Another Kosherfest has come and gone. Kosherfest is the industry trade show for the kosher food industry. I think this was my 20th show and to be perfectly honest, it was a disappointment.
Several key players did not attend, including one of my favorite producers of kosher sausage and cold cuts, Jack’s Gourmet. There was a much larger presence of business-to-business vendors, such as credit card processors, packaging and label makers, and point-of-sale software, which dramatically reduced the number of actual food vendors.
There were also a lot of booths sampling wine and spirits, but there were not enough food samples to provide my tummy with a cushion to absorb any. I left hungry and thirsty.
But it wasn’t all bad. I know that, as a local food columnist and owner of a very small business, I am not as valuable a visitor as a buyer from a major grocery chain. Still, I think it says something positive about a company if the owner is willing to spend a few minutes talking with me, even though I am not about to place an order for multiple pallets of product.
Take Yonathan Gershon, creator and owner of Neptune Spices. I first met Yoni 15 years ago, when he only had a small table in someone else’s booth. When Yoni’s family emigrated to Israel from India, he realized that the young Israelis, who travel to India after military service, bring home a taste for Indian flavors. Yoni developed a small collection of spice mixes and crunchy snacks, which he brought to Kosherfest, hoping to find a U.S. distributor. The original name of the product was Yoni’s Spices; the label featured a drawing of Yoni himself. He found a distributor, rebranded to Neptune Spices, and now produces dozens of delicious products including not only dry spices, but also marinades and sauces. This year he occupied a big, double booth at the show. As always, he greeted me with a big hug and eagerly showed me his new products. This is the kind of success story I love – a good guy with a great product builds a successful business and remains a good guy.
I met another good guy this year, Brent Delman, The Cheese Guy. He worked in food distribution for many years. When he became kosher, he quickly noticed a lack of good kosher cheese. He studied cheesemaking, then searched out small, artisanal and family owned farms who were making excellent cheese. He invested in Vermont, New York, and Ohio, installing his own kosher equipment on their premises and providing kosher enzymes. He essentially created a kosher cheese production facility within the existing facilities. Once the cheeses are made, he brings them to his own place in upstate New York for aging. He is producing some amazing cheeses, Orthodox Union certified, of a quality matching any other cheeses I’ve tasted. Although they aren’t currently available in Cincinnati, I spoke with Brent about finding a way to get them. Another reason why I can’t wait to get back to town.
I found three other great new products that are all available online. The folks at Get Pikl’ed produce a mouth-puckering pickle juice that has dubious health claims, but is a great cocktail mixer and marinade. My Dad z”l used to drink pickle juice out of the jar and claimed it was good for you, so he would love these guys.
Buzz Pop Cocktails developed a patented process to freeze alcohol which lets them make refreshing boozy push pops. The pops are frozen solid and slide up out of their containers on a stick without melting – what a great treat to serve – to the adults – at a summer barbeque.
Elly Miller started making kosher charcuterie in his own kitchen. It’s a classic story. When he served it to friends, they asked him to make more and before he knew it, he was in business. He recognized a popular trend in food and adapted it to be kosher, he says, without sacrificing quality and flavor. Unfortunately, his booth was too crowded to get close and his sample dishes were always empty. It was his first show; I’m sure he was overwhelmed. I will reach out to him soon, so I can report back to you about his charcuterie.
This week’s recipe has nothing to do with Kosherfest, but everything to do with today being Thanksgiving. Pot pie is a true comfort food and easy way to use up your leftover turkey.
Turkey (or Chicken) Pot Pie
This freezes well. When cool, wrap entire dish in plastic wrap, then foil. Defrost before baking. You can make one big pie or smaller individual portions if you have souffle cups.
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, sliced into ½ moons
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 pound mushrooms, quartered
4 tablespoons canola oil, divided
2 tablesppons flour
About 4 cups turkey, chopped or torn
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
½ pound frozen peas
2-3 hard-boiled eggs
1 frozen pie crust, defrosted
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. In large pot, sauté onion, carrots, celery, and mushrooms in 2 tablespoons canola oil, until onion is soft and translucent.
3. In the meantime, mix flour and remaining 2 tablespoons oil together in small bowl, whisking to remove lumps. Set aside.
4. When veggies are done, add turkey and broth to pot.
5. Stir flour mixture into broth, whisking to remove lumps. Simmer over medium heat, until the sauce begins to thicken.
6. Add peas; stir.
7. Pour turkey mixture into oven proof baking dish.
8. Top with sliced eggs and pie crust. Use a small knife or fork to poke a few holes in crust.
9. Bake for about 20 minutes to ½ hour, until crust is golden and sauce is bubbling up through the holes.