“I started out with a cooler full of sausage and a handful of business cards at the New Amsterdam Market,” said Scott Bridi, founder of Brooklyn Cured. That was back in 2010, when he was the company’s only employee and the New Amsterdam Market was the only his sausages were sold. These days, Bridi has a team of employees, and his products are sold in over 20 stores in Brooklyn and Manhattan and found on the menu at several more.
“This is my calling,” he said. “I’m not really sure how it happened.”
“How it happened” is a long story, beginning in Bridi’s Italian-American childhood in Brooklyn, where there was no shortage of good sausage and charcuterie. This is where Bridi first learned to love charcuterie: ”The mystery — the time, the transformative aspect, the utilization of every part of the animal. With charcuterie, you get to utilize every single part and turn trim that wasn’t desirable into something that is superlatively desirable.”
But the defining moment — the fateful turn of events — came in 2008, when he was given the opportunity to run the charcuterie program at Gramercy Tavern, where he was a line cook. There, he was able to try and refine recipes and techniques for sausages, terrines and pâtés.
“Leaving Gramercy Tavern was the springboard for starting Brooklyn Cured,” Bridi said, who suddenly needed to make the same quality of product that he was making at Gramercy, “but with fewer resources, less walk-in space and fewer containers.”
Running a small business — especially a food business — is all about building relationships, said Bridi. “One of the greatest things it affords you is a reason to connect with more people,” he said of being a small business owner. Bridi has relied on relationships with other local businesses to grow Brooklyn Cured from one cooler and one market stall to the fixture it is now, from sharing a USDA plant with the Piccinini Brothers in Hell’s Kitchen to allying with the Northeastern farmers from whom he sources his meats to finding wholesale clients. They build their successes off of each other, he said.
“It’s things like this that keep me excited and engaged and happy to be doing what we’re doing. The relationships that we’ve made with other small local businesses — these people have the same challenges and the same struggles and work just as hard. We sell different products, but we’ve become very close. It’s a community,” he said. “The more good things there are, the more people are going to come. I don’t ever see it as competition.”
On their own, the people and businesses with whom he works at the market would have a hard time staying afloat. “Small food businesses are not inherently sustainable,” Bridi said, “but the fact that we have each other to lean on is a part of why they are able to be sustainable.”
Four years later, Brooklyn Cured is still at the New Amsterdam Market, largely because of the people Bridi has met there and the shared drive to build a sustainable local food system. “Everyone in that environment is committed to quality,” he said. Being able to sell at the market is “almost like getting into Hogwarts. It’s this magical place where everyone has the same sensibilities, the same crazy sense of humor, the same commitment to quality.”
Feature photo: Wikimedia/Jens Jäpel