‘LTown Food Czar’ shines her own local flavor on Livingston restaurants 


By Jillian Risberg 


It was March 2020 when COVID shook the world to its core and everyone scrambled. That’s when Livingston personal trainer Heidi Blum knew she had to do something to change the landscape during an uncertain time of devastation.  


Her son Matthew had been working at Calabria’s, and they pivoted to the new normal with special family meal menus. 

The restaurant asked him to send his mom to post on the LTown Facebook group. 

So she took to LTown, where people noticed her updates and Neeli — who runs the group, asked Blum to be the ‘Food Czar.’  


“My response was ‘what the heck is that’ but of course, because I wanted to help in any way I could,” Blum says. 


“For two years during the pandemic, I posted daily for local restaurants to share their menus and specials, and new restaurants to (say) they were there and ready to serve. It was helpful for the business owners to feel like they were part of the community as they stepped up to feed our town.”


According to the Food Czar, the posts moved into what she calls ‘live-ish’ videos that have taken on a life of their own.  


These videos have brought Blum much joy. 

“If it brings them business for just three days,” she says she tries to get every restaurant and gets requests all the time. “I gently hit the bordering towns as well because we are neighbors helping neighbors.”


And it amazes the Food Czar every time she gets stopped by someone who tells her they love the videos or a restaurant owner thanks her.  

“Honestly, I should be thanking them,” says Blum. “It has given me a purpose of some sort and allows me to help keep the town I have loved since day one thriving.”


When it comes to food shortages in the local supply chain, she says restaurant owners/managers all tell her the same thing; food costs are high and labor is hard to come by. It’s tough in this current climate.  

“They try to provide the best service they can,” the Food Czar says. “I am proud of our restaurants because I feel they are aware and are doing an amazing job.”


Food insecurity is also a problem, and ever since the pandemic — even more so. 

“I hope we never see a time like this again and our restaurants continue to grow,” Blum says but the ability to pivot when something tragic and chaotic happens is key. “I think our town has shown its strength and resiliency.”


Born and raised in Livingston, that doesn’t surprise her. She feels a deep connection to the township; cherishes her childhood memories and loves raising her own family there.


Her children are her inspiration. 

“I try to be the best role model to them; kind, generous, compassionate and awesome so my kids can see that is what they should be,” she says, and always treat others the way they would want to be treated.


In her downtime Blum loves to exercise. She plays lots of golf… enjoys the beach, spending time with her wife, three kids and two dogs.


The ‘Food Czar’s connection to food started as a young girl.

She says she can run through every Livingston restaurant that was in town when she grew up and tell you her favorite meals there.  

Nero’s Chicken Aglio e Olio, Eppes Essen lox, eggs and onions or the Park lace sandwich, Ritz Diner late at night for a grilled cheese with bacon and tomato, Nana’s tuna, Calabria’s pizza, Friendly’s cheeseburger on buttered toast with a fribble; and of course Don’s double burger cheese surprise with a broadway milkshake and fried onion rings,” Blum says. 


If she had a magic wand all the restaurant owners would be successful, happy and proud. And she would finally get better at golf. 


“A huge thank you to all those who support the Food Czar,” says Blum, of her fun, meaningful endeavor.


Who knows where the Food Czar will show up next.

“Doesn’t that sound intriguing and mysterious,” she says. 


For more information, check out LTown Lowdown on Facebook. 


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