The beloved institutions of Jewish Deli continues to disappear. But a few brave delis are breaking up canons of the dying model. Saul's Restaurant and Deli in Berkeley is convening these renegades for a Deli Summit. Four very different models.
Saul's owners Karen Adelman and Peter Levitt believe they and their colleagues will benefit from collaboration on a common language. In a culinary genre defined by rigid expectations (yet varied depending on customer), comparison and critique, these delis trailblazing the deli lexicon can gradually give each other points of reference and authority.
What do these departures from the Deli Institution look like on the menu, the plate, in the dining room? What does it mean to thrive as a deli business? This is what the Summit is for: to communicate the mechanics of survival and sustainability to Deli customers around the country, and to celebrate the unique challenges and thrills of running a Jewish Deli.
This is a follow-up to Saul's Referendum on the Jewish Deli Menu. Now with the other delis, Saul's will talk nuts and bolts of their industry.
It's a behind the scenes, chefs-in-the-trenches conversation open to the public.
Karen Adelman and Chez Panisse alum Peter Levitt strive to steward a Jewish cuisine reflecting season, time and place, reconnecting with traditional culinary practices.
In the States, Karen Adelman, the California native born of New Yorkers, enjoyed a Jewish education developed mainly via palate. Twice annually her family made pilgrimages to New York eateries in the city and the boroughs. In this way she came to know "what was what."
Meanwhile Karen studied Sociology and Mass Communications at UC Berkeley. She waited tables at Saul's after her publishing office was crushed in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Eventually Karen came to manage Saul's. Karen called Peter out of teaching to help her purchase and run Saul's Restaurant and Delicatessen with her. They never stop talking with other deli colleagues. They eat widely and argue passionately.
Noah Bernamoff is the owner of Mile End Deli in Brooklyn.
Evan Bloom is co-owner of the pop up Wise Sons Deli in San Francisco.
Ken Gordon is co-owner of Kenny & Zuke's Deli in Portland.
Karen Adelman and Chez Panisse alum Peter Levitt strive to steward a Jewish cuisine reflecting season, time and place, reconnecting with traditional culinary practices. Peter Levitt's family in South Africa was on the reform side of Jewish identity but he personally chose to pursue his religion seriously in his early life. Peter spent many hours praying and studying. Fortunately his mother's kitchen also figured prominently in his childhood. Many, many hours reading the torah were complimented by a sumptuous variety of many Ashkenazi comfort foods. Eventually Peter found himself in California.
After studying Mathematics and Chinese Language at UC Berkeley, Peter decided to cook. Naturally. He worked in Oliveto's kitchen for four years and Chez Panisse for two. Then it followed as a matter of course, he became a math teacher at MLK Middle School. Karen called Peter out of teaching to help her purchase and run Saul's Restaurant and Delicatessen with her.
Joan Nathan, Author of ten cookbooks including Jewish Cooking in America and Quiches, Kugels and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France. She is a regular contributor to The New York Times Food Arts Magazine and Tablet Magazine.
Noah Bernamoff, chef/owner of Mile End Delicatessen in Brooklyn, talks about the difficulty of running a deli in New York City that challenges traditional Jewish deli nostalgia. "People just didn't understand why we ran out of meat for the first few months," says Bernamoff.