Meet the City’s Next Wave of Local Food Artisans at ‘City Flavors’ July 23

Urban garden being lovingly tended by NYCHA resident (Image: Hunter College Food Policy Center)

Although most New Yorkers are unaware of it, the residents of the city’s public housing developments have for some time now been using the grassy areas on these properties to grow “urban agriculture.” Some developments actually grow and distribute their own artisanal produce to residents.

That remarkable bit of city lore will get some much-deserved recognition on Monday, July 23, when some of these green-thumbed residents will join top chefs on the High Line for City Flavors — A Night of Local Bites.

Twenty emerging food entrepreneurs will debut their savory treats, vegan temptations, soul food oeuvres, and sinful desserts. All participants are residents of New York City Public Housing Authority (NYCHA) buildings and graduates of the Food Business Pathways (FBP), the intensive 10-week program funded by Citi Community Development that equips NYCHA residents with the tools to launch their food businesses. The event is a fundraiser for capital to help FBP graduates start and grow their enterprises.

Each City Flavors participant has been paired with a mentor from one of the city’s top restaurants and food purveyors to help them prepare for their first high-profile tasting event. Mentors, who will assist their mentees at City Flavors stations (with additional support provided by National Gourmet Institute students), include: Clark Wolf, specialty food expert, TV and radio host; Andrew Tarlow, owner of Diner, Marlow & Sons, Reynard, Roman’s, and Achilles Heel; Bill Telepan, executive chef of Oceana; Ariane Daguin, chef and founder of D’Artagnan; James Kent, former executive chef of Nomad; Ardenia Brown, owner of Buttermilk Market and personal chef to Questlove; Jessica Weiss, pastry chef for four of Union Square Hospitality Group’s restaurants; Danny Lee, executive chef of Burger & Lobster; Jason Hicks, chef /owner of Jones Wood Foundry and The Shakespeare; Saul Bolton, executive chef of The Norm, and McKenzie Foster and Marco Lanuto, chefs / owners of FryGuys.

City Flavors — A Night of Local Bites is being organized by the Food Working Group of the Fund for Public Housing, a non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of NYCHA residents by bringing new resources to their communities to reimagine and improve how public housing works in New York City.

“Food Business Pathways is an innovative program that invests in public housing residents who are entrepreneurs. The event will raise additional funding that Food Business Pathways graduates will invest in their business to expand market access, so their businesses can continue to grow,” says Rasmia Kirmani-Frye, president of the Fund for Public Housing.

The FBP graduates who will present their local bites at City Flavors are excited about the opportunity the event represents.

“It is an honor to be asked to participate. Being a self-taught chef, I am excited about being able to tap into the experience of an established chef for help preparing for the event and even more excited about the opportunity to share Grace Kelli Cupcakes with a new audience,” says Sandra Mathias, baker and owner of Grace Kelli Cupcakes. “It is my hope to be a part of more events like City Flavors to show single mothers they can pursue their goals and make their dreams come true. I know if I had not had the guidance and support that I was given, my cupcakes and treats business would not be here today,”

The city flavors showcased at the event will be complemented by beer, wine, liquor, and non-alcoholic beverages, from such sponsors as Tito’s Vodka, Queen’s Courage Gin, David Bowler Wine, Doc Herson’s Spirits, Gus Grown-Up Soda, Spice Grove Roselle, and Sound Spark Tea.

City Flavors — A Night of Local Bites, will take place at the High Line’s Chelsea Market Passage, on Monday, July 23 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., with VIP admission at 5:45 p.m. Tickets, priced from $95 to $1,000, are available via Eventbrite.