The legend precedes the sandwich. Neighborhood caterer Bertha Spiritas and her right-hand man, James Birdine, wanted to create a signature party sandwich. They toyed with cold cut combos, experimented with sauces. What resulted was the mother of all sandwiches: The Doozie. This staggering tower of kosher salami, corned beef, pastrami and turkey would soon become neighborhood lore, passed on only by word-of-mouth. “It’s really the secret sauce that makes these sandwiches so good,” Birdine says as he spreads a creamy orange dollop across a slice of bread. “People try to copy it, but they can’t — they don’t know all the ingredients.” In fact, when Spiritas passed away nearly 25 years ago, Birdine was the only living soul to know what’s in that secret sauce. He’s since shared the recipe with his son, Wesley, the man who helps him run the kitchen at the Jewish Community Center and the next in line to take over The Doozie legacy. Wesley may be adding a new twist to the neighborhood classic. “I think I’ll change the name to The Woozy, though, because that’s how you feel after eating one.” –MARLENA CHAVIRA-MEDFORD

To order The Doozie, call James Birdine at 214.558.7200. Each sandwich is $10, and each one feeds about two people. You must order at least five sandwiches, and you must call at least two days in advance. Orders can be picked up at the JCC kitchen or delivered.

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