JACKSONVILLE, FL — Jacksonville’s Jewish community has received some manna from heaven, thanks to the new Epicurean Delight kosher bakery and delicatessen.
And to celebrate the rarity – a delicatessen with food made under rabbinical supervision – a rabbi held a mezuzah ceremony at 11 a.m. Sunday to bless the new eatery at 2777 University Blvd. W. In the ceremony, the rabbi affixed a small decorative case filled with a parchment inscribed with Hebrew verses from the Torah to the door frame as a blessing.
Kosher refers to the kinds of meat, fish and other foods allowed in a Jewish person’s diet, as well as the way it is prepared, according to dietary laws set down in the Torah.
A few local supermarkets sell food that falls under those rules, so a kosher-caliber delicatessen indicates the Jewish community wants more, said Rabbi Yoseph Kahanov, senior rabbi at Chabad Lubavitch of Northeast Florida.
“Years ago, this community had [kosher] butchers and eateries, and they all faded, a big move away from tradition,” he said. “Now the community is ready and it [more kosher food availability] is coming more out of demand than a desire to go into business.”
Only certain foods are kosher. Shellfish and pork aren’t. Kosher beef or poultry must be prepared using a special knife, and all blood is drained. Milk and meat can’t be mixed, and bread cannot contain dairy. Kosher preparation must be monitored by a rabbi or a mashkiach – trained inspector.
The now-defunct Albertson’s at 10500 San Jose Blvd. had a kosher meat department and bakery, but it closed in mid-2003 after store officials said it wasn’t getting “the anticipated community support.” Kahanov oversaw that, and said the Jewish community was also to blame for not shopping there.
Since then, the Publix at 10500 San Jose Blvd. in Mandarin, near the Chabad at 10129 Haley Road, has offered fresh kosher meats prepared off-site under rabbinical supervision, and some Southside and Mandarin Winn-Dixie supermarkets do as well.
Now Epicurean Delight owner Dan Tuchmann has made a “very big commitment on the kosher side” by opening a deli with a full-time kosher mashkiach, Kahanov said. With about 15,000 Jews in the community, plus others who like kosher food, Tuchmann said he thinks his deli will succeed.
“There is enough to support at least one establishment. There should be enough to support more, but Jacksonville has a history of not doing it,” Tuchmann said. “I think I have a winning mix, between doing a daily lunch special and baked goods, and I can appeal to a broader market.”
Tuchmann, who trained at Florida Community College at Jacksonville’s culinary program and apprenticed with local chefs, opened his 48-seat delicatessen three weeks ago. The menu includes matzoh ball and vegetarian soups, knishes, sandwiches, bagels, breakfast plates and challah egg bread as well as prepared take-out kosher meals. The deli has separate sections for meat and bread preparation.
Epicurian Delight chef Dan Tuchmann checks some fresh-roasted vegetables in the kitchen at his new kosher bakery and delicatessen at 2777 University Blvd. W.
Michael Kadish prepares a beef brisket sandwich for a customer at Epicurian Delight kosher bakery and delicatessen. Kadish is also the deli’s mashkiach, or kosher standards inspector.