North/ClybournOld Town-Wicker Park

The NOSH Gives Chicago a Gourmet Food Market with a Twist

By Cody Schiele and Ariana Rakhshani

Posted: Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013

About a year ago, Alan Kannof decided to leave the entertainment business for the food industry.

He packed up his New York life and headed to Chicago. When he arrived, he realized that no one was executing any gourmet food markets. In New York, there were numerous outdoor food markets that featured young restaurateurs.

With no competition, Kannof took to the challenge.

“I moved here from New York to do this,” Kannof said. “There are a number of groups that do similar kinds of things in New York.”

While roaming the streets of Chicago, Kannof noticed the fast-growing food community that he could work with. By dining at various places and trying out different catering companies, he created The NOSH.

According to Merriam-Webster, the word “nosh” comes from the Yiddish term nashn, which comes from the Middle High German word naschen, to eat on the sly. Today, nosh means a serving of food.

The NOSH offers more than a serving of food by featuring a vast array of gourmet foods. Kannof made sure that no two vendors would be serving the same food, thus making each vendor bring something unique and different to attract customers.

“One of the things were really proud of is the quality of the food and the variety of the food,” Kannof said. “We’re curating the market so that there’s not a lot of duplication. Nobody is selling the same thing.”

The food ranges from sushi to waffle sandwiches to tamales. One stand was hidden in the back with a blue tent. Although this stand was the furthest away, it was the only stand selling a tuna sushi roll. The man behind this roll was Rick Spiros. A three-year chef and business owner of Bento Box, he was asked to join The NOSH. He felt that this decision would impact his business in a positive way—building a stronger clientele by selling some of his most popular dishes at The NOSH.

His small restaurant has seen repeated NOSH customers at the store’s location as well. Because of his success at The NOSH in Wicker Park, he has committed to spend his Sunday afternoons at the indoor winter location for the first seven weeks, offering more of Bento Box’s popular dishes and further hoping to expand his customer base.

Nearby Spiros’ stand was something a little less eco-friendly than a canopy. It was something that ran on wheels and had a full kitchen installed inside—it was Carbon’s Golden Malted food truck. This food truck was fully equipped to cook waffle fries, waffle breakfast sandwiches and more waffle-related dishes that sent an enticing aroma through the air. This food truck was a popular hit at The NOSH with a line that continued to grow as the day went on.

In addition to their eye-grabbing menu and colored truck, there is a history behind the company that dates back 75 years. It began with a big mob family—the Carboni family. When they migrated to America—specifically Chicago—they dropped the “I” and became the Carbon family.

“Carbon’s the last name—actually, it was Carboni and they came over and they dropped the ‘I’ because they were a big mob family… So Fred Carbon started the company with a griddle and making this Belgian-style waffle,” said Corporate Chef Travis Hamel.

Since 1937, they have been making Belgian-style waffles and dominating the market. Carbon’s Golden Malted has about 90% of the world’s market and is in about 20 different countries. Not only do they make waffles, but they also created the necessary griddle to make a Belgian-style waffle and sell those as well.

“We make the machines that you use for the waffles, as well as the mix. We’re mostly known for, if you’ve ever been to a hotel and you go downstairs and you get your continental breakfast and you’re making a waffle, that’s most likely our machine,” said Hamel.

From waffles to vegan sauces, The NOSH has many food options to appeal to your taste buds. Feed Your Head owner Tiffany Wilson has been selling her vegan cheese sauces and vegan meats through her website for the last three years. Feed Your Head all began with Wilson’s grandma’s ketchup recipe.

“I grew up on a farm, so everything got canned every year,” Wilson said. “So I grew up around a large canner, but when she got too old to can, she passed it on to me, and her ketchup recipe. And that’s where it all started.”

Wilson’s following is not just limited to Chicagoans. She ships throughout the United States, but she noticed that many of her online customers are actually from Brooklyn.

“I have vegans in Brooklyn who want my corned beef,” Wilson said. “It’s crazy! I don’t know how they found out about me but all of a sudden it’s like, I got a Brooklyn following.”

For local Chicagoans, Wilson’s Feed Your Head items can be purchased at The Growling Rabbit, The Atlantic Bar and Grill and Plenty Grocery and Deli.

Plenty Grocery and Deli was also one of The NOSH’s vendors. Located in Wicker Park, this neighborhood grocery store supports local farmers. Plenty Grocery and Deli also supports a clean-eating lifestyle by catering to health-conscious residents.

Next to Plenty Grocery and Deli’s healthy, hot chili was Día de Los Tamales. Owner Jeni Wahl was dishing up chocolate and peanut butter tamales for a salty, sweet and unique treat, in addition to traditional chicken tamales.

View the slideshow on a larger player.

 Interactive map: Home locations of various vendors of The NOSH.

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