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Queens chef turns home cooking into a source of money

QUEENS, NY – Macia Malnowski says he honed his sushi-making skills after years of experience. But this is not a fancy restaurant in Manhattan. Everything is put together in a small apartment kitchen in Jackson Heights.

“I start to think, to think. OK, sushi at home. Like people are probably going to be like this guy is crazy, ”Malnowski said.

But Malnowski said it was just a crazy enough idea to work. When the pandemic struck and the Polish-born chef was fired from his job at a Michelin-starred sushi restaurant in the West Village, he started making sushi at home.

“I start off by having fun to see if people are going to like it,” Malnowski said. “First customer, second customer, later it was like a snowball. Recommendation, recommendation. Now I can say I’m busy.”

He’s so busy that instead of returning to his restaurant job on the weekends, he’s decided to devote those days to his home business SushiFella.

“I want to show people what he’s supposed to look like. What they should expect from a good sushi, ”said Malnowski.

He’s not the only home chef making a profit during the pandemic. Recently, the gourmet website EatYourWorld.com featured nine Queens businesses cooking in their home kitchens. Many are located in Jackson Heights.

“We have the tradition of street food in Jackson Heights and there is so much diversity in the dining options, but there is also a long tradition of doing this sort of thing among the immigrant communities here,” he said. said Laura Siciliano-Rosen, founder of Eat Your Monde.

Siciliano-Rosen says home-based businesses have been largely successful – in part because they offer a different kind of relationship with a chef than you would typically get in a restaurant.

“You start to really enjoy that experience and the intimacy with chefs that it brings, which I think is a big part of it, I think people crave a little privacy with things in general. after a year and more of being in partial isolation, ”said Siciliano-Rosen.

But time is running out in Malnowski’s kitchen. He takes orders until the end of August. Then he moved to Florida and brought with him his SushiFella concept. The goal is to eventually open a brick and mortar restaurant.