Getting Local, Personal {and Naked} with Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43

Local Naked Cowboy Oysters from the Long Island Sound

Local Naked Cowboy Oysters from the Long Island Sound

When I co-founded Freshocracy with my partners, we set out with the primary mission of making it easier for busy New Yorkers to get back in the kitchen and cook from scratch. But our secondary mission was to delight our customers with the simple and intense flavor of locally harvested and seasonal ingredients that taste like real food is supposed to taste. You can’t argue with a sweet, juicy field red tomato when it’s picked at its peak and comes straight from the farm to our customers’ tables.

Eating local or calling yourself a locavore may seem like a new trend or matter of awareness to most of you, but there are a few trailblazers in the New York food scene who have been upholding this food philosophy since before it was a coined phrase. Jimmy Carbone, owner of Jimmy’s No. 43 {an East Village locavore-centric artisanal beer and food den} and founder of The Good Beer Seal, is a man everyone should know. He is an avid supporter of local farmers {check out his menu or join a small-farm CSA with pick-ups at Jimmy’s}, an innovator in planning fantastically fun food fests {Cook Out NYC, Meatopia, Taste of Tribeca, The Great New York City Shuck ‘N Suck} and an educator in what it means to enjoy good food and good beer {local oysters and beer tastings every Wed/Thurs + other local-centric events}

In honor of Edible Manhattan’s Eat Drink Local Week, I chatted with Jimmy to understand what inspired his love and respect for all things local…and then slurped down a few Long Island Naked Cowboy Oysters and cold brews at the Jimmy’s No. 43 Eat Drink Local Oyster Event to fully appreciate how he spreads the local love.

While Jimmy grew up with a sensibility that food from local farms is the freshest, getting access to it wasn’t always as easy as going to Union Square on the weekend with your resuable bags. It wasn’t until Jimmy opened his first restaurant, Mugsy’s Chow Chow, in 1994 that he started going to the greenmarket to shop, but even then the market was smaller and his menu wasn’t entirely dedicated to local ingredients. In 2002, with his lease running out he renamed the restaurant to Patio Bar and reinvented the menu to be more focused on the market. The result was amazing food, but there was still a disconnect between his diners’ undeniably positive reactions and their understanding of the local influence on their meals. In Jimmy’s words, “people thought it was weird.” The seminal moment in Jimmy’s locavore timeline came after he opened Jimmy’s No. 43 in 2005. Jimmy hired a new chef to go to the market five days a week to source their dairy, produce and meat from local purveyors. After setting a number of standards for their menu, Jimmy’s No. 43 was awarded Slow Food NYC’s Snail of Approval seal {an award recognizing quality, authenticity and sustainability of the food supply of the City of New York.} Six years later, Jimmy’s continues to serve up an inspired menu that could only be made better by enjoying one of the many fine microbrews on his bar list. His local philosophy and New Yorker’s reception of it finally converged.

But just because Jimmy uses high quality, local ingredients, doesn’t mean his menu will put a large hole in your wallet. Jimmy very smartly works with farmers to select cuts they have excess supply of, keeping his costs low while helping these small producers sell their inventory. If his regular good food menu and good prices aren’t enticement enough to spend some time sipping beers and noshing at No. 43, then swing by on Wednesday or Thursday for $2 local oyster night. If you’re lucky, Eddie Oysters, the fastest shucker in the land, will be on hand to entertain and feed you. Oyster Trivia: don’t be afraid to slurp one too many of those slippery little suckers — they are only 10 calories a piece!

The thing I love about Jimmy is the casualness of the world he has created. It’s not about didactic local teachings, but enticing a community of diners and sippers with a consistently good local food and beer atmosphere. Lure them in with a stellar menu and fantastic food events and perhaps they will leave with a better understanding of what it means to Eat Drink Local. We at Freshocracy certainly hope so too!

Eddie Oysters Gettin' Naked

More Local Goodness:
Freshocracy {and yours truly} Featured on Good Food Jobs
Summer Lovin’ Me Some Oysters @Mermaid Oyster Bar
NYC Best: Purely Good Food & Wine

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