How the world’s first vegan Jewish deli prepares for Passover

As a child, restaurateur Andy Kalish associated two smells with Friday nights. It’s his grandmother’s chicken soup and the insect repellent in his grandfather’s closet. Karish’s grandparents, Sam and Gertie, both immigrants, respectively from Romania and Glasgow via Romania, settled in the historically Jewish neighborhood of Detroit’s Dexter Davidson Corridor.

There, Karish’s childhood was steeped in traditional Ashkenazi cuisine.From sumptuous children’s tables stuffed with bagels and lox to Gertie’s home-cooked Friday dinners, Karish often threw the legs of the table. I gently bumped and wiggled his knee.

“Everything my grandmother made, and my Aunt Elaine, who was the owner of my grandmother’s recipes and cooked for Hanukkah, Passover, Rosh Hashanah, these recipes “These fine, fine meals tasted the same forever.”

RELATED: Gefilte fish isn’t just for Jews: Passover staple for daily snack

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So it should come as no surprise that Kalish, along with his wife and fellow restaurateur Gina Marino-Kalish, decided to open Sam & Gertie’s, a Jewish deli in Chicago’s uptown district, in 2020. I can’t. Kalish’s family recipes and his childhood food include: big difference. It will be the world’s first vegan Jewish deli.

“Everything we do vegan is meant to replace our animal counterparts in every possible reproducible way,” Karish tells me when I go to the deli. (The deli is located on a quiet tree-lined street next door. Two other vegan restaurants in Kalishes, Kal’ish and the upcoming L/A Mex). He walked past a slowly forming line of customers and ordered a “lox” bagel made with slowly smoked, thinly sliced ​​tomatoes and dairy-free cream cheese.

When we got to our table, he continued. We have a 23 year old son and the world has changed dramatically during his years. …if nothing is done, the world will just melt and burn to madness.”

Sam & Gertie Bread (Sam & Gerties)

Kalish feels that eating a plant-based diet is one of the easiest and most democratic things someone can do to help save the planet. It also satisfies the needs of vegan Jews who want to enjoy traditional foods that are rich in riches. The difference becomes apparent around holidays like Passover, when dishes such as brisket, chicken stock matzo balls, and kugels are commonly served.

So Kalish started offering Passover menus through Sam & Gertie’s. It includes a dizzying array of dishes like fake brisket. gefilte “no” fish; matzo lasagna with tomato ragout and vegetable starch cheese; potato onion kugel; frosted chocolate deli cake;

Finding reliable substitutes for meat-based classics takes some work. During our chat, Karish likened it to a science experiment.

For example, Sam & Gertie’s brisket is made with nearly 15 natural ingredients. Kalish didn’t want to reveal its own secret, but it incorporates a variety of beans and grains cooked to varying degrees of cooking to mimic the fat “rings” present in cuts of beef. increase.


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“Creating flavors is not complicated,” says Kalish. “Texture? A little more.”

Finally, this is Sam & Gertie’s version of the traditional Seder – no eggs and bones on the Seder plate.

“There is the spirit of the law, there is the letter of the law,” Kalish said. “We’re really focused on the spirit of the experience, and we plan to sell hundreds of these meals.”

Many of these meals are delivered in bulk to Chicago suburbs like Skokie for large family gatherings. and resonates deeply with Karish.

“I came here 30 years ago after graduating from college, and I couldn’t go home for the whole vacation,” Karish said. “So I’ve found a place where I can feel at home. I hope this inspires someone else to do the same.”

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