Let's say you're this hotshot chef. You've got a degree from Johnson & Wales. You've been a pastry chef at wd-50. You've had a hip restaurant in SoHo AND opened a bar in Williamsburg. You've got your own show on IFC where you serve dinner to indie bands -- a show that you claim to have landed because the creators googled "tattooed hipster chef." You've set up a booth at Smorgasburg where you sell artisan mayo.
What's the next logical step?
OBVIOUSLY it's to further your artisanal mayo empire by opening a storefront/kitchen lab in Prospect Heights & calling it "Empire Mayonnaise."
That's just what Sam Mason (the aforementioned tattooed hipster chef) & his partner Elizabeth Valleau did early last month and, since then, the blogosphere has pretty much crowned it as the moment that artisanal Brooklyn officially jumped the shark. It didn't help that NY Magazine dropped their article "The Twee Party," which took artisanal Brooklyn to task, a week after the joint opened.
To be honest, I don't know why everyone's got their panties in such a bunch. Yes, there's something ridiculously hipster about being able to walk into a store to purchase mayo in flavors like nori or yuzu chili -- mayo that's been lovingly handcrafted by a celebrity chef. Is it really that bad though?
In reality, here's the situation:
The storefront is TINY. It's got one single counter featuring a bunch of jars of mayo...
...and an iPad with a flavor and price list. The rest of place is a test kitchen, so it's essentially like having a booth at Smorgasburg with a kitchen in the back & higher rent.
So what's the fucking big deal? Why is an artisanal mayo shop a sign of the apocalypse? Is it the fact that it's "artisanal" mayo? Is it the fact that the purveyors fit the "hipster" mold? Is it the fact that a 4 oz jar will run you $6-8? Are we that cynical about people who try to make unique foodstuffs & sell it to us?
I suppose so. I mean, a stupid artisanal mayo store would never fly in Park Slope, right? We have more integrity than that, right?
Read way more from Shawn at eatdrinksnack.com.