October 25, 2010

From Diplomacy to the Kitchen, the Kosher Baker Strives for Revolution

Secaucus, NJ…Kosher Today Features Editor…There is nothing in Paula Shoyer’s background that would suggest that she is rapidly becoming an a leading authority on kosher baking. Her book “The Kosher Baker” is a huge hit. It’s not every successful environmental lawyer who instead decides to devote her professional life to the art of kosher gourmet and sophisticated baking, but then again, Paula Shoyer isn’t average. Shoyer, a former diplomat in Geneva and legal advisor for a Jewish organization that dealt with the treatment of Israel at the United Nations, said, “After my daughter was born, the law job became less family-friendly, and I decided to go to pastry school for fun. I ended up starting a catering business when I saw the great response to people who tasted my pareve versions of French desserts.” Never one to do anything halfway, she had attended gourmet culinary school in Paris to perfect her craft. She began a catering business in Geneva and taught classes in French pastry, which she continued doing back in the United States. Fast-forward a few years later to Kosherfest 2010 where she was signing copies of “The Kosher Baker,” a new cookbook of all pareve baked desserts. Joan Nathan, cookbook author and New York Times food writer, who was also at Kosherfest, praised the book, saying it has “a huge array of recipes for every taste, occasion and dietary need. Bravo to Paula.”

Explaining the bad rap that strictly pareve desserts has suffered from, Shoyer says, “kosher cooks often entertain with meat-based meals and need pareve desserts to eat immediately following the meal, yet kosher bakeries and home bakers are largely making the same desserts they did 40 years ago. I am trying to make kosher baking more contemporary, and I hope to change the way kosher bakers bake, whether they are home cooks, pastry chefs in kosher restaurants and bakeries or kosher caterers.” The new book’s over 150 recipes range from easy, to medium difficulty, to difficult, categorized by the length of prep time involved with each recipe. Each dish is photographed beautifully, and vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free dietary needs catered to. Recipes include French macaroons, chocolate palmiers, and chocolate mousse truffle cake. Shoyer is no novice on the kosher cookbook scene, however – she served as the editor for Kosher by Design Entertains and Kosher by Design for Kids in the Kitchen, both by Susie Fishbein. Shoyer resides in Chevy Chase, Maryland.