I’ve seen Danny’s Nut Butter in Homecoming, my neighborhood coffee shop. The Deli interviewed founder Danny Castañeda, who explains its origin. “I had to figure out a steady form of income, so I started making batches of nut butters again just out of my house with a KitchenAid blender, fulfilling via Instagram DM, and hand delivering them on my bike.” This type of self-starting story permeated most of the founders interviewed. Through the newsletter, you can find gluten-free baker Lani Halliday, also known as the person behind Yoko Ono’s favorite cookie. You can find the Borgattis, an Italian family who has been making ravioli and other egg pastas in the Bronx for three generations now. You can order Israeli meals with a menu that changes weekly, and you can read recommendations from the makers themselves on their favorite places to eat in New York. (Most of them ship nationwide!) Knowing the people who make food leads to clarity around sourcing, a lower carbon footprint, and an economy that supports local community.
As it evolves and grows, The Deli will become a resource to connect shoppers with choice makers and it will be a platform to highlight these individuals who are working independently. “A lot of these people are selling through DM on Instagram so you have to be friends with them to know that it exists and at the same time, they are at a point where it’s difficult for them to fulfill orders,” Polonsky says. Both boutique and sought-after, the artisans that Polonsky and Wolff highlight are at capacity within their networks but have not (yet) scaled up.
Wolff and Polonsky both come from a highly curated visual food world but wanted to take a different approach with photography for The Deli. “We wanted the photos to show the side of food that you don’t get to see in restaurants,” explains Polonsky of the visual storytelling. “We wanted the photos to show the mess and the unglamorous side of it that we think is really cool.” The result is an approachable source for authentic insider knowledge, worth reading week after week.