"This is my soapbox!" Taylor Erkkinen, co-founder of the now 11-year-old Brooklyn Kitchen, says of her determination to bring home cooking back to the kitchens of New York City. Erkkinen, along with business partner Harry Rosenblum, have doubled down on this mission, opening up a new culinary education-focused outpost of the Brooklyn Kitchen inside Industry City, the industrial complex-turned incubator space along the waterfront in Sunset Park.
"There's something missing in how a lot of people perceive cooking and it's become more project-based or meal-based or even Instagram picture-based, where everybody wants to make the Instagram-ready shot and it's not necessarily considering what goes into or what comes out of the food on a continuous basis," Erkkinen says. "So we're advocating for cooking continuously."
Erkkinen defines continuous cooking as cooking a little bit each day—making a pot of beans or roasting a chicken, for example—that will contribute a little bit to multiple meals over the course of several days. "It's the concept that there's always food around and it's not that you're shopping for a paella and you get a $25 tin of saffron that you don't use again because you're only thinking of it as a component for one dish. It's a rolling change, but we're trying to change our curriculum so it's more informative of the practice to cook progressively."
The new space will offer many of the core classes on things like knife skills, fresh pasta-making, and homemade pizza, but will add new classes including one that's "All About Eggs," a nod to the Lucky Peach book, and another that's literally "How To Boil Water," for people who really want to learn basic, fundamental cooking skills. "We want to change the world by teaching people to cook like grown-ass adults," Erkkinen concludes.
There's also a small, outdoor alley/patio space where they'll stash two grills for tutorials on subjects like surf and turf, partnering with local businesses like Greenpoint Fish and Lobster.
Brooklyn Kitchen began in 2006 as a kitchen wares shop in Williamsburg that expanded into a grocery store, butcher shop and go-to resource for food and cooking education. The new space will be condensed and won't have the big retail component that the Frost Street location boasts. There will be a small retail corner for purchasing tools people used during their classes, but competition from online retailers means it makes little sense to consider stocking a large supply of cookware and appliances.
As for the future of the Williamsburg store, Erkkinen tells Gothamist that the building is on the market and there's an interest by one party in putting together a deal to purchase the whole block. If that happens, the future for the store is unclear. Even if they do have to abandon their first home, Erkkinen acknowledges that it's probably for the best and that Williamsburg will be just fine without them, considering local supermarkets are stocking more local products and there's that big Whole Foods now.
"The environment that we're in underneath the BQE has gone from quirky and authentic to being a liability at this point," according to Erkkinen. "With the L train shutting down in a couple of years I just want to broaden our horizons and broaden our access to different parts of Brooklyn and different parts of New York."