10 NYC Food Artisans You Need to Know

By Kristin Donnelly  |  April 8, 2014
Credit: Leetal Arazi

Pickles are so 2012. This group of passionate food artisans is moving beyond the standard locavore artisanal fare into more unexplored territory - there's achar (a tangy Indian relish), Malaysian sambal (a funky chile paste) and much more. Read on for the up-and-coming food artisans who, soon enough, might be on store shelves near you.

  • BjornQorn
    Artist and inventor Jamie O’Shea created a solar cooker called the Caloris Basin, then partnered up with his college friend, Bjorn Quenemoen, who was about to start a popcorn business. They now sun-pop organic corn in upstate New York (yep - a cloudy day can ruin any popping plans), and season it with umami-rich nutritional yeast. Proceeds from sales of the popcorn go toward researching how to expand the use of solar cooking technology, which is exceptionally eco-friendly.

    Where to Buy: From $4 for a three-oz. bag; available direct through BjornQorn, or at specialty shops in the Hudson Valley and NYC, including both locations of Forager's City Market, Park Slope's Blue Apron Foods and Williamsburg's Brooklyn Kitchen.

  • Brooklyn Sesame
    By turning halvah, the Middle Eastern sesame candy, into a spread and mixing it with some cocoa, Shahar Shamir might have inadvertently created an awesome (and nut-free) alternative to Nutella. All of his halvah spreads have the perfect hit of salt.

    Where to Buy: $15 for 8 oz.; available throughout New York City, including several Whole Foods locations, Russ & Daughters, Sahadi's and the Plaza Food Hall.

  • NY Shuk
    With the Mediterranean food craze happening in NYC, harissa, the Tunisian spice paste, is poised to be the next Sriracha. Thanks to NYShuk, a company devoted to teaching classes about North African and Middle Eastern Jewish food, we now have an awesome locally made version.

    Where to Buy: $13 for 4 oz. at the NY Shuk site. 

  • Brooklyn Delhi
    Then again, could the tangy, spicy Indian relish called tomato achar be the next Sriracha? Food 52’s Provisions thinks so. Cooking teacher Chitra Agrawal created Brooklyn Delhi, her excellent line of Indian condiments, after she couldn’t find any on the market that matched her ideal.

    Where to Buy: $18 for two six-oz. jars, online at Provisions, or at the Brooklyn Flea, both locations of Brooklyn Kitchen and other markets around NYC.

  • Sohha Yogurt
    John and Angela Fout are on a mission to return sugar-laden yogurt to its healthy roots. Not only are they making unsweetened ever-so-lightly-salted yogurt using Hudson Valley milk, but they’ve introduced savory toppings, like the jarred “Everything Bagel” - a blend of roasted pine nuts, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, garlic and onion in oil.

    Where to Buy: From $4 for yogurt; available at locavore online retailer Good Eggs, at farmer's markets around NYC and Westchester and at a new stand inside Chelsea Market.

  • She Wolf Bakery
    Austin Hall used to only bake his stellar sourdough bread for Andrew Tarlow’s empire of Brooklyn restaurants, but he recently expanded his operation (slightly). He now allows people to preorder loaves online and pick it up at three different locations. Much like the culty San Francisco baker, Chad Robertson of Tartine, he pulls the bread from the oven in the late afternoon, so they’re still fresh for dinner.

    Where to Buy: $6 per loaf; you can buy anytime at Williamsburg's Marlow & Daughters or Greenpoint's Achilles Heel; order online for pickup at Fort Greene's Roman's or Greenpoint's Dandelion Wines.

  • Elvio’s Chimichurri
    Chimichurri, that vinegary-herb sauce, is the ketchup of Argentina. Based on an old family recipe, Elvio’s version, made in NY and Los Angeles, is perfectly garlicky and nicely spicy with an addictive tang.

    Where to Buy: $15 for 8 oz.; available online at Good Eggs or Mouth.com; also at Smorgasburg, Chelsea Market Baskets and other shops in NYC.

  • Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen
    Studded with loads of fresh red chile seeds, cooking teacher Auria Abraham’s crazy delicious, fiery sambal has the slightest funk (in the best way), thanks to the addition of shrimp paste.

    Where to Buy: $10 for 8 oz.; available at both locations of the Bedford Cheese Shop, Brooklyn's The Greene Grape and more NYC stores.

  • La Fundidora
    Emphasizing the flavors of different chiles, the three salsas from this Brooklyn-based company hardly taste like they come out of a jar. While intended more for cooking and topping, the vibrant salsas are still excellent for dipping your chips.

    Where to Buy: Each $9 for 12 oz.; available at many stores across NYC, including Zabar's, Dean & Deluca and more. 

  • The Splendid Spoon
    Formerly known as Sea Bean Goods, this self-titled “micro-soupery” sources local ingredients to make healthy plant-based soups sold in the refrigerator section of markets. The Splendid Spoon also offers savory soup cleanses.

    Where to Buy: The soup cleanses are available through Good Eggs; the soups are available at The Greene Grape.