The Jew And The Carrot

'Kosher Queen' Wins Foodie Contest — With Pork

By Alix Wall

Courtesy of the Food Network

Just as Beethoven lost his hearing and could still make beautiful music, Tanya Solomon proved that she can cook a damn fine pork dish even though she can’t sample it.

That’s how the San Francisco resident and member of Adath Israel Congregation explained her triumph on “Guy’s Grocery Games,” winning $20,000 on the Food Network show.

The caterer and mother of two won without tasting a single bite of what she made.

Solomon has an unusual background for a kosher caterer. The Walnut Creek native — who was raised Catholic — worked as a nanny for an Orthodox Jewish family many years ago. After attending culinary school, she returned to the Bay Area, became a personal chef, and then a caterer. Since she was already familiar with kashrut, it wasn’t a leap for her to start a kosher catering business. And the longer she did that, well, the inevitable happened.

At Adath Israel — where her kitchen was — “I was looking at Shabbos and yom tovs, and suddenly felt, “I have a Jewish neshama [soul]. I’m Jewish, there’s no denying it,” she said.

She went through a Conservative conversion, and is in the process of obtaining an Orthodox one. She is living an observant life, having met her husband on frumster.com, a website that matches observant Jews.

Solomon was on the radar of casting agents because of her participation in a short-lived NBC cooking program. No doubt her 5-foot-10 height, purple hair peeking out from beneath her snood and oversized personality all helped.

Once notified that she would be on the show, Solomon consulted Rabbi Ben-Tzion Welton of the Vaad HaKashrus of Northern California, who told her besides not tasting the food, there were two other things she could not do: She was not allowed to cook meat with dairy or cook fish with meat. While kosher law dictates it’s permissible to eat fish at a meat meal, it is forbidden to cook them together. Strangely, it was permissible for her to cook traif.

Like “Chopped,” its better-known cousin, “Guy’s Grocery Games” starts with four contestants. The competitors have to run around a studio fashioned like a grocery store, pushing carts to collect their ingredients after they hear what the challenge is, with a total of 30 minutes to “shop” and cook their dish.

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Kosher Street Meat? Head to The Dog House

By Rachel X. Landes

Good news for New York Jews and tourists hankering for kosher street meat!

The Dog House, which set up shop on Governors Island last weekend, Grill on Wheels, Schnitzi, Taim Mobile Truck, Quick Stop, and the larger mobile kosher world in providing kosher fare for the hungry masses.

The Dog House is the second food truck affiliated with Great Performances, a NYC-based catering company.

Great Performances’ CEO and co-founder Liz Neumark, said, “The Dog House is the perfect next step in expanding our participation in the New York mobile food scene.”

The Dog House also offers two more hot dogs in addition to the kosher dog: the Sausage Dog, made with lamb merguez sausage topped with green garlic yogurt, pickled red cabbage and vegetable relish, and the Vegan Dog, which comes with kale pesto, pickled shallots and spiced sunflower seeds.

The New York Dog (the only kosher hotdog) is served with spiced tomato jam and thunder pickle relish, made at Great Performances’ organic farm in the Hudson Valley.

This year, and for the first time, Governors Island will offer food services seven days a week. The Dog House will be open on the weekend from 11-7 p.m.

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Let Them Eat Caviar!

By JTA

(JTA) — In a penthouse office with a view of the Eiffel Tower, Olivier Kassabi uses a ceramic spoon to extract a small scoop from a jar labeled as Russian caviar.

Placing a clutch of black globules on the base of his thumb, Kassabi licks it off, savoring every fishy drop of the salty liquid inside the dark beads as they pop in his mouth.

As recently as a few months ago, Russian caviar would have been strictly off-limits for an observant Jew like Kassabi. Sturgeon, the endangered fish species whose eggs are harvested to produce caviar, is not kosher.

That’s what led Kassabi to import and market a caviar substitute that he hopes satisfies not just the growing demand among observant Jews for affordable delicacies, but also the desire for sustainable foods with minimal environmental impact.

“In the age of mass media and globalization, Jewish communities are much more exposed to fine cuisine,” Kassabi said. “People see special dishes on food blogs and they want a taste.”

