One quiet afternoon at home in Manhattan I read on the new York Times:
" Zak H. Stern, a.k.a. Zak the Baker, opened his new glatt kosher deli in the second week of January and closed it, locking the door, after just five hours. He had run out of food." and curious to find out about the curious event I continue reading..
" He sent customers down the block to his spacious new bakery, which originally occupied the deli’s location, for breads and pastry. The deli, which he simply calls the Deli, opened unannounced to his devoted following, who discovered that it had replaced the bakery. It was a project he had been thinking about for quite some time."
The intriguing 31-year-old native of Miami , tells Florence Fabricant, that in the city community is practically lacking of of Ashkenazi, Eastern European food and believes that the Sephardic ( Middle Eastern food) gets all the attention. He also sustains that delis are not kosher, and most kosher food is not deli food.
One of his typical deli dishes , a corn beef pastrami on corn- rye bread , was apparently inspired by Will Horowitz’s Ducks Eatery in the East Village of Manhattan. After learning in Europe and Israel, Zak, starts baking in a South Miami garage in 2012 selling his bread in local farmers’ markets. He the moves to a commissary bakery to finally establish in the Wynwood arts district, known for its colorful graffiti walls.
In Miami now, I take a night walk after a long dinner at Kyu the delicious new wood fire Asian inspired restaurant in Wynwood . My husband and I want to take a few shots for instagram with selfies against the lavish outdoor murals and graffitis by artists from around the globe. As we walk, ( it's 1 AM) a inviting aroma of freshly baked bread comes from a a dim light in what seems to be a factory …..
We slowly and furtively open the door, no one 's there, driven by the intensifying aroma we enter the stark white walled space with clean wood seating… at the end an industrial oven and several racks of thick, crusty breads. A young man red haired man, looking like a perfect ashkenazi reprimands us telling us the bakery is closed at this time. "Bakery?" We ask? "Yes It's Zak's the Baker bakery " he replies but we are not allowed in. Like small children we agree to leave but would love to taste one little bread… Could we buy it please"
We are offered with a smile a slice, creamy inside and a crust with perfect crunch, the type of bread you could only imagine pulling from the oven when you make your first loaf. The type of bread you see rise from your hands. Zak was right his " Dream Bakery" that came true.
The Deli, 405 NW 26th Street (Third Avenue), Miami.
The Bakery, 295 NW 26th Street (Third Avenue), Miami, 786-294-0876, zakthebaker.com.
Brian Smith for The New York Times Patrick Chin for Life and Thyme