On June 24, Brooklyn food and drink distributors, buyers, makers, bakers and foodies are joining together for the Brooklyn Eats food festival, which will join cuisines and cooking from all over the Borough. It’s like a food crawl from Williamsburg or Carroll Gardens to Sheepshead Bay and Bay Ridge — all in one day. Better still, the vendors will be there in-person, so you can ask them questions about their top recipes, and try samples while you’re at it.
The trade show, sponsored by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, celebrates both the old and new culinary cultures of Brooklyn. Among its 100 vendors every major food group will be represented — from chocolate and cupcakes to lobster, fine Italian restaurants, spices and spirits, brewers and butchers, and more, promising an immersive experience.
The event, which costs $10 to attend, will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 24 in the Grand Ballroom at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, at 333 Adams Street. Interested in attending? Register here.
We’ve assembled here a selection of vendors, some that represent the “old” Brooklyn makers and restaurants, and the “new” generation that’s keeping the culinary values of Brooklyn — innovative and wide-ranging — alive.
Register here and try these Brooklyn foods at this event.
Brooklyn Food Purveyors
JoMart Chocolates has been run by Michael Rogak’s family since 1946 — after leaving the Army, his father started the candy-making business as a way to lighten people’s lives. The plan has been a fruitful one. JoMart sells a nearly endless variety of sweet treats: chocolate-dipped snacks, handmade candy bars, and healthy sugar-free delicacies. Using the same stove his father used, and the same kettles owned by his grandfather, Michael Rogak (pictured) bakes his sweets on site, and JoMart offers confectionary classes so future generations can learn the family recipes too.
A private-label chocolatier in Brooklyn for more than 10 years, making custom-packaged chocolates along with its own lines of chocolate bars, cookie butter spreads, and bon bons, Tumbador Chocolate imparts Brooklyn with some pastry star-power. Its Nostalgia collection reimagines and refines childhood favorites into luxury chocolate, with their red velvet snack cakes and campfire s’mores — all under the auspices of executive pastry chef Jean-François Bonnet, an alum of Daniel Boulud’s flagship restaurant Daniel. Chef Boulud notes that Chef Bonnet “has the technique of an artisan and the creativity of an artist.”
Aunt Butchie’s Desserts
Aunt Butchie’s Desserts brings a bit of Staten Island into the borough. Started in 1992 in a small room above a restaurant on Arthur Kill Road across the Verrazano, Aunt Butchie, aka Irene Santo, and her son Frank migrated to Bensonhurst and have transformed their family dessert recipes and specialty cake items into a regional wholesale and retail juggernaut. Their chocolate mousse, New York–style cheesecakes, and new cheesecake cone, among many others, have found eager appetites in nearly a dozen states, with restaurants, amusement parks, hotels and supermarkets counted among their clientele.
Started by two sisters who converted their weekend family home-baking into a full-fledged business, Brooklyn Cupcake has become one of New York’s most celebrated cupcake shops. Carmen Rodriguez and Gina Madera have whipped up a full list of Puerto Rican and Italian recipes designed to highlight their key ingredients. If you’ve never had a tiramisu or tres leches cupcake, they always make sure to have full trays — although the cupcakes don’t stay for long!
Opened in 1930 by Hassan Halaby, Damascus Bakery was named as a reminder of the home he left behind in Syria. His brick-oven-baked pita bread began feeding downtown Depression-era Brooklyn, and through the years the bakery grew as the family sent their products to restaurants and stores across the country. Today the third generation still runs the operation, and their vegetable and meat pies, baklava, bird’s nests, kanafa rolls (shredded wheat pastries filled with custard or nut paste), and dozens of other breads and sweets have embedded themselves as a bona fide Brooklyn institution. Damascus Bakery, predating America’s fitness consciousness by decades, prides itself on the health aspects of their whole wheat pita, lahvash and panini recipes they bake every day.
The tale of Leske’s Bakery is feel-good proof that you can come home again. The bakery first made its home in Bay Ridge in 1961, when the neighborhood was a Scandinavian enclave. And while they started as a Danish bakery, they slowly came to include other Brooklyn ethnicities in their repertoire. Leske’s was forced to close in 2011, much to the disappointment of generations of customers. But in 2012, only a year later, it was resurrected by a group of friends guided by irreconcilable pangs of nostalgia: Kenny Grande, John Giglio, Steven DeSimone and Stephen Howe wished to re-create the bakery they had loved in their childhood. With the blessing of the Leske family, they brought modern expertise to the old recipes, and Leske’s has resumed its status as Bay Ridge’s beloved bakery.
This family-owned business is a testament to pluck and determination. After the Alaimo family moved to Brooklyn from their home in Sicily, and after working their family trade as bakers throughout the city, in 1979 they opened their own bakery. Villabate Alba has now been serving Sicilian sweets for more than three generations. While butter cookies, gelato and cannoli are on display, the almond or lemon pastries are a treat you shouldn’t miss — they’re as beautiful to look at as they are delicious to eat.
John Ratliff is the founder and head butcher at Ends Meat — a whole-animal salumeria in Sunset Park. A former restaurant chef who taught himself how to smoke, cure and slice, Ratliff can be found most days cutting up a pig right there on the front counter — a bit of old Brooklyn, coupled with one being greeted at the store by strung dried sopressata and bresaola. Providing locally sourced and farm-to-table, Ends Meat offers thickly stacked sandwiches like roasted beef neck, chicken caesar, muffuletta and pigstrami. They do all this while also paying attention to the vegetarians: They serve veggie burgers, falafel wraps, sides and salads, the soup of the day is often vegetarian — and they make their own pickles.
I.M. Pastry Studio
I.M. Pastry is an example of Brooklyn entrepreneurship in the digital age: It opened recently in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens after successfully crowd-funding on Kickstarter. It offers cakes and cupcakes with homemade buttercream frosting, and special cupcakes made with tequila or rum, but the real star of the shop are their elaborately frosted specialty cakes. The bakers can make anything into a cake — footballs, crowns, teddy bears and roller skates (pictured) — but they also apply that same frosting skill to craft beautifully baroque wedding cakes.