How does a Jewish boy from a very small Orthodox community in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, find himself in the bacon business at a farmers market in the suburbs of Washington, DC?
Chaim Silverberg, the founder and creator of Lamb B-a-a-a-con (pronounced like the sound a sheep makes), grew up in a kosher house, but because there were limited kosher dining options in the area, if his family wanted to hold big party, it was usually catered in-house—sometimes by his mother and sometimes by a non-kosher caterer who had to cook in a kosher kitchen. Growing up watching other chefs cook led Silverberg and, as he refers to him, his “hipster brother, Hillel” to learn about different foods.
After Silverberg went to a series of yeshivas for high school, he got even more exposure to a variety of regional cuisines. Eventually he moved to Israel and found that he loved exploring small restaurants and cafes, where he would befriend the owners who would then give him space to experiment with his own food creations.
After marrying and moving to Baltimore, Silverberg began teaching special education, but his desire to start a food business was always in the back of his mind.
Working at a friend’s local deli, he created a signature sandwich, which became a hit. Shortly thereafter, another friend, Chaim Davids, who is a sous chef at the kosher Tierra Sur restaurant at the Herzog winery in California, came to visit and brought some with him some house-cured “lamb bacon.” Silverberg was hooked and started making it at home with local lamb smoked over applewood. It caught on with friends and family, and Silverberg decided that kosher bacon would be his first product. He moved the bacon operation into the deli restaurant’s kitchen, bringing Hillel from Minneapolis to help open Lamb B-a-a-a-con.
They launched Lamb B-a-a-a-con at farmers markets, which tend to attract people interested in fresh, locally sourced, specialty foods. The brothers have found a great niche not only in the kosher market, but also among lamb lovers or people who stay away from pork products for other reasons. Now two years later, Silverberg has left his teaching job to pursue his dream of creating a kosher bacon/BBQ company/charcuterie company. He views his products not as “kosher food that is excellent,” but rather “excellent food that happens to be kosher.”
With their business growing rapidly, Chaim and Hillel are looking to build a USDA-certified kitchen where they can craft small-batch, cured and smoked meats of all types. In keeping with the idea of farm-fresh and local, they use only the highest-quality, local, pasture-raised meats. Once their kitchen is built, they will expand their offerings to include hot foods and catering for small groups as well.
One of Silverberg’s dreams is to open a small kitchen where local chefs from non-kosher restaurants can come and learn how to cook for the kosher consumer, a growing “foodie market”—a kosher laboratory of sorts. After tackling kosher bacon, it seems like the sky is the limit.
Lamb B-a-a-a-con products can be found at Bethesda Central Farm Markets, 7600 Arlington Road, Bethesda, MD, open Sundays from 9 am to 1:30 pm. For more information contact Chaim Silverberg at [email protected].