Thursday, November 12, 2009

Brooklyn Kitchen goes whole hog with 'Food Dork Community Center'

Previously we shared news about the Brooklyn Kitchen's new venture, Brooklyn Kitchen Labs. Here's a more in-depth look at the school/butcher/supply store, opening November 16.

By Aaron Short

Taylor Erkkinen and Harry Rosenblum, the popular co-owners of the three-year old Brooklyn Kitchen, always wanted a place to experiment with unusual ingredients and offer a range of cooking classes occurring with increasing regularity in their cramped kitchenware store at Lorimer Street and Skillman Avenue.

Down the street, Marlow and Daughters’ (95 Broadway) carnivorous butcher Tom Mylan (pictured) was growing restless. Mylan enjoyed teaching pig butchering classes at the Brooklyn Kitchen for the past two years, but wanted to do more creatively in a larger space.

“I really respect Mark (Firth) and Andrew (Tarlow) at Diner. They offered me a unique environment for us to grow but at a certain point, you have to go off on your own and do your own thing,” said Mylan.

His conversations with Rosenblum and Erkkinen and two-ex Diner chefs led to their purchase of a new test kitchen, Brooklyn Kitchen Labs, a 7,000-square-foot former warehouse adjacent to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. It is the kitchen of their dreams. On November 16, it will be a reality, rivaling the Park Slope Food Co-op as the epicenter of Brooklyn foodie activity.

“It was so big and beautiful we had no choice but to buy it,” said Mylan. “We want to work out our collective obsessions here and turn the place into a Food Dork Community Center for all our friends in the Brooklyn food community.”

That’s the hope anyway. In reality, Rosenblum explained that there will be two laboratories consisting of two teaching spaces, one 1,500 square feet and the other 1,000 square feet with room for 35 to 60 hands on demonstrations. There will also be a full-service custom butcher shop called The Meat Hook (run by Mylan), a bulk room of locally sourced dry goods and oils, brewing and baking supplies, and even a research library of out of print cookbooks for the particularly food-obsessed.

“We’re not going to be set up as an incubator for small businesses,” said Rosenblum. “We’re set up primarily for home cooks, people who come in and say, ‘Hey I want to make this thing or help me figure it out.’ We will be uniquely suited to that.”

Once the laboratory is up and running, Rosenblum explained that there will be chefs and cooking experts on hand throughout the day and on weekends to help neighborhood foodies figure out the latest culinary challenge, no matter how weird. Classes ranging from knife skills to bread-making to kombucha, an elaborate process for making fermented tea, will be offered at the labs, with all the care and expertise previously available at The Brooklyn Kitchen, but with more space and a commercial dishwasher.

“We should have a Persian or Latin-themed Thanksgiving sides class, but we’re going to see what people want to learn,” said Rosenblum.

Mylan is particularly excited not only about operating his own butcher shop, which he hopes will become “the best butcher stop in New York State,” but about learning from so many colleagues warehoused in the same space.

“I can’t wait to take a bread-making class or a pasta-making class,” said Mylan. “No one knows it all in food.”

The Brooklyn Kitchen Labs, located at 100 Frost St., will be open on November 16. For more information call 718-389-2982.


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