Well I haven’t gotten my own showyet, but I did emcee the cooking competition at Kosherfest 2014. Someone wanted to give me a microphone for an hour, thinking I could talk non-stop and host. Imagine that??
I am finally recovered from this month’s trip to the annual kosher food bloggers conference in Manhattan and to Secaucus, New Jersey for the annual Kosherfestfood show at the Meadowlands Convention Center. I did a book signing one day and then emceed the cooking competition the second day. The bloggers conference, held at Chabad NYU featured as speakers my fabulous publicist Trina Kaye and George Geary, the most prolific and charming person in the food world.
The annual cooking competition at Kosherfest is organized by the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts (CKCA) in Brooklyn. I had the opportunity to judge the competition two years ago and that was fun, but hosting was even more of a hoot.
Three chefs competed:
Chef Katsuji Tanabe, the chef and owner of Mexikosher, the first and only authentic kosher Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles. I’m planning to go there in December. Chef Tanabe has won Food Network’s Chopped andis currently a contestant onTop Chef Boston.
Chef Itta Werdiger-Roth is the chef and a partner atMason & Mug in Brooklyn, NY. Mason & Mug is a beer and wine bar restaurant focused on farm to table small plates, craft beers and affordable wine.
Chef David Blum is the Executive Chef at Hartman’s Fine Kosher Foods Toronto, Canada. Before that he spent five years working in some of Israel's top restaurants.
The secret ingredients this year included rack of lamb, lemongrass, Israeli couscous and rainbow chard. I told Jesse Blonder, director of CKCA, that he needs to include weirder ingredients next year and shake things up. Any ideas?
All of the dishes looked great and judges Naomi Nachman, Jack Silberstein and Philippe Kamearle, had a hard time deciding the winner. Shout out to Naomi for letting me grab bites off her plate. Chef Tanabe took home the top prize after he topped his seared lamb with pickled chard, which really set his dish apart. His line of the day was: “pickle everything.” Words to live by.
At the competition I met the charming Chef Eitan Bernath. Eitan may onlybe 12 years old, but hehas already competed on Chopped. You heard it here: he is the future of kosher food.
As I did not have my own booth this year, I was free to roam the halls and check out new products. That doesn’t mean that I always found food I wanted to eat. There were piles of deli and stuffed pastries that are just too processed for my taste. Yet, on the whole, it seems that general food trends are starting to appear in the kosher world faster than ever.
The “Best New Product” this year was Deebee’s Organic Tea Pops – ice pops flavored with black tea, rooibos, and mint teas. They are tasty and not too sweet and come in mango, toasted coconut and southern ice tea, just to name a few.
The best packaged baked good I tasted was Manischewitz’s Carrot Cake Macaroons and the Kosherfest judges agreed, giving it the Best New Kosher for Passover Product. They really taste like carrot cake and you could dip them in my cream cheese frosting to kick them up another level (make dairy on Passover when you can’t get soy cream cheese).Manischewitz also debuted a gluten-free matzoh ball mix and gluten-free chocolate brownie mix, both great new additions to the Passover pantry.
Another award winner was Blends by Orly,a gift to the gluten-free community.
Rather than one gluten-free flour blend to bake with, Orly offers five different blends to use depending on what you are baking. Her line includes the Manhattan Blend for challah and the Paris blend for cakes and cupcakes. I just received samples and cannot wait to start experimenting with them.
Hot sauces were prolific at Kosherfest, including the Burning Bush brand, which claims to “set[s] the soul afire.” They have a great logo. Mikee’s Sirrachanaise, sirracha mayonnaise, sent me running to fetch bread or water.
I was pretty excited to find pasta cooked with yummy black truffle paste and white truffle oil. These products come from La Rusticella Truffles and the kosher world is so grateful.
My friend, Jack Silberstein, the genius behind Facon and his delicious line of Jack’s Gourmet Sausages, featured his latest Beef Merguez sausage. It was little too spicy for me, but has great flavor. Jack was also one of the judges at the cooking competition.
Empire’s new products included chicken sausage and honey-marinated BBQ chicken thighs that you cook or grill yourself.
If you have ever been to Machane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, then you will know about Marzipan rugelach – where people shove each other to buy the best chocolate rugelach in Jerusalem. This year they were at Kosherfest and are planning to sell in the United States. I tasted the cinnamon ones for the first time (why eat cinnamon if there is chocolate around??) and they were tasty too.
At the book signing were several new books plus my not-so-new-but still-fabulous Holiday Kosher Baker.
New from Artscroll is Secret Restaurant Recipes by Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek. It includes recipes from the best kosher restaurants in the world. I finally got to meet Lynn Kirsch Shapiro and see her book, FOOD, FAMILY AND TRADITION: Hungarian Kosher Family Recipes and Remembrances. My copy was waiting for me when I got home. Long time author and kosher expert Ronnie Fein was signing The Modern Kosher Kitchen.I will be reviewing all these books before Chanukah.
My New York kosher trip ended with dinner with my daughter at Amsterdam Burger in NYC where after eating tidbits of food, I got to sink my teeth into a lamb burger, BBQ teriyaki wings and fries. When I told owner Marty Katz that I was a pastry chef and knew his friends, he sent over the Australian Sticky Date and Caramel Loaf. It was gooey and sweet and reminded me of my sticky toffee pudding recipe.
Finally I was full.
On the train ride home I was thrilled to find a Shay’s Chocolate espresso caramel at the bottom of my handbag. Unwilling to share with my kids, I popped it in my mouth and enjoyed the buttery, coffee flavor. Shays is from Baltimore and their caramels come in interesting flavors such as lemon. Wish I had had more for the ride.
See you next year at the ‘fest.