The Carnegie Deli's massive sandwiches are rightfully lauded for their daunting size—the fact that the sandwich maker there, Ernesto Ramirez, can "shave off a pound of meat with a deli slicer, lay it atop a piece of rye, place the other slice of bread on top and cut it in half with a 12-inch deli knife" is all the more impressive as a result. Because that is a skill your average Joe most certainly does not have, as one reporter learned recently.
The speed with which Ramirez can whip out a sandwich comes from Daily News reporter Rich Schapiro, who got permission to work a day at the legendary deli and came back with some fun facts for the Carnegie curious. Want to work there? Get in line, most of the staff has been working for owner Sandy Levine for a decade or more. And though Levine may be imperious, the staff seems to have a soft spot for him—cook Johnny Hernandez, for instance, has a tattoo on his left forearm that reads, "Sandy, my boss, is crazy." And if you do work there, you better have a good memory: the restaurant still relies on calling out orders rather than, y'know, writing them down (let alone putting them in a computer).
But really, the revelation for Schapiro seems to have been just how hard it can be to produce those foot-tall mountains of meat. While Ramirez can make one in seconds, it took the News writer much longer, and his results were far less elegant: "Pastrami pieces flew into the corned beef station. My sandwiches toppled like buildings in an earthquake." Sigh, we would love to see the mess that would be made by toppling over, say, a Rosanna Scotto.