Streit’s Matzo and the American Dream @matzofilm

Post image for Streit’s Matzo and the American Dream @matzofilm

by Isabel Laessig (Isabel Foodie) · 15 comments

in Blog

A Story about Matzo and the American Dream, Made on the Lower East Side.

When I sent out that first blog post almost two years ago, I had absolutely no idea the world that was out there, just waiting to meet me and embrace me.  I wake up every morning and am so thankful that I had the courage to write that first post, even though I was so scared to put myself out in the virtual world.  I hid behind my Family Foodie Chef’s Hat and for a long time, my name wasn’t anywhere in site.   But every day, I fell in love with the virtual world a little more.  Every day, I made new connections, who without knowing me in person, inspired me, encouraged me and empowered me to continue on this blogging journey.

In many ways, it reminded me of when I was six years old and first immigrated to the United States from Portugal.  That first day of school was one of the scariest things I have ever had to do.  Imagine putting yourself out into a world where you didn’t understand a word anyone was saying.  My parents came to this country because they wanted to pursue the American Dream.

I am thankful every day that my parents immigrated to this country and possibly even more thankful that I had the courage to hit Publish on that very first blog post.  I could never have imagined the world that would open up to me, the  life long friends that I would make, and the business opportunities that would arise as a result.

I met Michael Green during a Buick Discovery Tour that took place in Tampa Bay.  I was mesmerized by his presence on stage and loved hearing about his journey in Food and Wine.  Michael Green is one of America’s top wine and spirits personalities, serving as Gourmet Magazine’s wine and spirits expert for 19 years.  When I left the Buick Discovery Tour, I tweeted Michael and let him know just how much I enjoyed his wine pairing session.  We have been good friends since that day, and I can’t imagine going a week without us chatting.

Streits Matzo The American Dream 2I am so excited for Michael’s new project.  Streits: Matzo and the American Dream is a documentary about America’s last family-owned matzo factory, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.  This is a story that I can relate to and love that the factory has continued to use man power in an era where humans are replaced by machinery!  (Watch the trailer for the film here) 

Streits Matzo The American Dream 3

Here is a note from Michael Green on this amazing project:

Matzo: The Original Artisan Flatbread

Streits Mediterranean Matzo

I know what you’re thinking: Is something wrong with my calendar?  Passover has long passed, the annual obligation of matzo stories fulfilled… Michael, has your brain failed to leaven?  But as I’ve learned these past several months, just because most of us no longer have matzo on our minds, for the bakers who make possible our annual encounter with matzo, the work continues.

You see, I’ve spent my spring covered in flour, producing a documentary film about Streit’s Matzo , America’s last family-owned matzo factory, on Manhattan Lower East Side.  Theirs is an incredible story: of a fifth-generation family business, producing 40% of the nation’s matzo in four low-slung tenement buildings in what was once the world’s largest Jewish immigrant community (now the epicenter of New York hipsterdom), using equipment that dates back to the factory’s beginning in 1925.

While close to half of Streit’s sales take place in the weeks preceding Passover, the making of matzo is a year-round operation, and not only because it take six months to produce the matzo necessary to fulfill Passover orders.As I’ve come to discover, there is life for matzo beyond Passover!  And the removal of the strict obligations of the holiday opens up the product to a world of possibilities.  Daily matzos, as they are known, are available year-round, and come in dozens of varieties – egg and onion, organic spelt, and Mediterranean with sun dried tomatoes, garlic, basil, and olive oil, to name a few.  They’re across the board delicious, and being kosher, they’re produced under exacting supervision, using the purest of ingredients.  Based around a recipe 3,000 years old, matzo is truly the original artisan flatbread!

Working on this film has been an incredibly fulfilling experience – coming to learn the astonishingly rich history of a true New York family business, and finding through our fundraising campaign on Kickstarter   just how many people are connecting with their story.  And while Passover may be done for this year, I will gladly continue to munch away at dark-chocolate covered matzo with sea salt, thank you very much!

