New York…The 3rd annual Simply Manischewitz Cook-Off on February 13th was for the company more than a promotional event. Held at the Marriott Hotel in New York City’s Times Square, the event, say Manischewitz officials, is designed to demonstrate that its products, and kosher food in general, are high-quality, delicious and versatile. The company, famous for its Passover foods, is also seeking to position its products as quality food year round and to raise its profile even amongst non-Jewish clientele. Manischewitz recently redesigned its iconic logo to update its image and maintain relevancy with modern consumers.
To reflect its new strategic design, the six cook-off finalists at the event hailed from across the country and were split between Jews who keep strictly kosher, Jews who don’t keep kosher, and non-Jews. This range shows the diversity of today’s kosher market and introduces kosher to a wider audience. “Kosher these days is more of a seal of safety and quality,” said Paul Bensabat, Manischewitz President and CEO, and part owner. “In a world with so many recalls and scares it is important to have an extra pair of eyes and additional supervision for added safety and quality.” Despite the universal implication, David Rossi, Manischewitz’s Vice President of marketing, insists that the company is still primarily dedicated to maintaining the strictest level of kashrus for all of its products. Rossi, however, also views kosher as a cultural shade of America’s increasingly diverse palate, similar to Thai or Cuban food, which will continue to grow in this country. To share this message with the public, Manischewitz gathered an impressive array of media coverage for the cook-off. Due to heavy publicity efforts, the event attracted the New York Daily News, Jewish Press, Parade magazine, NY Metro, Heeb magazine, New York Jewish Week, the Forward, Big Apple, the Bergen Record, and even such far reaching outlets as the Intermountain Jewish News in Denver and US China Magazine. The judging panel consisted of representatives from Saveur magazine, Food & Wine magazine, epicurious.com, the Food Network, and last year’s cook-off winner. Rossi also hopes that the winning recipes will be featured in various newspapers and media outlets. The cook-off is the only national kosher contest in the country and it is one of the top national cooking competitions, with an unusually large grand prize of $25,000, including state-of-the-art GE Kitchen appliances and cash. Competitors often go on to the Food Network and to win other major cooking competitions.