Chef Micah Wexler Brings Deli Revolution to Los Angeles

Move Aside Tahini, It’s All About the Pastrami in Tinseltown

Jonathan Hyla

By Leah Koenig

Published January 22, 2014, issue of January 31, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Outside the kitchen, Micah Wexler is friendly, funny and never without a 5 o’clock shadow. He’s the Seth Rogen of chefs — the kind of guy you wish you could grab a beer with. But in the kitchen he’s all business. Music during dinner prep? That’s fine. But come dinner service, it’s time for him and his staff to be quiet, put down their heads and cook.

Wexler, 31, made his culinary name as one of the few chefs in the country to specialize in upscale Israeli fare. Dishes like flatbread topped with cauliflower, feta, olives and golden raisins, and pink snapper served with fava beans, sugar snap peas and Persian mint, won his Los Angeles-based restaurant, Mezze, praise from Food &Wine, Los Angeles magazine and diners.

This spring, Wexler will trade in his tahini, za’atar and flatbread for spicy brown mustard, marbled rye, pastrami and a 10-seat counter called Wexler’s Deli, in L.A.’s Grand Central Market.

When Grand Central Market first opened, in 1917, it was a hub for the city’s residents: Home to fish and cheesemongers, fruit and vegetable vendors, flower shops and soda fountains, it captured the essence of early 20th-century shopping and eating in L.A. Nearly a century later, the 30,000-square-foot outdoor arcade is in the midst of a renaissance, with a wood-fired pizzeria, a Thai street-food stall and, this March, Wexler’s nouveau delicatessen.

Home to several iconic, old-school delicatessens, most notably Langer’s and Canter’s, L.A. hasn’t exactly caught up with the deli revolution that is currently playing out in other cities. Wexler plans to change that.

An L.A. native, he grew up eating at Langer’s and developed a lifelong craving for cured meats and pickles. “There was this whole routine with the same waitress every time, the same comfort foods and this sense of greatness to the deli,” Wexler said. “I did not realize it as a kid, but growing up around this food really shaped me.” So did his grandmothers’ cooking, a degree from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, and a string of jobs in high-profile kitchens across Europe and America.

Courtesy of Grand Central Market

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.