I am so proud of Michael and all the folks involved, and honored to be one of the backers on this Kickstarter Campaign.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Renee May 7, 2013 at 3:49 pm

I’m glad you hit publish on that first post and have kept on ever since! I can’t wait to meet Michael Green at the Food and Wine conference. And I’ll check out his documentary too.

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FamilyFoodie May 8, 2013 at 10:55 am

Renee… you are part of the reason that I hit that publish button. It would never have happened without your encouragement and knowing you were about to start blogging too!

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Shannon @VillageGirlBlog May 8, 2013 at 7:14 am

I had that same trepidation publishing my first post. I also felt completely like a dork posting the link on facebook for my friends and family to read. I love that Michael Green is telling this story! While not of Jewish decent, it mirrors so many of my Grandparents extended family experience as they came over from Italy and started specialty markets and grocery stores.

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FamilyFoodie May 8, 2013 at 10:57 am

It is so true Shannon… one of the hardest things to do in the beginning…. and now look at us!

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Jamie (Mama.Mommy.Mom.) May 8, 2013 at 10:55 am

I love it :) I find it fascinating to hear the stories of how people ended up here and how their lives were during that time. I just had a conversation Monday with my son’s preschool teacher about how she ended up here from Costa Rica. So fascinating!

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Sunithi May 8, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Am so glad you hit that button :) ! We are all blessed by that action you took via our fabulous #SundaySupper club ! It’s true, I have met so many wonderful friends like you online via blogging and has opened up my life so much ! Being a first generation immigrant myself ( only been here 18 yrs) I really appreciate Micheal’s story. Wish him all the best in his business and so glad you connected with him. Here’s to many more blog posts & blog friends Isabel !!

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Kelly Wade May 8, 2013 at 2:24 pm

I love documentaries like these! And I think its great that you have gotten so far since publishing that first post. Congrats!

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Bea May 8, 2013 at 7:57 pm

I can relate to coming out from underneath that hat :) It has taken me a long time as well – kept my blogging self separate from my other self. Like everyone else, I am so glad you did and we connected.

The documentary film about Streit’s Matzo sounds fantastic! I am fascinated with the “human condition” and what makes people do what they do, sounds like a film that I will very much enjoy. AND, there is flavored every-day Matzo? Oh my, what have I been missing!

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Heather @girlichef May 8, 2013 at 8:35 pm

I love this sort of story…this sort of documentary. It’s things like this we enkoy watching as a fsmily. I’m looking forward to seeing the documentary (and fingers crossed I am able to go to the conference and meet Michael)!

I’m so happy you hit publish, Isabel.

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Heather @girlichef May 8, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Geez I hate all of the errors I leave while tuping on my tablet…sorry about that. Tuping! LOL! “typing”

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Nicole May 9, 2013 at 8:05 am

So grateful you hit publish on that first post. You have an amazing voice and wonderful Portuguese recipes I love.
I’m also looking forward meeting Michael Green at the food and wine conference this summer. I can tell he has a story to share and I can’t wait to hear it. I wish him the best on his kickstarter… what an amazing thing.

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Diana @GourmetDrizzles May 9, 2013 at 10:50 am

What a FANTASTIC trailer… can’t wait to see the documentary! This really spoke to me as it’s what food and cooking really are to me- passions, family, being brave, community, going the extra mile for quality, and having a lot of heart! I especially loved the part about the water… cracked me up! Thanks for sharing this, and your lovely blog and the Sunday Supper movement with us all!!!

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Laura Dembowski May 9, 2013 at 9:03 pm

I absolutely love Streit’s matzos! They are such high quality and it’s so great they’re a family company. I actually melt marshmallows on them for a treat!

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Gina Melton May 10, 2013 at 11:48 am

Great Post, Isabel. I’m so glad that we met at that first bloggers dinner- which, if my memory serves me, included something with matzo. Michael’s trailer looks fabulous. Thank you for sharing! I love a good family story. Looking forward to catching the documentary. GM

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Cindys Recipes and Writings June 27, 2013 at 12:28 pm

I’m glad you decided to start your blog! I’m all about buying from and using local and/or small family owned business products!

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