A Humble Beginning
One Recipe at a Time
Evelyn's Kitchen (EK) started humbly, one recipe at a time, in the kitchen of Founder & Executive Chef, Ayala Donchin. With a passion for food and a love for entertaining nurtured by her supportive parents, Manny and Rina, Ayala has created amazing dishes since she was just a kid. She started her first business, Ayala's Magnificent Mousse & Cheesecake, at eleven years old when her parents challenged her to raise money for sleep-away camp. Even as a child, Ayala never shied away from a challenge and she is no stranger to dreaming big, working hard or taking calculated risks.
Ayala moved to New York in 1994 and served as Executive Director of three non-profit organizations. After her time in non-profit, Ayala headed up the Community Relations Department for the New York Knicks. She left the Knicks in 2002 to start a successful marketing firm, The Sandbox, Inc. with business partner, Erica Stanley-Dottin, developing and executing community impact programs for athletes, celebrities and the brands that do business with them. Sandbox clients included The Magic Johnson Foundation, Alonzo Mourning Charities, The Carmelo Anthony Foundation, The Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation, Justin Tuck, Boost Mobile, Gatorade and Nike.
In 2009 Ayala took a leap of faith and started EK, named for her Godmother, the late Evelyn Satinoff. Ayala holds a lifetime of fond memories of Evelyn and recounts the many late nights spent in Evelyn's warm, inviting kitchen for Sunday dinners and holiday gatherings filled with good food, laughter, wine and great debates. Evelyn's kitchen was not just a physical place, there was a spirit to it and Ayala has worked tirelessly to create that same spirit in her business. A sign now hangs in the cafe that states simply Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often.
Since opening EK, the business has grown organically; perfecting unique, delicious recipes and making sure clients experience the quality and integrity that go into every little detail. Most people have discovered EK through grassroots efforts on social media and word-of-mouth from influencers in the sports, entertainment and fashion industries. EK has grown with the support of very loyal, influential friends and an amazing staff.
Featured in Oprah's 'O' Magazine as a favorite, on Food Network and The Cooking Channel, The EK team works its culinary magic in its flagship East Harlem kitchen. The EK Cafe is open six days per week, serving elegant comfort food and dangerously delicious desserts. An espresso bar serves the best coffee in East Harlem and a Chef's Table is available, by reservation only.