‘Generosity begets business’: Why The Meatball Shop gives away the family jewels online

Dan Holzman The Meatball Shop

If you’re looking for an affordable, hearty, and delicious meal in downtown New York, locals would point you no further than The Meatball Shop. With locations in the hip Lower East Side, Greenwich Village, and Williamsburg neighborhoods, it’s no wonder that an average wait for a table during normal dinner hours range anywhere between 45 minutes to two hours (but trust us, it’s worth it). If you’re not one to wait around in the cold, now you can learn to make authentic Meatball Shop meatballs straight from your laptop. Co-creator and executive chef at The Meatball Shop Dan Holzman recently collaborated with Skillshare – an educational startup that lets people host a variety of classes – to offer free online cooking class and gave his curious consumers a video tutorial on how to make the perfect meal in a class whimsically titled, “Show Us Your Balls: Meatball Making with The Meatball Shop.”

The two-week long class gave students the opportunity to view video lessons and offered specific online office hours if they had any questions. Since the course wrapped up earlier this week, and we chatted with the meatball master himself to figure out why he would give away the secrets to his restaurant’s main product.

Digital Trends: The Meatball Shop has previously released its own cookbook, so why did you decide to take your recipes to the Web?

Holzman: It was actually Skillshare that approached us, and said it’d be cool to do a cooking class, because it was something they hadn’t done before. We thought the idea was interesting because when you think of cookbooks, they’re something you keep in your house, own, and pass down. An interaction online is something you just can’t get on paper. Our online class is essentially better than a classroom because you can zoom in and out, stop, and repeat any portion of the video.

DT: How has the response been now that the class has commenced?

Holzman: We didn’t know what to expect, so we just filmed it, and Skillshare did an amazing job cutting and putting it together to make it all it can be. The response was overwhelming – about 1,300 people signed up for the class and through the process, people gave us a lot of feedback, sent their pictures, and we saw a lot of creativity. I was blown away by the response. People were tweeting at us, asking us questions, and sending photos of their final product. One person even did a photo essay!

A screencap of Holzman's Skillshare tutorial.
A screencap of Holzman’s Skillshare tutorial.

DT: The Meatball Shop is clearly known for the dish it’s named after. Why would a restaurant give away the recipe for its pride and joy?

Holzman: Here’s the deal: Usually when you take classes on Skillshare, you are normally charged a small fee. I decided I didn’t want to charge people for it. The whole process was just a nice thing to do for people – it was a no sweat off our back, it didn’t cost me much to do or much of my time. A big misconception is that a recipe means so much. You can get a recipe from any chef and it’s still all in the execution, no matter how simple or complicated the recipe. I’m not worried at all or fearing giving away this recipe. Generosity begets business. The more generous you are, the more comes back to you; the stingier you are, the less you get back in the world.

DT: Recently, some restaurants have imposed a ban on customers Instagramming their food. How do you feel about people Instagramming your meatballs?

Meatball Shop Skillshare tutorialHolzman: If you pay for the meatballs, you can do whatever you want with them. You can eat them, take a picture of them, put ’em in your pockets, I don’t care. Secondly, I can completely appreciate how, in a fancy restaurant, people don’t wanna distract the atmosphere with flashes going off. But we’re The Meatball Shop: our meatballs are cheap, we’re not pretentious, we want you to have fun and have a good mood in here. It’s fucking meatballs, man. I don’t think meatballs are the most aesthetically pleasing dish but if you want it go crazy and tell everyone about them, it’s free publicity for us and I love it. 

DT: We’re curious about the tech involved in random people in various industries’ lives so we wanna know: What’s the first piece of tech you touched today?

Holzman: My iPhone. I touched my iPhone before I touched my girlfriend this morning.

DT: And lastly, what’s on your gadget wishlist?

Holzman: I would love a pair of X-ray goggles. I’ve always wanted them my whole life, and if I’m being completely honest, I’d use them for people watching. Yeah, I’d want X-ray goggles so I can be creepy and do some naked people watching. 

Smart Home

The Instant Pot Lux is a gateway drug into the pleasures of pressure cooking

The 3-quart Instant Pot Lux is one of the most affordable Instant Pots you can buy. Is it still a solid pressure cooker? Here are our thoughts on the Instant Pot Lux, a great IP baseline model.
Smart Home

The best sous vide machines cook your food perfectly, every single time

Want to make four-star meals from the comforts of your own kitchen? Here are the best sous vide machines available right now, whether you prefer simple immersion circulators or something more complex.
Smart Home

Thinking of buying an Instant Pot? Here's what you need to know

The Instant Pot is a powerful kitchen appliance that does everything from pressure cook to to slow cook to steam. Heck, you can even make yogurt in it. Here's all you need to know about the magic device.
Smart Home

GHSP makes a (back)splash with its touchscreen concept kitchen

One of the coolest concept kitchens from CES 2019 came from GHSP. It created a backsplash entirely made of touchscreens. That means the control panel for your kitchen is accessible no matter where you are.
Smart Home

The best air fryers deliver fried food with a fraction of the calories

What is this magical mechanism? It's an air fryer, and when used correctly, it can mimic the effects of frying while using just a little bit of oil. You still get that crispy, golden exterior and the fluffy center.
Emerging Tech

‘Tech vest’ prevents Amazon workers from colliding with robot co-workers

Amazon workers at its fulfillment centers are using "tech vests" to help protect them from collisions with their robot co-workers. The robots already have obstacle avoidance sensors, but the belt offers another layer of safety.
Smart Home

Legrand’s Smart Lighting touts security, interoperability, and simple setup

Near universal connectivity including Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, Nest, Ring, and the Internet of Things is the theme of Legrand's Smart Lighting Radiant collection of switches, dimmers, outlets, and plugs.
Smart Home

Abode Systems upgrades its smart home gateway with new chip and Z-Wave Plus

Palo Alto-based Abode Systems is adding an upgrade to its popular smart home starter kit by replacing its central gateway with a second-generation version that supports cellular backup and enhanced Z-Wave support.
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.
Smart Home

You can play NPR’s ‘Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me’ on your smart speaker

You can play "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" on Amazon Echo speakers or Google Home devices with the new Wait Wait Quiz. It's hosted by Peter Sagal and Bill Kurtis and will be updated every week with new questions.
Smart Home

Walabot Home, a device aimed at keeping seniors safe, expands its capabilities

When you have to be away from your elderly family members, Walabot Home can serve as your surrogate. This device can detect when your loved one falls and will call for help — no wearables or user input required.
Smart Home

Allergies acting up? Thes best air purifiers on the market can offer relief

Indoor air is often more contaminated than the air outside, which can cause an array of health issues over time. Luckily, these air purifiers can easily rid your home or office of unwanted allergens and contaminants.
Smart Home

Hackers hijack Nest camera, issue fake warning of North Korea missile attack

A Nest security camera hijacked by hackers who used the device to issue a fake warning about an incoming North Korean nuclear missile attack heading toward Los Angeles, Chicago, and Ohio.
Smart Home

Starbucks coffee delivery lands in 6 more cities via Uber Eats

Starbucks is in the process of expanding its coffee delivery service far beyond Miami. Available via the Uber Eats app, the service has just launched in San Francisco, with five additional cities joining in the coming weeks.