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Grandchamps Kitchen gives a taste of Haiti

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Feed your rumbling bellies with a strong sense of community in Bedstuy’s newest restaurant: Grandchamps.

Serving Haitian staples to their diverse neighbors, husband-and-wife duo and Bedstuy residents, Shawn and Sabrina Brockman, are making it their responsibility to serve their community’s needs. From delicious food to even selling pantry items like Cafe Bustelo and pasta at affordable prices, Grandchamps is investing each delicious bite with an opportunity to better their community.

“We decided to open this business just because we live in this community and we identified a need for this type of business – it’s like a food desert here,” Sabrina Brockman said.

Offering a full menu from breakfast to dinner, Sabrina — who is of Haitian descent — decided to open Grandchamps along with her husband as a way to offer the community a family-oriented meeting place. Sabrina and Shawn Brockman entered the restaurant business with a detailed eye on what their community needed. Shawn has a wealth of 12 years in the restaurant business while Sabrina divides her time still working in her field of finance.

Located on Patchen Avenue between Halsey and Hancock streets in what was previously Archie’s Grocery, Grandchamps opened back in June and is one of two sit-down eateries on the strip. It is important to them that their staff reflects their neighborhood, hiring majority of their workers who live just a few blocks away from the restaurant. Shawn Brockman, who leads the kitchen as the head chef, certainly did his homework in terms of learning as much about Haitian food and its culture to create imaginative new staples on the menu like the griot sandwich.

“The griot sandwich was Shawn’s creation; it has the griot, the pikliz and the banan peze [plantains] in a sandwich. It’s a full meal on its own but it’s a way to introduce people to Haitian culture if they’re not ready for a full out rice and beans dish,” Sabrina Brockman explained.

The motivation behind adding creative spins to Haitian classics are two-fold, first to appeal to New York’s fast-paced lunch culture lending the inspiration behind the sandwiches included on the menu.

“What we tried to do is first we thought about the staples, griot, legume, salt fish, the turkey tasso — things that we thought people would expect to see,” she explained. “Then, I came up with using our stew chicken and shredding it, using a pita and making a sandwich out of that as a way to repurpose items on the menu,” she said.

Secondly, it was important to the Brockman’s to craft a menu that could be trained to people unfamiliar with Haitian food. Unlike many other Caribbean eateries that may keep the cooking staff all within the family, Grandchamps’ focus is to provide jobs and teach the local community the valuable life skill of cooking.

“We wanted to bring a different type of awareness to Haitian culture and we just wanted to bring people together,” she said.

Operating as the neighborhood’s new dining room, Grandchamps opens its doors to fully serve their neighbors with new initiatives and events within their short time of being open. On their immediate list is creating a menu to aid with preparing Thanksgiving meals, providing dishes that could be completed at home.

“We’re hoping to do something like we’ll prep a macaroni and cheese dish that you can purchase and bake at home. We’re trying to creatively look at our menu so we can cook things that people can finish at home to help with Thanksgiving dinner,” she said.

Since opening the community-focused restaurant, Sabrina Brockman is most happy about the positive response she’s received from neighbors and passerbys who reflect on the former grocery store and many more stories.

“I think people recognize that we centered our establishment on the concept of community and just appreciated the fact that we were filling this gap in our neighborho­od,” she said.

Grandchamps Table Talk [197 Patchen Ave. between Halsey and Hancock streets in Bedstuy, (718) 484-4880, www.grandchamps.nyc) Oct. 18. 7 pm. $65 tickets available online.

Reach reporter Alley Olivier at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at aolivier@cnglocal.com. Follow Alley on Twitter @All3Y_B.
Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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