Kassabi is not the only businessman aiming to tap into what people in the food world see as a growing demand among observant Jews for gourmet foodstuffs that meet their dietary needs.

Last year, the Brooklyn-based Black Diamond Caviar started marketing a caviar substitute from a non-endangered kosher fish called bowfin that is caught in Louisiana. And in February, Le Rafael became the first kosher restaurant in France to earn two stars from the vaunted Michelin Guide.

“All over the world, average restaurant goers are becoming more demanding because of the popularization of the the culture of gourmet dining, and kashrut keepers are no exception to this trend,” said Guy Cohen, one of the owners of Le Rafael, which is testing Kassabi’s substitute caviar. “Clients have become very demanding and we are rising to the challenge.”

Kassabi’s caviar interest was piqued last year when he read that a company in Saint Petersburg called Tzar Caviar was developing a caviar substitute through a process known as molecular engineering in which a fish bouillon is made to resemble the contents of sturgeon eggs in taste and consistency. The liquid is then compressed into a membrane that looks like the soft shell of a fish egg.

The result is a kosher product that its producer claims more closely resembles real caviar than most other kosher fish roes on the market.

Overcoming Tzar Caviar’s fear of compromising the secrecy of its production methods took some time, Kassabi said. But within a few months he was able to arrange for kosher supervision from the chief rabbi of Saint Petersburg, Menachem-Mendel Pevzner.

Kassabi and his partner, Yohann Assayag, have sold hundreds of jars of Tzar Caviar since they began marketing the product earlier this year. The demand is especially strong in France, where the ostentatious nature of Jewish weddings and other festivities is so renowned it is the stuff of parody, most famously in the character of Coco, an overzealous Frenchman (portrayed by the Jewish comedian Gad Almaleh) determined to give his son the best bar mitzvah the world has ever seen.

The partners have also sold Tzar Caviar to Jewish delis in New York and expect to begin shipping to Israel in the coming months.

“This stuff is flying off the shelf, thank God,” Kassabi said.

Meanwhile, French media were interested in Tzar Caviar not for its kashrut but because of its relative affordability. Tzar Caviar is 15 percent cheaper than real caviar, selling for just under $41 per 50 grams. It also has a longer shelf life and is produced without exploiting any endangered species. Traditional caviar production has rendered some sturgeon species near extinction, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Assayag was surprised when “Tele Matin,” a leading French daytime television program, didn’t bring up the kosher issue at all in an interview, asking only about the production process and pricing.

Tzar Caviar hit the market just months after Raymond Mizrahi began marketing his own kosher caviar substitute in New York. Mizrahi shares the notion that observant Jews are demanding more because of exposure to new culinary pleasures, but believes that most kosher substitutes have come up short.

“Kosher caviar substitutes are nothing new. You’ve always had salmon roe,” said Mizrahi, the owner of Black Diamond Caviar. “But it tends to behave like a plastic bubble and certainly not like the finer black kinds. And you have other kosher black caviar, too, but they are of poorer quality.”

High-end black caviar or its substitute, Mizrahi said, “will not leave a black streak on a white plate.”

Mizrahi couldn’t vouch for Tzar Caviar’s taste, but Kassabi claims the product is nearly identical.

“I don’t know what real caviar tastes like,” Kassabi said, “but experts who do said it’s nearly indistinguishable from Tzar Caviar.”

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'Epic' Kosher Catering for the Epicurean in You

By Leah Koenig

Isaac Bernstein prepares dishes at a recent Epic Bites event. / Courtesy of Epic Bites

On a recent Friday afternoon, when I normally would be working or cooking for Sabbath dinner guests, I found myself in my friends Naf and Anna Hanau’s Brooklyn living room, tucking into a plate of pigeon confit drizzled with a port-balsamic glaze. Moments prior, I had sampled snapper with dehydrated olives and a blood-orange vinaigrette, and eaten one too many deep-fried smoked turkey balls that came served, in a gloriously Hanukkah-friendly fashion, with sweet quince butter.

