Chef Tracie Orsi put in years of service in the resort circuit and culinary industry, taking verbal abuse from irate chefs, working under unskilled cooks, and—the final straw—nearly taking a steak sandwich to the face. After discovering the rich flavors and deep-rooted traditions of Cajun cuisine, Tracie decided to run a kitchen her way, cutting up with her friends as she crafts authentic feasts of stew, seafood, pasta, and chicken infused with the rich spices and seasonings of southern Louisiana.
She dices up fresh veggies and jumbo shrimp and sprinkles them throughout a spice-laden array of étouffée, gumbo, and jambalaya. Mouths warm up with tender morsels of alligator sausage and spoons swan dive off noses and breach a layer of gruyère cheese before plunging into onion soup. Broccoli, carrots, and squash soak up spicy tomato stew in the veggie creole, and the chicken and shrimp étouffées smother chunks of meat with spicy brown gravy. For dessert, dining companions make telepathic arguments for who should get the bigger halves of bananas-foster and pecan-pie servings. While diners partake, live blues and jazz bands inspire them to pop the corks of BYOB bottles along with the basslines five nights per week.
It’s tough to get tree frogs, toucans, and monkeys to sit still in a studio. That's why the leaders of the Academy of Photo Arts take photography trips to Costa Rica, where they can find exotic wildlife in its natural habitat before capturing it on film. The photography academy’s travel courses can also whisk students off to Venice’s picturesque canals, or to Las Vegas to capture shots of the Grand Canyon or the landfill where all copies of Vegas Vacation are buried.
The school hosts Toronto-based courses as well, where keen-eyed photographers lead interactive workshops on wildlife photography and landscape photography. The in-studio courses, meanwhile, focus on techniques that help artists create flattering lighting setups, perform seamless Photoshop edits, and unscrew lens caps rather than smashing them to pieces in frustration. The Academy also provides photo- and video-booth rental that allows photo-takers to capture as many photos and video as they want in both color or black-and-white.
Colorbar The Salon combines the modern elegance of boxy angles and hard lines with the time-tested charm of antique accents. Flowers burst with color against black-lined mirrors, which hang over stocky wooden cabinets wearing hats of granite. Nearby, white chairs seem to glow as clients sink into them, sighing beneath high ceilings that are held up in part by a polished cloud-white column and part by sky-blue walls. If it wasn’t for the hardwood floors, glowing warmly in hues that flirt with red, clients might think they’ve floated away. Yet Colorbar’s stylists remain grounded as they cut, condition, and revamp hair. They work with clients’ features to sculpt the most face-flattering styles possible, coloring and highlighting to complement eye color and skin tone. They even offer a VIP membership program that grants frequent guests privileges such as unlimited haircuts and blowouts each month and salon parties that celebrate special occasions such as a girls’ night out, a wedding, or medaling at the Lumberjack World Championships.
Restaurateur Tim McLoone has left his mark all over the culinary maps of New Jersey and Maryland with his numerous gourmet grills, which distinguish themselves from one another with unique menus and ambiances that hew to the same level of upscale elegance. Most of Tim’s restaurants set a lovely spread for Sunday brunch with made-to-order omelets, waffles, and a carving station with plump, tender hams. The network of eateries regularly lures hungry passersby during the evening with the aroma of grilled steaks and seafood, and a winning lotto ticket attached to a fishing line. Select locations are also visited by nightly entertainment. The decor at each dining hall is inspired by its surroundings: naval themes prevail at the coastal locations in National Harbor, Sea Bright, and Long Branch, while McLoone’s racing-themed restaurants are located within the off-track facilities in Fords and Bayonne.
Hot Sand’s studio buzzes with activity as instructors dip pipes into molten glass and then demonstrate how to blow the globs into recognizable shapes. Nearby, other students work on finishing their pieces, refining contours atop wooden blocks and polishing surfaces on a diamond wheel. Hot Sand's glass-blowing artists impart these techniques through basic walk-in experiences and immersive workshops, showing guests how to craft objects such as candy dishes, pumpkin-shaped ornaments, or one-time-use dodgeballs. Welcoming visitors of all ages, Hot Sand earned the distinction as a top kids' destination in New Jersey Monthly's 2012 Jersey Choice awards. The studio also expands the aesthetic tastes of the community through a gallery that showcases original works for sale.
Drawing upon experience accumulated over the course of six decades in business, the insured and licensed technicians at Environmental Air Systems visit homes to improve energy efficiency and safety. Video-camera systems allow the workers to peer inside evaporators and other difficult-to-reach parts or show homeowners the deposits of dust that are attracting lonesome cowboys to nest in their ducts. Inspections of home systems involve 25 or more steps, allowing the workers to make specific recommendations and ferret out dangers, including carbon-monoxide leaks. The crews, who are on call at all hours, also install systems backed by a guarantee that each room will be within 3 degrees of any other section of the house, except when sullen teenage glaciers are visiting.