Katz's Deli Is Challenging Great Chefs To Cook With Pastrami

Manhattan-based Katz's Deli, one of the oldest (and best) family-run Jewish delis in New York City, has launched a new program coined "Pass the Pastrami" as a way of engaging respected chefs around the country. The program challenges select chefs to incorporate Katz's pastrami into unique and eclectic recipes at their respective restaurants for a limited time period, beginning on July 7.

Given Katz's deep history — having been founded on the Lower East Side of Manhattan back in 1888 — chefs (such as Jamie Bissonette of the Little Donkey in Boston) were excited to participate in an effort to continue their legacy. "I love salty, smoky meats, and Katz's has been a meat church to me," said Bissonette. "Being able to use one of my favorite meats in my own restaurant is both daunting and an honor. I just hope it's good enough that the team at Katz's is proud."

Katz's pastrami process is like no other. They pride themselves on their traditional slow-curing method and their hand cut slicing technique, which enticed these esteemed chefs to participate. At chef Marc Vetri 's Amis Trattoria in Philadelphia, he's serving tonarelli with pastrami, egg, olive oil, pecorino and black pepper, a play on carbonara. Vetri chose to incorporate pastrami into a traditional Italian dish as a way of highlighting the similar food cultures. "Jewish and Italian cultures are both so strongly rooted in tradition that it's only natural we'd bring them together in a pastrami carbonara," he explained.

Down in Miami, Chef Michael Schwartz of Harry's Pizzeria will be trying his hand at a pastrami pizza made with a rye crust, sauerkraut, mustard sauce, and gruyere. "Pastrami on rye pizza just makes sense," said Schwartz.