The man behind this unlikely pre-weekend feast was Isaac Bernstein, founder and chef of the Oakland, California-based kosher catering company Epic Bites. He was visiting New York for a week to prepare a series of pop-up dinners, and Naf and Anna (who run Grow & Behold, a kosher sustainable meat company that supplies some of Epic Bites’ meat) offered to host a “leftovers lunch,” where he would cook with whatever ingredients remained after the week of events. Luckily for me and the other guests, Bernstein’s idea of leftovers included candied kumquats and steak tartare.

For the past two years, Bernstein, 30 — who sports dark plastic-framed glasses and is as comfortable wearing an Iron Maiden T-shirt as he is chef whites — has worked to redefine the standards for kosher cooking and food service. The professionally trained chef, who graduated from the French Culinary Institute, in New York, pushes creative boundaries, working with local farms to source hard-to-find herbs, like lovage, oyster leaf and cilantro flowers, and fermenting many of his own vinegars, including a fruity-smelling nasturtium blossom vinegar he bottled recently.

His clients, primarily nonkosher Jews who are organizing a dinner or event that includes kosher guests, are game to follow his culinary lead — mostly. “You cannot give everyone fried chicken skin on day one,” he said. “But they appreciate that we respect the ingredients, and that if they order something like bagels and lox, we are going to cure the salmon ourselves and add aromatics to make it special.”

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Crumbs, Kosher Cupcake Chain, Folds for Good

By Mimi Dwyer

Getty Images

(Reuters) — Cupcakes still lined the counter of an empty and unlit Crumbs Bake Shop on 42nd Street in New York City on Tuesday afternoon, the day after the largest U.S. cupcake retailer announced it was closing.

Crumbs, which specializes in oversized cupcakes and went public in 2011, shuttered its nearly 50 locations in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

Gina Mackey and Raquel Baquero of Queens stopped by the store after they heard the news that it would be closing.

“I don’t do too much cupcake stuff because I don’t find them to be very moist. But this was a moist cupcake and I did enjoy it, so it’s a shame it went out of business,” said Mackey. “Had I known it was going to go out of business, I would have come and gotten my last Crumbs cupcake.”

“And I would have gotten my first,” said Baquero, her daughter.

“When my friend posted the story they were closing, I was like, ‘Well, I just blew it,’” Baquero said. “I just walked by to confirm that they were really closed.”

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Injured Fan Says Stadium Hot Dog Toss Not Kosher

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) — This lawsuit may cut the mustard.

A longtime baseball fan has persuaded the Missouri Supreme Court to revive his negligence lawsuit against the Kansas City Royals over a detached retina he claimed to suffer when a hot dog tossed by the baseball team’s mascot struck him in the face.

The court said the trial judge erred by letting jurors consider whether being struck by a hot dog was one of the inherent risks of attending a baseball game. It said this was a question of law that the judge should have decided.

John Coomer said he was struck during a hot dog launch, a regular feature of Royals games in which the mascot Sluggerrr either threw or used an air gun to shoot hot dogs to fans from the roof of the visiting team’s dugout.

Coomer claimed to have seen 175 Royals games before the Sept. 8, 2009, incident at Kauffman Stadium. He had moved near the dugout to get a better seat after rain thinned the crowd.

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Don't Eat That

By Alyssa Kapnik

Alyssa Kapnik

There’s a restaurant in Denver, where I grew up, that attracts masses of people, mostly Jews, and serves pages and pages of Jewish food – latkes and matzah balls and bagels with capers, cream cheese, lox and red onion.

They also serve bacon. And sausage. And ham. Meat from a most essentially non-kosher animal.

So what is it that makes it a Jewish restaurant? And why do the Jews flock there?

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Is This Site the Kosher Seamless?

By Michael Kaplan

Brace yourself: you can now browse kosher restaurants and order food right to your doorstep at the click of a few buttons.

It might sound a bit like Grubhub or Seamless, but founder Morris Sued says his startup, which carries only kosher restaurants, “Is like going to a non-kosher supermarket versus a kosher supermarket. You can be sure everything we offer is kosher, and we even specify the types of kosher.”

The startup, called getkosher.com, claims to make ordering kosher food as easy and convenient as possible. “You just sit tight at your home or office and have the food come to you,” the website reads.

