Tim Russert, TV’s Beef on ‘Weck

Tim Russert, TV's Beef on 'Weck
Photo: nickgraywfu

” Another Buffalo favorite, and certainly one of Dad’s, is beef on weck, which is like a roast beef sandwich, only better. …”  Timothy J. Russert, Big Russ and Me, page 90.

This Sunday morning will feel strange without Tim Russert. The NBC Washington Bureau Chief was best known as host and interrogator on Sunday’s Meet the Press, where he interviewed political greats with gusto and his questions could bite like horseradish.  Blame his Jesuit teachers at Canisius High School and John Carroll University for that. 

Tim Russert may have been in DC, but he was from Buffalo, and he let you know it. People who don’t know better are remembering Mr. Russert as “Meat and Potatoes,” but those who know Buffalo know he was really “Beef on ‘Weck.” 

Let us stipulate that you know who Tim Russert was. So what is Beef on ‘Weck? Think of a crusty kaiser roll, but one with coarse salt and caraway seeds sprinkled on top. Split it and pile on a generous heap of moist, rare roast beef slices. Splash some of the juice from the beef on it and add white horseradish to taste. Real horseradish.

Miller's Horseradish

Toss some Terrell’s potato chips on your plate and dig in. Wash it down with Genesee beer or Vernor’s ginger ale. Genesee is imported all the way from Rochester, so I feel it is perfectly acceptable to drink Labatt’s or Molson, since Fort Erie is only across the bridge, but that is a distinctly minority opinion. Masochists may drink Utica Club.

The name ‘weck is short for kimmelweck (kummelweck, kimmelwick) and there is an origin legend involving a German baker. Echter Kümmel is the German for caraway seed, and weck is said to be a southern German dialect word for roll. Put them all together and they spell “Buffalo,” which even has a talk radio station with the call letters WECK-AM.


You may have heard about the chicken wings at Frank and Teressa’s Anchor Bar,  but there is more to Buffalo’s cuisine than that, and “subtlety” is not the first word any of it brings to mind. This is straightforward food for straightforward people in a working city with long winters and cold winds off Lake Erie. It is substantial, tasty, and filling; it warms you in a chilling, hostile world.

You may be wondering when I’m going to write about Tim Russert. Look again. I just did.

 Tim Russert, TV's Beef On 'Weck


Top image by nickgraywfu. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit nickgraywfu.

Go to Casey’s Tavern‎ on goulash night. Casey served it to Ike.

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4 Responses to “Tim Russert, TV’s Beef on ‘Weck”

  1. PunditMom Says:

    Interesting Russert trivia. I’m still trying to get my head around the fact that he’s gone.

  2. Mike Licht Says:

    PuditMom: With all due respect, I think that Mr. Russert’s working class Buffalo origins were key to his worldview, the reason he persisted in pushing through the political flim-flam of our country’s politicians on Sunday mornings. His personal amiability allowed him to get away with this while we vilify other “impolite” TV hosts who attempt the same thing, with less success.

    I’ve used Buffalo’s central foodways to demonstrate some of Mr. Russert’s core values. Buffalo has reciprocated the loyalty of “Little Russ.” The city is in full mourning. See

  3. New Heights for David Gregory — Meet the Press « NotionsCapital Says:

    […] had to consider the past; they were choosing a successor to a beloved personality, the late Tim Russert.  But they also had to look to the future and consider one key question: Who could go head-to-head […]

  4. Adjust TV for MTP, say NBC and FCC « NotionsCapital Says:

    […] was somewhat nervous about naming David Gregory to replace the late Tim Russert, but interim host Tom Brokaw was fed up commuting between New York, DC, and his Montana ranching […]

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