A co-founder of Noma, one of the world’s top restaurants, will open a cooking school, bakery, and cafe in Brownsville, according to DNAinfo.
Co-founder Claus Meyer—who will also open a Nordic food hall in Grand Central Market, and a bakery in Williamsburg—was visiting New York in 2013, when a chance run-in at SCRATCHbread (RIP!) became the catalyst for his Brownsville venture.
Standing in line, Meyer struck up conversation with Lucas Denton, now 30, who worked at the NYC Commission of Human Rights on a project about racial dynamics within the housing market, according to DNAinfo. Meyer told him he was hoping to initiate nonprofit work in a struggling neighborhood in the city, and Denton had some pointers for him, not knowing who Meyer was. (Meyer is not new to the non-profit world: his foundation in Bolivia, The Melting Pot, opened in 2013, teaches prisoners to cook and doubles as a restaurant.)
Denton and Meyer set out their priorities: a restaurant of this nature in New York would have to appeal directly to the community, be affordably priced, and recall local cuisines. As research, the men talked to residents at Van Dyke Senior Center in Brownsville to learn about their culinary traditions. Denton, in the meantime, became the lead on Meyer’s US melting Pot Foundation.
News of the school and restaurant in Brownsville (still, without name, at 69 Belmont Ave.) has, up until now, been kept quiet in an effort to underplay the Noma/Meyer connection. When it opens later this year (as currently scheduled), it is intended to operate as a culinary school, free to residents of Brownsville between the ages of 18 and 24, who will graduate from the year-long program with a New York City food handler’s license. Applications for the first class, according to DNAinfo, are due Wednesday. The school will also have a 40-person dining room for the included bakery, coffee bar, and restaurant.
“Ultimately, we hope to become a catalyst in a process of change that goes far beyond the walls of our physical premises,” a spokeswoman for Meyer told DNAinfo.