The service allows customers to browse partner restaurants in select areas of New York and New Jersey and place orders at the normal menu prices. After a successful few months, the company has just launched partnerships with about 20 restaurants in Midtown Manhattan.

On top of earning commission from restaurant sales, GetKosher also has drivers that deliver on behalf of a number of Brooklyn restaurants without their own delivery services, and generally charge about a $5 additional fee. Their FAQ page says that deliveries outside the normal range are possible, but could include a $75 minimum.

Sued, 22, launched the business about a year ago, but he said it’s only really taken off in recent months. Now GetKosher touts more than 100 partner restaurants and over 2,000 customers and is growing fast, he said.

The idea came about as Sued and his father were picking up kosher shawarma in Brooklyn and felt that in the age of the Internet, all the hassle that goes into picking up a food order could be avoided.

The website logs user information so that customers don’t need to fill out credit card details each time they place an order. Customers can also make orders by phone.

For now, the startup is limited to areas of New York and New Jersey with substantial Jewish populations. But Sued has his sight set on expanding beyond the East Coast, and even beyond the United States. “We’re providing a service to the Jewish community… how amazing would it be to serve everyone, no matter where they are [in the world]?”

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Battle for Kosher Lower East Side Ends — Sadly

By Michael Kaminer

After a prickly debate that nearly became a referendum on the Lower East Side’s Jewish character, a non-kosher diner will fill the space that once housed Noah’s Ark Deli, the neighborhood’s last full-service kosher restaurant.

The owner of Comfort Diner, an 18-year-old Midtown restaurant, was awarded the lease for the space next to the Seward Park Co-op last night.

Holy Schnitzel, a Long Island-based kosher chain, had been the presumed frontrunner for the space but lost out on the space in a 7 to 4 vote. The team behind the chain had launched a campaign that included enlisting heavy-hitters like New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to plead their case. A petition for a kosher restaurant in the spot also garnered over 1,000 signatures.

Frank Durant, the Seward Park Co-op’s general manager, did not return calls or emails for comment. But he told the LoDown that “the board anguished over this decision, and we really did try our best.”

Ira Freehof who runs the diner, told the Forward he only learned about the vacant space last week — a family friend who lives near the building had tipped him off — and had not been aware of the tempest facing the Seward Park Co-Op, which owns the space. “I didn’t realize how contentious it was,” Freehof said.

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Bacon-Flavored Ritz Crackers — Kosher!

By Adam Soclof

(JTA) — Ritz has a new bacon-flavored cracker hitting shelves.

But unlike most things bacon-related, this Nabisco product bears a kosher symbol.

“There was much discussion over the decision about this product,” said Rabbi Moshe Elefant, COO of the Orthodox Union Kashrut Department.

The box for the new Ritz cracker has the signature O.U.-Dairy certification symbol.

“The reality is there’s nothing close to bacon in this product,” Elefant said. “There are artificial bacon flavorings that give the ‘bacon flavor.’”

“Nobody’s going to think this is actual bacon,” he added, noting the packaging, which has the words “Artificially Flavored” in large type right below the word “Bacon.”

At least one reviewer, however, says the cracker tastes like the real thing.

“These actually taste too much like bacon,” commented Rina Raphael, style editor for NBC’s “Today” show, who sampled the Ritz crackers before they hit shelves.

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Don't Worry, Ben's Deli Is Staying Kosher

By Michael Kaminer

Keep calm: Ben’s Kosher Deli is not going treyf.

The owners of the iconic eatery on W. 38th Street in Manhattan’s Garment District were overwhelmed with panicked calls this week after Crain’s New York Business reported Ben’s is “pondering the unthinkable” and might “break with tradition to reduce costs” as it expands beyond the New York metro area.

“It’s a headache,” a person who answered the phone at Ben’s Manhattan business office told the Forward. ”People are calling to see if we’re giving up our kosher certification, which we have no intention of doing.”

With a mix of bemusement and frustration, Ben’s founder Ronnie Dragoon told the Forward that Crain’s reporter Lisa Fickenscher had actually asked him what he would do if kosher fabricators and processors went out of business.

“My response was that if they are no kosher fabricators or processors, I’d have no alternative but to look elsewhere,” Dragoon said. “But she took the intention away from the answer.”

