Deli Man, a new documentary about Ziggy Gruber, a third-generation Jewish delicatessen owner, hits the big screen this month. Gruber owns Kenny & Ziggy's New York Delicatessen Restaurant in Houston, Texas. Gruber's father Max opened The Rialto Deli — the first deli on Broadway in New York City — in 1927.
Eater film critic Joshua David Stein connected with the film when he reviewed it last month:
And then there's this other deeper happiness for which Deli Man is a catalyst. As Ziggy and I discussed, one of the reasons for the decline of the delicatessen is that there is this almost inherent shame - or if not shame, uneasiness - the assimilated Jew carries. Chopped liver, chopped liver. Gefilte Fish. Kishkas. These are but incantations of our old relatives with their moles, bridge-playing ways, and ghetto accents. Though I'm a bit too young - my grandparents began their lives in the Lower East Side but by the time I knew them had joined the professional ranks - I carry my earlier shtetl selves along with me with shame. Two-fold shame: Shame of either the old world or the poor new one, and shame that we were singled out for destruction.
In this exclusive clip, watch Gruber describe the ways in which he takes iconic Jewish dishes and shows "the possibility of what it could be — without sacrificing the authenticity of it." Gruber explains, "It's not the same old soup reheated."
Deli Man opens in select cities on March 6.