Karen Adelman and Chez Panisse alum Peter Levitt strive to steward a Jewish cuisine reflecting season, time and place, reconnecting with traditional culinary practices.
Peter Levitt’s family in South Africa was on the reform side of Jewish identity but he personally chose to pursue his religion seriously in his early life. Peter spent many hours praying and studying. Fortunately his mother’s kitchen also figured prominently in his childhood. Many, many hours reading the torah were complimented by a sumptuous variety of many Ashkenazi comfort foods.
In the States, Karen Adelman, the California native born of New Yorkers, enjoyed a Jewish education developed mainly via palate. Twice annually her family made pilgrimages to New York eateries in the city and the boroughs. In this way she came to know “what was what.”
Eventually Peter found himself in California. After studying Mathematics and Chinese Language at UC Berkeley, Peter decided to cook. Naturally. He worked in Oliveto’s kitchen for four years and Chez Panisse for two. Then it followed as a matter of course, he became a math teacher at MLK Middle School. Meanwhile Karen studied Sociology and Mass Communications at UC Berkeley. She waited tables at Saul’s after her publishing office was crushed in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Eventually Karen came to manage Saul’s. Karen called Peter out of teaching to help her purchase and run Saul’s Restaurant and Delicatessen with her. They never stop talking with other deli colleagues. They eat widely and argue passionately.