Confusing readers more, the Crain’s piece noted that a chef who’d come in to audition for a spot at Dragoon’s new Westchester location —  slated to open in August — had presented a tasting menu that included a bacon-and-cheese dish.

“The chef had made up a menu for us, so there was a list of ten ingredients, including bacon and cheddar. But he never made that dish,” Dragoon said. “The way it was written, it sounded like he brought the food in, prepared it, and had us taste it. Even if he wanted something non-kosher, he couldn’t purchase it for our kitchen. All of our purchasing is done through the business office. We have ingredient and food-item lockdown.”

The chef, Scott Rabedeau, got hired anyway. He’ll be designing a menu for the 5,200-square-foot Scarsdale Ben’s that includes “dishes from yesteryear, Ashkenazi standards, and Mediterranean dishes - past, present, and future.” Rabedeau’s an alumnus of Maggiano’s, the New Jersey Italian chainlet “started by a Jew,” Dragoon laughed.

Scarsdale will become the first of three planned locations to open by 2015, including Washington, DC, and Boston. Ben’s, Crain’s reported, is on “solid footing” after a challenging few years that saw locations close in 2006; the chain now generates more than $25 million annually.

“One location in a city works very well,” Dragoon said. “It’s appreciated, you have a wider audience, and you’re a niche business with little competition for that dollar. That’s why my location in Boca Raton is very successful. On Long Island, I have three units that cannibalize each other. One each in DC or Boston will do well.”

Dragoon even told the Forward he thinks a kosher restaurant could thrive in a neighborhood like the Lower East Side, where a mini-controversy erupted over the storefront that once housed Noah’s Ark Deli, the area’s last full-service kosher restaurant. Neighbors started a petition urging the building’s co-op to seek another kosher tenant; dissidents said kosher’s time was over downtown.

“That neighborhood may not have the local population to support it, but it’s a very mobile population in Manhattan,” he said. “It’s possible people would flock to it if it’s the right kind of operation.”

Kosher eateries everywhere are facing tough times, though, Dragoon said. “Occupancy costs like rent and taxes have outstripped demand for kosher restaurants,” he explained. “Because so many fabricators are closing, food prices go up, too. The high costs across the board make it tough.”

Ben’s, however, is here to stay, Dragoon said. He also had a message for Forward readers, and anyone else listening: “Ben’s is staying kosher for as long as there are kosher fabricators or processors.”

Photo credit: Facebook/Ben’s Kosher Deli

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The Battle for .Kosher in Cyberspace

By Michael Kaplan

For months, top kosher certifiers have been battling over control of the word “kosher” in cyberspace. Now, the Internet’s organizing body — ICANN or the Internet Corporations for Assigned Names and Numbers for the uninitiated — has ruled that OK Kosher will own the rights to administer all dot-kosher web addresses.

Some of the Chabad-affiliated certifier’s top competitors, including the popular Orthodox Union aren’t happy about it, arguing that the move could lead to an unfair competitive advantage.

“We believe that kosher should not be owned by anyone,” Rabbi Moshe Elefant from the OU said. “It’s not like we’re trying to take this for ourselves. We believe kosher belongs to everyone, its not something that should be owned by only one entity.”

ICANN representatives have countered that by noting that the dot-kosher domain will be available to other kosher certification companies as well.

Rabbi Don Yoel Levy, CEO of OK Kosher, told the Jewish Week that the move was meant to keep dot-kosher out of the hands of business people.

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The Battle for .Kosher in Cyberspace

By Michael Kaplan

For months, top kosher certifiers have been battling over control of the word “kosher” in cyberspace. Now, the Internet’s organizing body — ICANN or the Internet Corporations for Assigned Names and Numbers for the uninitiated — has ruled that OK Kosher will own the rights to administer all dot-kosher web addresses.

Some of the Chabad-affiliated certifier’s top competitors, including the popular Orthodox Union aren’t happy about it, arguing that the move could lead to an unfair competitive advantage.

“We believe that kosher should not be owned by anyone,” Rabbi Moshe Elefant from the OU said. “It’s not like we’re trying to take this for ourselves. We believe kosher belongs to everyone, its not something that should be owned by only one entity.”

