07/11/16 11:52am
Lukas Volger's vegetarian recipes are full of flavor and crunch. All photos: Spencer Starnes

Lukas Volger’s vegetarian recipes are full of flavor and crunch. All photos: Spencer Starnes

Brooklyn, as well all know by now, is home to an incredibly dynamic food community of adventurous chefs and makers. While the local food scene became known early on for its bacon-infused excess, a new crop of vegetable-driven restaurants and food businesses have bloomed in response to a demand for bright, lively flavors and lighter fare in recent years. We chatted with a few vegetable-obsessed makers whose products are delicious, nutritious and available in Brooklyn, for your snacking pleasure.

It took me more than a year—and hundreds of dirty pans—to come up with our brownie but it was worth it. Now I can eat dessert for breakfast if I want. And I often want to!

Pure Genius Provisions

If your sweet tooth tends to undermine your healthy eating habits, Nancy Kalish can relate. She founded Pure Genius Provisions after developing a chickpea-based recipe for brownies and chocolate chunk blondies, which both succeed in scratching that dessert itch without spiking your blood sugar.

Name: Nancy Kalish, founder and CEO, Pure Genius Provisions

What’s your favorite item that you make? Well, for me, the chocolatier the better. So I have to pick the first product I ever created, our Deep Chocolate Brownie. It doesn’t get more fudgy than that! You’d never know it was vegan and gluten-free.

Choco chickpea going in the oven in Nancy Kalish's Carroll Gardens apartment and test kitchen. Photo: Spencer Starnes

Chocolate chunk blondies go in the oven in Nancy Kalish’s Carroll Gardens apartment and test kitchen. Photo: Spencer Starnes

Where’s your kitchen? I do all my R&D in my home kitchen in Carroll Gardens where I have a multitude of mixers, dozens of baking pans, 50lb bags of chocolate chips, gallons of maple syrup and boxes of products in development. There’s barely any room for anything else. My husband is a saint! Our products are then produced in an gluten-free, allergen-free bakery.

Raw ingredients sit measured and ready to become brownies. Photo: Spencer Starnes

Raw ingredients sit measured and ready to become brownies. Photo: Spencer Starnes

How did you get here? I’m a former health journalist. So I’ve always known what to eat to be healthy. But I have a raging sweet tooth! I could never find a treat that really satisfied me and that I wouldn’t feel terrible about eating. So I got busy in the kitchen. It took me more than a year—and hundreds of dirty pans—to come up with our brownie but it was worth it. Now I can eat dessert for breakfast if I want. And I often want to!

Will you tell us something surprising that we probably don’t know about your sweets? Our brownies and blondies are made from more than 40% chickpeas (we’re talking the whole beans, not flour). (more…)

01/08/14 3:00pm
Kai-D-Utility

Need a parka for this Polar Vortex? Williamsburg designer Kai Fan has a few you can brave the cold in now and many winters to come. Photo: Kai D. Utility

If Jacques Cousteau were alive and looking to update his wardrobe, he would feel right at home inside Kai D. Utility on Grand Street in Williamsburg. Menswear designer Kai Fan has filled his new shop with workwear pieces for the explorer in all of us–even the ones without a Y chromosome (it’s an ideal place for a female shopper to pick up oversized knits and work shirts other than her boyfriend’s closet). Expeditionists aside, Fan’s store is quickly becoming the go-to place for the city’s creative class who are looking for classic menswear pieces that won’t come apart at the seams at season’s end.

Fan’s designs are functional with military and utilitarian influences-he’s reimagined timeless wardrobe staples from the turn of the 20th century, like waistcoats, trousers, leather-strap suspenders and ties that are modern in cut and tailoring–slim fitted with clean silhouettes executed in rich fabrics (Italian wool and cashmere, cotton twill and moleskin).  Fan says he designs with the New American Artisan in mind, a muse he devised after completing a photo project of the same name.

Kai-D-Utility-porter-navy-blazer“Basically, I sought out people who were doing their own thing–that could be creating a product or mastering their craft,” he explains. “I sought out interesting people I could photograph in my cloths and put together a look book. I had a conversation with them, found out their story, then I asked them to put together two outfits from my collection. It turned out, every single person was from Brooklyn.” (more…)

12/12/13 7:02am
design-parlour-brooklyn-bridge-holiday-card-2

Requests come in from all over the world for Eileen Conlisk’s Brooklyn Bridge cards, which the graphic designers decorates with everything from hearts to snowflakes, depending on the season. Photo: Design Parlour

A hospital stay in 2007 was the unlikely catalyst for Eileen Conlisk to start her own card company. At the time, the graphic designer, who got her BFA at the Rhode Island School of Design, found inspiration for her own small business in the flower bouquets friends and family sent her.

“I just started drawing the flowers in my sketch book, and I just made these really intricate pen and ink drawings of all of the flowers people were giving me,” she says. “I turned them into cards, and approached a bunch of stores with them.”

