Brooklyn’s become an epicenter for DIY artisans, and over the past several years, businesses that deal in small batch chocolate, baked goods, coffee, and booze have multiplied exponentially. But to lump Steve Tarpin in with that wave would be incorrect.
Tarpin’s been making key lime pie in Red Hook for nearly two decades, vending them from a little yellow truck all over the city. But that’s not the only reason he sticks out.
Writes Belle Cushing:
In flip-flops and a T-shirt, with a cigarette dangling between a graying mustache and beard, Tarpin oversees pie operations down a cobblestone street in Red Hook. The lineup has been simple and mostly unchanged over the years: Key lime pies, plus chocolate-dipped single slices of pie, or “swingles,” on sticks.
Now, the neighboring warehouses hold other food artisans, but if that creates some kind of utopian camaraderie, Tarpin isn’t part of it. “I’ve heard it referred to as a tightly knit community,” he says of his out-of-the-way neighborhood. “I don’t know how tight that weave is.” He was here before small-batch whiskey, and it’s easy to imagine him still making pies long after pretty jars of mayonnaise no longer grace shelves. Amid the artisanal overload, to him, “We’re all making widgets.”