Samuel Branch and his business partner and wife, Lisa, are giving Jamaican patties—the pastries often stuffed with fillings and often a flaky crust made from egg yolk or turmeric—new life at Artists & Fleas with their business Branch Patty.
Artist & Fleas has been in the North Brooklyn area since 2003, home to a roster of over 75 vendors selling vintage wares, jewelry and screen printed t-shirts. Joining the market earlier this year, the team’s Caribbean patties are some of a handful of food businesses that the shopping destination has to offer.
At the Branch Patty booth in Williamsburg you can expect to find traditionally-made patties with some innovation: there’s a beef with paprika crust, the “La Bodega” (inspired by the patties Branch ate after school growing up) and curry chicken with a turmeric crust. As well as seasonal offerings like kale and callaloo (leafy green) patty with a callaloo crust, jerk shiitake mushrooms with thyme crust and curry chickpea with summer squash. And, as the holiday season gears up, Branch Patty will offer new flavors like an apple pie patty with a spiced sugar crust, a version with oxtail and a Thanksgiving-style patty. All patties are $5 each.
Jamaican patties have been popularized in New York, in part by the Golden Krust chain, as well as countless restaurants in areas like Crown Heights, with a large Jamaican population. But Branch Patty hopes to give Caribbean fare more recognition from a wider set of diners across the city. The vendor joins spots like Glady’s, Sol Sips and Yardy running food businesses helmed by chefs demonstrating the diversity of Caribbean cooking and the possibilities of its future, one that’s also more vegetable-forward than ever.
Branch, who spent his childhood in Barbados until he was 11 and moved to Brooklyn, has been tinkering with his patty recipes for years. Though he attended Berklee College of Music, he quickly realized his passions lay in the kitchen, leading him to train at the Institute of Culinary Education.
He began by working the floor at Whole Foods. “It opened me up to the world of organic foods, gluten free, dairy free, etc. which was important because our first daughter had many allergies we needed to get around,” he says. From there he went on to the world of fine dining, but he quickly found it financially unstable while raising his kids.
Branch Patty is not Branch’s first pop-up of this nature. In 2013, under a different company name called Mr. Cutters (which garnered a mention in The New York Times), he sold Barbadian fish fritters at Smorgasburg. A few fraught business agreements inspired him to relaunch under his family name with his wife as a partner.
“In the beginning days, I couldn’t find one person that was willing to teach me the craft of making the patties,” he reminisces. “When I told the old school patty makers that I would create a patty with sustainable meats and not mystery meat, fresh and local vegetables, no food coloring, and charge more than what had been common for so many years, I was told that people weren’t used to that and it would be too different.” Not only does Branch hope his business will help people see his dishes as more than just a street food, but that it will open up more conversations around the locally-grown, organic movement, that includes more Caribbean-Americans.
For now, Branch Patty will be at Artists & Fleas through the end of the year and hopes to continue in the market for 2020. Vegan versions are available at Crown Heights' Greedi Vegan, too.
Artists & Fleas Williamsburg is open every Saturday and Sunday from 10am - 7pm and is located at 70 N 7th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249.