You are a partner, along with Alan Broner, of Jack’s Gourmet Sausages. What inspired you to start a kosher line of sausages?
Alan and I met at some culinary classes I was teaching at a local shop in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. One night after a wine and cheese class I taught, Alan and I got to talking and he told me how he had always wanted to learn how to make corned beef and pastrami……I had had a few drinks and I agreed that if Alan got a smoker I would teach him how to pickle and smoke meats (I had never done this before except in culinary school).
Several months later we had developed a corned beef and pastrami recipe that we and our friends were in love with. I was working on some consulting projects for a meat company at this point and Alan was begging me to teach him more. After a few months of pleading and prodding from Alan, I agreed to teach him how to make sausages (again something I hadn’t done since culinary school).
Five recipes and about six months later we had perfected our now current line of sausages. The sausages and corned beef and pastrami are all very important because they happen to be some of mine and Alan’s favorite foods that we both missed due to our keeping kosher. (Alan and I are both Baalei Teshuva). Keeping Kosher is hard enough but is even harder when you really love food!
Before Jack’s Gourmet there were no kosher sausages on the national market (other than hot dogs, which are a type of sausage). As for corned beef and pastrami, everything on the market was mass-produced pickled meats without any particularly unique flavor and pumped full of water. By contrast, our corned beef and pastrami is made in small batches using only quality briskets, freshly ground spices, fresh garlic (that’s right, FRESH) and it is pickled over about eight days. We do not use carrageenan in our deli which would cause the meat to retain the water that is pumped into it, so when you buy our deli meats, you are paying for pure meat. As for the sausages, we developed and now sell five unique flavors that span the culinary globe and can satisfy any taste.
We have a wonderfully aromatic sweet Italian sausage, a spicy bold flavored hot Italian, a very mild German bratwurst which is like a hot dog on steroids, a very spicy Mexican style chorizo which has over twelve herbs and spices and a tangy South African style boerewors.
What makes your sausages different from the other kosher brands on the market?
For one, there aren’t really any other authentic handcrafted kosher sausages on the national market. Our sausages taste just like their non-kosher counterparts. Our sausages are made using only quality beef and freshly ground spices. We NEVER use any fillers or by-products in our sausages. Our sausages are therefore gluten-free and better for you. Also, once you taste our sausages you will agree that there really is nothing like them in the kosher world. We even have a following of non-kosher consumers who prefer our product as they avoid pork products.
Do you have a culinary background? Tell us about it.
I am a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY where I graduated with honors. While attending CIA I completed a 6 month internship at the LA Times in Los Angeles, CA where I worked in the food section learning recipe testing and development. It is there that I learned the art of recipe development which was crucial in my developing the recipes for Jack’s Gourmet. I have also worked in restaurants, as a private chef (both on land and on a private 112 foot yacht), as a chef consultant and as a cooking teacher. Cooking is my passion and it’s as if it runs through my blood.
How did you become interested in food and food preparation?
My first memories of food are my mother’s strawberry and tofu smoothie and roasted chicken. I began cooking when I was 8 years old by baking muffins. My mother literally gave me free run of her kitchen and allowed me to bake and cook unchecked. I would read all the cookbooks I could get my hands on and call my mother’s friend who was a local caterer with questions. When I was 13 worked as an apprentice at Levana, the now defunct NY kosher restaurant. I worked with the pastry chef learning how to form breads and decorate cakes. My passion continued through high school and I worked as a fully paid line cook in several NYC restaurants in my junior and senior years. All the while I prepared weekday dinners and elaborate Shabbos meals for my family and friends. It was college- the Culinary Institute of America - where all my years of playing around in the kitchen actually paid off and where I took my cooking to the next level.
What’s your plan for the future at Jack’s? Will you branch out into other products?
The plan for Jack’s is quite simple- produce the best quality products possible using the best ingredients. We are happy making sausages and deli meats right now and will focus on that. We like what we do and are always striving to do it better. We are in the process of developing a line of chicken and turkey sausages and have some really cool other products in the works which will for the first time be available to the kosher consumer. I can’t tell you what they are of course, so you will just have to wait and see. I would like to point out that we are only as good as the feedback we receive from our customers. We love hearing from them because without their thoughts and comments we would be producing only for ourselves and that’s no fun. We strongly encourage feedback and have made it quite easy. Simply log onto www.jacksgourmetkosher.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can people find your products?
You can find our products in many kosher stores all across the United States. From New York to Los Angeles and everywhere in between our products are sold. We are constantly expanding into new stores and marketplaces and are working to ensure that Kosher consumers can purchase our products in every major kosher city in the US. If you cannot buy our authentic handcrafted deli meats and sausages in the store, you can buy it on our website jacksgourmetkosher.com and we will ship it directly to you in an insulated foam box with ice packs. It will arrive ready for you to enjoy!