In a city like our beloved NYC, we rarely have the opportunity to interact with the people who are directly involved in making our food. This has changed. The mouth-watering food market people are flocking to in Williamsburg is called Smorgasburg and it is bringing together food entrepreneurs and purveyors from the New York City area – changing both how we spend our Saturdays and how we eat our food. Eric Demby, from Smorgasburg, gives us some insight into the genius behind the market and how it lends to a different way New Yorkers can chow.
Q: Part of the beauty of markets like Smorgasburg is that consumers build a new relationship with vendors where they meet them first hand and are able to ask things about the food they are buying – was that the intent when you started this food market?
A: We very much view Smorgasburg as a platform for vendors and like-minded shoppers to connect in the “real” world (ie, not online), and this was part of our motivation for launching the market, and the “regular” Flea as well. The old-fashioned town square never goes out of style. But we’re a business and we definitely saw the potential of really “owning” this new artisanal food space on the market level.
Q: Would you expand the Smorgasburg to contain more Farmers Market items instead of cooked food?
A: We have tried this with mixed results. We had a Greenmarket inside Smorgasburg last year that did OK, but not well enough to return this year. Several of those farmers will now be part of the regular Smorgasburg this year though. We’ve had plenty of folks who make cheese and syrup and honey and the like who aren’t technically “farmers market” farmers, and we always work to expand that aspect of the offerings.
Q: What are some of the things you personally enjoy eating at the market?
A: I like it all. I love Mighty Quinn’s brisket, Brooklyn Soda Works, Blue Marble Ice Cream, Landhaus BLTs, Salud smoothies, Kumquat Cupcakes, Mile End, Butter Plus Love, and on and on. Pizza Moto is probably my go-to in general. The wife likes Asia Dog (veggie Sydney) and the kid likes People’s Pops.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of Smorgasburg?
A: I love the intra-vendor community that emerged so quickly. All those folks are basically in the same boat in terms of starting and/or growing their businesses, and the camaraderie of feeling like you’re part of something—a movement, a moment, whatever—can be enough to keep you motivated when your sales or business plan aren’t quite where you want them to be. And people have just become friends, which is the nicest feeling when you’ve helped facilitate that.