This story is part of 1 Minute Meal, a documentary series that uses food to reveal the communities, legacies, dreams, realities and other unseen forces that shape life in New York City.
Ask a New Yorker what they’d expect to see at the epicenter of Brooklyn’s Park Slope, and they might not be surprised by the answer: a wood-fired brick oven in a historic public park. What would surprise them, however, is what self-proclaimed oven steward Jace Harker does with it: invite literally anybody to show up and put literally anything edible into that oven.
We’re big fans of the community baking day that Harker and his wife, Yasmin, host several times a year because it stokes the curiosity of anyone who participates. Regular bakers in attendance always have something new to try baking, newcomers are overjoyed to have access to a well-maintained oven and passersby are astonished by the idea that they could bring a whole chicken to roast just steps away from their kids’ favorite playground. Within minutes of approaching the oven and tasting the food coming out of it, new friendships are kindled.
It certainly helps that the regulars of this baking day bring their A game. From deeply flavorful pernil tacos to a simply seasoned medley of beets to Harker’s masterful cheese pizza, the baking day filmed for this story was full of food that spoke to the simple pleasures of sharing a meal with friends old and new.
The Brick Oven Brooklyn Meetup group, which organizes community baking day and other events using the wood-fired oven, is currently taking a summer break but will begin assembling bakers of all stripes again in the fall—plenty of time for you to figure out what kind of baked good looks best in a musical montage.
Music: © “Stuck in Between” instrumental by Derock Tucker (derocktucker.com).
Through September 1st, Edible Brooklyn is collaborating with Edible Manhattan, Edible Queens, Edible Bronx, and the Staten Island Advance to debut 30 new one-minute documentaries about food and life in New York. Subscribe to 1 Minute Meal to see stories from all five boroughs.