Hassid+Hipster Brings Gourmet To Gaza Border
Meat is Yuda Schlass' specialty, both at home in Brooklyn and abroad. Courtesy of Yuda Schlass
Yuda Schlass’ gourmet sandwich service, Hassid+Hipster, has grown beyond his Brooklyn bachelor pad. Today, Schlass is trucking up and down Israel serving hot, meat-stacked sandwiches to Israeli soldiers.
Schlass arrived in Jerusalem on July 3, just days before Operation Protective Edge launched. As the groud-combat intensified and the first news of Israeli casualties returned to the home front, Schlass felt the need to act.
“I’m only able to enjoy Israel because of the soldiers. I had to give back with my first and foremost passion: food,” said Schlass in a phone-interview.
Though thousands of care packages had been sent to soldiers, Schlass felt they were missing the touch of the gourmet. In the wee-hours of July 24, he rented out a Jerusalem restaurant and began cooking 100 pounds of sirloin steak and 100 pounds of lamb, paying the over $3,000 total out-of-pocket.
Along with a friend and his wife Adina, he drove a van filled with hot boxes to a base on the Gaza border. Gunfire and explosions punctuated the air as he set up tables to serve the over 700 soldiers returning from operations.
“As we got closer and closer to the base, the sounds of explosions got louder. There was literally a ‘boom’ every other minute,” said Schlass. “It really felt like a war zone.”
On the menu were two of his classic Hassid+Hipster delicacies. The first was a seared sirloin sandwich on a sourdough baguette, topped with malt beer caramelized onions, sunflower sprouts, pink peppercorn and avocado aioli. The second was a cumin braised lamb belly sandwich on a whole-wheat baguette, topped with pickled cucumb4rs and mint salsa verde.
“This is better food than I had at my wedding!” one soldier commented. Another radioed to his friend to come back as quickly as possible.
“We’ve never gotten food like this before, and we probably never will again,” he said.
The grateful response Schlass received made him feel “justified” in the high-end operation. “At first I was wondering if spending so much money on gourmet products was worth it, when I could buy so many more basic products with the same amount. But the response I received made me realize it was the right thing to do. There’s a difference between being fed, and being treated.”
Next, Schlass plans to treat the soldiers stationed up north. “They’re doing an amazing job defending our country in a different region, and we shouldn’t forget about their efforts,” he said.
The soldiers were the best customers he’d ever had, said Schlass. “I was getting compliments every other minute — if only the audience in Brooklyn was that easy,” he said, laughing.