“Last year we had way more produce than we could use, so this year, we tried to scale back a little bit to hit the sweet spot a little more closely.”
Meet George Weld, the owner/chef of Egg, a friendly, neighborhood restaurant in Brooklyn, New York focusing on farm-to-table southern cuisine. At Egg, the word “comfort” isn’t taken lightly, and diners who want a taste of the South done authentically and simply know to come, and keep coming back here. They’ve got homemade buttermilk biscuits & gravy, heaping servings of the tastiest grits, juicy fried chicken, Carolina kale, pulled pork, hot ham, pimento cheese and, of course, eggs, lots of eggs. Up until three years ago, the restaurant worked closely with local farmers to provide the fresh produce featured on their seasonal menus. Now, they are able to provide almost all the vegetables they need for their dishes from their own 6-acre farm, Goatfell Farm, located 2.5 hours from the restaurant in upstate New York – a personal, passion project that George had been thinking about for many years.
George bought and started Goatfell Farm because he wanted to reconnect to land and agriculture, a relationship he recalls from childhood, but lost through the many years of city life. For him, it’s not a vanity project, it’s a project where he feels the restaurant can make a real difference in not only providing wholesome food to his customers, but in providing education to himself and his staff on the difficulties and rewards of food production. And, farming his own land hasn’t been easy, George says, “I think what I learned since we started doing it, both, that it’s really hard, and that people who decide to run big, successful produce operations are geniuses.”
Does he think all restaurants should have a farm? No. He doesn’t believe it’s morally superior to having a restaurant that doesn’t have a farm. It’s just something George wanted to do and had to do because of his desire to have a closer relationship to food. As you’ll see from the story, it’s taught him enough to know that this is the start of something he plans to keep doing for decades – not only at Egg, but in a new farm-to-table restaurant he’s planning.
135 N 5th Street, Brooklyn, New York 11222
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“Ultimately, I hope our customers have a great experience. I hope it cools them down. I hope it reminds them of their youth. And, most of all, I hope they avoid brain freeze…”
Meet Alex Rein, the founder and CEO of Kelvin’s Natural Slush Co., an adult-friendly frozen slush company founded two years ago in New York City. According to Alex, his slushes are far better than anything you can get at a local convenient store, featuring base flavors and pureed fruit mix-ins designed for mature taste buds. Basically, a pretty compelling reason to relive your childhood without the embarrassment of holding an actual 7-11 Slurpee cup. And in the heat of summer, there’s nothing more refreshing than these beautifully layered, icy drinks.
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“Because our industry is relatively small, we’ve developed a close relationship with a lot of different characters both on the buying side and the selling side, and there’s probably no better example than Saul Zabar. He’s definitely one of the last remaining members of the ‘old guard’. He’s a book of knowledge and kind of a historian of smoked fish.” -Adam Caslow, Vice President, ACME Smoked Fish
Meet Saul Zabar, the co-owner of Zabar’s, a famous specialty food shop on the Upper West Side of New York City. Over the decades, Zabar’s has developed a reputation for high quality product and service when it comes to smoked fish. Their smoked fish department is one of the busiest fish counters in the city, hand-slicing and selling thousands of pounds of smoked fish to loyal customers every week. It’s a reputation Zabar’s is very, very proud of; and Saul believes a lot of it has to do with his keen taste for smoked fish.
Not long ago, I had the rare opportunity to join Saul during his weekly visit to ACME Smoked Fish in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, to see how he hand-selects fish for his shop’s fish counter. ACME is Zabar’s main smoked fish supplier – sourcing, smoking, packaging and delivering over 90% of the store’s smoked fish. According to ACME, it’s a “family” tradition and a very special relationship that began over 50 years ago, a weekly visit that often comes with a basket of Zabar’s fresh bagels and rugelach. A tradition they are both sure will continue for years to come…
So, enjoy this special behind-the-scenes experience. You can think of it as: a little taste of history.
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“I don’t know anything else, no office job or anything like that, just fish. So, I fell into the fish.”
Meet Aftabudin Rayman and Peter Wojick, the fish smokers behind the hot-smoked fish division at ACME Smoked Fish in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. ACME Smoked Fish is the largest smoked fish house in the country, processing 6-8 million pounds of assorted fish for stores and seafood counters every year. According to Rayman, the head fish smoker, “to be successful at this job, you can’t look at it as just a job, an ordinary job”. To him, a successful fish smoker’s priority should be the fish, always the fish, that internal drive to achieve moist, smoky meat with a perfect golden hue everytime – not doing the job “to get an increase in pay”. And running a hot-smoked fish operation isn’t an easy task: working 10-12 hour days on your feet, constantly breathing in smoke, wheeling heavy racks of hanging fish over slippery floors. It’s physically demanding, which is why devotion like Rayman’s is hard to come by.
So come watch their story and discover the fascinating and delicate process of hot-smoking fish. It truly is a craft, a craft that takes passion, a certain “thoughtlessness” to it, and tens of years to master. Enjoy!
And for a real Brooklyn experience, stop by on Fish Fridays at ACME where they open up the smokehouse outlet to the local Greenpoint community for 5 hours to shop for freshly smoked seafood. You’ll get to meet the employees and mingle with loyal ACME customers who’ve been eating their product for decades. Here’s the address:
Acme Smoked Fish
30 Gem Street (Just off North 15th Street)
Greenpoint, New York
ACME Hot-Smoked Products to Lookout For
- Whitefish salad
- Kippered Salmon
- Sable (Alaskan Black Cod)
- Brook Trout
- Plain & Peppered Bluefish
- Plain & Peppered Mackerel
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