Authors: Sharon Lebewohl
Copyright Â© 1999 by Jack Lebewohl
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Villard Books,
an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group,
a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and
simultaneously in Canada by Random House of
Canada Limited, Toronto.
and colophon are registered trademarks
of Random House, Inc.
All unaccredited photographs are courtesy of
the Second Avenue Deli
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The Second Avenue Deli cookbook: recipes and memories
from Abe Lebewohl's legendary kitchen/Sharon Lebewohl
and Rena Bulkin.
p.Â Â Â Â cm.
1.Â Cookery, Jewish.Â Â 2.Â Second Avenue Deli (New York, N.Y.)
I.Â Bulkin, Rena.Â Â II.Â Second Avenue Deli (New York, N.Y.)
TX734.L348Â Â 1999
641.5â²676âdc21Â Â Â Â 99-14156
Book design by Carole Lowenstein
This book is dedicated to
and in loving memory
of her husband
great passion in life was his restaurant. “The store,” as he always called the Deli, was his second home, his employees a second family. Abe loved good food, and he loved people; he was fortunate enough to have a profession that combined both of his great enthusiasms. When he wasn't at the Deli, he was visiting other restaurants under the guise of “doing research.” He never went on these fact-finding missions alone. A large clique of close friends, relatives, and employees were regular diners-out on his circuit.
As a social occasion, a restaurant meal with Abe was a somewhat jarring experience, in which the flow of conversation was repeatedly interrupted at a moment's notice. For one thing, even at the fanciest restaurants, he considered the seat nearest the kitchen the best seat in the house. From that vantage point, he could occasionally sneak a peek at what was happening behind the scenes. Every time the kitchen's swinging doors flew open, his attention would become riveted on the frenzy of food preparation therein, and conversation would come to an abrupt standstill, sometimes in mid-sentence. Further interruptions occurred because, as a well-known New York personality, he was frequently recognized and approached, not only by other diners but by the chef. Adding to the chaos were continual calls from “the store” (Abe loved his cell phone), because he encouraged his staff to consult him about even the most minor decisions. It was his loving hands-on perfectionism and involvement in every detail that made the Deli great. And sometimes those calls were from me; we regularly spoke on the phone four or five times a day.
Like everyone who's passionate about food, Abe was forever trying to lose a little weight. After he was shot, when the family was sitting shiva, one of his regular dining companions came up to me and said, “I had lunch with Abe the day before he died. It's such a pity; he was on a diet, and he hardly ate anything. I know he would have wanted his last meals to be spectacular.” I told him not to feel too bad. He was the fourth person to tell me he had had lunch with Abe that day. And I believe every one of them was telling me the truth.
Abe's death was devastating to me; he was not only my brother but my closest and dearest friend. After he died, I felt bound by three major mandates to honor his memory. The first, of course, was to keep the restaurant
open and maintain the legendary quality he had worked so hard to achieve. The second was to renovate the interior, a project that was very much on Abe's agenda at the time of his death. And the third was realizing his dream of creating a Second Avenue Deli cookbook.
When his daughter, Sharon, his close friend Rena Bulkin, and I sat down to plan this book, we all agreed we wanted it to be not just a compendium of the Deli's famous recipes but a tribute to Abe's life and generosity of spirit. For those of you who knew himâand I know he touched thousands of livesâour cookbook will rekindle many warm memories. For those of you who never had the good fortune of having Abe in your lives, we'd like you to meet him. And for Abie, my dear brother, who I'm sure is looking down at us from Heaven, this book is for you.
Abe with Eleanor.
is more than a collection of a legendary New York restaurant's cherished recipes. For many years, the Deli's founder, Abe Lebewohl, talked about revealing the secrets of his traditional Jewish specialtiesâchicken soup with matzo balls, hearty cholent, grandmotherly gefilte fish, stuffed cabbage, and all the rest. But, tragically, in 1996, before he ever got the project under way, Abe was brutally murdered as he prepared to deposit the previous day's earnings in an East Village bank.