Motion Picture Club hosts filmmaker Erik Anjou


Henry Segal

Mr. Anjou visited the club via Zoom during lunch.

David Liu, Staff Writer

Kenny and Ziggy’s Deli holds a tender place in the hearts of many Kinkaidians and even people living thousands of miles away. 

Only 15 minutes away from school, the restaurant is the epitome of delicatessen and Houston cuisine.

“People go there for different reasons,” said senior Henry Segal, president of the Motion Picture Club. “Yesterday, there was a girl in my class saying how good the grilled cheese was. But I was asking my grandmother and she wouldn’t stop talking about the chicken soup.”

So too inspired by the restaurant’s food and culture, in 2015,  filmmaker Mr. Erik Anjou created “Deli-Man,” starring the likes of Larry King and Jerry Stiller, not only highlighting the restaurant’s food but also its owner, David “Ziggy” Gruber. 

The film received a theatrical release and was shown across about 50 theaters across America, a feat difficult for documentaries. 

The Motion Picture Club interviewed Mr. Anjou by Zoom as a part of its series of interviews with various filmmakers and television personalities. 

“We interviewed a lot of deli owner-operators, and they were all really cool and funny and informative, but Ziggy was a unique character,” Mr. Anjou said. “It’s because of his story; he was a unique character because of his success; and a unique character because of his age. Ziggy is known by all Jewish people in Houston that he will provide traditional dishes like knishes or matzo ball soup or things like that.”

According to Mr. Anjou, Ziggy’s journey through food was unique, and his relationship with his grandfather, who was one of the only members of his family to escape Hungary during the Holocaust, played an important role in his life.

“Deli-Man” also explores why and how delicatessens have gradually faded from their dominant position in the 1930s.

“There’s a statistic in the film that, in the 1930s, there were approximately 1,500 delis just in New York,”  Mr. Anjou said. “Now there’s under 80 across the entire country. So if the food is so popular and so good then why is it dying out? So the question in the movie is applied to food, but you can apply it to everything in your life. Why do some things last and why do some things don’t last?”

But at least for Kenny and Ziggy’s, because of their success, they aren’t going anywhere soon.

“But one of the things that makes successful restaurants more successful or successful teachers successful or successful food-makers successful is that you have to know your audience,” Anjou said. “Anyone could walk into that place off the street. If you want a great bagel with lox you can get a great bagel with lox. But also if you want a fancy-smanshy salad you can get that too.”

The Motion Picture club hosted a breakfast event with Gruber at Kenny and Ziggy’s Deli on the morning of Nov. 13. Students from across the Upper School attended the event.