People started placing orders, which Conlisk filled from her Greenpoint apartment, naming her new business Design Parlour. At a certain point, however, she started getting feedback from her buyers that her cards’ flower motifs and lack of messages might be limiting their appeal to specific customers–who were not exactly the hipsters who frequent North Brooklyn boutiques. “I realized a lot of parents and grandmas and old ladies were buying them,” Conlisk says, “but one store said to me, ‘Your cards don’t say anything on them.’ And for me it was like, ‘I’m an artist. I just want to draw and print my drawings and that’s it. But then I started thinking of the business aspect of it, and I said, ‘You know what, I’m only going to draw things that I believe and and sayings that are true to me.'” (more…)

12/11/13 4:00pm

At_work_Shot1 2As the nexus of Brooklyn’s tech community, Dumbo is best known for its digital landscape. But tucked in amongst its startup companies and art galleries on Washington Street is the studio of Sesame Letterpress and Design where Breck Hostetter makes a living as a printmaker creating cards, stationary and other printed curiosities through a process that’s been around for over five centuries.

“It’s an original method of printing or publishing,” she explains. “We tend to work with 19th century presses. Most of ours are from the 1880s and 1890s. We stick with that style because we really like it. There’s also just something so beautiful about the machine and the way it works that its kind of close to our heart, so we stayed with that era.”

The era Hostetter refers to is known as the Victorian Period, which ended with the death of Queen Victoria, the British monarch, in 1901, and was better known as the Gilded Age on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a period of time that not only produced the presses Hostetter uses to create everything from stationary and invitations to coasters, cards and calendars, but it also produced the inspiration for much of the illustration she adds to her designs.

“We really, really love the Victorian design,” she says. “There’s so much thought to detail and different elements. We also like incorporating a lot of modern aesthetics like color, clean design and bright paper.” (more…)

12/06/13 12:52pm
Designed in Williamsburg, Makr is a new app that allows anyone to custom create card stock or labels for yourself or your small business.

Designed in Williamsburg, Makr is a new free app that allows anyone to custom create card stock or labels for yourself or your small business, which you can either print yourself or place orders for through your iPad.

Every once in awhile, eavesdropping on someone else’s conversation results in something other than a sideways look from strangers–it’s how one of our editors heard about Makr, a new design app developed by a startup company at The Yard in Williamsburg (that hotbed of indie ingenuity). We’re so glad she was listening in because this app has the potential to change the way makers, startups and creative companies across the board brand and market themselves. Or as its lead designer Ellen Johnston puts it, it has the potential to democratize design.

“We’re a small team of designers and engineers and writers, and we really wanted a creativity tool that we could use to make things, whether it’s stuff that we wanted to make for ourselves or to give as gifts,” Johnston says. “As a designer myself, I use professional creativity tools, and it’s just not easy. I’ve been using Photoshop, InDesign and [Adobe] Illustrator for over 15 years and to do something quickly and easily, and then to get it printed, is hard.”

Makr is the best of both worlds when it comes to building your own customized card stock or labels–it is organized by templates (most of which are named after Brooklyn streets) that offer endless possibilities for individual improvements to your projects (so even though you’re not starting from scratch, your design could be completely different from anyone else’s in the end–you can change color, texture, font, transparency, size, spacing and even patterns. You can use the symbols and illustrations Makr’s design team as developed or upload your own to create unique business cards, postcards, labels, stickers, menus, invitations, tags or thank-you cards–essentially every type of paper product you could need for yourself or your small business. (more…)

11/22/13 9:00am

Avid nature hiker Hall Newbegin tries to bottle the smells of his favorite places on the West Coast through his fragrance company Juniper Ridge. Photo: Daniel Broadhurst

Avid hiker Hall Newbegin bottles the smells of his favorite places for his fragrance company Juniper Ridge. Photo: Daniel Broadhurst

It’s safe to say that when most of us are looking for a new signature scent, we don’t start our search by trimming the branches off a cedar tree on N. 7th Street. It was, however, where West Coast fragrance-maker Hall Newbegin started his search while trekking through the neighborhood looking for ingredients to wildcraft a new cologne.

His company, Juniper Ridge, forages for fragrances, inventing new scents using ancient techniques like tincturing (extracting scent by submerging plants in bottles of alcohol) or distilling essential oils, which Newbegin and Obi Kaufmann extract in converted bourbon stills.

“No one in the fragrance world uses stills anymore,” said Newbegin while clipping off a bushel of branches, tucking them under his arm and continuing to case the neighborhood for other natural ingredients. “They say that they use naturals, but I know the one [natural] fragrance…maker in the entire world. He lives in South Africa–it’s a barefoot guy on a farm who makes all the world’s [natural] fragrance oils.”

