The Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn has long been a melting pot of demographics. Recently, a ground-breaking Orthodox Jewish chef attempted to bring together some of those worlds. Operating out of a residential apartment, pop-up restaurant Hassid+Hipster serves completely kosher dishes that would fit in at the trendiest of local eateries.
Worldwide home to the Chabad-Lubavitch community of ultra-Orthodox Jews, Crown Heights saw race riots between this minority and the majority of African Americans and West Indian immigrants for three days in 1991. The neighborhood has quieted down since then, and gentrification has brought in waves of younger, white, secular residents.
While kosher dining is often limited to Chinese takeout and traditional deli dishes, Crown Heights establishments like Basil Pizza & Wine Bar have already tried to bring together communities by creating artisanal kosher food.
Hassid+Hipster Chef Yuda Schloss is uniquely qualified to continue that work. An Orthodox Jew, Schloss’ father ran Manhattan macrobiotic restaurant The Cauldron. Schloss has continued to work in the “family business” of trendy restaurants- while embracing very different food trends.
His meat-heavy menu includes lots of lamb bacon, duck confit, and 48-hour “Jacuzzi” brisket. Hassid+Hipster works mostly with sandwiches, which feature toppings like charred mandarin and green onion marmalade, mint salsa, vegan chive cream, and “smokey eggplant pâté” for a kosher spin on a Vietnamese banh mi.
Slow cooking seems to be one of Schloss’ main focuses. On his Tumblr account, Schloss documents simmering tongue for 24 hours, pickling horseradish for two days (a relatively quick pickle), and curing duck legs “in their own fat for a bit over a week.”
But if you want any of these delicacies, there’s no restaurant to visit. Schloss operates Hipster+Hassid twice a week, posting the daily menu on Facebook, and taking orders through gmail to be picked up at his apartment on Eastern Parkway.
Schloss isn’t the only Orthodox Jewish chef testing the waters of kosher cooking with a questionably-legal establishment. Itta Werdiger Roth operated the underground supper club The Hester in nearby Ditmas Park, before opening up the restaurant Mason & Mug in Prospect Heights last month.
Because he doesn’t have a formal restaurant that can be observed around the clock, Schloss is unable to get a hechsher (kosher certificate). But he guarantees that the meats are glatt kosher, the breads are certified KOF-K and Pas Yisroel, and the produce is fresh and closely inspected. Schloss has found eager customers, especially among close friends who trust his preparation.
“Hasidic to me is something that’s traditional and old and hipster is something new. That’s what I try to do with everything,” said Schloss.