Courtesy Bed-Stuy Gateway BID
Michael Lambert (left), executive director, Bed-Stuy Gateway BID, and ‘Toast of Brooklyn’ co-founder Edmon Braithwaite showcase House of Mandela wines at Nostrand Wines and Liquors in Brooklyn.
South Africa’s iconic political freedom fighter is about to become the Toast of Brooklyn.
The “Toast” is Bed-Stuy’s annual wine and food festival, and this year it will begin on a sober note as its founders pay tribute to Nelson Mandela.
Mandela’s daughter, Dr. Makaziwe Mandela, and his granddaughter, Tukwini Mandela, will be in town to accept an award on behalf of the ailing 95-year-old leader, who spearheaded the struggle to abolish South Africa’s repressive apartheid policies and later served as the country’s first black president.
The Mandelas will also promote House of Mandela Wines, a company they launched earlier this year, helping to ensure that the festival uncorks in high spirits.
Former South African president Nelson Mandela’s daughter, Makaziwe Mandela, left, and his granddaughter Tukwini Mandela pose with some of their House of Mandela wines. They’ll attend the Toast of Brooklyn festival this weekend to promote their brand while honoring the ailing patriarch.
The festivities will take place in the outdoor courtyard of the recently completed Bed-Stuy Restoration Plaza, a revitalization project that was funded in part by a $ 20 million grant from the city.
“We bring sophisticated events to our community to show what we have to offer in our neighborhood backyard,” said Edmon Braithwaite, an event co-founderwho works at a Nostrand Ave. wine and liquor store. “When we organized this event in the past, it was very successful, and this year we are engaging more companies and expecting a larger crowd.”
More than 3,500 people are expected to attend the two-day celebration, which kicks off with the Friday night tribute.
The plaza will be transformed to make attendees feel like they’re on a tour through wine country, and paintings by renowned Brooklyn abstract expressionist Danny Simmons will also be on display.
Former South African President Nelson Mandela, now 95, recently returned home from hospital but remains in critical condition.
Saturday’s festivities include wine and food tastings, cooking demonstrations and live jazz and soul performances.
The tickets aren’t cheap — $ 75 for Friday’s event and $ 50 for Saturday — but a portion of the proceeds will be used for a good cause: Last year, the organizers put $ 23,000 toward scholarships for needy Bed-Stuy students.
Toast of Brooklyn is also the primary fund-raiser for the Bed-Stuy Gateway Business Improvement District, said executive director Michael Lambert.
The festival will cap the end of construction of Restoration Plaza, a seven-year project that widened sidewalks and added green space, lights and benches in the neighborhood.
The redevelopment also brought in close to $ 100 million toward the creation of 300 units of mixed-income housing, a project that is ongoing.
2013 Toast of Brooklyn, Bed-Stuy Restoration Plaza, 1368 Fulton St., Friday, Sept. 13, 6 p.m., and Saturday, September 14, 2-9 p.m., for more info call 718-902-9641 or email firstname.lastname@example.org