Meet a Half-Dozen Hopeful New Smorgasburg Vendors
Beehive Oven’s ham-and-Brie biscuit. Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

In its five-year existence, the Brooklyn Flea—and particularly its food-centric offspring, Smorgasburg—has become more than a biweekly excuse to eat to artisanally crafted excess. It’s both a chronicler and arbiter of current culinary trends (“I tasted four different pimento cheeses this winter,” says Flea co-founder and gatekeeper Eric Demby, who also records unprecedented growth in yogurt, hot sauce, and southern comfort food); a vehicle for established restaurants to expand their brands and for restless kitchen grunts to strike out on their own; and, judging by this year’s roster, a magnet for disillusioned lawyers desperate to trade the courtroom for the commissary kitchen. When Smorgasburg reopens on Saturday, April 6, it will be located one block north of its prior digs on the Williamsburg waterfront, within the grounds of East River State Park at Kent Avenue and North 7th Street. The slightly larger space allows for fifteen to twenty additional vendors, totaling 110 to 115 each week. These will include the debuts of restaurant brands like Baohaus’s congee, Brooklyn Wok Shop’s soup dumplings, and Kyotofu’s fresh tofu, plus brand-new ventures showcasing flavors from around the world: Daal House’s Kerala-style legumes and rice, Deji’s Korean pub food and foie gras beignets, NYShuk’s hand-rolled couscous, and Scharf & Zoyer’s noodle-kugel sandwiches and other revived relics of Jewish dairy cuisine. (Amid all the Smorgasburg hubbub, don’t forget the Fort Greene Flea, also commencing April 6, where the defunct Noho sandwich shop Crosby Connection will resurrect itself.) To whet your appetite, here’s a preview of six first-time Smorgasburgers.

*This article originally appeared in the April 8, 2013 issue of New York Magazine.

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The product: Old-world yogurt, in Greek (strained and thick) and Persian (looser and tarter) forms, sold in five flavors including the onion-dip-like Moosir (seasoned with leopoldia, a bulbous plant from Iran). The vendor: Former finance attorney Homa Dashtaki, who joined forces with her retired restaurateur father. The spiel: Dashtaki sources milk from Hudson Valley Fresh and shares manufacturing space with Salvatore Bklyn. “My favorite way to eat the Moosir is to dump a whole jar over potato chips.” End goal: Expansion into more markets and New York restaurant kitchens. Photo: Brad Trent/copyright 2012
The products: Brisket-and-black-bean chili and four flavors of cornbread, sold separately or as a shared plate. The vendors: Disgruntled lawyer Jack Sorock left his job determined to turn cornbread into a career; he persuaded chef friend Jon Ellsaesser, currently of David Burke Townhouse, to sell the chili he’s been tweaking for five years. The spiel: Cheddar and ricotta cheeses are the secret of Sorock’s cornbread; Ellsaesser braises his first-cut brisket in veal stock and is “obsessed” with red Fresno chiles. End goal: For Sorock, his own business; for Ellsaesser, a spice-mix sideline. Photo: Brad Trent/copyright 2012
The product: Beer cheese. The vendors: Jim Carden and Andy Templar, friends since the fourth grade in Lexington, Kentucky, and co-founders of three Brooklyn bars, with partner Kevin Avanzato. The spiel: According to Templar, in beer cheese’s Bluegrass-region birthplace, “everyone’s grandmother has her own recipe.” The partners are quite secretive about theirs, keeping the source of their New York State Cheddar and the brand of medium lager they use under wraps. End goal: The team has gotten their original flavor and two new ones (smoky bacon and spicy jalapeño) into Brooklyn shops like Blue Apron Foods and Eastern District; from here, the world. Photo: Brad Trent/copyright 2012
The product: Old-fashioned bagels, made with a sourdough starter and slow fermentation, plus fresh cream cheese. The vendor: Melissa Weller, former head baker at Roberta’s and Per Se. The spiel: The first bagel of Weller’s Pennsylvanian youth was probably a frozen Lender’s, but she knows a real one when she sees it. “There used to be a hole in the center. Now there’s not. The new ones with dough conditioners and quick fermentationare omnipresent and too big.” Her mission: Restore flavor, chew, and appropriate size. End goal: To raise financing for a Brooklyn bakery where she’ll sell pastries, breads, sandwiches, and real bagels. Photo: Brad Trent/copyright 2012
The product: Scratch nachos. The vendors: Bushwick-based chef couple Christopher Davin and Jill Meerpohl, who cook at Egg and Saltie, respectively, spend every Monday night watching football and eating nachos at their local, 983, and hope to elevate their favorite food. The spiel: They’re frying tortilla chips from Brooklyn’s Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos, sourcing papalo and chiles from Mexican groceries, experimenting with cured meats like guanciale and head cheese, and using hot sauce and pickled peppers that Meerpohl put up from the last of the season’s CSA haul. End goal: To cook together professionally. Photo: Brad Trent/copyright 2012
The product: “Heritage biscuits,” buttered and jammed or stuffed with fried chicken or ham and Brie. The vendors: Treva Chadwell, Texas-born freelance food stylist and recipe developer for Food Network and the Today show, and her tech-salesman husband, John. The spiel: Chadwell makes her own condiments like pickled squash and Jezebel sauce, a sweet-and-spicy blend of apples, pineapple, horseradish, mustard, and red-pepper flakes. End goal: Their own bakery and café, and distribution to restaurants, supermarkets, and hotels. Photo: Brad Trent/copyright 2012
Meet a Half-Dozen Hopeful New Smorgasburg Vendors