Something is ‘Cooking’ in Real Estate

By Christine Lin/Epoch Times Staff

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    • (Amal Chen/The Epoch Times)

NEW YORK—For real estate professionals looking to network, there’s now a tasty way to do it, thanks to the efforts of Vernon Jones and Judy Sahagian, executive producers of “What’s Cooking in Real Estate?”

What’s Cooking in Real Estate is a monthly show on which three real estate professionals pair up with three chefs to prepare a meal while chatting about food, business, and what inspires them.

During the taping of its second show on Aug. 2 at Urban Homes in New York City, Massey Knakal’s Robert Knakal prepared spinach pie (spanakopita) with chef Gregory Zapantis of Kellari Taverna, a Greek restaurant with locations in Manhattan and Washington D.C.

As Zapantis and Knakal layered phyllo dough, feta cheese, and spinach in a pan, they remarked on the connections between the restaurant industry and real estate.

“Many of the real estate people I know started out in retail,” said Knakal. “They bought the space and then from there got into real estate.”

Zapantis noted that restaurateurs built a good part of this city. “Tribeca used to be this out-of-the-way area, but chefs built it up,” he said. Good thing for Knakal, whose company is reaping the benefits. It recently closed a $24-million deal for an apartment building in that neighborhood.

Putting together the entrée for the evening was Kate Shin, president of WEmi:t LLC, and Chef Anthony Acinapura, Jr., also of Kellari Taverna. While Shin introduced the concept of her business, they prepared a simple baked halibut dish with hummus, olive puree, and cucumbers.

Shin, originally from Korea, specializes in converting old townhouses into “modern lifestyle properties.” Last year WEmi:t (which stands for “west meets east”) transformed a brick townhouse at 170 East 80th Street into what is now a 7-bedroom currently listed by Brown Harris Stevens for $35 million. The renovated design was done by architect Toshiko Mori and sports such amenities as a sauna and a 1,000-bottle capacity wine cellar.

For dessert, interior designer and home stager Cathy Hobbs made cupcakes with Serena Ogaldez, owner of Precious Delectibles. Before the batter was set, Hobbs had already designed a store for Ogaldez, painting a verbal picture filled with cream and red colors to mimic the fun and whimsy of a sweets shop. “You could layer fabrics like you would layer a cake,” she suggested.

Hobbs’ philosophy is to “make design affordable” by forming design concepts around found objects. Her advice: “Find something beautiful and build around it.”

Hobbs, formerly a broadcast reporter-then-anchor, has won five Emmy awards. She now hosts and produces Metro Residential, a real estate and design series, and teaches home staging at Certified Staging Professionals.

Finally, manning the bar that evening was Anthony Lolli, CEO of Rapid Realty.

With so much for a chef and real estate pro to discuss in such a short amount of time, the show still has some kinks to work out, but the marriage of food and real estate is an intriguing and promising one.



‘What’s Cooking in Real Estate’ Private Screening

Monday, August 29, 2011 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM (ET)

New York,

Join Us on Monday, August 29th for the screening of

What’s Cooking in Real Estate?

Click Here to Register Online

In the Press:

The Epoch Times

The Real Deal Magazine

Real Estate Weekly

Beverly Hills Courier


‘What’s Cooking in Real Estate’ is a unique synergy of high powered

networking and content driven video production. Every month, Real Estate

Celebrities are joined with a live studio audience, which consist of

handpicked industry insiders to discuss specific market trends while

preparing delectible dishes. The goal is to stimulate the Real Estate Industry

by delivering up to date information on an unparalleled platform.

Topic: Bread Winning Entrepreneurs

Featured Chefs:

Chef Gregory Zapantis 

Chef Gregory Zapantis, Corporate Executive Chef, Kellari Taverna, NYC

Chef Anthony Acinapura Jr 

Executive Chef of Kellari Taverna in Washington, DC.

Serena Ogaldez

Owner, Precious Delectibles

Featured Speakers:

Robert Knakal, Chairman of Massey Knakal

Anthony Lolli, CEO of Rapid Realty

Kate Shin, President of WEmi:t LLC

Cathy Hobbs, Emmy Award Winning Host/ Interior Designer

Show Production:

Executive producers: Judy Sahagian | Vernon Jones

Produced By Live Open House

You Must Register Online

Included are: 

  • What’s Cooking in Real Estate Viewing
  • Real estate celebrities & industry leaders
  • Media/Press
  • Passed Appetizers
  • Networking
  • Sponsored exhibit tables
  • Video Production
  • Solid Business Building Opportunities!


The event will be held at Kellari Taverna 

See Map for directions.


  • Location: Kellari Taverna | 19 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036
  • Date / Time: Monday, August 29, 2011, 6:00pm – 9:00pm
  • Registration: 5:00 pm
  • Screening: :- 7:00pm 
  • Networking: 7:30pm – 8:00pm

Registration Information: 

Register above to attend this event.

  • Single registration: $20
  • Group Registration: $15 (3 or more)
  • At the door: $30 (Register Online and SAVE!)

Speakers / Cooks:

Above the bar at Kellari, the words “Enter as Strangers, Leave as Friends” are printed on a placecard. A feeling of warmth and hospitality permeates throughout the restaurant; a cozy Midtown gem with wood-beamed cathedral ceilings and walls warmed in sunset hues.

