For Jose Sarita and Victor Bayona, growing up in Harlem meant a free education. Sarita’s music classes were held on every station from HOT97 to WCBS FM, and switching majors from hip-hop to smooth jazz was as simple as a turn on the dial. Every neighborhood stroll was a culinary journey for Bayona, who would eat his way from Cuba and the Caribbean to the Dominican Republic and down South. It wasn’t until 16, though, that the two crossed paths, finding common ground as DJs and creating a friendship that would be the foundation for their passion project—ViseNyc.
As teens, the two created a four-man crew called Minorities on the Rise, promoting and DJing parties and events through their freshman year in college. After graduation, they found it put a cap on their creativity, and the two set out to pursue their dream jobs: Bayona, a gig as a food writer, and Sarita a position within a major music label. Breaking into their respective fields wasn’t easy, and after hitting a wall in the job market the two decided to take things into their own hands, inspired by Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich: Your Key to Financial Wealth and Power.”
In March 2011, the duo launched ViseNyc, a “one-stop shop for the food and music experience,” Bayona says. The name Vise, like the site itself, is equal parts Bayona and Sarita, using the first two letters of their names; Sarita also points out that it’s indicative of the hold their respective fields have on them.
That hold took Sarita into a music career, where he started in radio interning for big names like HOT97’s Angie Martinez before working in a promotions company doing marketing for major American record labels. “I know that’s where I belong,” he says. “I tried to get away from the industry, but every brand I worked with had something to do with music.”
For Bayona, a love for food started at home, where his mother, originally from Ecuador, filled the house with the smell of cake, baked and decorated Dominican-style to cater to the neighborhood’s demographics. His sister “threw random things in the pot with no measuring tools…and managed to make amazing and unforgettable items,” he says. “They always seemed to make magic, and I wanted to do the same.”
For Bayona and Sarita, that magic happens on ViseNyc, where you’ll find a curated mix of content, with Sarita covering all aspects of music and Bayona tackling anything and everything related to food. Recent posts include a beautiful track from Sun Yehoshua called “Self Harm For Bragging Rights”; a preview of New York Magazine’s Taste 2013 food festival; a nod to The Nugget Spot, a new restaurant in the East Village; and a video from Belgian soul/funk singer Selah Sue.
Everything that makes it on the site is hand-picked by the duo, but its Flavor in Your Ear series offers an extra stamp of approval. “To make it in that series means it’s something we feel you really need to know,” Sarita says. The spotlight was recently on entrepreneur J. Morales of uptown’s Apt78, and in December readers can learn more about the ViseNyc team when the camera turns on the pair.
While the site’s remodel is still months from debuting, the two are already adding new elements, including regular posts from their “brunch czar” Todd Thomas, a foodie with a soft spot for New York City’s most popular meal. They are also preparing for their annual Franksgiving, a post-Thanksgiving meal shared with their friends where the menu is paired with a musical playlist created by the duo.
As Bayona learned during his childhood summers spent in Ecuador, “nothing brings people together like a good meal.” And while Franksgiving is for their close circle of friends, ViseNyc is a way for Sarita and Bayona to invite the world to their table, where there’s something for everyone and always plenty of good stuff to go around.