Press Releases

Zingerman’s Roadhouse Brings Greek-Jewish Cuisine to the Table in Special Dinner (3/09)

Highlighting the culinary contributions of Jewish immigrants from Salonika, James Beard Award-nominated chef Alex Young and Zingerman’s co-founder Ari Weinzweig are preparing a special dinner on Tuesday, April 7 at 7pm. Alan Saltiel, the director of the Life Sciences Institute at the University of Michigan, whose family is Greek-Jewish and settled in the United States from Salonika, will share family recipes from his grandmother, aunts and parents.

The history of Greek-Jewish cuisine in the United States began in Spain where Sephardic Jews, persecuted by the Inquisition, fled and settled in Salonika in Greece and adapted their cooking to the local ways. For many centuries, Salonika was a model for diversity, where different ethnic and religious groups lived together. While Greek and Turkish politics are usually presented in the context of conflict, there are many overlaps between the two very important and interesting cuisines; the cooking of the Jews of Salonika includes both influences, but blended in a unique-to-the-food-world way that also includes the heavy influence of Spain. However, the story takes another tragic turn there as the Jewish population in Salonika was devastated by the Nazi regime. A sizeable population of Jews from the area escaped and settled in the U.S., bringing with them their complex and flavorful history.

This event incorporates many of the traditional dishes the Sephardic Jews brought from Greece, prepared with an American twist. Menu items include Stuffed Grape Leaves, Semolina-Olive Bread, Egg-Lemon-Rice Soup, Roasted Lamb & Fideikos (Macaroni & Feta), Sponge, Ameretti, Spoon Sweets & Nuts and more, prepared with the finest, and where possible, local ingredients, for a rich, full-flavored culinary experience.

For more information on the culinary and cultural history of the Sephardic Jews in Salonika, read please Ari Weinzweig’s essay at

Seats for this special dinner (no. 72 in the long-running special dinner series at the Roadhouse) are $45 and reservations can be made by calling 734. 663.3663. For more information contact Courtney Ceronsky, Zingerman’s Marketing Coordinator, at 734.904.0562 or [email protected]

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Zingerman’s Roadhouse, part of the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, is a full-service restaurant established in the old Bill Knapp’s building on Ann Arbor’s west side in 2003 and features a full range of traditional American foods along with a full bar specializing in small batch bourbon and the finest American beer and wine. Roadhouse chef Alex Young has been nominated for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef in the Midwest in 2007 and 2008. Zingerman’s founders Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw were awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by Bon Appetit in 2007.