Deli Man full movie review - Lively & Humorous Documentary
After viewing this lively and humorous documentary on Jewish delicatessens, I wanted to immediately run out and get a corned beef sandwich on rye.
However, that's easier said than done, because as the film notes that there are only about 150 Jewish delis left in North America, whereas there were thousands in the 1930's.
The movie's centerpiece is "Ziggy" Gruber who really captures the screen with his larger-than-life persona. He owns and is a hands-on manager of Kenny & Ziggy's Delicatessen, surprisingly located in Houston, Texas. Although Gruber has had fine dining training at some of the top European cooking schools, he has returned to his roots and where his heart is, namely in the Jewish deli business. When he was just a young boy, his grandfather Max put him to work at his deli, and now Gruber is very much determined to maintain the old-school traditions that were taught to him.
There are also interviews with other deli owners in the U.S. and Canada, who admit they love the business but lament how the high cost of food and low profit margins make it a real struggle. Such notables as Jerry Stiller, Fyvush Finkel, and Larry King, among others, give us anecdotes of some of their long time deli experiences. There's also an interesting history of how the Jewish deli arose in immigrant neighborhoods, and how as the Jewish people became more assimilated into the culture, so did their restaurants become more mainstream.
All in all, this documentary, most capably directed by Erik Greenberg Anjou, is well-paced and a worthy tribute to the Jewish delicatessen, and I would highly recommend it.