Legendary Prague deli chef, Jan Paukert, dies at 91
On Thursday the Czech Republic lost one of its oldest culinary personalities, heir to the First-Republic delicatessen that bares his name: Jan Paukert. Credited with the “invention” of one of the staples of the traditional Czech menu, the chlebíček, a kind of open sandwich on one piece of bread, Mr Paukert’s family delicatessen was also a hub for high-society in the 1920s and ‘30s.
Today the main thing that Paukert’s Deli is known for is its “chlebíčky” – open sandwiches with a hotchpotch of meats and cheeses that Jan Paukert is often credited with creating and that have become the quintessential Czech snack.
Mr. Paukert’s parents started the family deli in 1916. He prepared to continue in the business when he came of age during WWII, working at famous hotels, like the Grand Hotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary. But after the communist coup d’etat in 1948 the family’s enterprise was nationalised and their home confiscated. While he worked as a labourer for the next forty years, his deli continued to bring its state owners a large patronage, who still called it by its well-established name, “U Paukerta”.
Jan Paukert died of a short but serious illness on Thursday at the age of 91. His memorial service will be held next week.