I first met Andrew Tarlow four years ago. I remember it well. I was writing a story about Brooklyn's burgeoning food scene. At that stage, only some restaurants in the borough had managed to cross the difficult bridge of actually getting people to cross the bridge.
Brooklyn was not yet synonymous with the local/organic/artisan food movement, although it was rapidly heading in that direction. Over a table at the wonky little Diner (still my favorite in his family of establishments), Andrew introduced me to the food community around him: the young butchers, bakers and pickle makers (who also often happened to be musicians, photographers and art directors). Inspired by his recommendations and vision for what Brooklyn might be, I wrote this:
"The hallmark of the new Brooklyn is a counter-culture movement that has sprung out of the new Brooklynite’s embrace of its craftsman heritage. Nowhere is that more so than among its food scene, where a youthful energy, purist approach and dedication to traditional methods have made Brooklyn the avant-garde of a back-to-basics food revolution in the United States."
Words about a particular time and place tend to date quickly, but I think the statement still stands. However, in hindsight I would change one thing: "the United States" is redundant because Brooklyn became the global center of that particular movement. When I started thinking about whom I would ask about the food scene in New York for RE:find, I wanted to talk to Andrew. He is now part of a lineage of New York City restaurateurs like Keith McNally and Danny Meyer and can speak to this moment in time in the city's food.
Four years on, it was great to get his perspective on how this movement (and its accompanying aesthetic) has flourished around him and his now much-loved establishments. Of course it is too simplistic to credit a single individual for this whole evolution, but Andrew's clarity of vision and steadfast belief in his borough has been a major influence on the food landscape of not only Brooklyn but New York City as a whole.