I’m hoping fragrance becomes, just like wine did, something people will take and run with and get weird with. We’re good at that on the West Coast. We take normal things and get weird with it, just like with cuisine and wine and coffee. –Hall Newbegin

“Years ago, you could buy stuff like this off the shelf,” he adds, pointing to a traveling still used to steam and condense essential oils out of organic matter upon our return to Barber & Supply, where Juniper Ridge will run a pop-up store until Dec. 21. “It’s utterly, utterly obscure and bizarre today. We spent a lot of time going back through old books and seeing how they used to do things. Really, there’s nothing terribly innovative happening here. The technology of this goes back to Alexandria. It goes back 2,000 years. We’re going back to the old ways and doing it in this weird West Coast way.”
(more…)

11/12/13 7:00am

BF+DA provides an interdisciplinary work space that encourages designers to invent, collaborate, and innovate new enterprises. Rendering: Vicky Chan/Avoid Obvious

BF+DA provides an interdisciplinary work space that encourages designers to invent, collaborate, and innovate new enterprises. Rendering: Vicky Chan/Avoid Obvious

When 3rd Ward abruptly shuttered last month, Brooklyn’s design community found itself in sudden need of a new creative hub–and the Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator looks to be its most likely successor.

The Accelerator isn’t just interested in fashion designers–product designers, filmmakers, photographers and media artists are also encouraged to apply–but it is looking for highly ambitious and talented people.

 BF+DA is set to launch in early 2014 and is currently accepting applications from environmentally and socially responsible startups. The Accelerator, which will occupy 15,000 square feet in the old Pfizer Building on Flushing Avenue on the South Williamsburg-Bed-Stuy border, was spearheaded by Pratt Institute, with additional funding from the city and state. It’s intended to help designers turn great ideas into viable business ventures by giving them access to workspace (both co-working and private studios); digital-manufacturing capabilities like a 3D rapid prototyping center, laser cutting machines, digital printing for textiles and multiple-gauge knitting machines; a resource library of sustainable materials; and a production facility where they can have one to 50 units of their products manufactured at a time. BF+DA will also have a plaza space, which can accommodate everything from lectures and conferences to runway shows, as well as on-site business development and legal services, industry mentors and classes in entrepreneurship.

The hope is that by combining digital and traditional production practices, startups will become successful and socially responsible at the same time. Designers will be asked to develop sustainable business practices like local sourcing, zero-waste production and upcycling materials.
(more…)

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11/07/13 9:17am

The craftsmanship of Kika NY's hand-cut leather bags, like its signature Postal BackPack No. 1, sells itself, but having a shirtless model show them off never hurts. Photo: Kika NY

The craftsmanship of Kika NY’s hand-cut leather bags, like its signature Postal BackPack No. 1, sells itself, but having a shirtless model show them off never hurts. Photo: Kika NY

The best part about a handmade bag, besides being an attractive carryall, is the story behind its making. These three designers of coveted leather bags—a Dutch couple who works as a team, a woman who lets no piece of hide go to waste, and a man who learned to stitch from his costume designer girlfriend—all bring their own sensibilities to the trade, in fascinating and gorgeous ways. (more…)

Brooklyn Based delivers free daily emails about the borough's best food, events, attractions and innovators. Get Brooklyn Based in your inbox--sign up here.

11/07/13 7:00am
Marlow Goods

Marlow Goods’ first brick-and-mortar retail space can now house all of Kate Huling’s leather goods designs, including new styles like this black version of The Saddle (left) and the green and yellow version of the Rennes tote in the background. Photo: Daniel Broadhurst

When Kate Huling first started Breton, a line of leather goods and garments created from the hides and wool of the sheep, pigs and cows whose meat is served at her and her husband Andrew Tarlow’s local restaurants (Roman’s, Marlow & Sons, Reynard, Diner and Achilles Heel), opening her own retail space wasn’t part of the plan.

Instead, like several independent designers these days, she opened an online shop, Marlow Goods, which housed her collection alongside products from other lines with similar, sustainable sensibilities. She sold signature items, like sheepskin rugs and leather bags, to local shops like French Garment Cleaners in Fort Greene and at the Wythe Hotel; and cleared some room for her creations on the shelves of Marlow & Sons’ general store. Her grass-fed fashion line is growing however, and with its expansion comes a new venture–a retail space upstairs from Marlow & Sons that opened in July.

“It was hard to tell the story of everything when we just had that little space,” Huling says. “Now that we have this space up here, we can go in different directions. People come in looking for a bag and we can pull everything out. People can choose. The grain of every single bag is different depending on whether its’ the butt or whether it’s more the shoulder. The shoulder leather has all this crackly stuff and these lines. The butt is going to be a lot smoother. People can pull them all out and pick exactly what they want.” (more…)

11/06/13 2:00pm
Local designer Ryan Greer likes to create one-of-a-kind leather goods, which he sells weekly at the Brooklyn Flea. Photo: Jordan Galloway

Local designer Ryan Greer likes to create one-of-a-kind leather goods, which he sells weekly at the Brooklyn Flea, in addition to signature styles sold at local boutiques like Adeline Adeline and Thomas Sires. Photo: BB

With their riveted side closures and structured shapes, Flux Productions’ bags are easy to recognize amongst the offerings at the Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene–though their designer, Ryan Greer, says spotting one on the street sometimes requires a double take.

“I don’t really recognize them at first,” he says. “There’s this moment when somebody’s had it for a couple of years and the colors have changed and what they carry has changed the shape and you feel like you’re part of this collaborative process.” (more…)