Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Breakthrough Jew – Micah Wexler

Wexler is the founder and chef at Los Angeles’ much-lauded restaurant, Wexler’s Deli

By: Sarah Bauder

Published: June 19th, 2014 in Culture » Food » News

Breakthrough Jew - Micah Wexler

Hot, hip, and heady, the next wave of Jewish artists and influencers has already arrived. This is Breakthrough Jew, your weekly showcase of those on the verge of discovery and ready to be a regular figure in pop culture; setting trends, redefining genres, and simply getting it done-whatever ‘it’ is. These days, it’s not enough to know what’s hot now; you need to catch someone when they’re just starting to simmer.

Featuring those in film, fashion, food, and beyond, we’ll find the story before substance is obscured by style, before hype meets backlash, and before talent and purpose gets lost in a maze of Internet chatter. See an artist in the cozy bar before they hit the amphitheater, dine at a chef’s new restaurant before the line begins, and catch a young writer’s work before the demands of ratings and longevity encroach.

Follow our lead and we’ll follow yours – send us tips or suggestions via email, comment below or tweet us @ShalomLife, as we explore the Jewish landscape for pop culture pioneers.

Name: Micah Wexler

Age: 31

Hometown: Los Angeles

Breakthrough Cred: Made his name in the culinary world by opening, Mezze, which served modern Middle Eastern fare in Los Angeles.

Micah Wexler was one of those rare individuals that essentially at birth, knew where Life would take him: the kitchen. Wexler began cooking professionally at the tender age of fifteen, at a time when most adolescents primary concern is counting down the months until they can take a drivers test. After acquiring his degree from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, Wexler was gainfully employed at a number of high-profile restaurants dotting America and Europe – such as chef de partie at Le Atelier Joel Robuchon in New York.

“I know a lot of chefs who would answer this question and talk about the first time they had an oyster or picking beets on their family’s farm but for me, I never had an “aha” moment. My passion for food has been with me for as long as I can remember; it’s like my fingers, they’ve just always been a part of me. When I was a kid I was always cooking with my grandmothers, my mom and my dad. I remember watching my mom and grandmothers getting ready for the big Jewish holidays. They would be cooking nonstop for days, pouring their souls into the food. My excitement around that would build for weeks and it has become a big part of how I cook today. The way I think about it is if you can’t taste the depth and soul in my food then I’m doing something wrong,” Wexler explained to Chef Speak.

After a dozen years working in others kitchens, in March 2011 Wexler opened his own restaurant, Mezze, the “Middle Eastern-influenced New American restaurant” located in Los Angeles. With said establishment and Wexler at the helm, the culinary world took notice. So much so, that he was even a challenger chef against Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America. Unfortunately, in October 2012, Mezze was forced to close after ongoing problems with a neighboring construction site. However, shortly thereafter, the folks at Los Angeles’ Grand Central Market, came to Wexler with the idea of opening a deli.

“When you have a restaurant as specific as Mezze, people start to look at you and think, ‘Oh, that’s the dude who does modern Middle Eastern’. But that is just not where I am at right now,” he told Forward in January 2014.

Find out more about this week’s Breakthrough Jew, Micah Wexler, on the next page!

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Wexler is the founder and chef at Los Angeles’ much-lauded restaurant, Wexler’s Deli

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