort, love, and great, local ingredients. We don't make things "out of the can" — our pita chips we spice and roast right here, we make our own hummus, and our meatloaf tastes like it came straight from your mother's kitchen. We also have a lot of fun experimenting with preparation and ingredients, resulting in unqiue and delicious dishes.

MBG: What is your favorite dish at Ortine?

SG: Our baked egg dishes are pretty delicious and unique. We take somewhat traditional egg dishes, e.g., eggs Florentine, huevos rancheros, breakfast pizza, sausage, egg, and cheese — but we do them all baked. Having all our egg dishes baked is somewhat constraining, but it makes us unique. Our breakfast pizza is really popular and we just added a Lox, Eggs, and Onions breakfast pizza to our weekend brunch menu.

MBG: Tell me about your kombucha.

SG: I started making kombucha about a year ago. We make it right in our kitchen here at Ortine. It ferments naturally and is delicious! And it also happens to be healthy as well — always a good thing.

MBG: Where do you go grocery shopping when you are cooking at home?

SG: Park Slope Food Coop, our local farmer's market, and Chinatown. Chinatown has great herbs, interesting condiments, and oils that you won't find anywhere else.

MBG: What is your favorite vegetable to cook with?

SG: Beets. Beets are pretty versatile: you can pickle 'em, boil 'em, or eat 'em raw — you can do whatever you like!

MBG: What is your favorite way to exercise?

SG: I practice Qi Gong which has a focus on breathing and slower movements. I practice in the morning right after I wake up. If I don't practice in the morning then I find myself skipping.

MBG: What is your favorite book?

SG: Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tsu. I first read it as a sophomore at Wesleyan in 1994 and it really resonated with me. It turned me on to Eastern philosophy and medicine and really struck me as a great and practical way to live my life.

MBG: If it was your Last Supper, what would your last meal be? Where would the meal be? Who would you like to be there (past/present/future)?

SG: I'd have spaghetti with garlic oil and hot red peppers. I know it's not fancy (or particularly healthy), but it's been one of my favorite dishes ever since I was a kid. Because it's a simple dish it's actually hard to make so I'd make it myself to make sure it's prepared right. I'd have it at home with my wife and my family. For dessert maybe some fresh figs with honey. Also, some good cheese is definitely a must!

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