Last night was a behind-the-scenes preview of the Brooklyn Kitchen store’s mammoth new space, Brooklyn Kitchen Labs and the Meat Hook, which opens to the public on November 16. The space, a few blocks from their current store in Williamsburg, will house a food market, a retail butcher, classroom space, and a kitchenware shop.
If you’re not familiar with the store, it’s a center for home food crafts like canning, jam making, and pickling, with classes taught by local experts like Kelly Geary of Sweet Deliverance catering and Bob McClure of McClure’s Pickles, above. As people have gotten more interested in knowing where their food comes from, the classes have been a hit, maybe none more so than butchering. As an understanding of the horrors of factory farming have penetrated the general consciousness, and poisonings from tainted meat have become a regular occurrence, it’s no wonder people are curious to come face to face with what they eat, thus the popularity of classes demonstrating how to break a whole animal down into recognizable food.
I’m most excited to have a place to do bulk shopping in my neighborhood. I was ecstatic when Chloe Brownstein, BK’s Education Coordinator, told me that in addition to dry goods, they would be selling bulk olive oil; shoppers will make a one-time purchase of a glass bottle to carry the oil, and then bring the bottle back for refills. As someone who hates discarding and even recycling containers, this is great news.
The 7000-square foot space is, well, astounding. It is beautiful in its simplicity, with plenty of exposed brick wall and skylights, and already filled with Harry and Taylor’s collection of vintage kitchen tools and cookbook collection, including bound copies of Gourmet magazine going back to at least the 70’s. The star attraction is an enormous scale once used for weighing rags, left over from the building’s past use as a rag factory. Chloe was kind enough to model in front of it. The stately scale was turned off for the party, but it works and will be used for weighing bulk goods.
The opening is exciting for many reasons. It gives a home to the artisanal and handmade food movement that has been fomenting in Brooklyn over the last few years. Because it’s so big, there is space for demonstrations, lectures, and parties, making it an ideal gathering place. In the words of husband-and-wife owners Harry Rosenblum and Taylor Erkkinen, “This will be the only cooking school in NYC devoted to the education of home cooks…The spirit of community extends throughout the class schedule, with neighborhood business owners filling out the roster.”
I was a little taken aback when I found out last night that my November 19 class, “A Persian Holiday Feast,” would be the first public cooking class at the new space. I have high hopes that the construction dust will have vanished and that the cooking equipment won’t hold any surprises. It should be a fun opportunity to inaugurate the space, and have the first post-class hangout and communal meal over Persian food. Harry and Taylor are inspiring people to be around. They seem like they’re just following their dream and having a blast, and that anyone can do the same. I’m glad they’ve set up shop in my neighborhood. See the full class schedule and more info about the new store here: http://www.thebrooklynkitchen.com/