Referendum on the Jewish Deli Menu

Can a retro cuisine be part of the avant-garde?

A sold out audience of over 250 attended our February 9 discussion. Feedback and debate in the restaurant (and online!) has been tremendous.

We brought together Michael Pollan, Evan Kleiman, Willow Rosenthal and Gil Friend. We chose panelists with the credibility of loving Deli (they all eat pastrami, and they all eat at Saul’s) and who are also driving sustainability.


Here’s the original billing.

February 2010

Michael Pollan, Journalist, Author: The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food
Gil Friend, CEO of Natural Logic, Author: The Truth About Green Business
Willow Rosenthal, Founder, City Slicker Farms
Karen Adelman, Co-Owner, Saul’s Restaurant and Deli
Peter Levitt, Co-Owner, Saul’s Restaurant and Deli
Moderator: Evan Kleiman, Host, KCRW’s Good Food, Owner-Chef, Angeli Caffe

Proceeds benefit The Center for Ecoliteracy

**Venue has been changed from Saul’s to the JCC of the East Bayjust around the corner. To accommodate demand.**


Can the Jewish Deli be sustainable?

What does sustainability mean for the future of Deli cuisine and culture?

Many expectations of “real” Deli conflict with sustainability and today’s economic realities. Even “authentic” cuisine can obstruct progress toward more just, sustainable food. How does a business committed to being part of the solution persuade traditionalist customers of the importance of change?

For example, towering pastrami sandwiches once signified success, security and abundance, an immigrant’s celebration of the American Dream. But given the realities of meat production in America today – 99% is factory farmed – how can we continue to stand by this as an icon?

Even the factory farmed pastrami sandwich has become an unsustainable business model, because of its tiny profit margins.

How can we look at our nostalgia and expectations critically?

How might we evolve a shared cuisine together? How can Saul’s bring more people into the conversation?

There’s much more conversation to be had beyond the conversation we had on Feb 9 . . . come in and chat with us.

Check out our blog post on the (sometimes controversial) changes Saul’s has made over the years.

And please do stay tuned for future discussions at Saul’s. We’re thinking about the intersection of food, culture, identity, change, evolution, memory, the challenges of local, sustainable sourcing for a 100+ seat restaurant with a large, set menu . . .

Some of the press coverage of Referendum on the Jewish Deli Menu:
New York Times Bay Area Blog Organic or Authentic? The Saul’s Deli Debate
Diablo Magazine Deli Debate
KQED’s Bay Area Bites Who Owns the Deli?
San Francisco Chronicle The Thin Green Line Deli’s Efforts to Go Green Stir Up Controversy
Civil Eats Referendum on the Deli Menu at Saul’s: What is Tradition?
Ethicurean Saul’s Got SOLE: The Jewish Deli in Berkeley Evolves
Jewish Journal Foodaism A Sustainable Deli?
Jewish Daily Forward Can the Jewish Deli Survive the Sustainable Food Movement? Pass the Homemade Pickles
Berkeleyside Another Bite of Saul’s
EcoSalon Can Sustainable Restaurant Food be Democratized?
Treehugger Michael Pollan, Saul’s Deli’s Secret Pastrami Hawker?
Moment Magazine Yum! Burp! Delis, Pickles and Pastrami!
and finally:
New York Times Can the Jewish Deli be Reformed?