Save the Deli

CBC Radio at 1pm Today, The Hour’s list, and Momofuku hearts Wilensky’s

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Hey friends and family in Canada. Tune into CBC Radio today at 1pm for my interview on The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers. If you miss it, you can find the clip online later on.

Also, Montreal’s alt weekly The Hour has recommended Save the Deli as a holiday gift read. So go out there and buy your friends a copy!

says the mini-review:

David Sax was born in Toronto, schooled in Montreal and lives in Brooklyn, and is now, according to his book’s jacket, the “world’s foremost authority on deli.” A few old guys on my street might contest this, but anyhow… Sax, who travelled across America’s great cities and beyond in search of the “perfect pastrami,” is man’s man kind of writer: down to earth, funny, light – not like any of the meat he’s writing about.

(Also, a nice shout out to my friend Hal Niedzviecki, whose Peep Diaries is in the same list, and the Globe and Mail 100 best books of the year list.)

Finally, I read an interview with Momofuku chef and owner David Chang in the National Post, where he raves about his fave spots in Montreal. Wilensky’s makes the list as his idea of perfection.

Last stop: Ann Arbor (plus a belated press roundup)

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Ann Arbor, MI

Well friends, it’s been over a month since I hit the road, and I am simply exhausted. Here I am on the final day of the book tour. Thanksgiving dawns tomorrow, then Chanukah, and then I head to Mexico for some surf and sand.

It kicked off on Oct 19th with the launch party in NYC, then on to DC and the White House, plus Sixth and I.
Toronto saw a party at Caplansky’s, San Francisco a reading at Saul’s, LA did lunch at Langer’s
We hit up Manny’s in Chicago and 3G’s in Miami, in Philly, I spoke at the Free Library (see below), in Montreal we brought out the city’s best delis

Then I hit the Jewish book tour of JCCs: Houston, Milwaukee, Denver, Boulder, Richmond, Tampa, Buffalo, and Toledo

Now I’m readying myself for the final stop: Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor. I’ll be briefly talking tonight at 5pm, while Sy Ginsburg hands out samples of his world famous corned beef. I began this whole journey across the delis of America three years ago this January here in Ann Arbor, at Zingerman’s with Sy. It’s fitting that it concludes here.

I want to thank everyone who helped put this together. My publicists Taryn Roeder, Elizabeth Anderson, and Lori Glazer. Ashley Dunn in Canada. Carolyn Hessel and the JBN folks. All the deli owners, JCC volunteers, and people who made it special. Ronnie Dragoon and the Ben’s Crew. Ronna and Beverley. And Jelvis, the Jewish Elvis.

The book is now officially a bestseller on the LA Times List (#6), but I need your help to make it a bigger hit. So if you haven’t purchased a copy, please do so, either at your local bookstore, or online here.

So now, a few stray treats from the road. In case you missed me, or miss me. (more…)

NY Magazine: Northern Exposure

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Here’s a little something I wrote for New York Magazine about an exciting new deli opening in Brooklyn. You’ll hear more about Mile End in the coming weeks. Until then, enjoy:

Northern Exposure
A tiny meat counter in Boerum Hill introduces deliphiles to pastrami’s Canadian cousin.

(photo: Hannah Whitaker/

Montreal’s smattering of Jewish delicatessens—anchored by the legendary house of smoked meat, Schwartz’s—are astoundingly old-school in their approach to Yiddish food. Meats are cured in-house and sliced by hand; wall-mounted menus list only a few key sandwiches, steaks, and sides; and there’s nary a salad or unpickled vegetable in sight. At the heart of the tradition is Montreal-style smoked meat, a cured brisket that’s fattier than corned beef and moister than pastrami. (more…)

Save the Deli: National Bestseller

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

Well folks, the tour is almost over. It’s been a month since the book has been out, and I’m finally back in nyc for the weekend. Monday I speak at the Toledo JCC, tuesday at Zingerman’s, and then the road and me part ways for a while. It’s been quite a ride. I’ve been waking at dawn and eating breakfast in airports for far longer than I’d like to remember, but it’s been wonderful meeting all the hundreds of deli lovers who came out to support Save the Deli.

And it’s paid off. The book is now officially a National Bestseller. It cracked last week’s Los Angeles Times Bestseller list at #9 and now it’s at #6.


Ben’s Best is Da Best, A Boulder Review, Nate n’ Al the Sequel, and Wilensky’s Highbrow Nod

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Buffalo, NY

Well friends, it’s been an insane week. Basically i woke at 5 am the past three days, got on an airplane, flew to a different city (Richmond, Tampa, Buffalo), and did some great JCC talks. I’ve been to the Charlotte airport more times than any man reasonably should, and have seen the sun rise on runways one too many times.

So apologies for not posting. I haven’t been able to do much but sit and wait for the landing gear to deploy.

A few things to catch up on…and for once, it’s not all about me.

Ben’s Best got a great nod from the Zagat guide, according to the Queens Gazette.

Ben’s Best, a Rego Park landmark with 65 years of experience as a consummate neighborhood deli and caterer, has just received Zagat’s “23” (very good to excellent) rating for food quality.

The lofty rating coincided with the publication of Save the Deli, a new book by David Sax, released in hardcover on October 19, which laments the loss of one of New York City’s oldest and most venerable institutions.