ICANN representatives have countered that by noting that the dot-kosher domain will be available to other kosher certification companies as well.

Rabbi Don Yoel Levy, CEO of OK Kosher, told the Jewish Week that the move was meant to keep dot-kosher out of the hands of business people.

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Orthodox Push for Kosher Army Meals

By JTA

Agudath Israel of America asked the Pentagon to restore kosher field meals.

The Orthodox umbrella group on Monday said that the Defense Logistics Agency had solicited a bid in April for kosher and halal “meals ready to eat,” but had recast the solicitation last month to include only halal, which adhere to Muslim religious precepts.

“As things stand now, no kosher MREs are being produced and, as previous stock has become depleted, there is essentially nothing currently available for Jewish members of the Armed Forces that meet their religious dietary needs,” Abba Cohen, Agudah’s Washington director, said in a release. “How long this state of affairs will continue is unknown.”

Cohen said he wrote Maj. Gen. Donald Rutherford, the top military chaplain, expressing his “deep concern” but also confidence “that the department will find a way to address the dietary needs of Jewish service personnel” given that the Pentagon is showing “greater interest in broadening religious accommodation” in the military.

The Pentagon announced last month that U.S. troops may accommodate religious beliefs in their garb or grooming, including kippahs and beards for Jewish servicemen, as long as it does not frustrate their mission.

Cohen told JTA that Rutherford and his staff already are looking into the matter and contacting the relevant agencies.

The U.S. military introduced kosher MREs in 1999, a result of complaints from Jewish troops during the 1991 Gulf War that such meals were not available.

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$6 For a Knish? Welcome to the Super Bowl

By Anna Goldenberg

If you have tickets for the Super Bowl at the MetLife Stadium this Sunday, and you’re planning to munch on some kosher snacks while watching the battle between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos, you’d better bring some extra cash: This stuff’s not cheap.

As the Forward reported, this year’s event is likely to be the most kosher Super Bowl ever. A significant number of the ticket holders for the 82,000 seats are expected to be Jewish; the stadium features a praying area — and a solid selection of kosher food.

But it comes at a hefty price: The kosher caterers charge $13 for a turkey or chicken wrap, $13 for chicken wings and $11 for a hot dog with chips (Hebrew National, of course). And don’t forget to tip! If you want to save money, we recommend a knish: The dough snacks go for $6 per piece.

After shelling out $1,000 (at the very least) for a ticket, $13 for a wrap might actually seem a bargain. If not, you could always bring your own food.

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Kosher Grub for the Super Bowl

By Lucy Cohen Blatter

Whether you love the game or just watch for the commercials, this Sunday is really all about the food. If you’re hoping to host a kosher fiesta party, down more wings than you ever thought imaginable, order a sub as tall as a football player or even have some veggie friendly fare, we have you covered with spots around the country.

What are you eating on game day? Tell us in the comments!

New York

Courtesy of La Brochette

La Brochette
This new, upscale midtown kosher steakhouse and sushi bar is hosting its first-ever kosher Super Bowl party (we know, sushi and football, it’s an odd combo but just go with it). Game day specials include a selection of brochettes or skewered meats including beef, kafta, veal and lamb and a prime-meat sampler with a lamb chop, filet mignon, short rib and center-cut rib eye. The game will be broadcast on 55-inch flat-screen TVs around the restaurant, and a special selection of HE’BREW kosher beer will be brought in for the occasion.

RSVPs are recommended, though not required. Brochettes are $22 per serving; buy three, get one free. The prime-meat sampler is $75. 340 Lexington Ave at 39th Street, New York, NY, 212-972-2200

Gotham Burger Gotham Burger’s Manhattan location is holding an All You Can Eat and Drink Super Bowl Buffet with unlimited beer on tap for just 80 people (so make your reservations stat). Cost: $85 in advance, $100 at the door. If you’d rather munch on your snacks at home, both locations are offering take-away packages complete with game day favorites like sliders, chili, heroes and wings.

*The deadline to place orders is January 29. 726 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY, 212-335-0005; 1383 Queen Anne Rd, Teaneck, New Jersey, 201-530-7400,

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Mark Bittman's 'Kosher Before Six'

By Uriel Heilman

getty images

(JTA) — Mark Bittman is not a religious man by any stretch of the imagination, least of all his own.

