An old world treat is making strides to new culinary heights with the creative talents of chef Ramni Levy. The old world specialty that Levy is banking on is the knish.
Knishes, are Eastern European specialty that was brought to the USA by immigrants in the 19th Century. Familiar to many on the East Coast, especially the delicatessens and sandwich shops of New York, knishes are in essence a dumpling.
Ramni points out that for all its ethnic background, "a knish is basically a snack," he said. The initial ingredient is potato formed into something like a dumpling, baked or fried.
"Baked is best and not in the microwave," said the former restaurant owner turned caterer and food creation entrepreneur. He envisions growth on this particular type of speciality. He believes "ethnic foods are hot, they're gaining in popularity right now," he said. And, with the ever-growing use of food carts and mobile food vendors the knish is a sure thing.
"It is a comfort food, simple and yet surprisingly adaptable," he said. Levy has come up with some unique flavor combinations. For example his wasabi knish, or how about his latest, pastrami with broccoli and cheddar cheese?
Levy is busy creating a rose-petal and strawberry knish dipped in white chocolate for Valentine's Day. Sweet or savory, Levy sees the many possibilities.
Add a little bit of Berry Medley Compote, and the flavor combination is delightful. Levy also makes the condiments to go with each type of knish. He notes that another reason why knishes are a sure thing is because, "it is consistent, reliable. That is an added comfort to a comfort food like this.
Levy likes to introduce his knishes to his catering clients. Yet because of his unbridled enthusiasm and constant stream of culinary ideas, Levy did not want to sit and wait upon this knish vision-idea. This past fall, Levy literally hit the streets with his knish. Skipping the shopping mall scene, he went to commuter spots like the Caltrain station at 4th and King Streets. With camera crew on hand, he caught the reaction of those sampling his knishes. No doubt the knish was a winner.
The obstacle now for Levy is finding a venue. To that end, he has launched an Indiegogo campaign with a goal of raising $12,500 by February 25, 2013. The funds will contribute to his efforts to find a kitchen space and to turn a refurbished shipping container into a semi-permanent retail location, similar to the Smitten and Biergarten in Hayes Valley. He is anxious to get his product to market and true to his boundless energy he foresees it all, in a big way. Thinking big, he wants to bring a little knish to everyone. "Its an old world dish with a new twist," he said.