A Saturday outing to deepest Bushwick, Brooklyn brought me to a pop-up, artisanal food market. (Pop-up markets are usually short-term temporarily utilizing otherwise-empty commercial spaces. The space owner gets some traffic and income, the vendors get fresh customers and the locals and curious wanderers get access to novel goods.) This particular market, the “Batchery”, showed off the creations mostly of small batch food makers – almost all of whom were women, many of them from other countries. Each entrepreneur was engaging and, judging from the wares, quite capable of making exciting food.
The organizers of this event were a pair of striking young women from the Caribbean (Sonya Samuel of Bacchanal Pepper Sauce, left in top photo) and India (Chitra Agrawal, right in top photo, of the BrooklynDelhi), food makers as well as event organizers. Chitra was selling her Achaar, a savory Indian condiment made with fruits or vegetables, spices and oils; Sonya was selling a variety of hot sauces and relishes.
Neighborhood events like this make me smile at the wonder that is the New York melting pot. I am proudest of New York at such times because I am reminded that people still come to this city – despite our politics, despite our economics, despite our tight spaces and noise and dirt, and they build a life for themselves and energize the city. Regardless of origin, every vendor seemed pretty savvy about marketing, customer relations and website maintenance. Everyone offered samples and easy conversation; everyone was gracious and unrushed. The almost ubiquitous (and essential) sense of humor is also apparent in the many clever names chosen for the businesses.
Diana Kuan, Plate & Pencil
Near the entrance to the market I spoke first with Diana Kuan, a gracious young Chinese-born woman who teaches cooking, writes cookbooks and produces, through her Plate & Pencil, food-related designs (e.g., on totes, tees and coasters); then with Elissa Stanton who, along with Bex Ames, owns and operates, Brooklyn DIY Supply, an organization providing “do it yourself” equipment and kits for home food crafters.
Farida, Trini Treats
Robyn Frank, Thumbs Cookies
Jessica Quon, JamStand
Sour Puss Pickles
Mike’s Hot Honey
At the market was Farida, founder of Trini Treats, selling traditional Trinidad confections such as kurma and coconut burfi, Alex Crosier of the Granola Lab selling a variety of hand-mixed granolas, Robyn Frank of Thumbs Cookies, maker of tiny shortbread cookie treats, Jessica Quon of the JamStand selling various sweet and peppery fruit compotes. I sampled snappy veggies at Sour Puss Pickles; I stopped to chat with Mike’s Hot Honey, but Mike didn’t mind; he makes chili infused honeys which apparently pair with almost everything; other vendors were enthusiastically putting it on their pizza.
Gustavo Frias, Gustavo’s Salsa
I spoke briefly with Gustavo Frias of Gustavo’s Salsa while standing over a hefty stone pestle full of fresh salsa. I sampled the products offered by Jenny at Better Off Spread, nut butters with additional exotic flavors; she got her training in a peanut butter and jelly café in the West Village more than a decade ago. From each vendor with whom I had the conversation I learned that their products were produced in commercial kitchens (i.e., not in the home) and the raw materials were, to the extent possible, sourced locally. The experience was a delightful one, perhaps enhanced by the first sustained, spring-like weather we have enjoyed in some weeks. I just liked the “vibe”. Sadly, this was a one day event.
Keep an eye out for more Batchery events contemplated in the future. I feel obliged to apologize to the vendors I could not meet. (These included the apparently well-established “Greenpoint Trading”, selling herbs and seasonings, and “I heart Keenwah”, selling intriguing Keenwah (nee Quinoa) clusters, and the seemingly more home-spun FattyCakesNY) but, in part compensation, the reason was because these stands were always crowded with noshing patrons. (If I had sampled the FattyCakes wares, I would likely have to suggest the event be called Debatchery – but I don’t want to wear out my welcome.)
Photos by Fred Cohen. To see more of Fred’s photos, go to the website for Fred Cohen Photography.
Click on the name to go to the vendor’s website.