Andrew Krausz is perhaps the ultimate foodie. When the 40-year-old aviation lawyer was wowed by smoked kosher meat on a trip to Chicago, he decided to make his own back home. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to find anything like it here.”
Krausz built a bricks and mortar smokehouse in his garden to house an industrial smoking oven. He then set about working out how to cook his own range of smoked meats — not as easy as he’d anticipated. “I ruined a lot of briskets along the way” admits the self-taught cook, who says he started cooking at the age of five. “I don’t follow recipes, it’s a way for me to express my creativity.” Something he is much less likely to do during his day job at City firm Clyde and Co.
He has now developed a range of smoked meats, including garlic and honey chicken wings, lamb breast, juicy sliced duck and “authentic” Texas brisket. “I build a complex rub and personally select all the meats and cuts from Kosher Deli.”
He also smokes chunky racks of ribs that would make Fred Flinstone drool. But he’s no caveman. The qualified pilot and former RAF reserve officer could not be more of a 21st century man — as happy in the kitchen as he is in the fishing boat that he stores in the garage of his Hendon home, and from which he has caught mackerel which he smokes as well.
Last October, once he was happy with the recipes, he founded Blue Smoke to retail the meat, with a Facebook page as his shopfront. Every Thursday he smokes more than 50kg for the growing group of North West London carnivorous foodies, who order online to collect for Shabbat. All the ingredients are kosher, but the smoking process itself is unsupervised although Krausz is investigating ways to provide supervision.
His aim is for kosher food to catch up with the rest of the world. “Kosher can be just as exciting as non-kosher food. I want to inspire people to ask for better.”
He tasted the best cuisine during his childhood. “I started in a very traditional household that I’d describe as ‘semi-kosher’ and we ate out in non-kosher restaurants. We were very foodie, so I was exposed to good food.”
As he got older, he chose to adhere to the rules of kashrut all the time, but increasingly felt he was missing out. “In this country, kosher diners are not particularly spoilt are we? Where is there anywhere kosher doing food to Michelin standard? There are no kosher restaurants that I’d feel comfortable taking a client to in the City. People crave something exciting.”
He has also developed sauces, including an apple chilli barbecue sauce. Kosher diners have literally noshed it up. “I’ve had 470 members join the group since October.” Orders are taken online and much of his Thursday night is spent in the smoke house. “It’s a huge amount of work, but there seems to be the demand — I have customers who send a black cab from St John’s Wood to pick up their order.”
Two successful kosher gourmet banquets he held at home for 27 guests in January 2017 and January 2018 encouraged him to start Blue Smoke. The first celebrated wine and tradition. This year’s — in honour of his new smoke house — paired citrus and smoke. Each course contained both elements.
This year’s meal included his own hot smoked salmon, goose and mackerel as well as home-cured gravadlax and home-baked bread. “One of the challenges with kosher is that you cannot get all the ingredients, so I had to make them myself.”
He made his own ponzu sauce (a Japanese citrus-based sauce) to accompany tuna tataki and yuzu jelly. “The hardest part about that was finding yuzu — a Japanese lemon.”
Other dishes included a platter of hot smoked salmon, salmon gravadlax and smoked mackerel samphire terrine with honeycomb, sennepssaus (a Norwegian mustard sauce) and wild yeast sourdough; a shot of smoked chicken “penicillin”; smoking cocktails; goose roulade and a platter of ribs, waffles with maple syrup and an egg from his own hens, as well as a dessert with a smoked chocolate tube (moulded on acetate) filled with smoked hazelnut praline and a salted blackberry and lemon sorbet.
While there are no plans to give up the day job, having his own kosher restaurant is a dream. “I don’t know where the journey is going to take me but I hope I can inspire people to take a few steps to make kosher food more exciting.”