Knishery NYC: A Modern Twist on an Ancient Street Food

A selection of knishes from Knishery NYC; the one on the right is chocolate hazelnut cheese.

Knishes arrived on the streets of the Lower East Side from Poland more than a century ago, and flourished as a popular, cheap street food made with ingredients easily available to peasants. This fall, Noah Wildman wants to bring them them back to the streets, this time in 21st-century Manhattan, with a new audience.

“It’s time for the knish to get a modern update,” says Wildman, a Lower East Side resident who will debut several varieties of his version of dough-and-filling at the Hester Street Fair at the end of this month.

Wildman, 40, a stay-home dad with a 2-year-old and another child arriving in early November, has a habit of turning hobbies into careers. A love of music led to a job running an independent music label early in his adult life; these days, bicycling and cooking are his favorite pasttimes.

“I’m too old and too fat to be professional bicyclist, so I was like, whoa, I guess I have to cook now,” jests Wildman, who grew up in Staten Island and moved to the Hillman Housing Co-op in 1999. After graduating from the Institute for Culinary Education, he landed a job running Ignazio’s Pizza in DUMBO for a few years, but when his children came along, he wanted a career that would let him be more flexible. The NYC pizza scene seemed overcrowded to him, and he looked for something new and interesting to fulfill his passion.

Attending a lecture by knish-lover and historian Laura Silver planted the seed for his new business, Knishery NYC.