Jake Schneider’s path in life was derailed by Shabbat. In college, he majored in economics and planned to be a businessman, but after he started cooking Friday Sabbath dinner for his campus Hillel organization, he realized his place was in the kitchen. On breaks, he returned to Chicago and knocked on restaurant doors, offering to work for free. The first chef to give him a shot was Francis Brennan, who put him on garnish prep at Lettuce Entertain You’s late, great fine-dining experiment L20.
“I didn’t know what I was doing, but they didn’t kick me out,” he says. “And that turned into my first kitchen job after college. It was a very intense environment.” After five months, he did get transferred to relatively less demanding pasta prep in the basement at RPM Italian, and then moved on to stints at Perennial Virant, Wood, and Daisies, where he built up experience in pickling, charcuterie, and working with midwestern terroir. Still, a lack of formal training kept him from moving up on the line. Just as he was about to give up, he took a job in recipe development for a meal kit start-up, and that’s where he’s been for the last four years.
Early last summer he decided to get back on track. “I’m not a super religious person, but Judaism has always been a part of my life. And being a professional food person, the food part of Judaism has always been a backbone for me. It’s just something I can’t get away from.”
That’s when he launched his side hustle, Schneider Provisions, a pop-up “old-world delicatessen, with a modern purpose.” At first it was online sales of pickled half sours, asparagus, and mushrooms; and vacuum-sealed corned beef and lox by the pound. Then came catering gigs, corned beef burger grill kits, and Yom Kippur breakfast platters.
And now comes Monday Night Foodball, when Schneider takes over the line at the Kedzie Inn for the Reader’s weekly chef pop-up. On October 17, Schneider’s bringing in a belly-busting menu of towering hot sandwiches on North Shore Kosher Bakery bread—traditional corned beef and mustard, turkey on rye—and some of those modern curveballs, like his grandmother Eunie’s brisket dunked in Italian beef jus, with Russian dressing and giard; and marinated eggplant and latkes stacked on a challah bun. He’s bringing that corned beef burger too.
There’s also a pickle plate, and latkes with cherry applesauce. As I mop the dribble from my keyboard, the turkey noodle soup is already simmering.
At the bar, Jon Pokorny’s building whiskey sours with Manischewitz floats, but I promise nobody will give you the side-eye if you ask him to spike Schneider’s Dr. Brown’s black cherry soda ice cream float with your spirit of choice.
Preorder now, via email: firstname.lastname@example.org; or DM via his Instagram. Or just pull on comfy pants and strut into 4100 N. Kedzie, and order on the spot, starting at 5 PM this Monday, October 17.
Meantime, feast your orbs on the full Monday Night Foodball schedule. Yes, that is Schneider Provisions returning on the first night of Hanukkah with Zeitlin’s Delicatessen.