Meet the Chef: Bruce Weiss' unlikely entry into cooking and the mentor who made it happen

Chef Bruce Weiss stands in the dining room inside River Street Deli.

Bruce Weiss is one of those people who can turn a simple sandwich into a work of art. Take, for instance, his Elena Ruz - nothing more than cream cheese, strawberry preserves and turkey on bread. But under Weiss' touch, it blossoms into one of the most-popular items on River Street Deli's menu.

Weiss never imagined himself owning a restaurant when the deli became one of the first eateries to open on the North Shore more than 20 years ago. The Bronx, New York, native got his degree in the visual arts and came to Chattanooga as creative director of a corporate turnaround team that had a contract with Signal Knitting Mills (now closed).

But he'd always liked cooking, he says, so he changed career paths, undertaking an apprenticeship under chef Neville Forsythe at Chef's Underground that lasted almost two years.