In the heart of the Chelsea neighborhood sits the former National Biscuit Company factory. Though it’s the spot where the beloved Oreo cookie was invented, today the building bustles with Manhattan foodies exploring the urban food court complex. The 22-story industrial building has remnants of its factory past – Oreo murals on the walls, original train sheds, and old signboards – but since the renovations were completed in 1997, many visit to eat their way through the delectable treats offered in the many stores. From chocolate brownies at Fat Witch to fresh sushi at The Lobster Place and even artisan cheese at Buon Italia, the authentic food offered at Chelsea Market can satisfy any traveler’s craving. Strolling through the bustling hallways, I stumbled upon an addition to the market, Spices and Tease.
Situated in the newly renovated alcove that use to be Amy’s Bread’s kitchen, this authentic stand displays metal bowls overflowing with freshly ground spices and teas. Bruno Benzacken, co-owner of the store with his cousin Francios Athea, extends a long shovel-like object overflowing with dried fruits, spices and flower petals towards a woman with short gray hair and glasses. As a professionally trained chef and fourth generation spice trader, Benzacken encourages the customer to waft the flavors of Jasmine Rose loose tea towards her nose. She closes her eyes as she smells and then smiles.
With 30 varieties of homemade spices, 180 exotic imported teas like Mango Pineapple Chili (or Pirate of the Caribbean), the cousin duo brought family blends from Naples, Italy to the streets of Manhattan 8 years ago. Though they started at local street fairs, you can now visit their three locations around the city, including the Chelsea Market stand which opened in May.
Spices and Tease also has locations on 97th and Broadway and in Grand Central Market. At their locations within New York City Spices and Tease sell 30 varieties of homemade spice blends, 18 different types of pepper, 13 gourmet salts, and 180 exotic imported teas.