The Jew And The Carrot

Q&A: Heshy Fried of Frum Satire Talks Food

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share

Active members of the Jewish blogosphere know Heshy Fried as the author of Frum Satire, a widely read humorous ranting blog about what he views as hypocrisy and judgementalism in the Orthodox community.

Fried, 29, said he launched the blog in 2006 to write about “things that I found disgusting and funny at the same time.” He further explained, “I was taking stereotypes and blowing them out of proportion and really exaggerating and being incredibly sarcastic and cynical and satirical all at the same time, to try and bring forth some sort of change… I don’t know if I was thinking so altruistically at the time. I thought maybe I could just get some chicks from it.”

The blogger apparently doesn’t hide much from his readers, but he has been circumspect about his newfound profession in the culinary arts. In the last year, Fried has moved out to the San Francisco Bay Area and has been working as a mashgiach and cook at The Kitchen Table, the only kosher fine dining establishment in Northern California. He has decided that it is time to let his readers peak through the kitchen door, and he has chosen to share with the Jew and the Carrot the recipe to his newfound happiness and success as a cook.

Renee Ghert-Zand: You’re usually associated with the Orthodox community but you recently moved to the Bay Area, a region with relatively few Orthodox Jews. What is it like to live so far away from the fodder for your posts?

Heshy Fried: I moved to the Bay Area almost a year ago, in late December of ‘09. I lost my job in New York, and a fan of mine from the West said, “Hey, you’ve always wanted to live out here, why don’t you come out. There are some mashgiach positions available, they’ll put you up in Berkeley and you’ll see how you like it.” I have a tech background, so I thought I’d come out and look for work in Silicon Valley and meet people. That was the original plan.

So, how did you end up working as a cook at The Kitchen Table?

I got work as a mashgiach t’midi [kosher supervisor], where you’re doing cooking anyway. You’re a working mashgiach, so you’re not just sitting on your ass or washing vegetables all day. You’re like a prep cook. Which is like the bottom of the barrel in the kitchen, but you’re like a glorified prep cook. Then a few months ago they asked if I wanted to be a line cook, and I said, “Dude, this sounds good.”

Did you train to be a mashgiach?

There’s really no training when it comes to this. I have questions every day, and when I have questions I call up the Va’ad… Every guy who went to yeshiva did some hashgachah [kosher supervising] work at some point.

Why is cooking now interesting you, and where do you think this might be going?

I’ve always been interested in food – eating, that is. The preparation of food has always interested me, but I was never able to do it well. Then I went out with a woman who worked as a professional chef and I saw that you don’t need to take a whole day to cook a meal.

Up until now, I have never really enjoyed a job… it was never something I could see myself doing in five years. With cooking, this is the first time I can do that. I enjoy working so much that I volunteer to work on my off days. …

The dismal quality of kosher food and the high cost has been a pet peeve of mine. One of the fundamentals of forming a vibrant Jewish community is the food and having kosher food available that is accessible to everyone is really important. No doubt, I see myself in the industry. I don’t know – either as chef, sous chef or a restaurant owner – something fast paced.

Have you found that living in the Bay Area has increased your interest in food and cooking?

Northern California is like food culture. So people call you up on Erev Shabbos and say, “We’re having pasta with red sauce. That’s the wine you should bring.” So even prior to cooking, I was getting into wine and coffee and certain local produce and all the amazing farmers’ markets they have around here. It’s just one more way to express yourself.

I’m really into the local stuff here, the seasons, too. That is not important in New York. Especially in the Orthodox community in general, there are no seasons. In our restaurant people will ask for strawberries and we tell them they’re not in season, they can have yams. There’s definitely a disconnect in the Jewish community. There’s also a disconnect in the frum community about really good healthy food that’s made fresh.

Is food funny?

Food is funny. Standing in a restaurant and watching the reaction of people is funny in itself. The complaints are funny. They’ll eat the entire steak and then say it was overdone. They’ll leave over a t iny piece of a $40 steak and then complain… such weirdness.

Have you written about food?

I’ve written about food… I’ve painted myself as this guy: “I’m at Kiddush and damn everyone else, I’m going to get to the cholent. I’m going to mow people down to get it. Me and the old ladies are fighting over the cholent.” I wrote about food from a very immature perspective, not from a food perspective.

Every single place I’ve lived in I’ve written a restaurant review… In New York, I’ve done dozens.

Why has it taken so long for you to share your new cooking career with your readers?

I never appreciated the art of making food and the ingredients that are put into it. I want to write more about it, but unfortunately because I am a mashgiach and not everything I write about is agreeable… Some people might have questions about whether I can be a mashgiach and write skeptical things against the community. That might be an issue, but I believe that skepticism leads to strength, but most people don’t see the same thing.

I write about living in Northern California, but I haven’t written about what I am doing here. I’ve been throwing out hints here and there, but I figure this will come out and people will know. It has to come out eventually.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: The Kitchen Table, Heshy Fried, Frum Satire

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.