Taste of Red Hook, the 9th annual food and drink fundraiser for the Red Hook Initiative (RHI), is a party on the waterfront tonight at The Liberty Warehouse – close to the neighborhood anchor, Fairway Market – and ringside seating for an incomparable view to the Statue Of Liberty’s visage — a gift symbolizing friendship and freedom: not unlike the Red Hook community.
Red Hook may be a neighborhood lacking a subway stop and separated from the rest of Brooklyn by a sky-scraping highway, has long been home to an isolated and close-knit community.
To get to food and drink bountiful but transportation-starved Red Hook Taste, one can readily take the MTA bus, taxi, sponsor New York Water Taxi, and this Examiner learned there is a specially-arranged promo for tonight with Uber New York City. Uber is offering first-time Uber riders a $25 discount – Promo Code: TORH25, and first-time Uber pool riders a $20 discount – Promo Code: TORHPOOL.
Tonight, more than 50 restaurants, distilleries and wineries based in Red Hook and surrounding neighborhoods will offer a broad selection of their signature dishes and drinks. Among some of the many highlights include Grindhaus, Fort Defiance restaurant, Red Hook Lobster Pound, Brooklyn Crab, Fleisher’s, Defonte’s of Brooklyn, Buttermilk Channel, Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen, Nightingale 9, Shelsky’s Of Brooklyn, The Good Fork, Van Brunt Stillhouse distillery, The Red Hook Winery, Saxelby Cheese, Brooklyn Icehouse, Blue Marble Café & Bakery. There is also a silent auction and MVS Studio’s Silent Auction. Tickets are available at the door for $225.
In an interview, Samhita Reddy, Director of Development, Red Hook Initiative, said “Tonight is a rare night where residents, neighbors, government officials and foodies come together under one roof to enjoy the best food and drink – for a good cause.” Asked what her favorite is, Reddy demurred, saying she is a vegetarian; however Hometown Bar-B-Que Red Hook is a hands-down favorite in the neighborhood. She did say she is very partial to The Good Fork – who also will be serving wonton pork dish along with other delicious foods. “There will be tons of great food and drink for everyone to enjoy!” she noted with passionate enthusiasm. She also said this will be the organization’s biggest-ever event. “Because we moved the venue to The Liberty Warehouse, we can accommodate more food and drink guests — we’re anticipating 800 people, up significantly from last year’s 650 record-breaker.”
Reddy noted the monies raised will go towards paying the salaries of the 30 full-time adult and the 80 young adult and high school students on RHI staff, and the organization’s operating expenses.
At the Taste of Red Hook, local restaurants and bars, wineries, distilleries, donate their time and product to raise money for the whole neighborhood. In turn, local restaurants hire young community members that are referred by RHI for apprenticeships. Kevin Moore, owner of Kevin’s said in a statement, “Taste is an opportunity for the neighborhood to unite not only around food and drink, but also around Red Hook Initiative’s mission of youth empowerment.”
Reddy explained, “In some cases, RHI subsidizes the first two months of a youth’s employment with a local Red Hook employer.” She added, “It’s a low-risk way for employers to ‘test-drive’ a potential full time staffer.”
According to the organization, RHI serves over 2000 community members each year, and its youth empowerment pipeline serves more than 350 participants each year with academic support, professional development, and leadership opportunities. 90% of RHI’s growing staff are from Red Hook, and over $1M annually is paid in salaries directly to Red Hook residents each year. RHI is a community-based nonprofit that confronts poverty in Red Hook, Brooklyn, through a model focused on youth development, community building, and local hiring.
In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated Red Hook, leaving residents without electricity or heat for nearly a month. In the immediate wake of the storm, RHI operated as the neighborhood recovery hub, distributing food and supplies, delivering meals to homebound residents, and organizing volunteers to clear water and debris from local businesses.
One such business is Red Hook Winery, located attractively right on the waterfront. Mark Snyder, owner of Red Hook Winery, says, “Quite simply, we wouldn’t be here without Red Hook Initiative, especially after the storm.” Many businesses and restaurants are still recovering…
As a token of its continuing gratitude, Red Hook Winery crafted three wines specifically for RHI — made from Long Island homegrown grapes. The wines will debut at Taste of Red Hook. RHI’s “Digital Stewards,” young adults who are trained in technology and media, designed the labels, researching the history of the neighborhood and consulting with industry experts in the process. Red Hook Winery made 100 cases for the effort and will generously donate all proceeds from these wines to RHI.
The videos produced by RHI’s Digital Stewards, can be viewed here: RHI Digital Stewards
This year’s event includes an inaugural Culinary Committee, featuring Carla Hall, co-host of The Chew and owner of Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen; Evyn Block, the founder of a food and lifestyle media company; and Sohui Kim, co-owner of acclaimed Red Hook restaurant The Good Fork.
RHI notes, “In the past fifteen years the neighborhood’s demographics, especially along Red Hook’s waterfront, have changed dramatically, giving way to restaurants, boutiques, and galleries. RHI is working to leverage the new growth, wealth, and population in the neighborhood, and to create connections between long-time, low-income residents and newer, gentrified ones.”