A Chat with Brewers PicNYC Founder, Jimmy Carbone

posted in: Events, NYC Events | 6

Get pumped, New York City — picnic season has arrived! My favorite time of the year is finally here. And I can think of few better places to kick it off than at Governors Island. This weekend will mark the opening of the public park for 2011. For those not familiar with the island, it’s a scenic getaway in the middle of the Hudson River, a dot adjacent to Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood. And in the past few years, it’s been home to food events ranging from pie contests in exchange for cool vintage hats to barbecue blowouts like last summer’s Meatopia and Pig Island. The latter two were the brainchild of co-founder Jimmy Carbone, of Food Karma Projects (and his East Village pub, Jimmy’s No. 43). This weekend, he’s hosting a food and craft beer-filled fest on the island called Brewers PicNYC. What’s that all about? Hear it straight from the source, below.

So, you’ve helped put on a lot of food events, including two at Governor’s Island last year. How will Brewers PicNYC differ from those?

JC: It’s great to be back for another season producing events on Governors Island. Brewers PicNYC will have less chef focus, more about an introduction to summer! The food will be a mix of favorite street foods and great food trucks, and it’s family-friendly with a 12-and-under goes free rule. There will be picnic tables, quirky entertainment like ukelele players and bluegrass, PLUS — insider secret — there’s free admission with a ukulele or banjo! And of course, a wide selection of craft beer.

Wow, maybe I should buy that ukelele I’ve always meant to on eBay. What made you decide to hold the event over the course of two days?

JC: Fits with the Memorial Day weekend vibe! Also, this format is more flexible than a chef-driven event — we’re providing a wider variety of foods than just BBQ or grilling. Brewers PicNYC really aims to show off a great diversity of NYC food and craft beer.

a food station at Meatopia, July 2010

taking the ferry with fellow chefs to Pig Island in September ’10

You would know this best, as a founder of the Good Beer Seal and host of Beer Sessions on Heritage Radio, but what’s so good about beer that’s made in and around NYC?

JC: There is more and better craft beer in the NY region than ever (or at least since the 19th century!). Sixpoint, Brooklyn Brewery and Kelso are in the lead, along with Captain Lawrence, Greenport, and many others have been thriving in the past five years in the greater NYC region. (Stay tuned as well for “Cookout NYC” July 10 and for July Good Beer Month — we’ll really be celebrating the great NYC area beers!)

It’s terrific that the event will benefit Added Value community farm. Will attendees be able to check out the farm’s plot on Governors Island while they’re there?

JC: Added Value has been a long-standing community farm in Red Hook, but has had a growing presence on Governors Island the past 2-3 years. The farm is on the South end of the island, and will be open for visitors throughout the Memorial Day weekend.

pork butt gets sizzling on the outdoor grill

Jimmy taking a stroll with fellow Good Beer Seal chair Chris Cuzme, while Jeff Gorlechen of Sixpoint takes a chomp

What are you most looking forward to trying from the food offerings this weekend?

JC: Rickshaw Dumplings, PizzaMoto, DUB Pies (Australian meat pies), Luke’s Lobster, Jimmy’s No. 43 (pork tacos!), grilled cheese by Sourpuss Pickles, Orwashers Bakery bread, the “tequila” taco truck… and a full selection of savory sweets and Italian ices for kids! There will be 20 separate food stations!

And from the beer?

JC: Sixpoint will be back with their custom Governors Island beer, the Signal, a slightly smoked pale ale, plus the Crisp Pilsner; Greenport Harbor’s Harbor Ale; Brooklyn Brewery, and Blue Point will round out the NYC craft breweries. Then, Chicago is making a play with Goose Island and Two Brothers both represented!

Can you give us a sneak peek on what other events you might be brewing up next?

JC: In addition to bringing back “Pig Island II” on September 10 (80 pigs, 20 chefs, this year co-hosted by  PBS food show host Michael Colameco!), coming up next for July Good Beer Month events include: Cookout NYC on July 10 at Governors Island with Kimcipalooza (hosted by Mama O’s Kimchee) and custom craft beers; “Putting the Craft Back In Beer” on July 15, a webcast and live event at the WNYC GreenSpace; a third annual “Good Beer at BAM” on July 26th with Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn!

That’s a lot of good beer (and food) to look forward to! (And the photo at top of Jimmy was taken at last year’s Good Beer at BAM.) Cheers!

6 Responses

  1. Alli

    Thanks for this interview — I’ll be at PicNYC Sunday and can’t wait!

  2. Julie Ann Anderson

    Your article was very informative and very well written !! I will continue to come back to your blog to see what articles you have in the future !!

  3. gmal

    Went there VERY dissappointed. I have to pay for the permission to then buy food? really? Very crowded, we were gathered, or really, corralled into a very small area of the park. It was exactly like a street fair except you had to pay to “get in”. Not enough space. Not enough tables, seats/ Really long lines. Really long.

  4. Scudder

    Colossal rip-off. In addition to above comment, vendors ran out of food that was supposed to be free with included admission. I feel so burn that I will now dedicate concerted effort to disparaging “Food Karma Projects” at every opportunity. Karma’s a bitch…

  5. Cathy Erway

    Oof. I was not able to attend due to a graduation out of town… Sounds like more proof that life — or picnics — are not always a picnic. Will be sure to relate to organizers.

  6. Gross RIP OFF

    The Brew Pic NYC on Sunday, May 29, 2011 was a disaster. I was with a group of 9 people , 5 of whom I personally purchased VIP tickets for. The list of complaints I have goes on and on. Bottom line, there was no VIP treatment, no unlimited food and/or beer, too long lines and beyond reasonable wait periods. False advertisement of this event is what you did. Vendors were rude and angry and were telling the people they had no idea that they were to give out food to VIP holders. They also stated they did not get any compensation for the VIP tickets sold. At 1pm we had to buy food to eat, when the advertising stated unlimited from 11am-5pm. Bad enough the beer wasn’t flowing until 12pm (blue laws)…. then the wait was 45 minutes for a small cup, until cups ran out..bathroom facilities were never maintained, and who can eat without washing their hands! The lawn was not mowed prior to the event, so grass was irritating to walk through up to ankles. I watched as person after person complained directly to Jimmy Carbone about lack of food, beer and basically a ruined day. His response was apathetic, he only saw the dollar signs chalking up. It was my first taste (or lack thereof) for a food karma event. And definitely the last. I was embarrassed to have wasted my clients/friends precious Memorial Day Sunday off stuck at this catastrophe.

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