Sunday, March 21, 2010

Meat: Noah Bermanoff of Mile End Delicatessen


brisket platter and poutine

Canadian Noah Bermanoff has set a fire in Brooklyn with his luscious Montreal style meats and bagels served up at Mile End Delicatessen. Not a raging fire, a low, smoldering fire. The kind of fire that tenderizes spiced meat to a luscious hunk. Mile End is being clobbered with customers and soaring reviews from the media alike. Its well deserved attention for Bermanoff and his juicy heritage brisket. All born from the simple fact that he missed the smoked pastrami of his home.

Interview by Jason Diamond via Jewcy. Photos by Naomi Donabedian.

Take out line at Mile End

You dropped out of law school to open Mile End? Is your mother worried?

Well, I'm technically still on a leave of absence. I indeed left permanently or temporary to do this. I wasn't very happy in law school, and this was something I really wanted to do for awhile, and I suppose I felt inspired at the time. It was a bold moment perhaps, and rather just feeling enslaved to the process that law school puts you, or fits you into, I decided to do something I really wanted to do.

Noah Bermanoff keeps the crowd coming

I have a lot of friends who are either in law school or have recently finished it, and I can't tell who seems more unhappy.
It's not rare that I speak to a lawyer that's been practicing for 20 or 30 years that they say I wish I did what you did. Even if I do finish it's more to feel a sense of completion. It's not my primary focus.

What started your interest in smoked meat? Obviously it's popular in Montreal, but was it something you've been doing your entire life, did you have to go back home and take a class or something, was the talent bestowed upon you in a dream?
It was born out of a loss. I moved [from Montreal], and when you lose something, you miss something. I was yearning from it. It's not even the same to buy some in Montreal and just bring it back down because it just loses it's entire character. It's not warm, it's not sliced by hand. It's the kind of thing I did because I wanted it for myself.

Prior to moving to Brooklyn, did you have any preconceived notions that the delicatessens were better than they actually are?
I don't think I had any opinions. I just did it. It's important to me, but it wasn't the do all, end all. I wasn't born on a meat slicer. My families not at all in the food business. It's just something that's part of my Jewish-Montreal psyche. It's that embedded with the culture I grew up with. But the fact that I moved into an area and there was not a single deli that I'd ever come across is astonishing given that it's New York. There are no delis left. The ones that are, are based off being tourist traps...

The meat that comes out of Montreal is different that what their making at a Katz's or 2nd Ave. Deli...
Yeah, it's not a huge distinction, but it is a different thing. The meat is butchered differently. It's spiced differently, cured differently. Like a place like Schwartz's, that has the most smoked meat in Montreal, for the reason that they are one of two delis that actually make their own meat. It's also the vibe. There's more to the final product. It's about dedication in Montreal, there's an authenticity to things: the original way of doing things. The bagels speak to that too. That's one reason why I'm a big fan of Montreal bagels is yeh, their a totally different product, but there is a totally different philosophy to making bagels.

the beauty

Another thing I find interesting is that when the meat runs out, you're done for the day...
We usually go a little bit past when the meat runs out, but more or less. During the week that's roughly around 4 o'clock, sometimes just a hair earlier, and then on the weekends, it's typically earlier. But sometimes I'm able to sit an extra brisket or two for the weekend, but not every time.

The meat that twitters

It seemed like the last few years, Brooklyn has been undergoing something of a bacon trend. Is Canadian smoked meat the next big thing?
I love bacon. I'd be happy for the bacon trend to continue because I just have an affinity for all food. I have a cultural love for Jewish food. Kashrut is bogus anyway.

So now that you have your own smoked meat place in Brooklyn, do you feel more at home?
Yes and no. I still miss the way I was able to live in Montreal, but since I've moved here, I've loved living in Brooklyn. Could I imagine a place other than Brooklyn to do this? Probably not. I definitely feel at home.

One last question, since you're a Canadian living in New York, and the NHL regular season is coming closer to an end: have you become a Rangers fan?
Hell no. There's no way. No fucking way. I could be cool with the Knicks because I've never had a team of my own, but when it comes to hockey, there's one team that has my heart and that's the Montreal Canadians.

Smoked meat hash: smoked tender meat fried crispy accompanied
by potatoes and onion mingling with a sunny side egg. Take note NYC,
an egg this perfectly cooked on the griddle is rare!

Also posted on Food2.com.

1 comment:

  1. i'm a vegetarian, but i approve of this article!

    ReplyDelete