One Man's dream of Jewish-Filipino Fusion Food
Larry Osman of Bridgewater, New Jersey has spent the past 30 years working for Nabisco Kraft Foods in information technology. Since his recent retirement, he has stowed away his distinguished computer science degree from Rutgers and embarked on his newest venture—Schlumpia.
"I had a wonderful and fulfilling career in IT. I worked for Nabisco Kraft Foods for 30 years, and I asked for an early retirement package because I wanted to do something different. That was a year and a half ago," said Osman.
Osman spent his time in college with a friend, who inspired him to create the Filipino-Jewish blended cuisine.
"My product is Filipino spring rolls, lumpia, but instead of traditional fillings, I fill them with Jewish inspired fillings—Schlumpia," he said.
Osman's fondness for Lumpia continued to grow.
"When I was in college, I had a Filipino friend, I'm Jewish. He would invite me to his house where he and his family always had these terrific parties with great food," said Osman. "Traditional lumpia is filled with things like ground pork and vegetables. I thought it was delicious, so my friend's mom gave me the recipe and I made it all of the time."
"After I was married, I started to fill them with all sorts of things, my kids would want mac and cheese inside their lumpia; and I began to add other items that you'd typically find in a Jewish deli, things like, pastrami reuben, brisket, and apple strudel."
Osman's dream of a Schlumpia-filled world, hasn't been all smooth sailing.
"I'm passionate about what I'm doing now because, this is the first Jewish Filipino fusion food—and it's fun, I enjoy what I do," said Osman. "I use organic [food] whenever I can. It's about the taste but it's also about fun. There's a lot of joking about it too."
He discovered quickly that there were many aspects of the food industry that he wasn't aware of. Things like, working with the health department to get certified, the cost of goods, where to source food from, spreadsheets, commercial kitchens, and insurance. "I didn't realize what's really involved," he said. "I thought it was: you just cook stuff and sell it." For example, Osman's method for preparing his from-scratch apple strudel includes pricey organic apples and rum soaked raisins.
I can't risk it not tasting good.
"For my apple strudel, I soak the raisins in rum," he said. "It's flavorful but costly and while I want to save money, I can't risk it not tasting good." "People told me to buy frozen apples, to save money, but there were preservatives and I thought no way, I'm going to buy the organic apples. It's more expensive, but it tastes much better," said Osman.
For those who are new to the food biz, Osman offers a few pieces of advice.
Take it slow:
"Right now I'm catering locally, preparing Schlumpia that are frozen. I haven't purchased a food truck or restaurant yet," he said.
"See how it goes so you don't lose money. My goal is to have fun and eventually, Schlumpia food trucks and pop up restaurants. I'd be open to partnering too. If it takes off that's cool - if not— I'm having a lot of fun," said Osman.