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Eat and Drink

Smorgasburg's new Brooklyn vendors cooking up Hawaiian dumplings, soufflé pancakes, more

The outdoor food market returns on April 6 to East River State Park.

Amazeballs shows off its meatball sandwich on Thursday

Amazeballs shows off its meatball sandwich on Thursday at Atlantic Terminal as Smorgasburg introduced its new vendors for the 2019 season Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

When Smorgasburg kicks off its ninth annual season this weekend in Brooklyn, the outdoor food market will be returning to its roots, organizers say, with one of Smorgasburg's largest and most ethnically diverse incoming classes yet.

"It felt a little bit like a return to when we first started," said Smorgasburg co-founder Eric Demby, adding that this year the focus has been less on gimmicky recipes. "We don't want Smorgasburg to become a circus. We like when it has kind of this authentic chef … thing."

Foodies heading to the market, which will bring upward of 100 stalls to East River State Park on Saturdays and Prospect Park on Sundays (along with a smaller market on Fridays in the Financial District starting April 12), will be able to taste everything from Afghan comfort food to over-the-top Vietnamese desserts among the more than two dozen new vendors.

"The people are really sincere about what they're doing, and that's really what I think makes the market special," Demby said. "Seeing all those people is very refreshing for us."

Here are some of the highlights of this year's incoming new vendors:

Amazeballs

Signature dish: Meatball sandwich ($8) — meatballs (or tofu balls) served with "OG" sauce, a sweet and spicy tomato sauce, with customizable toppings

Meet the vendor: Chef and creator Derrell Smith, 30, was at Smorgasburg three years ago with a different concept, but dropped out because his advertising job was too demanding. Now he's back, joking that he's "like a phoenix."

Fun fact: Smith played football for the Houston Texans and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Find it: Saturday and Sunday

The Pizza Cupcake 

Signature dish: Cupcake-shaped pizza made with dough that's a cross between a brioche and regular pizza dough for a doughnut-like texture ($7/two, $12/four)

Meet the vendor: It took many tries for chef Andrea Meggiato, 34, to get the exact dough texture he wanted. "It kind of resolved the problem with pizza that it gets stale all the time after a couple of minutes," said Meggiato, who runs the business with his wife, Michelle Meggiato, 30. "And it's cute."

Fun fact: Andrea hails from Venice. "We literally imported my husband from Italy, as well as the pizza," Michelle said.

Find it: Saturday

The Blue Chicken 

Signature dish: Chicken and "waffles" cone ($10) — a salted blue corn tortilla waffle cone filled with chicken bites tossed in either a maple glaze, Nashville hot chicken sauce or honey habanero sauce

Meet the vendor: Aaron Ratner, 21, came up with the idea during his last year in culinary school, looking for a "portable" way to eat the Southern dish.

Fun fact: Ratner sourced the blue cones from a fellow alum of the University of Delaware (home of the Fightin' Blue Hens).

Find it: Saturday and Sunday

Fluffy's NYC

Signature dish: Fluffies ($8-$10) — souffle pancakes with toppings like butter and maple syrup or "creme brulee"

Meet the vendor: August DeWindt, 27, said her pancakes are unique because she uses beaten egg whites to create their fluffy texture. "It's like biting into a cloud."

Fun fact: DeWindt was inspired to create her own "fluffies" after she first tasted them on her honeymoon in Bangkok last year.

Find it: Saturday and Sunday

Kochin 

Signature dish: Dessert Tornadoes — shaved ice, flan, coffee ice cream, coffee jelly, bruleed banana and a lace cookie with a shot of Vietnamese espresso ($10)

Meet the vendor: The over-the-top dessert is inspired by the coffee-soaked flan co-founder Mai Tran would eat on the streets of Vietnam as a child. "It's like my fondest memory from childhood," Tran, 29, said. "We want to create more joy from the dish."

Fun fact: Tran and her partner were grade school friends in Vietnam. They reunited 20 years later in NYC and decided to start a business  re-create one of their favorite local dishes.

Find it: Saturday and Sunday

Millers and Makers 

Signature dish: Whole grain rye chocolate chip cookies ($4/each)

Meet the vendor: Co-owner Josh Pickens, 31, mills all the flour for his cookies, baked goods and breads. "I always thought that flour was just this white substance that I had to flavor to make things taste good. And when I started milling and tasting … it kind of changed my whole perspective as a baker."

Fun fact: All the grains that Pickens uses are from a farm in Pennsylvania, about 45 minutes from where he grew up.

Find it: Saturday

Nansense

Signature dish: Mantu — dumplings with beef, onions and seasonings like cumin and dried coriander, on a bed of garlic yogurt and topped with a split pea korma, dried mint and cilantro ($7/three dumplings and a piece of bread)

Meet the vendor: Mo Rahmati, 32, was born in Queens but draws from his family's Afghan roots for his comfort food fare, which is "exactly the type of food that my mom made for us growing up. … This is as traditional and homestyle as it gets."

Fun fact: Nansense won Best Rookie at the 2018 Vendy Awards.

Find it: Saturday and Sunday

Smør

Signature dish: Curried herring smørrebrød, or open-face sandwich ($9) — pickled herring with a homemade curry sauce, diced apples, topped with a soft-boiled egg, radish and chives on rye bread

Meet the vendor: Co-owners Sebastian Perez, 25, and Sebastian Bangsgaard, 27, share more than just a name: they're both originally from Denmark. "We grew up eating curried herring, it's my favorite thing," Perez said.

Fun fact: Smør also has a new shop in the East Village.

Find it: Saturday and Sunday

Vayalo Cocina

Signature dish: Pabellón arepa ($11), with roasted shredded beef, black beans, fried plantains and cheese

Meet the vendor: Ana Fernandez left Venezuela nearly three years ago with her wife and sister. "We really miss our country, our culture. It's really difficult when you are starting something new," said Fernandez, 39. "We miss our flavors, our colors, our families, of course, our feeling at home. … We wanted to re-create our mom's flavor, mom's feeling."

Fun fact: This is not their first business together: In Venezuela, Fernandez said they had a clothing store.

Find it: Saturday

IF YOU GO: Smorgasburg runs 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturdays at East River State Park (90 Kent Ave., Williamsburg) and Sundays at Prospect Park's Breeze Hill (East Drive at Lincoln Road) | smorgasburg.com

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