By Rochelle Maruch Miller
You only get one opportunity to make a great first impression, and Jack’s Gourmet had even the most discerning foodies at first taste. As purveyors of the most-talked-about new food products at Kosherfest 2010, the company debuted to much acclaim with seven quality handcrafted products, including sweet Italian sausage, hot Italian sausage, Mexican-style chorizo sausage, cured bratwurst sausage, and Boerewors sausage, as well as first-cut corned beef and pastrami.
At Kosherfest that year, Jack’s Gourmet came, captivated, and conquered, garnering rave reviews from food aficionados, notably celebrity chef Susie Fishbein, who is one of the company’s most loyal fans. “My favorite food find at Kosherfest 2010 was Jack’s Gourmet. Their Italian sausage and the Mexican chorizo is absolutely incredible. . . . I definitely would use it in my house, if not as a meal in and of itself. I could sautÃ© it up with some peppers and onions. It would be an awesome meal!” said Susie Fishbein.
Little did the company’s founding fathers, both Crown Heights residents, realize that their unlikely business pairing would become a game-changer in the kosher-food industry. Jack Silberstein, a then 24-year-old chef, met Dr. Alan Broner, a 64-year-old dentist, in a cooking class taught by Silberstein. At first glance, one might think the two business partners shared nothing in common. In addition to the generation gap between them, Silberstein is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America who began his cooking career while barely a teenager and has worked as a private chef and a restaurant consultant. Dr. Broner is a practicing dentist as well as a former professor of dentistry at New York University.
Yet both men share a passion for great food and are uncompromising in their standards of excellence. “Alan is a big foodie and he asked me how to cure meats,” Jack recalls. “After about nine months of his prodding, I relented and taught him how to make corned beef and pastrami. That was the beginning. We developed what are now our original five sausages, corned beef, and pastrami, and started Jack’s Gourmet.”
Initially, the duo had considered opening a restaurant; however, upon conducting research, they soon realized it would prove to be more expensive and ultimately opted for “the manufacturing route as it was less expensive up front and would reach more people.”
“One of the driving forces behind Jack’s Gourmet is to provide the kosher consumer with the same products readily available in the mainstream market. All our products are strictly certified glatt kosher,” says Jack.
Quality and purity of products, impeccable kashrus, and customer satisfaction are the company’s hallmarks. “At Jack’s Gourmet, we produce only the highest-quality products, and the ingredients we use are premium quality. Our products are carrageenan-free, additive-free, and gluten-free. We use a lot of fresh spices to give a really robust taste to our products. The bottom line is that we believe in kosher food. It is our mission to provide the kosher consumer with authentic handcrafted deli meats and sausages,” he added.
“People are constantly impressed that we don’t use fillers, byproducts, MSG, or gluten,” Jack explained. “Our products don’t taste artificial. You don’t have any of the bad taste you get when using additives. We use quality meat, the same meat people would use at home. That has been the key to our success. People recognize what it is that they are eating and can taste that it is what it is. Most commercial cold cuts are slimy because they are pumped full of carrageenan, which holds the water in and lets them take 50 pounds of meat and turn it into 75. Our corned beef and pastrami are different. We don’t put anything in but meat, spices, and seasonings. Our products are truly Old World-style. Our garlic is fresh, not powdered. While our products are more expensive, we are growing, because people recognize and appreciate the higher quality.”
“I like to think of myself as an equalizer,” Jack explains. “Why can’t you put the same meticulous attention to detail into kosher quality products as in the mainstream market? Not only have our products been validated in kosher markets, but in the mainstream as well. We take tremendous pride in our products; they taste like the real thing. Even our packaging is unique.”
Jack’s Gourmet has just extended its line of authentic meats and sausages with the release of three exciting new products. First is the facon burger, made from the same meat used in facon, which is a beef bacon that provides the most convincing meat substitute to its pork counterpart yet. The other two products are frozen sweet Italian sausage patties and frozen chorizo sausage patties–both nitrite-free.
For Jack, being at the helm of his company is more than running a business–it is a labor of love. “The most rewarding part of it all is watching someone taste one of our products, seeing their eyes light up, and hearing them say, ‘Wow!’ I love food, I love people; seeing the joy people get from eating good food (especially our really good food) makes me very happy. Seeing so many wonderful people around me inspires my creativity.”
Jack’s Gourmet products are available nationwide at supermarkets and at select Costco locations. A complete store listing in available at www.jacksgourmetkosher.com. v