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From the PublisherMilton Parker has written a book called How to Feed Friends and Influence People: The Carnegie Deli (with co-author Allyn Freeman), but if you've heard of him, that wouldn't be why. Parker is the owner of New York's Carnegie Deli.
Founded in 1937, it was not by any means the first U.S. deli — yet it remains the most famous.
This was the favorite hangout of one-liner king Henny Youngman, and the deli is immortalized in comedian Adam Sandler's Hanukkah Song in the mid-1990s.
And what's the secret to this fame? Simple: At the Carnegie Deli, you can buy a big sandwich with good meat served by a happy staff.
Half of the 10 business practices that Parker says he follows are devoted to keeping the staff happy:
• Create a family atmosphere.
• Promote from within.
• Have an open ear to staff (and customer) comments.
• Management is always responsible.
• Have fun working.
Parker, owner since 1976, claims that the success of these values is shown by the fact that many of the deli staff have been gladly working there for over 15 years.
Aside from a belief in owning the premises, the rest of Parker's business philosophy is mostly about making a big, quality sandwich.
Parker shares some of his troubles. The Beverly Hills Carnegie Deli opened in 1989 with more fanfare than any deli opening had ever received, but it could not overcome negative reviews of both food and staff. Five years later, it closed.
Parker tells the tale of New York's blackout of August 2003 and how Sandy Levine, the deli's "MBD" (which stands for "Married Boss's Daughter"), managed to keep the Carnegie Deli open and serving food all evening long.
The entertainment value of these vignettes is marred only by the fact that they are not always presented in chronological order.
Thankfully, the historical notes are interspersed with information. Tiny biographies offer a look at the waitresses or countermen. A chart of deli slang teaches that "pistol" is pastrami; "whiskey" is rye bread. Digressions into the histories of foods include where pastrami comes from, how it was named and how the Carnegie Deli prepares it.
Reading about all this food no doubt will arouse the appetite, so recipes are included, too. Cooks will enjoy having the Carnegie Deli's recipes for everything from cheese blintzes to matzo ball soup to beef brisket.
And for dessert, the book offers up cheesecake.
The last page of the book is a cutout coupon for a free slice of cheesecake at the Carnegie Deli.
Milton Parker has proved that in addition to making a very enjoyable sandwich, he can write an enjoyable book. (USA Today, January 31, 2005)
Sadly, of the hundreds of Jewish delicatessens that once fed hungry New Yorkers, only a handful are still around. In "How to Feed Friends and Influence People" (Wiley, $12.95), Milton Parker, owner of the Carnegie Deli, reveals the story of this famous institution. You'll learn Parker's philosophy and how he built the deli into such a success: Keep it simple, he says, make everything yourself, don't be greedy, and "do one thing and do it better than anyone else."
The book traces the history of the Carnegie Deli from its days as a modest 92-seat restaurant that was founded in 1937 up to the present, where it enjoys the status of a nationally recognized, prominent delicatessen. There's an interesting chronology of Jewish (or deli) food in the U.S., dating from the introduction of Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Tonic in New York in 1869 right through the founding of H&H Bagels in 1972.
Although not primarily a cookbook, this slim volume offers some excellent recipes for dishes like corned beef hash, beef flanken, cheesecake and noodle pudding with apples.
There's plenty of lore about quintessential deli foods like tongue, pastrami, brisket and corned beef, with tips on how to order them when you eat out. All in all, Parker's book makes for a good read and may inspire you to try your hand at making some Jewish deli food. (Daily News, January 12, 2005)