Originally started in 1996 as a celebration of the borough’s best restaurants, the first event was held at the Pfizer Building in Williamsburg.
“The restaurant scene in Brooklyn ever since has exploded and is doing great,” said chamber CEO Andrew Hoan. “And so we shifted it to be a tasting for food and beverage manufacturers that are making their products right here in Brooklyn.”
The goal of the event is twofold, according to Hoan. The chamber invites buyers from across the world to interact with the dozens of exhibitors, and it’s also an opportunity for the public to get to know the people behind some of the best food and drink in the borough.
“For every contract they land, that’s an employee,” Hoan said of the exhibitors. “That’s someone making good money and helping to feed their family.”
The food manufacturing scene in Brooklyn is especially unique because of its diversity.
“When you walk around here, you’ll find ice cream inspired by India,” Hoan said. “You can get the best beef patties from Jamaica, you can taste flavors from Korea. The secret sauce is the people. And because Brooklyn is the world, so too are the flavors that come out of it.”
Brooklyn Bangers is thriving in the unique Brooklyn food manufacturing scene. The company started in the basement of The Vanderbilt Restaurant and Bar in Prospect Heights, eventually expanding to Brooklyn Flea, then scoring a contract with the Barclay’s Center.
You can now buy the sausages at local Trader Joe’s stores.
Ben Yavel said events like Brooklyn Eats help get their name and product out there in a crowded Brooklyn food scene. Despite all the competition, he thinks food made in Brooklyn has a special appeal to consumers.
“Everybody wants stuff made in Brooklyn,” Yavel said. “People trust that stuff made in Brooklyn is going to be higher quality and more interesting.”
Rooftop Reds is a vineyard on rooftop space at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. They host weekly events in their rooftop tasting room that overlooks the 15,000-square-foot vineyard.
“Now there’s this whole food movement going on in the Brooklyn Navy Yard,” said Devin Shomaker. “There’s so much more food programming coming in.”
Mast Brothers chocolate just moved in, a brewery is coming soon and the space is already home to multiple distilleries.
“It’s just building this community around like-minded food and beverage startup businesses, and also its really supporting the high-tech small entrepreneurial businesses coming there that need outlets to do stuff,” he said. “It creates a really nice community and energy.”