Adam Kaufman Puts a Jewish Spin on a Snack Food Classic


When you think about Jewish-inspired cuisine, chances are that jerky is far from the first thing to come to mind. But Adam Kaufman, owner of Jewish Jerky Brand, is looking to change that.

Adam Kaufman (right) with his partner, Kate, selling Jewish Brand Jerky at a farmer’s market (Courtesy)

Kaufman founded the company and started making jerky when he and his partner moved from Los Angeles to Baltimore after the COVID-19 pandemic, and he has received considerable success and press coverage for his house-made beef and vegetable jerky influenced by classic Jewish flavors.

Kaufman, 65, lives in Canton with his partner, Kate, and is a member of Bolton Street Synagogue. They are a blended family. They are both widowers and have two children from her former marriage and one from his.

Growing up in Los Angeles, Kaufman stopped being especially observant in his Judaism following his bar mitzvah. Managing Jewish Jerky Brand, he said, has been helping him to reconnect with his religion later in life.

“Sometimes I say, ‘I was born a Jew, but what does that mean?’” he explained. “That’s a key part of this project, and it’s fulfilling for me because I get to delve into that aspect of my identity.”

Kaufman worked in marketing and advertising for most of his life, serving as chief marketing officer at companies focused on education and financial technology in the past. He had only been involved in the culinary world as a marketer, but a cross-country road trip changed everything.

“As we set out on our journey, particularly through Arizona and Texas, I kept seeing billboards for jerky. I had no idea that people loved jerky so much or that it was so prevalent, at least in the southwest and the heart of Texas,” Kaufman recalled. “We saw one billboard advertising jerky made from brisket. I turned to Kate and said ‘that’s so funny, that’s like Jewish jerky.’ We laughed and laughed, and as we went a little further down the road, I said, ‘It would be funny if I was a big jerk making Jewish jerky,’ and we laughed more.”

He later checked GoDaddy to see if anyone had purchased the domain, which he soon purchased for $9.95.

Then came the process of actually starting the business. Kaufman partnered with Roseda Black Angus Farm, a Monkton-based beef supplier, and taught himself to make jerky. He first started selling his creations at local farmers markets, but more recently, Jewish Jerky Brand jerky has started to be sold at local retail stores.

“Coming to Baltimore turned out to be kismet. It was a great place to launch this,” he said. “I think that starts with the attitude around here. Compared to some other cities I’ve been to, there’s a much more accessible and open and supportive kind of community here. So the people that I met in the food side of the world were like, ‘Hey, let us help you. Here’s what you need to learn.’”

Currently, he has created four flavors: two beef-based and two vegetarian. There’s Tzimmes Style, based on the traditional carrot-and-dried-fruit stew; Pastrami Style, inspired by Jewish deli food; Charoset Style, which uses ingredients from the Passover dish; and Merguez Style, which incorporates Moroccan-inspired spices.

Kaufman added that Baltimore’s Jewish community has been very supportive of his business ventures. Bolton Street Synagogue is the only congregation he has belonged to since he had his bar mitzvah, and being a part of it has helped him become more involved in the Jewish community and more in touch with his Jewish identity.

Currently, he’s also experimenting with adding a new flavor to his lineup based on the West African delicacy kilishi.

“There are a lot of Black Jews throughout Uganda and Nigeria, and I think that’s a good story for this product to tell. A lot of people don’t realize that there is a Jewish population there,” Kaufman noted.

Ultimately, Kaufman said that he is not trying to be a mogul in the culinary world, or even the jerky world.

“I’m not looking to get rich quick,” he said. “It would be great if Jewish Jerky Brand could be a viable brand for many, many years to come.”


Never miss a story.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Email Address



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here