With the growing popularity of mobile culinary vendors hitting the streets and avenues with trucks and tents, San Francisco chef and caterer Ramni Levy is eager to launch his "King Knish" specialty. This reporter caught up with Levy a few months back as he is busy preparing his catering efforts to support this new endeavor. "the motto for my knish is, "an old world dish with a new world twist," he said.
Tall and confident with an assured tone in his voice, Levy is an experienced restaurateur. He is more than confident in this food venture. "Ethnic food is hot again," he said as he met with this reporter at a cafe on Sutter and Kearney in the heart of San Francisco's Financial District. Levy was eager to offer a sample of his knish creation.
Sweet-potato with squash and delicate touch of marshmallow to give it that souffle-like filling. One of Levy's goals (for he has many when it comes to food, business and ideas) is to bring authentic Kosher food to San Francisco. A rabbi's son, Levy made San Francisco his home more than 15 years ago, while making a "spur-of-the-moment" visit while on lay-over from a flight.
Right from the "get-go" Levy saw opportunities in San Francisco that he says others don't realize or even see right in front of them. "There is Kosher-style food here. But not truly authentic Kosher food," he said.
Levy sees his knish creation as an in-road to that larger vision. Originally brought to the United States by immigrants from Eastern Europe at the start of the 20th Century, 'the knish' - from the Yiddish word for "bun or bread role" is similar to that of a stuffed dumpling. Baked, boiled or fried, the knish has become a familiar food fixture of the Jewish and Eastern European appetizer snacks in America.
A variety of fillings are used to make knishes and Levy believes he has found the right filling combinations that will be a sensation with San Francisco palates. "This is a comfort food that is filling but genuinely satisfying to the taste-buds," said Levy. How does he know?
Well, as a working caterer, Levy has presented his knishes at gatherings and events like the most recent art show event at McGuire Real Estate this past June for photographer/artist Peter Stupar. "At that event and at others where I have prepared my knishes, people loved them. They have been well received he said, even those who have never had a knish before," he said.
At present, Levy offers three sizes for his knishes, small, (or as he likes to call them, "cocktail size"), medium and large. Levy sees the knish as versatile and accommodating to many tastes. He mentioned that he has a wasabi-ginger and Miso knish that is a culinary creative triumph. The appeal of the knish expands beyond its original Eastern European boarders. For many cultures have a "dumpling, turnover, or bun-like" snack that they like to gobble up.
"I have a basic array set to debut, but my imagination in this culinary expansion is on-going," he said. And, Levy is continuing in his efforts to find a variety of vendor locations, such as the food truck or restaurant tent at a local farmer's market or street fair; something like the "Sunday Streets" events that have endeared residents in various neighborhoods throughout the City.
The web site for my knishes went up in August," said Levy. Food lovers and knish fans are asked to check out Levy's web page in the coming weeks. He has plans and ideas for food all the time. "Es gezunterheyt!" (And, that's Yiddish for 'bon appetite').