Owner chef Ramni Levy was in high sprits and most gracious as he and his catering staff welcomed guests to the first year anniversary of King Knish, held at the cafe at Studiomix on November 11 in San Francisco.
"I have known Ramni for 11 years now, said Andy McKay, CEO of 20/20 Productions communications company. "And, in those years I have seen everything that Ramni said he was going to do, come into being." McKay said this as he took a bite of a knish along with a sip of chilled white wine. "You can dress them up fancy, or just eat them like quick snacks," said McKay. Servers like Mike Barbeau kept the flow of fresh hot knish flowing as guests consumed them by the dozens.
Courtesy of Ramni Levy and King Knish
Studiomix was the venue host for chef Ramni Levy and his King Knish which celebrated its first year anniversary on Monday night, Nov. 11, 2013. "We are a local business and we like to help support other local businesses," said the woman in charge at Studiomix, Mystie Webster. "And, besides, she added these knish are delicious!"
Over the past year, Levy has made strides in achieving his culinary goals as he believes the knish will be the next big food craze. Levy with dedication and sheer tenacity has taken an East Coast traditional old world snack and re-fashioned it, if not re-invented it. Well, maybe 're-invent' might not be too strong of a word to say it. According to Levy, he sees his version of knish as "an old world dish with a new world twist."
Based upon the response from guests and Studomix patrons who were also encouraged to try a knish as they made their way from the entrance way to exercises and gym classes, Levy is on to something.
"These remind me of when anything quiche was popular in the 1980's," said John Cantisani, do you remember that? He was among the guests at Studiomix at 1000 Van Ness Ave, that Monday evening.
Serving crew Mike Barbeau was busy keeping the knish flowing as one plate after another was consumed. He mentioned that chef Ramni has been very busy keeping up with the demands for King Knish. "We were at the Batch Festival on Sunday," said Barbeau. And, so far chef Ramni and his crew are scheduled for food fairs and events well into the new year..."until Sept. 2014," said Ramni.
He agreed with Levy that perhaps these tasty snacks will become a foodie sensation. "Only, the knish that recall when I visited the East Coast not too long ago, were much larger and fried," Canisanti said.
"Yes, traditionally, most knish are larger, some versions are fried, said Levy. "But I envisioned mine to be smaller, more of a cocktail or bite size," said Levy. Guests, Dan and Boo Dewitt agreed, as Boo said, "making the knish cocktail size is a great idea." "I love Ramni's product, she said, and the sauces he makes to go with them are wonderful."
Also referred to as chutneys and compotes, such as "Mango Chutney, Roasted Bell Pepper Chutney and Berry Medley Compote;" all the dipping condiments including the Five Spicy Ketchup and the Fresh Rosemary Honey Mustard Levy created are vegetarian.
Mystie Webster, the woman in charge at Studiomix was pleased with the turn out of people. "we are a local business that is happy to help support a local business," she said. "And, these (snack-foods) are delicious," she added.
"Making the knish cocktail size is a great idea," said Boo Dewitt she and her husband Don were among the invited guests that Monday evening at Studiomix on Van Ness Ave.
Made from potatoes, Levy's knish version is baked not fried. King Knish offers both savory and sweet varieties. Yet, as he pointed out, he initially started out with the classic potato and branched out from there. Since potatoes are a simple and staple food it was easy to come up with savory recipes. Broccoli Cheddar, Spinach, Feta cheese and Tomato, Pastrami, Curried Beef, these were a natural.
"Remember quiche back in the 1980's, said guest John Cantisani, these knish remind me of that and I think these will really be a food craze," he said.
Yet, for Levy, the challenge was to expand the sweet versions. Yes, sweet potato was an easy choice. But dipped in butterscotch or white chocolate? That was adventurous. Not to give away any secrets, yet, Levy hinted that it took time and effort to figure out just the right amount and to what extent the sweetness should be. Finding a balance, ah, that was not easy.
"These are a great snack food, with universal appeal," said Andy McKay of 20/20 Productions communications company. "In a way a knish is very similar to Cornish pasty pies."
Regardless of the delicacy and of course his commitment to excellence and "perfection," Levy is not afraid to push into new tastes territory. His wasabi and dark chocolate knish was well received. "It sounds odd at first," said SF para-legal turned local actor, Timothy Vigil."But, the subtle flavors work," he said.
Metal-smith artist Aimee Golant who served some of Levy's knish creations at her Open Studios event last month noted that "I have tasted many a knish. And, Ramni's even with his innovations is still in keeping with what a knish basically is."
"Many cultures around the world, have similar baked, grilled or fried snack foods," noted McKay. While based in San Francisco on Townsend Street, McKay and his production-communication company works on two continents, here in the US and in Europe. Originally from Scotland in the United Kingdom, McKay pointed out that the knish is a comfort food as well as a snack food, "sort of like the Cornish pasty pie.
Chef Ramni Levy credits much of his success to his supportive crew and team such as Beverly Picardo and Warren Donian his publicity and marketing specialists.
The knish also has a similarity to other cultural snack foods such as the empanada, calzone, samosa or a pirozhki. McKay said this is why he agrees with Levy that the knish, especially as Levy prepares them will indeed take off as the next food craze.
Levy said that he and his crew are busy with food fairs, festivals and events until early September of next year. Levy was also happy to say that Good Egg, an online direct ordering site is now facilitating food orders for King Knish. For more info about chef Ramni Levy and his Knish King endeavors visit the web site.