The youngest food vendor to ever set up shop at Smorgasburg is winning hearts and stomachs one loaf at a time.
Jack Greenleaf, a 14-year-old Battery Park City resident, debuted his mouthwatering banana bread and decadent French toast dishes at the Williamsburg foodie hot spot on Saturday.
“I think it went great,” Greenleaf said Sunday. “There were a lot of people getting loaves for Easter and just looking for some really good banana bread.”
It was just nine months ago that Greenleaf set up a table in a park by his home to sell his homemade banana bread. He sold 17 loaves that first day and launched his brand Bread & Monkey.
“Once they tasted it, they fell in love,” said Greenleaf, a ninth-grader at Loyola High School.
The young entrepreneur slowly grew his business, delivering to neighbors in Battery Park City and working with select coffee shops. He added a banana chocolate chip bread to his menu and in the fall offered a limited time banana pumpkin bread.
Greenleaf reached out to the organizers of Smorgasburg with the hopes of bringing his businesses to the popular outdoor food market in Brooklyn.
“Jack’s banana bread is so moist and delicious, and the chocolate chip loaf blew everyone away,” said Eric Demby, co-founder of Smorgasburg.
“We also loved what a vocal proponent Jack is of young people entering into business,” Demby wrote in an email. “In the midst of America’s youth-driven movement (which we love!), his voice is certain to join the growing chorus of teen power.”
Baking enough bread for customers and Smorgasburg meant Greenleaf needed a kitchen larger than the one in his family’s Battery Park City apartment.
He connected with the Entrepreneur Space in Long Island City operated by the Queens Economic Development Corporation.
“At home, I can probably bake 32 loaves in eight hours and I have to be in the kitchen almost every single minute of that time,” Greenleaf said. “In the Entrepreneur Space I can make about 32 loaves in 30 minutes.”
That’s what he did late Friday night with the help of his parents Lisa and Ted Greenleaf and a group of friends. They were at Smorgasburg’s Saturday spot at East River State Park in Brooklyn by 6 a.m. to start setting up.
“I do this mainly on the weekends so I dedicate my school week to school work and I try to do as little business stuff as possible,” he explained.
Greenleaf’s first memory of being in a kitchen is baking a cheesecake with his grandmother in San Diego when he was about 8 years old. He tinkered with his mom’s banana bread recipe to come up with his own version.
Being part of Smorgasburg will expose Greenleaf to a larger audience but also give him a chance to express his creativity, he said.
One of the French toast dishes is a whirl of whipped cream, matcha sauce, fresh strawberries, maple glaze and white chocolate shavings.
Another features the chocolate chip banana bread, maple syrup glaze, grilled bananas, coffee-infused whipped cream and chocolate syrup.
The ambitious teen hopes to attend the Institute of Culinary Education when he is older.
“I want to learn to be a chef properly,” he said. “My dream is to become a Michelin star chef. I’d love the freedom to make something different every night.”