June 13, 2011

Growing Ranks of Foodies Put New Pressure on Kosher Grocers

Brooklyn, NY … In a kosher world increasingly dominated by foodies, grocers are rapidly adapting to the demands for more ingredient items that are kosher. The recent surge in kosher cookbooks, as well as kosher recipe sites and blogs, represents a formidable challenge for supermarket proprietors in areas with large kosher observing populations. In the past, supermarkets could get by with stocking the basic ingredients that adorn spice racks or pantries with baking supplies in kosher kitchens around the globe. Not so today, with the rapid proliferation of gourmet cooking, recipes that tout perfection only if specific ingredients are used, and bloggers who judge kosher retail establishments by how they respond to these new needs of the kosher foodies.  Previously unheard of herbs and spices, along with formerly seldom used fruits and vegetables from the Far East and elsewhere are now de rigueur in many a recipe, creating a demand for the new and exotic at the local supermarket. 

Perusing the isles of a well-known upscale kosher supermarket in New York City reveals a wealth of non-traditional and trendy ingredients and products. Black garlic, acai berries, and Indian ajmud sit alongside longtime staples like soup mixes, soda, and celery. “We’ve learnt that it’s essential to keep up on the latest cooking trends in the kosher community,” remarked Jonathon B., a section manager. “People of all genders, ages, and backgrounds are coming in asking for spices, herbs, and other products that we never heard of before. After thinking nothing of it for a while, we finally realized that the new cookbooks were responsible. As kosher gourmet cooking continues to advance, we the retailers of kosher food products, must advance alongside and constantly reevaluate and update our offerings.”

How can one keep up with the latest and greatest in kosher cooking? “Reading the cookbooks as they come out and gain readership and popularity is essential,” Jonathon said. Further adding that “a well-known author is several times more likely to have a significant impact in customer requests than a newly published one.” Additionally, he noted that kosher cooking blogs, magazines, and even popular non- kosher resources like The Food Network and popular recipe sites are often harbingers of the newest trends in gourmet cooking. Kosher cooking diva Levana Kirschenbaum is certainly a happy camper these days, particularly as she recalls the days when there was a huge gulf between good ingredients required for good food and what kosher supermarkets carried.