Seduction Meals is pleased to present our exclusive interview with the authors of Eating Delancey: A Celebration of Jewish Food by Aaron Rezny and Jordan Schaps. It seems with every classic Jewish dish there is a story and photographer Aaron Rezny and creative director Jordan Schaps have teamed up to share the wonderful world of Jewish food and recipes alongside a compilation of Jewish stories sure to delight.
Want to experience the Jewish way of life? Head down to the lower East side of New York City and go straight to Delancey Street. You’ll find yourself surround by Jewish history, tradition, and some of the best Jewish dining options in the city. Eating Delancey features the best-of-the-best in classic Jewish food with profiles and recipes from top lower East side eateries like Katz’s Deli (also known for the famed orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally), Sammy’s Romanian Steakhouse, Russ & Daughters Appetizers, Yonah Shimmel Knish Bakery and Ratner’s. As David Zimmerman, second-generation owner of Sammy’s Roumanian remarked, there’s a notable “reJEWvenation” afoot in downtown New York. Think bialy’s, stuffed kishka, latkes, borscht, brisket, kasha varnishkes, and the quintessential hot pastrami sandwich. And there’s nothing like the simple pleasures a Jewish mother’s roast chicken!
The book released this November – just in time for holiday gifting, and it is filled with luscious and dare I say, seductive food photography that will have you waving down a taxi to Delancey street in no time! And now… our exclusive interview:
Seduction Meals: For people that don’t know, how would you best describe Jewish food?
Jordan Schaps: I wouldn’t want to describe Jewish food to anyone who doesn’t know what Jewish food is, as I think what I say might sound negative or even scary. French food can sound scary: butter, cream, sauces, fois gras – but when used in a terrific way – French food is sensational. Jewish food is – well, as we all know, mostly brown, and except for the occasionally “distressed” carrots (tzimmes) – pretty much vegetable-free. Robert Klein – the great standup comedian who wrote for our book said he “never had a fresh vegetable as a child. I didn’t know that peas didn’t come out of a can until I was a teenager.” Other than that, Jewish food is hearty, very meat based, and comforting.
Aaron Rezny: Jewish food is something made by Bubbes to love and nurture their loved one’s bodies and souls.
Seduction Meals: I see Joan Rivers did the intro for your book, I am sure you are both saddened by the loss of one of our greatest comedians.
Aaron / Jordan: We are terribly saddened by the loss of Joan Rivers. Her story is the heart of EATING DELANCEY. The photography made it beautiful and dazzling. The words of Joan and our other contributors, give the book its heart and soul. The reminiscences are what touch the heart.
Seduction Meals: In addition to Joan Rivers you have stories and recipes from friends, family and an array of celebrities including Issac Mizrahi, Jackie Mason, Robert Klein and Michael Lang (producer of the Woodstock Festival); as well as Lou Reed’s ode to the Egg Cream. For our foodie friends that might be thinking of producing a cookbook – how did you go about getting everyone involved?
Jordan / Aaron: We’ve been in the media business for a lot of years, and we made a lot of friends and contacts. Word spread, and it was very touching how many people opened up with remarkable memories of growing up Jewish with this food.
Seduction Meals: What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Jordan / Aaron: We were given the opportunity through pictures and words, to tell the story of the food of our people – and its central role in Jewish family life. EATING DELANCEY is a personal homage to the vanishing flavors of our youth. We were fortunate to be able to preserve them forever in this book.
Seduction Meals: You both have such strong memories of the female cooks that dominated your family kitchen – is it more common for a women to do all the cooking or do Jewish men happily roll up their sleeves and join in? What is your best Jewish home cooked dish that you like to serve your guests?
Aaron / Jordan: We come from a time and place (Eastern Europe) where the women – the Mamas, the Bubbas, made the home and cooked the food, while the fathers worked. It wasn’t a nine-to-five life – it was sunrise to sunset. Now that there’s equality in the house and kitchen, cooking these great foods can often be shared equally. Favorite dish – no contest Matzo Ball Soup!
Seduction Meals: One of my favorite things about working on Seduction Meals is when I ask people to share their favorite Seduction Meal — that one dish to impress their loved ones; the passion is addictive, their stories endearing. Based on the many personal stories in your book it is clear that you’ve also found that passion when it comes to people’s favorite Jewish Meals. Which story is your favorite?
Aaron / Jordan: This is a tough one – like the age old question, “which of your children do you love best?” If we had to settle on one each:
Aaron: Malcolm Taub’s “Hunting The Great White Pike.” His story evokes a beloved childhood memory of my racing home from school and playing with the fish in the tub.
Jordan: Bob Morris’ piece about his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, “How Sammy’s Saved the Day.” I still can’t read that piece without remembering a moment like that for my grandparents, and choking up.
Seduction Meals: What recipe, or dish, would you recommend to someone cooking jewish cuisine for the first time?
Aaron / Jordan: Kugel! Grandma Dora’s recipe is authentic and easy to make. And let’s face it – who doesn’t love kugel.
Seduction Meals: And lastly, let’s say you were preparing a romantic meal for that special someone in your life – what would your Jewish Seduction Meal be?
Aaron Rezny: To me the most loving Jewish food is kreplach. It’s time consuming, labor intensive and completely made by hand. The effort involved is a true sign of love. And, oh so worth it.
Jordan Schaps: To me it’s baking. Mandel brot. When it comes to romance or seduction – I have a different take: Kiss me first, then Knish me – potato with onion, preferred.
Aaron and Jordan, thank you so much for spending some time with us! xoxo
CLICK HERE To Pre-Order you copy of Eating Delancy: A Celebration of Jewish Food by Aaron Rezny and Jordan Shaps / PowerHouse Books
Aaron Rezny has spent more than 20 years shooting foot and tabletop photography. Rezny, the son of Polish immigrants, began his photographic career at an early age and eventually established his studio in 1979. His photography has been featured in major marketing campaigns for Nestle, Duncan Hines, Kellogg’s, Russell Stover, Nabisco, and Applebee’s among other brands. His work has appeared in New York Magazine, Bon Appetite, Food & Wine, and The Wall Street Journal.
Jordan Schaps began his photo directing career at New York Magazine in 1978. Schaps quickly rose to photography director at New York Magazine and went on to act as concept/creative director of features for InStyle, GQ, The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and other magazines. Schaps also produced advertorials for Lincoln Motor Cars, JC Penney, and Knoll International. He contributed to the books XXX: 30 Porn Star Portraits (Bullfinch, 2004) and Miami Beach: Blueprint of an Eden (Trans-Atlantic, 2005).