The Rabbi’s Daughter: A boutique butcher shop
For years, interior designer Nomi Feuerstein had her eye on a certain wallpaper made by British designer Louise Body. The print depicts pairs of water buffalo with mirror image reflections beneath, so that from a distance, the repeated pattern of the four-animal cluster takes on an abstract geometric effect. Finding the right placement for such a specific subject matter in a private residence was the tricky part.
Lucky for Feuerstein, however, her husband, Israel, happens to be a butcher. So when the couple decided to open up a new kosher meat store in West Los Angeles, she had a few ideas of how it should look.
Owners Nomi and Israel Feuerstein. Photo by Jessica Ritz
“The first thing was the wallpaper,” Israel Feuerstein recalled about how their plan for the Rabbi’s Daughter, “a boutique butcher shop,” as they describe it, started to take shape.
Nomi’s father is Rabbi Joel E. Rembaum, rabbi emeritus and former senior rabbi at Temple Beth Am; she initially balked when a friend suggested the potential name. Israel, on the other hand, immediately thought the moniker was perfect. Nomi finally relented, and the store, located on Westwood Boulevard just south of Olympic Boulevard, opened on Aug. 6 with a modern approach to old traditions.
The Rabbi’s Daughter offers a full suite of kosher chicken, turkey, beef, lamb and veal, with an emphasis on hormone- and antibiotic-free, organic and grass-fed products. It’s part of being “in keeping with the movements that have been happening in the non-Jewish world,” Nomi said. Sourcing locally is a challenge, however, because most kosher meats are imported from out of state. “That’s our dream, to have somebody do it in California,” she said.
Israel was born in the town of Mukacheve in the Carpathian Mountains in what is now Ukraine, but his family, which identifies as Hungarian, moved to Israel when he was 2 months old; he grew up in Hadera, north of Netanya. He was an officer in the Israeli army and holds a degree in computer science. Nomi, a Los Angeles native who grew up in the community around Temple Beth Am, is a graduate of Hamilton High School. She continues to work in the field of interior design. Her mother, Fredi Rembaum, is assistant vice president for institutional advancement at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. The couple has two small children.
Israel worked at the now-shuttered Doheny Meats, which closed under a cloud of scandal after the owner was discovered not following kosher law. Israel already had been considering opening a family business independently, so the series of events that closed down his employer’s operation proved to be the bittersweet catalyst. “We wanted to do our own thing,” Nomi explained. After all, Israel comes from a line of avid cooks, and his grandfather was a shochet (ritual slaughterer). “He knows meat,” she said of her husband.
After considering various locations, late last year Israel found side-by-side spaces that had been a salon and a box-and-shipping store. The couple joined the two into one storefront on Westwood Boulevard in a neighborhood that didn’t have immediate access to quality kosher butchery. Then the couple got to work on their respective areas of professional expertise.
“He gave me every cut he could think of, and [showed me] how to prepare it,” Nomi said. She found a company to create two hand-written blackboards showing a vertical list of meats, along with a corresponding horizontal grid to specify which types of preparation best suit each cut, whether it be in the skillet, on the grill, stir-fried, broiled, roasted, stewed or braised. Whole animal butchery is practiced to the greatest extent possible. Nomi also said cooking advice and questions are always welcome at the shop, because “we grew up in a community where you knew your butcher, and he knows you.”
The two boards are mounted on the rear wall in the main cutting area and set behind the counter, which is framed by a wall covered with the water buffalo wallpaper. Between the meat menus is a sign with the store’s logo made on a reclaimed wood background by a company Nomi found on Etsy, the online marketplace for independent sellers and small-scale makers.
To round out the distinctive look and feel, Nomi selected retro details such as mint green aluminum pendant lighting fixtures inspired by vintage jadeite glassware, along with white subway tile walls and poured concrete floors. The corridor from the rear parking lot is lined with graphic artist Marcelle Heimdal’s illustrations referencing traditional butcher cut diagrams. As a fun nod to their kids’ sensibilities and interests, Nomi included a dinosaur diagram image that she bought on Etsy.
In addition to an extensive roster of specific cuts, Israel also prepares convenient ready-to-cook proteins, from pre-pounded schnitzel to delicious slider-sized beef patties. Customers can buy fresh beef kabob skewers marinated in barbecue sauce, or Persian-style chicken koobideh to cook easily at home. Deli meats are always available. Freezer cases are stocked with grab-and-go cuts made in-house, as well as sausages and commercially produced kosher items. And because the Feuersteins base their inventory largely on what they like to have available in their own kitchen, there are enough dry kosher provisions on the shelves to fill any pantry.
Israel’s years of experience in butchery and customer service has made him well aware of the diverse kosher needs of the Diaspora, so he carries culturally and nationally specific foods, such as boerewors sausage and traditional kosher biltong jerky for South African customers who want a taste of home.
Plus, in a move that will excite former New Yorkers who return to L.A. with heavy bags full of dense babka and rugelach from Green’s bakery in Brooklyn, the appearance of these items at the Rabbi’s Daughter are cause for celebration.
Rabbi’s Daughter is certified by U.S. Kosher Supervision and supervised by Rabbi Yehuda Bukspan. The store is open six days a week and offers free delivery for orders over $70.
“We love to eat, and we love to host,” Israel said. So, for the Feuersteins, having a venue to showcase his butchery and culinary know-how, along with the values they care about, is ideal.
“We have kids, and we care about what we eat. It’s a family business. It’s a community,” Nomi added. “And it’s a place to put my wallpaper!”