A longtime food writer for The New York Times who three years ago shifted from cooking to food policy columnist, Bittman has made a living eating the kinds of things frowned upon by Jewish tradition.

As he told me recently, “Pork cooked in milk is an amazing dish.”

Though he was born and raised a Jew – going to synagogue, religious school and Reform youth groups at Manhattan’s East End Temple – Bittman says he pretty much has had nothing to do with Judaism since he graduated from high school in 1967.

But read his columns on food sustainability and the book he published last April, “VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health… for Good,” and you might see some religious echoes in Bittman’s food philosophy.

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Quinoa Ruled Kosher for Passover

By Hody Nemes

Rabbi Shoshan Ghoori meets with South American farmers during quinoa fact-finding mission

Jews around the world can breathe a sigh of relief: Quinoa is kosher for Passover.

The Orthodox Union (OU), the world’s largest kosher certification agency, announced last week that it would begin certifying the popular food for use during the festival of freedom.

Quinoa’s status on Passover has been a source of debate in observant Jewish communities. The plant is not among the five grains – wheat, spelt, oats, barley, and rye – prohibited on Passover by Jewish law. In fact, quinoa is not a grain at all, but a member of the goosefoot family related to spinach and beets.

The OU’s competitor Star-K certified the food as kosher for Passover in 2007. But the OU refused to give its own stamp of approval to quinoa out of fear that the plant is a kind of kitniyot, a group of grains and legumes which could be confused with the five forbidden grains. Ashkenazi Jews of European origin have refrained from eating kitniyot on Passover for centuries, though Sephardic Jews (hailing from the Middle East and the Mediterranean) have no similar prohibition.

With beans, rice, corn, and peanuts forbidden as kitniyot, many Ashkenazi Jews eagerly embraced quinoa as a protein-rich substitute in their Passover cooking.

The OU’s refusal to endorse quinoa’s Passover use until now caused confusion over the plant’s status – and even a backlash. A tongue-in-cheek “Quinoa Defense League” formed on Facebook in March, with the goal of preserving quinoa’s kosher-for-Passover status.

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Israel Approves Female Kosher Supervisors

By Michael Kaplan

In a landmark decision earlier this month, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate agreed to allow women to take the necessary steps to becoming certified kosher supervisors.

The decision comes after a lawsuit filed with the High Court of Justice by Emunah, an organization which offers an array of services including vocational schools and a women’s college.

The petition argued that their program, which passed 16 women last year, conformed to the national requirements, and demanded an explanation for why the women had been refused certification.

Course graduate Avivat Rabi was a co-petitioner in the suit.

Kosher supervisors are responsible for overseeing food production facilities, including kosher kitchens in places like restaurants and factories.

Though Jewish Law is typically thought to allow women to serve as mashgiachot, some have argued that it violates general principles of modesty. In 2010, the Chief Rabbinate began requiring that kosher supervisors undergo at least four years of yashiva training, making it unfeasible for women to fulfill the requirements.

Though rare even before the 2010 decision, there are a small band of women – hired prior to the new guidelines – who have been working as mashgiachot for years.

In the United States where certification laws are considerably more relaxed, the field has seen an upshot of women in recent years. In 2009 the Orthodox Union began offering women kashrus seminars according to The Jewish Week.

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Life, Death, and Kosher Slaughter

By Sarah Kornhauser

Alyssa Kapnick

Yadidya Greenberg is a certified shochet (kosher slaughterer), animal welfare educator and blogger. He has given live kosher slaughter and animal welfare presentations at The Portland Meat Collective, Urban Adamah of Berkley and the Hazon Rocky Mountain Food Festival just to name a few. Yadidya will also be featured in the upcoming documentary “Farm and Red Moon”. He has been an active member of the Colorado Hazon community and is slowly making headways onto the national stage. After making this video he teamed up with Director of Hazon Denver, Sarah Kornhauser, to write up this short interview which gives a bit more information on the video, Yadidya, and his message.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Shechita, Kosher Slaughter, Kosher, animals




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