Thursday, March 20, 2014

Chat with Jake Dell of Katz's Deli NY, by Bureaucrat

You may not know of Jake Dell.  You might heard of Katz's Deli in New York.  But my money is that you know that scene in When Harry Met Sally where Meg Ryan's character shows Billy Crystal's character how men are easily fooled when it comes to... well, you know.

To fill in the blanks, Katz's Deli is where that scene was shot.  And Jake Dell is the third generation owner of Katz's Deli, which was established in 1888.  Apart from being featured in When Harry Met Sally, Katz's Deli is renowned for its massive Pastrami on Rye and Reuben sandwiches.  It's no wonder that it has a long list of celebrity fans, including Anthony Bourdain, Ben Stiller, Alicia Keys and Barbara Streisand, to name a few.

Jake Dell in the middle (photo supplied)

During his first visit to Australia, I got the chance to have a quick chat with Jake while he was in Melbourne:
  • He loves all aspects of managing the deli, "it's tough, there's lot of people coming through each day but it's exciting coming to work each day".  He doesn't feel any pressure in taking helm of the iconic deli.
  • Jake reckons that he "came out of the womb making sandwiches"!  Growing up, he'd follow his dad to work and watch them make sandwiches.  While he can make a pretty good sandwich himself, he leaves it to the experts at the deli to serve the customers.
  • Naturally, his favourite sandwich is pastrami on rye.  He also loves the latkes (potato pancakes) that are made fresh each day.
  • Since WWII, Katz's Deli has a "Send a Salami to your Boy in the Army" service where a whole salami is sent to the various naval and army bases around the world, including Afghanistan and Iraq.  He says it's popular among the military who receive the salami from their family and friends in the US.  The salami takes about three weeks to reach its destination.
Jake is in town to launch the "Australia's Best Ryvita Sandwich", which will see Australia's top eateries battle it out to win the "Topped To Perfection" title by creating their own Ryvita creation. 

Restaurants participating in the competition include: Gelato Messina (Sydney), The Grounds (Sydney), Malibu (Sydney), Hotel Windsor (Melbourne), Shady Palms Café (Brisbane), Bar 9 (Adelaide), Café Elixir (Perth), Toastface Grillah (Perth).

Over the next four weeks, you can vote for you favourite restaurant's recipe by going to

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