New York…The kosher community has been blessed in recent years with a rapidly growing cottage kosher food industry that can range from home-baked cakes and challah to full catered meals. The Ezra family will be hosting 20 people this coming Sukkot with the food being prepared by a local home-based chef who will prepare all the food in the home chef’s kitchen. While the chef is certainly knowledgeable about kosher, his kitchen is not kosher certified although the chef “rabbis have visited my kitchen and were extremely satisfied with the standards of kashrut.” He is especially busy during Passover when he uses a specially designated Passover kitchen in his home. According to David Crabill, the founder of forrager.com, an online community of cottage food businesses, New York State experienced the biggest influx of people interested in making food from home. From 2019 to 2020, there was an approximate 50% increase in the number of cottage food businesses across the state. But while many of these businesses advertise themselves as kosher, they do not have kosher certification from a reputable agency or rabbi. The Association of Kashrus Organizations (AKO) and individual kashrus agencies warn that these cottage food businesses require kosher certification regardless of the degree of religious observance of the owners. Not all foods commercially prepared in homes are covered by New York State laws, and home-produced food sold in New York State needs to be shelf stable and non-perishable.
One rabbi told Kosher Today “it is extremely worrisome that people who observe the strictest standards of kashrus simply rely on the word of an owner or even a chef of a cottage food business.”