Some important questions: is chicken making a come-back? Why is coffee in some restaurants so bad?
The two-day Taste Talks conference will tackle these and other food-related mysteries and controversies in panels, tours, workshops, cooking demos, films, and, of course, tastings across North Brooklyn.
For a sneak peek at the talks we spoke with Northside Media founder Daniel Stedman, which publishes the L Magazine and hosts the Northside Fest each year, and panelists Robert Newton and Kerry Diamond, who are partners in real life and in business as the owners of Carroll Gardens spots Seersucker, Nightingale 9, and Smith Canteen. Diamond is also the publisher of the nascent food magazine “Cherry Bombe,” a biannual magazine about women and food.
Meredith Deliso: Daniel, I’ve heard you say that the food scene in Brooklyn has surpassed music as the thing that people are excited about. Why is that?
Daniel Stedman: As the young generation of Brooklynites have families and don’t go to rock shows until three in the morning anymore, food culture is something that everyone is part of on a daily basis.
MD: Kerry, up until a few years ago, you were working in the fashion industry. How did you get started in the food industry?
Kerry Diamond: I never ever thought I’d work in food. It started when Rob asked if I wanted to open a restaurant with him and I said yes, not having any idea what I was getting myself into. Here I am three restaurants and a food magazine later. I don’t know if we would have been able to have done what we’ve done anywhere else but Brooklyn. You can move someplace else where the real estate is cheaper, but I don’t know if you have that community around you the way you do in Brooklyn.
DS: That’s a big part of what we’re celebrating, that entrepreneurial spirit in Brooklyn and the people doing food magazines, restaurants, and food manufacturing.
MD: How did Taste Talks come to fruition?
DS: The idea was just a way of getting all parts of Brooklyn’s food culture in one place to discuss it. It’s been a full year of planning, a mix of chefs coming up with their own ideas in conversation with myself and April, a kind of big collective brainstorming.
MD: Rob, can you talk about the panel you’re participating in, “Why Does the Coffee in (Some) Restaurants Suck?”
Robert Newton: There’ll be some coffee geek talk of should proper espresso drinks be served in restaurants. I’ve been a coffee nerd for over a decade. We served coffee at Seersucker, and then the opportunity came our way to take another space [Smith Canteen] and we moved it and the machine down the street. It’s done better in that setting.
MD: What is the rationale for not serving espresso in restaurants?
RN: Coffee needs to have its own space. I don’t think you need a gigantic cappuccino after dinner at 9 o’clock at night. Coffee suffices. Espresso shouldn’t be bitter and burnt and nasty tasting, and that is the norm at most places. I take coffee much more seriously than that. Coffee should have its own spotlight.
MD: Kerry, what kind of topics do you expect will come up in the panel you’re on, “Foodieodicals”?
KD: A lot of people are fascinated by the thought of doing your own magazine and how that’s even possible today. I think people are really excited to have a panel where they can hear the nitty-gritty because it’s not easy, but at the same time, not impossible. “Cherry Bombe” is based out of our apartment right now, much to Rob’s horror. That’s the non-glamorous part that people don’t think about.
DS: I think the Foodieodicals panel is a great example of what we’re trying to do. It’s very Brooklyn in a sense, there’s a craft and a long history to it. With these periodicals and food magazines in particular, that’s a big way that Brooklyn food culture has influence beyond the borders of our borough.
MD: What do you hope comes out of the conference?
RN: Brooklyn is becoming an incubator of culinary ideas. I think one thing that will hopefully come out of it is this collective idea of American cuisine, and that one of the hubs on the East Coast is Brooklyn.
KD: Brooklyn really has played a part in designing what American cuisine is today. It should have its own food conference.
Taste Talks takes place throughout North Brooklyn on September 14 and 15. Ticket prices vary. For the full schedule, visit taste-talks.com.