Downtown

Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce brings borough’s magic to state capitol

Brooklyn Night entices pols to enter egg cream contest

March 15, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Assemblymembers Rodneyse Bichotte (left) and Helene Weinstein enjoy tasting lasagna. Eagle photos by Paula Katinas

State Sen. Diane Savino, a veteran lawmaker who has served in office since 2004, has passed several laws and has seen it all in her time in Albany. But March 13 might have marked the first time she was asked to employ her egg cream-making skills in public.

Savino was among the elected officials who gamely took part in the First Annual Five Borough Egg Cream Challenge sponsored by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce in the state capitol on Monday.

State Sen. Marty Golden and Assemblymember Joseph Lentol also participated in the laugh-filled contest, pouring milk and chocolate syrup into glasses and then spraying a healthy dose of seltzer into the carefully concocted mixture.

The contest, which pitted participants from each of the five boroughs against each other to determine who could make the tastiest egg cream, was just one of the highlights of Brooklyn Night, an event held by the Chamber of Commerce in Albany.

Chamber President and CEO Andrew Hoan announced that the contest ended in a tie between Brooklyn and Queens.

Brooklyn Night, which the Chamber holds every year, features more than 50 vendors from the borough who travel up to the state capitol to offer hot dogs, potato  chips, beer, soda, ice cream, cakes, lasagna and all sorts of delicious dishes to lawmakers from all over New York state.

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Nearly every state senator and assemblymember representing districts in Brooklyn came to Brooklyn Night this year.

The event also attracted powerful lawmakers like Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) and state Senate majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Suffolk County).

Brooklyn Night gives lawmakers a chance to take a break from their legislative duties to relax and enjoy the best of the borough’s cuisine.

But the event also has serious purpose, according to Hoan, who said it fits in with the chamber’s overall purpose of promoting Brooklyn businesses and touting the borough as a great location in which to do business and a viable place in which to make business investments.

Brooklyn Night is the centerpiece of a two-day trip to Albany the chamber made to talk to lawmakers about issues of importance to the borough’s business community.

The trip takes place each year in March when negotiations over the state budget begin in earnest in Albany.

The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, which boasts more than 2,100 members, is the largest chamber of commerce in New York state, Hoan said.

Still, Brooklyn Night meant an evening of fun and good times for the guests.

Assemblymembers Rodneyse Bichotte and Helene Weinstein ate lasagna. Their colleagues, assemblymembers Peter Abbate and Felix Ortiz, got on a long line of people looking forward to getting hot dogs.

Assemblymember Diana Richardson was trying to decide which food vendor to visit when she came across bottles of Brooklyn-made ginger ale. Another assemblymember, Robert Carroll, complied when a photographer asked him to pose for a photo holding a bottle of Brooklyn Beer.

Prior to the egg-cream-making contest, Hoan led a short welcoming ceremony during which he invited all the state Legislature’s Brooklyn delegation to join him on the stage.

“Brooklyn’s in the house!” Hoan said.

Lentol, the chairman of the borough’s delegation, introduced Heastie to the crowd, calling him “the best speaker.”

Heastie also quoted the late great rapper Biggie Smalls, aka Notorious B.I.G. (1972-1997): “Where Brooklyn at?”

Heastie praised the Brooklyn delegation. “They really do represent their county well,” he said.

Brooklyn Night is valuable, Heastie said, because it’s good to “show the work between the business community and elected officials.”

Businesses boost the state’s economy because they employ thousands of people, the speaker said.

Flanagan, who spoke after Heastie, praised the chamber. “Brooklyn is hot,” he said.

Flanagan had met earlier in the day with chamber leaders and said he was impressed. “Everyone knew their stuff,” he said.

Golden, who also spoke at the welcoming ceremony, said the night was going to be memorable. “It’s Brooklyn’s show!” he said.

Golden also turned serious for a moment and talked about legislative efforts to create a positive environment for businesses to grow. Those efforts include helping the tech sector and continuing the work of revitalizing the waterfront.

“We’re going to make sure we deliver for the Brooklyn waterfront,” Golden said.

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