“We’re campaigning to help save the deli,” a spokesman for Ben’s Best said. “We’re trying to ride the wave! The neighborhood is changing but the strong are surviving and Ben’s Best is one of the hardiest among them. You can find Mexican, Thai and Italian but you can’t find a good kosher deli like ours. They are a dying breed with only about 21 notable ones left in the city’s five boroughs.”

Mazel tov to Jay Parker; a hell of a deli man, a great skier, and not too bad looking either.

The Boulder Jewish News wrote up my talk at Jimmy and Drew’s 28th Street Deli on Monday night.

Once we were stuffed ourselves, and ready for a little break before dessert, author David Sax took us on a cultural journey of the Food Of Our People. Tracing the rise and fall of the deli back to the destruction of the Second Temple, Sax shared the backstory most of us didn’t know – where the flavors and spices came from and how different groups and culinary traditions melded in the lower East Side to give rise to over 2,000 delis in New York by the 1950s.

But after the Holocaust, there were no more vast waves of immigrants coming to America. The demographic changes conspired with the growth of supermarkets (offering longer-lasting bread and packaged deli meats) to effect a significant change on the deli’s traditional customer base:

For the first half of the twentieth century, deli food was the food of an immigrant people. . . the first generation (in America) eats it everyday. The second generation eats it with their parents, maybe once a week. The third generation eats it maybe once a month. The fourth generation eats it maybe once a year, if that.

Nate N’ Al finally has a second location, says the LA Times. May the Mendelson empire spread accross Southern California like a meaty wildfire.

photo credit: LA Times

The new location is in the Thousand Oaks mall. I have no idea where that is, but I’m sure it’s sunny and there’s plenty of parking. Who will be the Larry King of Thousand Oaks? Go check it out!

Nate ‘n Al, 2200 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. (805) 494-3354.

Finally, I’m on the plane today, reading the New Yorker Food issue, and I am halfway through Calvin Trillin’s story about Poutine, when he takes a detour for Wilensky’s. How awesome.

My therapy post

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

Yesterday, I posted in response to a review in the Globe and Mail by Jacob Richler that was so negative, it crossed the line into personal.
My response was equally as personal, but I soon realized there was no good to come out of it…save some cheap therapy. I have now deleted that post.

If you want to read Richler’s review, you can find it here. You can comment on the Globe’s website. Or here.

If you care to read the other reviews and articles on Save the Deli, check out the press page.

And if you want to read the book and write your own review, don’t forget to pick up a copy.

Daybreak on the Deuce

Friday, November 13th, 2009

…the most unfortunate name for a morning show anywhere.


The Universal World Records Are IN!

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Almost four weeks after the killer launch party at Ben’s, the records from the Universal Record Database are verified and posted.

Here we go:

Lindsey Weber repeated the phrase “I’ll have whats she’s having” 22 times in 30 seconds.

Mark Lamster complained to a deli waiter eight times in 30 seconds. He delivered 12 complaints but the last four were not within the designated time. My personal favorite is “Gilad Shalit is having a better night than me.” So tasteless, yet so masterful.

Finally there’s “David Sax pulled a line of sausage 162 links long out of a sausage box.” That’s not the name of the record, and I should remind everyone that the deli owners pulled the sausage out.

If you want to try to beat any of these records, make sure you document your attempt and upload it to the Universal Record Database at

Torontoist says “Save the Last Deli”. A review with illustration.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Illustration by Sasha Plotnikova/Torontoist.

Cool pic huh? Supposedly that’s me. I didn’t realize I was that grey. Or weird looking.

It goes along with a review of the book by Torontoist. I think it’s a pretty good one.

Freelance journalist and native Torontonian David Sax received death threats from New York, blushing gratitude from LA, and lots of chatter from cities in between, all due to his newly released book, Save the Deli: In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye, and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen. Within its pages, Sax passes judgement on which towns have the best delis (hence all the civic pride), but his real concern is how these emporiums of comfort food are rapidly disappearing from our culinary landscape, disconnecting Jews and the population at large from a vital aspect of Jewish culture. During his travels across North America and Europe, Sax had moments of despair (his working title for a time was The Death of the Deli), but he met too many dedicated and passionate people, fighting to keep the tradition alive, to give up that easily. (more…)

A teensy bit of downtime in Colorado

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009


My friends Jake Bogoch and Joanne Myers have the honor of hosting me three times in as many years for Save the Deli related visits to Colorado. And so, with a break in my tour schedule, I find myself back in their lovely home for the next week, as I stop flying, stop waking so damn early, and stop eating airport food, while I await my events in Denver and Boulder.

So far things have been going great. A fantastic turnout in Philly. A wonderful time in Montreal. A quick hit in Houston and Milwaukee.

So that’s that. If you want to check out some recent press, here’s a few links.

First, a great review in the LA Times from Rich Cohen, who calls it a “deeply satisfying new book”

Also, another review in the Winnipeg Free Press, which says it “will make you crave house-cured, smoked, steamed and finally hand-cut pastrami”

And please check out this wonderful TV interview at the Snowdon Deli with Nadine Ishak, from CTV Montreal. It’s part of her weekly Sunday Bite series.

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