Born in the backyard of a matzo factory in Minsk, Russia, Chef David Teyf has been strongly practicing his roots in Russian and Jewish culture throughout the entirety of his life. His new restaurant, Lox — as located in the Museum of Jewish Heritage — is 100 percent kosher and brings his background to life.
While growing up in Minsk, now Belarus, Teyf was exposed to the culinary world early on.
“My grandparents provided the Jewish community in Minsk with matzo,” Teyf said. “My great-grandfather started in 1920 under Communist times, which was illegal. They were burned down many times, but they prevailed and kept making matzo for the Jewish community.”
During this time, Teyf’s family faced the Holocaust. His grandmother was part of the Jewish partisans, a group of Jewish individuals who escaped from ghettos or concentration camps and fought against Nazi Germany. Some of his family members are Holocaust survivors.
To be located in a museum with a strong connection to his upbringing means to provide a place where kosher individuals have the opportunity to experience Jewish and Russian culture while eating well. Teyf realized there are not many places in New York City to enjoy such authentic cuisines.
“Jewish food in the states got lost in translation,” Teyf began. “We took it back to the original way it’s been done, by hand, no equipment.”
As a chef whose training is very focused around the Japanese world of fish, incorporating Jewish and Russian culinary influences was not hard for Teyf. Lox serves various smoked salmon dishes, a Jewish-inspired bento box, baked goods and other traditional favorites. Everything made at Lox is promised to be handmade and homemade while offering the freshest of ingredients.
To ensure the highest quality, daily trips to the produce and fish market are made, fresh breads and hand-rolled, kettle-boiled bagels are brought in from a commissary Teyf has in Brooklyn, and curing the salmon for lox is an intricate process that leaves smoky and delicious sushi-grade fish. Last month, the menu offered lox flavors including pastrami, sake and wasabi, and double-smoked. But the menu will change four times a year based on the seasons, Teyf added.
Each recipe is part of Teyf’s very own personal creations, a unique quality at Lox that raises the standard of kosher Jewish and Russian cuisine. The Old-Fashioned cocktail inspired Teyf’s flavors of salmon, a rarity when it comes to lox and kosher food in general. The next menu will feature a lox with bourbon, orange zest and angostura bitters, a taste that only Chef Teyf knows before he tries it.
To combat the label of Jewish and Russian cuisine, Teyf has a specific vision for Lox. “We want this concept worldwide. We want Lox in other museums around the world, we want to show our pride and show that Jewish Russian food can be great,” Teyf declared.
As noted by Downtown publisher Grace A. Capobianco: “When I was younger I loved a good Kosher meal. However, over time when discovering a new kosher deli or restaurant, I often left disappointed. But a few weeks ago at Lox, I experienced the best everything. This is what kosher food is supposed to be: refreshing, authentic, delicious and fresh.” Capobianco continued: “My favorite was everything, but for now lets focus on the homemade bagels and the cream cheese sushi-grade salmon, infused with grapefruit gin and juniper berries…I’ll be back more than I probably should.”
Chef David Teyf is dedicated to changing the perspective of kosher food in New York City. As a customer, you’ll never know what unique dishes the menu will offer when walking into Lox.
But one thing is guaranteed while visiting: one taste, and you won’t believe that it’s kosher.