Manischewitz, a leading name in kosher foods since 1888, has announced that it’s become the first major kosher brand to receive non-GMO certification.
This certification, which the company received for 12 of its products, comes from the Non-GMO Project, created in 2008 by a group of food retailers who wanted their customers to know exactly what they were eating. Products with the “Non-GMO Project Verified” seal have been through a rigorous verification process, so consumers can be sure that these foods contain the least amount of genetically modified organisms possible.
Aviva Kanoff with her cookbook, “Gluten Free Around the World.” Photographs courtesy of Aviva Kanoff.
Aboard the Balclutha, a historical ship docked near the San Francisco Maritime Museum, an incongruous assortment of Bay Area denizens from Chabad, the art world and elsewhere came together last month to celebrate the publication of “Gluten Free Around the World,” a new kosher cookbook by Aviva Kanoff.
Best known as the author of “The No-Potato Passover,” Kanoff is a photographer, world traveler and chef.
As guests toured the ship, a DJ pumped lounge beats while the ship gently swayed on the rolling waves of the bay. Guests sipped on tequila and vodka cocktails while sampling kosher recipes such as Spanish quinoa with sausages and coconut chicken with plum dipping sauce — both from her book. They viewed large-scale photographs by local artist Krescent Carasso as well as smaller ones by Kanoff from her travels.
Others listened attentively below deck as a ranger described the storied history of the ship, beginning in 1886, including its multiple careers as a merchant marine vessel.
Among the guests: a woman with a backless top showing Asian characters tattooed down her spine, Chabad rabbis, the owner of Humphry Slocombe ice cream, a Czech man who is studying for conversion to Judaism.
In her brief comments, Kanoff thanked her own rabbi — Chabad of Noe Valley’s Gedalia Potash — for helping create a new community to celebrate her book, since she had just moved here from New York in June, knowing all of two people. She also thanked her Uber driver.
Photograph by Konstantin Nikiforov/Wikimedia Commons
I slaughter my own chickens.
For the past several years, I have seen many animals die. I have experienced a range of feelings, from total cold focus to sadness and even fear. But I recently experienced a slaughter that transformed the way I see meat.
I trained in kosher slaughter four years ago, after seeing a slaughter myself. I realized I wanted to be able to produce my own meat — I saw making local kosher meat accessible as an essential way to create a healthy Jewish community, healthy food systems and a healthy local economy.
At the Hazon Food Conference in December, I helped with a demonstration led by fellow shochet (slaughterer) and food activist Yadidya Greenberg, and I performed the actual slaughter.
“With a name like Angus Johnson, you can probably guess I wasn’t born Jewish,” Berkshires farmer Angus Johnson said, beginning his story.
He was, however, born into a long line of farmers. For five generations, the family farm was diversified between livestock, vegetables, orchard fruits and bush fruit, all raised and grown sustainably. For the last 16 years, Johnson has supported research on safe and sustainable farm practices and represented 13 states in helping farmers convert to grass-based agriculture through his involvement in the Northeast Pasture Consortium.
As most farming practices stand today, animals are fed a grain-based diet, whereas grass-based agriculture has been shown to be more beneficial to human health. Johnson will go into detail on why this matters later.
Over the years, Johnson had been no stranger to Judaism; however, when he met, fell in love with, and married his Jewish wife, Dr. Allison Bell, his interest and study of Judaism deepened, as did his questions about Kashrut. He made an Orthodox conversion in Teaneck, New Jersey, in June 2009 and began to focus on kosher agriculture.
While his wife sparked his interest in Judaism, it became clear within five minutes of speaking with him that Johnson is Jewish because he truly wants to be.
Japan’s only certified kosher restaurant is set to open to the public next month.
The new restaurant began operations several weeks ago, Rabbi Mendy Sudakevich, Chabad’s emissary to Japan, told JTA on Friday. However, the restaurant, which is called as Chana’s Place, is currently only open by appointment.
“Initially, the restaurant will seat 14 in its small dining area but has another hall with 48 seats that may be used for larger groups or if the clientele grows,” said Sudakevich, who has been living in Japan since 2000.
In addition to the city’s Jewish population of a few hundred people from Israel, North America and France, the new restaurant, which is located at the Beit Chabad in the Takanawa neighborhood in central Tokyo, is designed to cater to non-Jewish locals and tourists from Israel, who last year numbered 13,000 and are arriving in growing numbers.
