Brooklyn foodies have been waiting months for a Winner, new café in Prospect Park, to open its doors. Winner’s owner, Michelin-star chef Daniel Eddy, is well known for his sandwiches and pastries, which attract lines dozens deep in Park Slope. But the big day came and the café, bakery and bar’s doors finally opened on the north side of the park’s Picnic House.
“I’ve gotten away from this idea that you have to make everything a big announcement and a grand opening,” Eddy said. “I like going into places and allowing them to grow into their own, not only for myself as the operator, but also for the community. I like to see people discover something as they’re walking by and be like, ‘Oh my God, what is this? I didn’t know about it,’ and say, well, no one did, you’re one of the first to discover it.”
The menu at Winner reflects the life story of the Nicaraguan chef. The coffee is sourced from his country, pastries and lunch are inspired in the time he spent working in Paris with a touch of New York and Brooklyn is well represented by the list of beer and wine.
“I missed the idea of a high caliber warm baguette or a croissant that was locally sourced and just baked out the oven, things that I experienced while I was living in Paris,” Eddy said.
His vision for Winner’s future is more than providing a convenient place to grab lunch or coffee in the park.
“The project is a little bit selfish, it is all the things that I wanted for myself, but I figured that other people might enjoy as well: to have good bread, to have a local bakery where you see people working and really caring for what they do, to see the pastries being made from start to finish in house and to get there in the morning, take bite of that chocolate croissant filled with chocolate that is still a little bit too warm and a little messy,” he said. “How often do you get to have those experiences?”
Eddy wants to keep surprising park-goers over and over and so, his latest addition to the menu is a collaboration with Greenpoint’s Oxomoco chef, Alan Delgado — Burritos Juarez with chicken, lamb or carnitas on a homemade tortilla. As tomato season starts in New York in late July, Delgado is planning a special with nopal salad.
“The hope is that, over the course of the next years that we have the space, we’ll be able to improve it and go from this to something drastically different,” Eddy said. “Maybe, down the line, we can sit down with friends and have a bottle of wine and a really nice meal and look at ourselves and be like, ‘Wow, here we are having like a really nice dinner inside the park.”
Chef Eddy is operating three restaurants in Brooklyn with more to come. The original Winner, on 7th Avenue in Park Slope, opened two weeks before New York went into lockdown in 2020, which turned the street front and corner restaurant into a grab-and-go bakery, rotisserie and sandwich shop where costumers order through a window, with food good enough to earn a spot on the Michelin Guide.
A few feet away, the chef turned the outdoor sitting area on the street into an outdoor wine bar, Runner Up — a spot to have small bites like cured meats, cheeses and appetizers from smoked trout croquettes and sausages with mustard sauce to a multi course meal including a chicken from Winner.
For his next endeavor, Eddy is hitting Crown Heights. The chef is taking on Franklin Avenue in July, breathing new life into the former home of the late Hunky Dory, famous for its egg sandwiches, at the corner of Sterling Place.
“Prospect Park was already a place from dreams,” said Prospect Heights resident Renata Morgan. “The only thing that has changed is that the dream now includes excellent food at hand’s reach.”