In many ways, Jack Silberstein is like many young chefs living Brooklyn's hip neighborhoods. With his small beard, fashionable dress sense, and love of obscure meats, as well as his top-notch education at the Culinary Institute of America, Silberstein could be any trendy Brooklyn chef. But there is one main thing that sets Silberstein apart: he doesn't work in a restaurant kitchen. At one point, Silberstein and his business partner, Dr. Alan Broner, were planning a kosher restaurant serving gourmet kosher cured meats, such as chorizo and Italian kosher sausage that Silberstein had been developing. But they soon realized that the items they had created could be so much more than just a deli.
Jack's Gourmet kosher sausages hit the first grocery store shelves in 2010. Starting with five varieties of sausage, plus corned beef and pastrami, Silberstein and Broner relied on word of mouth to get their products noticed. At Kosherfest, Jack's Gourmet handed out thousands of samples; besides for being the most talked-about company there, they also walked away with an award for Best New Product and interest from dozens of grocery store buyers.
Three years later, Jack's Gourmet products can be found at over 300 grocery stores, including Costco, Shoprite and Kroger. The line has expanded to include frozen sausage patties, and a beef bacon called Facon, which is now the company’s most popular product. Chef Jose Edgardo Soto, the chef at Basil Wine and Pizza Bar, calls Facon “as close as you can get” to the real deal.
In the fickle and challenging food industry, the success of Jack’s Gourmet is nothing short of astonishing. “People see the product for what it is,” Silberstein explains. “It is a high-quality product delivered as promised. The sausages are made of chuck, the same beef you would buy to cook at home. It is simply ground with quality herbs and spices—no by-products, no fillers, no gluten and no MSG.”
“The whole food industry has changed tremendously over the past few years,” says Chanie Apfelbaum of the blog Busy in Brooklyn. Today’s sophisticated kosher shopper is willing to pay more for high-quality and unique items. Apfelbaum’s favorite new kosher products are Jack’s Gourmet frozen sausage patties. No matter how you cook them, she says, “the superior quality and taste will come through in your dish.”
And it isn’t just kashrut-observant foodies seeking out Jack’s Gourmet. Silberstein receives emails from Muslims thrilled to find pork-free sausages, people with celiac disease happy that the products contain no gluten, and plenty of people who just love the taste. But, he says, “one of our core groups has always been baalei teshuvah.” Sil-berstein jokes that rabbis have told him he is doing G-d’s work. “One Chabad House rabbi told me about a woman who wanted to start keeping kosher but couldn’t bring herself to give up bacon.” One day, the woman tried Facon, and, needless to say, she’s been keeping kosher ever since.
So, what's all the hype over sausages? What is the difference between a Hot Dog and Sausage?
Many people wonder about the difference between a sausage and a hot dog. Technically, a sausage is any mixture of ground meat with fat and spices. Sausages are usually stuffed into casings, giving them that familiar link shape, but can also be shaped into patties. The hot dog is actually one type of sausage, most notable for its smooth texture and simple flavor profile. To make a hot dog, the meat (often scrap meat, which is why hot dogs are inexpensive) is emulsified, often with soy added as a filler. To get the same crowd-pleasing flavor and texture as a hot dog without the scrap meat and fillers, look for bratwurst, a mild German sausage, or kielbasa, a garlicky Polish variety.
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