While food trends are changing constantly, the face of food is on a much slower track. However, Christa Lynch has plans to change that with the creation of her farm-to-table prepared meal delivery service, Brooklyn Braised. After more than 10 years in the restaurant industry, Lynch is ready to hone in on her love for cooking and share it with parts of Brooklyn that have been disenfranchised when trying to get access to healthy foods and related services.
This past October, Brooklyn Braised celebrated its official launch with crowd favorites such as the dill salmon croquettes and vegan three-bean chili with butternut squash. Hosted at the Richard Beavers Gallery, friends and family gathered to welcome and celebrate the first African-American owned and operated meal subscription service.
While there are no whispers of expansion yet, Lynch sat down to talk with me about how she got started and how she hopes to change the food climate in Brooklyn.
Now that the dust has settled from your launch, how are you feeling about where Brooklyn Braised is going next?
Well, I didn’t expect to come out of it with new clients so I think the work is coming pretty quickly. We don’t know what could happen next, but it’s an unexpected blessing which I’m very happy about because I’ve invested so much in it.
Tell me more about your story and how it inspired Brooklyn Braised.
I grew up in the farmers’ market with my parents. They still go there. It’s very trendy right now, but I’ve never had canned foods in my house, even frozen spinach growing up, we never had that. So for me, this was a normal way of cooking.
I went to college in D.C which is where I got my first restaurant job and after that, it pretty much stayed with me. After moving to New York 12 years ago, I started working in high-end restaurants, so learning the operational aspects were important. I think that’s the foundation for where Brooklyn Braised came from. I realized I could do this, especially because it wasn’t foreign. The more I saw my community changing and economic landscape changing, [I realized] the availability of food options wasn’t there. So, I said to myself ‘I think I can do something about this.’ I didn’t know what it looked like at the time, but I knew I wanted to provide. I wanted to bring something to the community that wasn’t readily accessible.
Which areas are currently serviced by Brooklyn Braised?
Right now, we deliver to about eight miles of Brooklyn including Ditmas Park, Prospect Park, Downtown, and Clinton Hill. Initially, I only planned to service Bed Stuy, Bushwick, and Crown Heights because those are communities I feel aren’t receiving these types of services. But I made a sound decision to expand within Brooklyn and in our five-year plan, we hope to reach the Tri-State.
You talked about the economic landscape changing and food not changing at the same rate. So now that you have an idea of what Brooklyn Braised is, how do you see that playing a role in changing the food landscape?
Prior to me actually launching this, I was doing a lot of research. Over here (Bed Stuy), the numbers regarding spending are really low. People don’t take advantage of farmers’ markets and it’s actually cheaper than going to the supermarket. So, it’s really all about education.
Can you tell me more about the signature items you plan to serve and how the ordering system works?
There are some items that will be year-round. Our coming out menu is for the fall and winter but the spring menu will certainly have more items. I base it on market availability but I’ve already made a ton of my sauces that I’ll freeze and preserve.
We’re going to create a system before we plan to customize anything but right now, we have delivery days two times a week which are Monday and Wednesday. I source everything on the weekend so that it’s fresh for the new week. You can visit BrooklynBraised.com and let us know your dietary restrictions and the other details needed.
What can you share about your journey so far that will inspire others to take action?
When I decided I wanted to have this business, the first thing I did was look around and see what resources were available to me and there are plenty of women starting businesses. I took a fast track class at small business services and I’ve been teaching myself the rest of the way through. The resources are out there. I am somebody that learned everything at home in the kitchen. My background is not in this field, I actually came to New York for law school and then I went to business school at Columbia. So this business is the marrying of my 16 years of restaurant experience, my love of cooking and also my business degree.
Go to www.brooklynbraised.com if you are in the service areas to check out the menu and place your order. Orders should be placed by each Wednesday for delivery the following week. A subscription service will launch in the future. Catering is also available. For menu selections and to see what is new at Brooklyn Braised, follow Lynch on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Photo credit: Wesley Hall