 Preparing the Appetizer:  


                                                        Chef Gregory Zapantis 

Chef Gregory Zapantis, Corporate Executive Chef, Kellari Taverna, NYC

Gregory Zapantis is Corporate Executive Chef and Operating Partner of Kellari Taverna in New York City. Prior to joining the Kellari Group, Chef Zapantis worked at Estiatorio Milos and Trata. He went on to launch Thalassa in Tribeca, where he became well known among fish aficionados. In 2006, Zapantis and partner Stavros Aktipis opened Kellari Taverna. A self-taught chef, Zapantis is very knowledgeable about fish, seasons, textures, fishing boats and even the special techniques used by fishermen throughout different parts of Greece.                       

Preparing Entree: 


                                                     Chef Anthony Acinapura Jr 

                          Executive Chef of Kellari Taverna in Washington, DC.

Anthony J. Acinapura, Jr. is Executive Chef of Kellari Taverna in Washington, DC. Prior to joining Kellari, Chef Acinapura served as Executive Chef for Rocco’s and China Grill in New York City. While at Rocco’s, Chef Acinapura starred in the reality show “The Restaurant” and was filmed managing all aspects of back of house operations. He has also served Chef de Cuisine at Potenza Trattoria and Special Events Chef at Zola Wine and Kitchen Stir Food Group in Washington, DC; Executive Chef for Blue Ribbon Restaurant in Brooklyn, NY; and Chef de Cuisines at the celebrity-owned Tribecca Grill in New York, NY. Additionally, Chef Acinapura spent four years of cooking under Chef David Bouley at Bouley Restaurant, a four-star French fine-dining establishment. He has travelled extensively throughout Italy and Greece learning about Mediterranean dishes in many coastal village tavernas and trattorias.         

Precious Delectibles/ Serena Ogaldez, Owner

Precious Delectibles is a very prestigous and dependable home-based company gracing the taste buds of many celebrities, families and businesses for over 3 years.

As Owner and Pastry Chef of Precious Delectibles I began my expedition into the baking world from my love of satisying my clients tasting experience. I am a mother of two precious children who came up with recipes for delectibles that created an overwhelming response. Beginning with weekend dinners & dessert sales to friends and family triggered a rapid escalation of my customer base.
 My Determination to succeed and to provide my daughters with a fine example is my mantra for consistent hard work. My love and dedication for providing an equisitelty tasting product has put Precious Delectibles on the trail to a “Baking Success”

                                Preparing the Appetizer:                                  

Robert A. Knakal, Chairman, Massey Knakal Realty Services 

Mr. Knakal is the Chairman and Founding Partner of Massey Knakal Realty Services. He is a graduate of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. To date, Mr. Knakal has brokered the sale of over 1,100 properties in his career having a market value in excess of $6.8 billion. Mr. Knakal writes a nationally renowned blog called StreetWise and also writes a weekly article on the NYC Real Estate Market called Concrete Thoughts for The Commercial Observer.

Serving the Drink:

Anthony Lolli A Dream Realized

Anthony Lolli is the Founder and CEO of Rapid Realty, one of the fastest-growing real estate companies in New York. He’s also an investor who owns several multi-family properties and he has a background construction and development.

Anthony rose from humble beginnings in Brooklyn to become a leader in both real estate and the world of franchising. From a single office in South Park Slope, Anthony led Rapid Realty through more than 14,000 rental transactions in three years before deciding to start franchising. Rapid Realty exploded from two offices to forty-six in just nineteen months. Today, Rapid is home to more than 700 agents working in all five boroughs, Long Island, and New Jersey.

Anthony avoided the spotlight while he oversaw this incredible expansion. Now, though, he’s taking center stage, sharing the secrets of his success and advising entrepreneurs from the real estate industry and beyond on his new site,

Preparing Entree: 

Kate Shin   President of WEmi:t LLC                                       

Kate Shin is President of WEmi:t LLC, a New York-based real estate company that develops and invests in high-end boutique residential properties, including 170 East 80th Street in Manhattan, a 19th century townhouse reborn as a modern mansion. The company’s name stands for “Where West Meets East,” paying homage to two cultures that have enriched Ms. Shin’s personal and professional life – West and East – representing the time she has lived and worked in both New York and Korea.

Shin has extensive real estate investment and development experience, with expertise inmanaging projects that require high quality design and rigorous asset management skills. For more than 13 years, she managed real estate investments in global markets through investment banks and consulting firms. Today, she is focused on raising capital in Asia to invest in U.S. real estate.

 Preparing Dessert:

                                                   Cathy Hobbs,  owner Cathy Hobbs Design Recipes

                                                    ASID, LEED AP, Certified Staging Professional

            As many people know I am an ASID, NCIDQ Certified Interior Designer, that said let me make it clear that interior design is very different from staging. Interior Design is about living in a space and to become a professional interior designer requires years of education and experience. Home staging is about real estate and is in its essence about marketing. To cut to the chase, it is about presentation and creating an enticing atmosphere so that potential buyers can envision themselves living in a space. Staging isn’t about custom furniture and personal colors it is about showcasing and styling a property so that it sells for the largest amount of money in the shortest amount of time.