This year’s edition of Brooklyn Eats calls for all foodies as the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce brings together nearly 100 local food and beverage vendors under one roof at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, on Friday, June 23. With vendors varying from sweet and savory treats to spicy condiments and ice-cold beverages, we decided to interview five vendors you should keep an eye out for on Friday.
We started off by speaking to Nathan Heggem, Customer Experience Manager of Bee Raw, who will be “participating in Brooklyn Eats to get to know our neighbors and fellow entrepreneurs, and to meet retailers who might share our outlook.” While national food shows can get hectic, the hyper-local focus of Brooklyn Eats will allow Bee Raw to ensure its end goal of “thoughtful growth while continuing to make a positive impact” is met.
What is Bee Raw all about?
“Bee Raw thrives on the belief that what tastes good can also be good for you and good for the planet, and that small indulgences should be enjoyed daily. We create a simple, beautiful array of the highest-quality products and experiences, all made with pride and care—responsibly, sustainably and fairly.”
How did the idea of starting Bee Raw come about?
“We have been working with individual beekeepers since 1999 and have operated as Bee Raw for more than ten years. The idea was to offer the most diverse assortment of varietal honey in the marketplace, and to do so in a way that honored the natural beauty of the product. To this day, our glass jars and vials highlight the broad spectrum of colors that characterize varietal honey – honey made from a single floral source.”
What will we be tasting at your booth at Brooklyn Eats 2017?
Started in 1946 by the son of a candymaker, JoMart Chocolates celebrates the good things in life. Since its first years, people have travelled from all corners of the five boroughs to Franklin Avenue to buy chocolates and other confections at JoMart. Sixty years later, the candymaker’s son, Michael Rogak, has taken over the handles to copper kettles and will be in attendance at Brooklyn Eats with his daughter, Lauren.
Why did your father decide to open a chocolate factory and shop?
“My dad served during WWll. After the military service he decided to open a chocolate factory and shop in 1946. The rationale was simple. For years the war prevented people from celebrating holidays and occasions, but now that the war was over, people could get back to living and celebrating. He also decided that by making a high-quality product, it would be harder for others to compete with him, which is why the shop is still around and those he once competed against are long gone”
Why are you excited for Brooklyn Eats 2017?
“This year is a bit different than my past involvement with Brooklyn Eats. We are in the process of taking over another company – Liddabit Sweets – so this will be our first Brooklyn coming-out party! We will be featuring several items that represent both of our companies, such as our new Hazelnut Truffles, our famous hand-crafted Marshmallows, and our decadent Butter Crunch. On the Liddabit side we will be sampling our vegan caramel popcorn, sponge candy, salted caramels and a surprise or two from both of us.”
As July gets closer, the heat is becoming a constant in Brooklyn, so we spoke to Pooja Bavishi, Founder and CEO of Malai, one of the ice cream vendors that will keep you cool at Brooklyn Eats this year! With smooth ice cream flavors such as Rose with Cinnamon Roasted Almonds, Orange Fennel, Golden Turmeric and Salted Browned Butter Pecan, you are bound to find your new summertime favorite.
What does Malai mean and how is your product made?
“Malai, figuratively meaning ‘cream of the crop,’ and literally translating to ‘milkfat,’ in a North Indian language, is an ice cream company that draws inspiration from globally-sourced whole ingredients, aromatic spices, and unexpected twists on old classics. Our super-premium ice cream is handcrafted, eggless, and churned with very little air, resulting in purer, more robust flavors, as well as the lightest, creamiest textures you can find.”
How did the idea of starting Malai come about?
“I have always loved making desserts, and always had a passion to create new flavors. I started making ice cream in my last year of business school, when I decided to make something to go alongside my desserts. I looked in my spice cabinet, filled with the spices that I grew up with – cardamom, saffron, and nutmeg – to see what I could flavor my ice cream with. Because ice cream has such a blank palate, it takes on whatever flavor you give it, and that is exactly what happened. I realized that there are no ice cream brands out there that are spice-driven, and that is the concept that started Malai.”
What excites you about participating in this year’s Brooklyn Eats?
“We love participating in Brooklyn Eats because of the excitement that surrounds the food world in Brooklyn. Brooklyn really is the center of incredible, artisanal products, and food innovation, and it’s so exciting to be surrounded by all of that at a single event. We also love that it’s open to the public, and there is access for everyone to see and taste new products, and even get a chance to meet the makers.”
Now that our mouths are watering… What will we get a taste of on Friday?
“We’re featuring samples of our best sellers from Smorgasburg, including Rose with Cinnamon Roasted Almonds, Masala Chai and Sea Salt Vanilla.”
Born in Brooklyn, Tumbador Chocolate was opened by Chef Jean-François Bonnet and his business partner Michael Altman in 2005. From nostalgia chocolates, such as chocolate-covered cookies to chocolate-covered baguettes and fruit and nut bars, there is something for everyone to love at this local chocolate shop!
How does Tumbador Chocolate make a difference in Brooklyn?
“Our company has been creating employment opportunities and stimulating local economic growth for over a decade. The Tumbador Chocolate brand line includes approximately 55 signature confections. We also create private label products and packaging for other companies. Our staff is as special and diverse as our products. Many employees are given a second chance through community based programs such as Strive, Goodwill and The Fortune Society.”
What makes Tumbador Chocolate special?
“For Jean-François, Tumbador Chocolate is a labor of creativity and passion. His enthusiasm for blending classic American confections with artisan sensibilities is reflected in each distinctive recipe he creates. Signature confections blend exotic fruits, spices and herbs with all-American ingredients, including peanuts, crispy rice and graham crackers, into irresistible chocolates.”
Why are you participating in this year’s Brooklyn Eats, and what will you bring?
We have participated in Brooklyn Eats for the past four years. It is a rewarding opportunity to mingle with fellow food manufacturers, taste what’s cooking in Brooklyn and meet industry buyers. On the table, you will find our signature recipe chocolate bars, organic peanut butter cups, nostalgia goodies and more.
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Brooklyn Eats is presented through the generous support of sponsors, both houses of the New York State Legislature and the New York City Council. The cost to exhibitors is nominal and includes a one year membership to the Brooklyn Chamber to allow growing food businesses to access Chamber services all year round.