01/16/14
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Introducing The Tu-Bi-Banh-Mi

Grab lunch or dinner at Brooklyn's latest chic kosher food venture, Hassid + Hipster.

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Hipster or Hasidic? Yuda Schlass says “Both.”

Jimmy Kimmel made the question famous on his show by asking it in a recurring bit that had him talking to Brooklyn’s bearded denizens in a tight close-up that gradually widened to real whether the interviewee was the former or the latter. (Hint: facial hair alone is not conclusive.)

False dichotomy, if you ask Schlass, and that’s the spirit animating his two-month-old “sandwich lab” of almost the same name.

“Me, myself, as much as I’m Hasidic, I’m also hipster,” said Schlass, 30, when the Jewish Week visited his Crown Heights duplex, where he operates a sandwich service he’s very careful to call “Hassid + Hipster,” with an emphasis on the plus sign.

The resemblance, in name and vibe, to “Mason and Mug,” a new small plates place in neighboring Prospect Heights, is no coincidence. Both Schlass and Itta Werdiger-Roth, one of Mason and Mug’s co-founders, are admirers of Brooklyn chef Moshe Wendel, a religious Jew whose Pardes restaurant is known for its cutting-edge, kosher food. They also both have Chabad roots.

Schlass was born in Jerusalem and raised in the Old City by parents who entertained incessantly in the sprawling, sure-come-in style of the sect’s missionaries, even after they were no longer officially affiliated with it.

“Chabad has always been the so-called open-minded Hasidic sect,” Schlass said. “The mission is outreach work to other Jews, so you have to know what’s happening, what the trends are.”

Schlass’ father, a former hippie who’d returned to the faith in the 1970s, had owned a macrobiotic restaurant in downtown Manhattan, so Schlass learned through constant exposure how to entertain and cook.

He cut his teeth in the business by creating, with friends, a health-oriented meal delivery service called the “Fresh Diet,” which started out kosher, but didn’t stay that way as it grew. A home-based business in Miami serving about 70 customers when it started seven years ago, today the Fresh Diet has locations in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles as well and generates more than $25 million in annual revenue.

After several years on the road for the Fresh Diet, Schlass decided to relocate to Crown Heights among friends and family. He found Brooklyn’s food scene quite to his taste and began to refine his own cooking: rigorously kosher, but influenced more by the borough’s small-batch, locavore ethos than by any business lunch or dinner joint in Midtown.

“Since the end of the summer I’ve wanted to get back into the creative side of food,” he said, “I was looking to do something that I enjoy and living here in Brooklyn, the food scene in the non-kosher world is amazing. Brooklynis the Silicon Valley of food. The ideas come from here.”

He created Hassid + Hipster out of his duplex bachelor pad on Eastern Parkway in part to test the demand for a storefront sandwich shop. So far he’s sold out – and made money – every time. Each sandwich costs $15; soup and desserts are also available. He cooks the food up in his kitchen, which is dairy on one side and meat on the other, and customers come pick the food up on their lunch breaks or on their way home from work for dinner. 

He has no official kosher supervision, which gives some of his customers qualms, but those who give it a go anyway conclude that they either know him and trust him, or know enough people who do.

“Uh-oh,” said one such customer, Abe Zuntz, when the subject of supervision came up. He works in Crown Heights in auto leasing and sales and dropped by the day Tu B’Shevat started to pick up lunch for his entire office.

“Most people would prefer it if there were supervision, but they accept it,” Schlass chimed in.

“Most people like it because it’s different,” Zuntz said. “It’s not the sandwich you can get at every sandwich shop. If [Schlass] did it three times a week we’d be here three times a week.”

Schlass posts upcoming dates and menus on his Facebook page, along with allusions to his inspirations.

On Wednesday, the day Tu B’Shevat started, Schlass based his sandwich on the tradition of eating the “seven species” of Israel – the fruits and grains named in the Torah – on that day. The result was the Tu-bi-banh-mi, a kosher take on the Vietnamese pork sandwich, of beer-braised veal belly with pomegranate and date glaze, sprinkled with pickled raisins and citrus oil on a baguette layered with smoky fig and eggplant pate.

“Not,” said Schlass in a satisfied tone, “your typical steakhouse fare.”

helenatjewishweek@gmail.com

Last Update:

01/20/2014 - 14:37

Comments

Amazing lots of luck can't wait to try your good when weather warms up great article

PS: OMG!! I just realized that there is NO description WHATOSEVER n this article about the FOOD itself!!

SO… what makes this guy a "hipster"? Just because he says he is?? Or because the Jewish Week says he is? The article qualified his "Hassidic roots" via his Chabad involvement, but nothing here qualifies the "hipster" labels. Since his dad was a hippie, there's a good chance he's not a hipster, but a 2nd generation hippie (which is fine). But it's oh soooo trendy to call oneself a "hipster" especially if they live in Brooklyn, and are not living in Williamsburg (which doesn't automatically make them a hipster, but often makes "wannabe" hipsters who move there, or those who envy that think it does).
Hipsters suck. They are often pretentious and snotty 30 yr old and under entitled (or feeling they are) products of wealthy families who support them (this is obviously not Schlass, who to his credit seems to be self-made entrepreneur), who missed the hippie era and want to rebel, so they dress in a certain fashion and think that the lifestyle they are adopting is culturally rebellious. But if you dressed them in Izod oxford shirts, Abercrobie sweaters, and Sperry docksiders, they would simply be Yuppies. The real hipsters were the beatniks from the 50s and early 60s who preceded hippies, with their beat poetry, bongos, and embrace of Bebop Jazz. They would be insulted to say the least to see what is being called hipsters in this day and age. But I guess your publication thinks “hipster” today is the cat’s meow, and that titling the article this way would garnish more reads.

Does it really matter?

"Hipster refers to a postmodern subculture of young, urban middle-class adults and older teenagers that first appeared in the 1990s and became particularly prominent in the 2010s, being derived from earlier movements in the 1940s. The subculture is associated with indie music and alternative music, a varied non-mainstream fashion sensibility (including vintage and thrift store clothes), progressive or independent political views, and alternative lifestyles." It is blatantly clear that you have never met the talented young chef, nor ever had his phenomenally cutting edge food. And yet deem yourself so high and mighty as to judge him as well as all others hipsters as "sucking" quite honestly makes you sound like a totally pretentious prick. Would you like this article to list the chef's musical likings, or picture his entire wardrobe? Maybe you would like the article to wax philosophic on his political and social opinions to provide you with his proper hipster bonafides? Mr. Annonymous, are you truly so bored in your own vanilla life as to have nothing better then to come onto this forum to yuck this gent's yum, and worse to do so without the cajones to even leave your name when doing so? Shame on you. There are posers in every circle from hipsters and hassids to punks and wasps. Who are you to judge. As far as NYC's kosher food scene is concerned, this dude and his ilk are the cat's meow. His food breaks nearly every mold our local kosher scene knows, or treif scene too for that matter. Next time you'd like to chime in on something or someone of which you have absolutely zero knowledge, feel free to at least make up a name, because guess what, anonymous sucks too, and you can quote this chef and pitboss on that! Keep up the good work H+H, the rest of us can't wait to see what you come up with next!!!

This concept is fantastic.
Wish it were possible in Montreal, not a big enough community or support.
Attempts to do the se thing here brought nothing but bland food.
Would be amazing to have a Jewish Food event here and invite guest chef Hassid+Hipster :)

His food is by far the fabulously most amazing culinary delight and burst of flavors my salivary glands have ever endured. Bravo Bravo Bravo!!!!!!

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