There is nothing quite like breaking bread with fellow food lovers, especially given the tough year we've all just been through—which is exactly why chef Erez Blanks founded his Brooklyn-based delivery service, Parchment, back in January.
Bringing Middle Eastern cuisine into the homes of New Yorkers, Parchment offers two base boxes filled with either challah or kubanah, a Yemeni pull-apart bread. Each order also includes a slew of salatim (dips, salads and side). Think of the picnic-like boxes as compact spreads of mostly Israeli food that look and taste delicious while challenging the Western notion of what a meal should consist of.
"There's something comforting, soothing and nice about having a large spread of food in front of you," says 33-year-old Blanks, who moved to New York from Israel almost three years ago. "The one thing I miss about eating back home is sharing [food] and having a little bit of everything in front of you. [In Israel], a protein isn't necessarily at the center of a meal. Having bread and a bunch of salads is how I grew up."
The idea for Parchment was born in the middle of the pandemic, as Blanks and his now soon-to-be-wife would invite friends and family to their backyard to enjoy the sorts of spreads that the service now emulates. "We started giving boxes away to friends and family and everyone loved them so we decided to start selling them," he recalls.
New Yorkers can order both the challah box (buttermilk and honey sourdough challah, hummus, garden vegetable matbucha, Iraqi mixed pickles, tershi, tehini and almond cookies) and the kubanah one (scallion and nigella sourdough kubanah, crushed tomatoes and tatbilla, baked beans with egg, tehini with spicy tomatoes, sumac vegetable salad, tehini and almond cookies) for $39 each on the company's website. Although planning on eventually expanding, Blanks currently only delivers to Brooklyn and Manhattan, south of 20th Street. A pickup option at 999 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn is also available. The business owner mentions selling between 50 and 60 boxes weekly, on average.
In addition to the two base offerings, customers are also treated to sporadic specialty boxes. "We had one for Valentine's Day, another for Passover and are planning on doing one for the Fourth of July," says Blanks.
A professional chef in Israel, Blanks is no stranger to the kitchen. Upon arriving to the States, he worked at Le Coucou, Shoo Shoo and Lamalo before setting up his own business, which he finds to be the ideal summer-in-New-York food project. "We encourage people to pick up a box, take it to the park and just have a wonderful time," he says.
As for the inspiration behind the name Parchment, Blanks mentions initially cooking his food in parchment paper when getting his business off the ground. "It was basically origami-folded parchment paper and we also wanted to serve a lot of the salads in it," he recalls. "That didn't really pan out once we scaled but we still liked the name because it invokes something that is simple, humble and old worldly." After tasting his fare, you'll want to add "stupefyingly delicious" to that description.