“I don’t believe in prayer. I believe in acts.”
“Seinfeld’s” Soup Nazi has nothing on Vancouver, Canada’s Scandinavian deli La Charcuterie owner Salam Kahil. Actor Larry Thomas may have helped create an iconic television character in 1995—one he didn’t realize was based on a real New Yorker at the time—but the world doesn’t always want a villain. You can have specific rules in your shop, demand proper etiquette, swear like a sailor, and have no qualms for showing a bit of nudity alongside the sliced roast beef, but it’s all for naught if you aren’t humble enough to earn such behavior by your jovial attitude and charitable ways. Not only is The Sandwich Nazi all these things, he also might be willing to cater your next event.
Quite the character, Salam graciously takes director Lewis Bennett around his shop to show him the cum stains on his back room floor, a candle he once had lodged up his rectum during days as a male escort, and the myriad customers who come in to partake in his unfiltered conversation, deluxe sandwiches, or both. Some of the older folks admit he isn’t the easiest to take—and the documentary’s title shows the type of moniker his eccentric customer service earns—but none deny his effusive demeanor or impact on downtown Vancouver despite the penchant for ignorant folk to readily stereotype men like him as a terrorist due to his Arab Lebanese background.
Unafraid to mock his heritage, God, or Western civilization’s ego trip to push their agenda around the world while poverty runs rampant at home, Kahil marches to his own drum and has seen success in return. Chock full of stories to entertain the masses—and surely plenty of fodder to fill the feature length adaptation Bennett has in the works—about his ascendance from penniless immigrant to infamous businessman, watching him pass out 100-plus free meals to the homeless from his own pocket is what makes you truly appreciate his value to the community. You just have to forgive him for passing them out amidst sexual innuendoes.
Prepare yourself for cursing, an impulsive display of his penis, and a slew of oneliners that walk a tightrope of going too far until his joking smile completely disarm all malicious intent he may actually have. Salam Kahil is a human in all the term’s inherently unpredictable individuality that reaps the reward of hard work while still possessing the capacity for empathy, charity, and compassion. Sex-crazed and inappropriate each time he opens his mouth, however, his actions definitely speak louder than his words. And if you take the time to witness that heart, the rest finds itself becoming even more hilarious.
Watch it for yourself on Vimeo.