Cheesy cornbread, flavored pretzels, beef jerky, Kombucha, and Indian Lassi-style ice-cream were just a few of the selections offered last Friday at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s annual foodie extravaganza, Brooklyn Eats.
A buzz permeated the large Flushing Avenue warehouse space formerly occupied by Pfizer, where more than 100 food and beverage vendors were gathered to offer hungry visitors a sampling of Brooklyn’s best. Dozens of people took turns stopping at the stalls, inquiring inquisitively about the products, some excitedly trying the foods, others somewhat more hesitantly.
“Brooklyn Eats is the hottest food show in Brooklyn – and it’s where our food and beverage companies make the jump from flea market tables to store shelves,” said Carlo Scissura, the President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “It is the one show that brings makers and buyers together for business while allowing the public experience the foods and beverages that are on the forefront of Brooklyn’s food scene.”
North Brooklyn was well represented at the event. One of them was Kimmee Arndt, who along with her husband Evan Hoffman, started a spice business, Greenpoint Trading Co., about three years ago.
Along with their commercial spice business, the wholesaler Brooklyn Spice Company, Greenpoint Trading Co. focuses on selling a variety of spices, seasonings, and rubs. Currently sold online, Arndt and Hoffman are looking to expand further.
“The best part about what I do is that I get to work with my husband, and we haven’t killed each other so far,” Arndt joked at the festival. “I love the fact that we live and work in Greenpoint. It’s an amazing community to be working in.”
Hoffman and Arndt entry into the spice business was, for all intents and purposes, an accident. Hoffman was renting out a friend’s place adjacent to a spice factory, the latter was in the spice business, and it got Hoffman hooked. Along with Arndt, whom he was dating at the time, they decided to dive into the business headfirst.
That enthusiasm paid off. Their business is thriving, and next month they’re set to launch a Kickstarter to enable them to expand and begin selling in cities like Austin, Portland, and San Francisco, each of which has a growing spice industry.
Other standout vendors at Brooklyn Eats included Brooklyn Delhi, which sells three flavors of “Achaar,” – an Indian-style relish made with locally grown vegetables, fruits, spices, and oil. It’s the creation of Bed-Stuy-based chef, Chitra Agrawal, whose father hails from New Delhi, India, and her mother from the Southern part of the country. Growing up, “Achaar,” and chutneys were a staple at her dining table.
For the past six years, Agrawal has taught cooking classes specializing in Indian vegetarian cooking, eating locally sourced produce, and running a popular food blog, the ABCD’s of cooking. At first, the “Achaar,” was something she only made for her students, but with help from her fiancé, Ben Garthus, a product designer, the duo crafted Brooklyn Delhi last December.
“The response so far has been surprisingly good,” said Agrawal. “I try to make it not as intense as the ones you find in India and I try to use some American influences as well. I want to continue experimenting with more flavors.”
Jumping on the creativity bandwagon was Shahar Shamir, a former dancer who last year created Brooklyn Sesame – a healthy, artisanal Halva spread. Sesame and Honey are the central ingredients in his version of the Middle East confection. He then adds an additional ingredient to create a host of unique flavors, which can be used as a spread on toast, eaten with crackers, or consumed as a healthy alternative to dessert.
“I like authenticity and real flavors,” said Shamir, who started out making the Halva in his apartment before moving to a kitchen incubator soon after launching his product in July 2013. “I was amazed to find so many people in New York who already knew about Halva. I want to be the next Kashi.”
As the day went on, visitors and waistlines swelled at Brooklyn Eats marking a successful event for the Brooklyn Chamber and the emergence of the borough as the food capital of the world.
Type your name and email address below, then click "Submit" to be added to our spam-free email list.