As any urbanite can attest, in order to survive and thrive in the concrete jungle, it is absolutely vital to have some sort of haven, whether it’s a coffee shop that always seems to have that one free electrical outlet or a spot in Central Park that gets the perfect amount of sun in the wintertime. If you don’t have a special spot, Alison Schneider wants to introduce you to a new place to escape, which she’s appropriately named Haven’s Kitchen.
Schneider had a vision for “a food community where people could learn about, prepare, and share delicious food that sustains people, our environment, and our local economy.” She’s talking about a multi-storied building on W. 17th near Sixth Avenue that once served as a carriage house. Now classes such as To Market! take students over to the Union Square Greenmarket two blocks away where they are introduced to the day’s farmers in the hopes that they will be able to develop relationships and seasonally inspired flexibility in their shopping and cooking.
If you could find your way around Greenmarket with a blindfold on, Haven’s Kitchen offers a wealth of other one-day classes, including Crops, Cups & Cappuccinos, taught by Nicolas O’Connell of La Colombe Torrefaction; Our Family Pantry, run by Schneider herself; and Knife Skills by Haven’s resident chef Julia Sullivan. Haven’s Kitchen also has a retail shop that sells many of the relevant products from your class, in addition to a gorgeous array of linens and serving ware. With an emphasis on supporting the community, several of the products for sale are from small businesses who do not yet have a storefront. There’s also a market with a cafe serving coffee, pastries and shelves with other pantry and grocery products.
Monthly Supper Clubs feature guest chefs and delicious and culturally diverse menus. If you fall in love with the space, it’s available to rent out for private parties, where menus are prepared with what’s available at the Greenmarket, allowing for a nice element of surprise. The icing on the carriage house cake is the rooftop garden, opening next year, which Schneider hopes to provide some of the produce for Haven’s Kitchen.
The next time Sixth Avenue is causing your blood pressure to rise and your ears to ring, consider a trip to Haven’s Kitchen. Sign up for a class, pick up a bottle of Sir Kensington’s Ketchup, or simply grab a cup of Bellocq tea and a pastry. Then get back out there and tackle this city.
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