In 1935, a Brooklynite named Fannie Stahl decided to take her Brighton Beach boardwalk knish operation and make it legit. She opened the now-legendary Mrs. Stahl’s Knishes in Brighton Beach. The knishery was a culinary stronghold for decades until suddenly, in 2005, it disappeared without a trace.
Writer and food reporter Laura Silver was one of many whose heart was broken by the sudden loss. In the midst of her grieving, she became something of a knish sleuth – determined to discover the story of Mrs. Stahl’s, obsessed with knish history, and dead-set on figuring out what had happened to the historic shop she so loved.
After much investigation, Silver traced the famous knishery to New Jersey where a guy named Mike Conte is still making knishes using Mrs. Stahl’s recipe to this day. She also managed to track down Stahl’s granddaughter in San Francisco, and recently paid her a knish-making visit. But despite finally being able to close the Stahl case file, Silver’s dedication to knish revival [see video documentation here] is unrelenting. She has a knish-themed book [Kickstarter fundraising video here] and a documentary film coming out next year, and gives frequent talks about her world travels – around the US, to Israel, and to Knyszyn, Poland – in hot pursuit of a hot pocket of potato (or kasha, sauerkraut, onions, cheese…).
December 5, 2012