It was certainly one of the stranger Jewish conversations I have had. (Mind you, I have had many.) There I was in Oxford after a hearty Sabbath lunch, walking in the beauty of Christ Church Meadow, chatting with a new friend about food. At a moment, he turned to me and said, “You said you’re South African, right?”
“Sort of,” I responded. “Why?”
And then he explained to me a great British Jewish saga. Marmite — that constant, ever-British (and delicious) condiment — was not kosher-certified by the British rabbinical authorities, despite its “suitability for a kosher diet.” That is, as manufactured in Britain! However, the South African version is certified, and until recently, was readily available at South African and Jewish shops across the United Kingdom. But then the British manufacturer decided to enforce its brand monopoly — and the South African — and kosher — Marmite was gone!
Lo and behold: the first “boldly kosher” hot sauce is here. Photographs courtesy of Burning Bush
Neil Wernick’s inspiration to create Burning Bush Kosher Hot Sauce was derived from more than just a desire to spice up his food. Before he became a food entrepreneur, Wernick worked as a brand builder and engineer, whose Jewish background and love of Israel prompted him to register for the Hazon Israel Ride. On the trail, he came in contact with a variety of ancient herbs and spices, and his passion was ignited.
Back in his own garden, he began growing the herbs and vegetables that he used to create the original recipe for Burning Bush. “My business partner and I felt there was a real need for a kosher hot sauce,” Wernick told me. “There are so many hot sauces on the market, but none that prioritized kashrut. Kosher is even in the official name of our product.”
Inside Kosherfest 2014. Photograph by Liza Schoenfein
The first food that jumped out at me yesterday when I walked into the vast Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey, for Kosherfest 2014 was the gluten-free granola. The latest offering from Foodman’s Original Matzolah, the cranberry-and-orange flavored product is wheat- and nut-free. Its prominent placement (Matzolah is distributed by Streit’s, whose matzo is a key ingredient) heralded what seemed to me to be the trend of the show: foods that not only follow the laws of kashrut but also specifically address other dietary restrictions, whether they involve gluten intolerance, veganism, or avoidance of dairy.
Among the gluten-free highlights at Kosherfest — the largest business-to-business trade show for the kosher industry — were new matzo ball mixes from Streit’s and the Manischewitcz Company, which also offered a gluten-free brownie mix.
A new way to detect whether food contains pork traces will soon be available online
JTA - Worried that the food you thought was kosher, or at least kosher style, has some hidden pork?
Now, using a few test tubes, water and a small pregnancy test-like strip, you can find out in a few minutes whether your food contains pork traces.
HalalTest, a new product developed by two French entrepreneurs, does just this and already has sold 10,000 kits in France, according to Ynet. The kit is being marketed to France’s Muslim community but reportedly will be available online soon.
It’s a sad day for kosher pastry and cake lovers: after nearly a century of operations, the Entenmann’s factory on Long Island is shutting its doors.
“I’m going to miss going to work,” Joseph Fiorento, 76, of Bay Shore, told Newsday. Fiorentino started working at the factory in 1954 and was laid off in August when the factory closed. In 2004, to recognize 40 years of service, the Entenmann’s family gave him an engraved watch with his name to celebrate.
William Entenmann opened his first bakery in 1898 on Rogers Ave. in Flatbush, Brooklyn. His son moved the family operations to a bakery on Main Street in Bay shore in 1924.
Entenmann’s revolutionized the way baked goods were packed. In 1959, William Entenmann’s grandsons and his daughter developed a transparent box to display their goods — the idea was that people would be more likely to buy the product if they could inspect the quality themselves.
In 1961, the Entenmann’s opened their factory on the Bay Shore’s Fifth Ave, which employed 1,500 workers at its height in the 1990s. The company’s baked goods were certified kosher in the 1980s.
“Entenmann’s hired generations of local families,” Susanne Ankner, 56, said to Newsday. “Most people would say they were all grateful to have that job because it was a good-paying job and people were well provided for.”
On August 13, the Bay Shore factory stopped production.
“The bakery was closed because it can no longer effectively compete in the market,” said David Marguiles, spokesman for Bimbo Bakeries USA, which bought Entenmann’s in 2009. Rising taxes, fuel prices, and electricity costs in Long Island forced the closure.
But don’t fret too much — your local grocery stores will most likely still stock Entenmann’s kosher goodies, most likely from the 75 other manufacturing facilities nationwide.
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.
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.
(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.”
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.”
(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.”
(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.
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?
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]?”
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.
(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.