Taylor felt the rumblings of change in Williamsburg in 2006 when her L train daily commute started to become more laborious. The rezoning of the neighborhood had been approved and the current tenants, and fellow L train riders, were bracing themselves for more than 40,000 new residents to move in. With a love of cooking under her belt, and an intuition that Brooklyn would become the next culinary hotspot, Taylor and her husband Harry created the first home-cooking store in the neighborhood. The Brooklyn Kitchen outgrew its space so quickly that their daughter Moxie was only six days old when she visited the construction site of their new (and current) location, which had expanded to include a permanent cooking class space and a partnership with The Meat Hook butcher.
The Brooklyn Kitchen is now well known as the cornerstone for finding all of your cooking needs – from homemade pasta machines and kitschy cookie cutters to specialty cooking ingredients such as Anita’s vegan yogurt– you are bound to find anything and everything you would need to impress the guests at your holiday potluck this year. Or if you aren’t much of a cook, you can pick up that last minute DIY gift for your friend who obsesses over home cooking sites. They also have delicious treats that you can’t walk past without stopping – like their amazing ice-cream fridge, or all of the Brooklyn-made chocolates, caramels and sweets that you are willing to fork over a premium for. Or you can walk in there, like me, and buy these lobster mitts so that you can sing “Under the Sea” while drinking wine and cooking your Christmas turkey… but I digress…
The Brooklyn Kitchen also has gained immense popularity with foodies through its incredible range of cooking classes. Their original knife skills class is a must for every budding chef, and their pig butchering class often has a waitlist. They also host a rotation of creative cooking classes that are perfect for a date night or bonding experience with friends – including sausage making, Pizza with Roberta’s, and “Mystery Box”, a class where students compete in a Chopped-like competition with secret ingredients.
Taylor constantly looks for fresh ways to bring the wonders and joy of cooking to busy New Yorkers and is looking forward to celebrating the 10th Christmas of the store being open this year. Over those ten Christmases, she’s also brought up Moxie and Frank, who are now six and two respectively. Here is my Q&A with Taylor:
Q: What was your inspiration for opening a cooking store?
A: Harry and I have always loved cooking and we wanted to share the joy and wonder that cooking brings. We hope to inspire people to eat better and enjoy home cooking and all of its benefits. In this day and age, so many people have jobs that are in front of computers or related to technology. If your job is to make a website or app, at the end of the day there’s something very satisfying about making something tangible with your hands, like a quiche that you can eat and share with friends and family – it’s therapeutic in a way! We’ve found that people really crave that kind of creation, and people love to cook.
Q: The store is full of some fabulous brands. How do you stay on top of sourcing the best of the best?
A: A lot of the best brands come by us through word of mouth. Harry and I also travel – to Chicago for homewares or San Francisco for the Fancy Food and Good Food Awards, where we learn about some of the country’s best brands. There’s a lot of amazing food brands being born out of Brooklyn and we can taste and meet a lot of these brands locally, but we also learn about some amazing brands across the country through the Good Food Mercantile. We also love cooking ourselves so are constantly learning about the best new items out there through the food community.
Q: Your children feel like the store is their second home. How have you helped to distinguish it as a business?
A: It was very important to teach my children that things in the store don’t automatically belong to them. When Moxie was three or four years old, she grabbed a scale from the shelves for someone at school. It was then an opportunity to explain the economics of running a store – that we buy things from other people and then sell them. So things in the store aren’t “free” and she just can’t assume that they will replace themselves. It was especially hard for her to grasp at first because we have become family friends with a lot of the people we source materials from and her teachers and our friends are customers at the store, but it was an important time to make sure she could understand that. It’s also very cute as she’s gotten older and she takes a lot of ownership in the store – she will tell people that she “works” at the Brooklyn Kitchen!
Finally, if you had 3 tips for other mothers that you wish someone would have told you, what would they be?
- “This is Now.” I actually have that tattooed on my arm and it’s a line from the book “Little House in the Big Woods”. Nothing will ever be the same as it is right at this time, so treasure it now.
- Move on. When your little one has just tried shrimp for the first time and vomited on the dog and you have your hands full, realize that it’s going to be fine and move on. Don’t sweat the small stuff because it will pass.
- Take care of yourself. Find the time to carve out time for yourself and zone out– even if it’s just a few minutes a day!
Visit the The Brooklyn Kitchen to stock up on your needs this holiday season, or sign up for their newsletter online for inspiration for cooking all year around!