Foodie Chap With Leo Beckerman and Evan Bloom of Wise Sons Deli
ABOUT WISE SONS DELI
Our Foodie Chap feature this week celebrates two wise guys, sorry two “wise sons” Leo Beckerman and Evan Bloom. Their “WISE SONS” Jewish deli on 24th street in the Mission, San Francisco opened in 2012 and became an instant hit with locals and garnered praise from food critics and fans around the country.
The two college friends turned business partners started cooking for friends at backyard gatherings. They quickly realized they were onto something and in San Francisco in 2011 they filled a gap hosting pop ups, then a regular market stall, bringing people together for Jewish cooking with quality ingredients and flavors, a hint of nostalgia, and a strong sense of comfort.
Leo has been cooking Jewish food since the days he had to stand on a stool just to reach the counter and was always first in line to “clean” the mixing bowls used for any of his grandmother’s baked goods. While studying Public Health at UC Berkeley, he began to see the important role food plays in culture and social interaction. After being frustrated with office jobs, Leo decided to merge his passions for food and people. And as co-founder of Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen, he has not looked back.
(credit: Foodie Chap/Liam Mayclem)
As for Evan? Throwing elaborate dinner parties is not something most 12 years olds do, but for Evan it was just normal. Evan started cooking younger than most, eschewing Kraft mac n cheese for Thai cuisine and baked Alaska. This love of cooking and food stuck with him through college and after studying architecture and joining the corporate world, he eventually found his passion was behind the stove. Going back to early memories of surly waitress’ and onion rolls at the since-deceased Rascal House in Miami Beach, he realized his fondness of food had roots in Jewish soul cooking. At Wise Sons he recreates classic dishes with integrity, using quality ingredients while still hitting the proper nostalgia that would make your Bubby proud.
I met with the good humored “wise sons” at their 24th Street deli. My first meeting with them was three years ago when they worked out of a commissary kitchen at La Cocina prepping for their market days. I became an instant fan as have so many others around the Bay and beyond. Their food can still be found at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, at The Contemporary Jewish Museum and of course the 24th Street spot.
See the guys in person at the CUESA “Eat Drink SF” preview series this Saturday and of course at the main event in Fort Mason August 1st – 3rd. eatdrink-sf.com
Take a moment to check out the delish Challah French Toast recipe. Please enjoy the podcast as you will quickly discover these two guys are not only wise but talented and rather funny – “tip the server, try the pastrami, they’ll be here all week”!
KCBS Foodie Chap Podcast:
“5 Questions with Leo Beckerman & Evan Bloom”
(credit: Foodie Chap/Liam Mayclem)
Challah French Toast
1 Loaf Challah or Brioche
1 Cup Buttermilk
1 Cup Cream
1/2 tp Good Quality Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tp Real Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Salt
2 Pint Strawberries
1 TB White Sugar
1/2 a lemon, juiced
Pinch of Salt
Real Maple Syrup
Unsalted Butter for Topping
Unsalted Butter for cooking
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Begin by slicing the loaf of bread into 1.5-2″ slices. The thicker slices will hold up better as it cooks and provide a nice contrast in creamy center and crispy outer edge. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, cream, cinnamon, vanilla, & a pinch of salt. Place the sliced challah in one layer in a baking dish or high-walled container then pour over the French toast custard. Let this sit 4-5 minutes, then flip and let sit another 3-4 minutes. You want the custard to soak all the way into the center of the bread. In a nonstick pan, over medium high heat, heat a good amount of butter, being careful not to burn or brown it. Gently lift the French toast one slice at a time (a slotted spatula may help if it is fragile) and place in the pan. Cook on each side until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Repeat with all of the slices.
Place browned sliced on a well greased sheet tray. The French toast will still be raw in the center- that’s what we’re going for. Finishing in the oven will create a creamy, custardy, consistent finished product.
At this point the French toast is ready to go into the oven to finish and this is a good step to do ahead if feeding a large group. Before placing in the oven, a small nub of butter on top of each slice that will turn golden brown in the oven is an added bonus. Cook the French toast in the oven for 6-10 minutes. The center will begin to puff and begin to feel a little firm. Remove from the oven and serve with maple syrup, butter, & strawberries.
Gently wash and dry strawberries. Remove green tops and slice into small, bite size pieces. In a large bowl, combine with remaining ingredients. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.
For more information, visit wisesonsdeli.com