March 28, 2011

Upscale Home Cooking Soars

New York…Shirley, a South Florida resident, uses her Facebook page to locate some of the ingredients she now uses to prepare a dish she read in Binah, one of a number of magazines that target the 34-year old mother of four. A new era of upscale kosher cooking seems to have taken hold from coast-to-coast, sending sales of kosher cookbooks by such authors as Susie Fishbein, Jamie Geller, Joan Nathan, Gil Marks, and Jeffrey Nathan to new heights. Although there is a definite uptick of interest during holiday time, the real news is that ordinary housewives are preparing not so ordinary dishes “even on a school night,” as Shirley puts it. She and other foodies have now added healthy eating and new and different recipes to the education they impart on their children. Shirley talks about teaching her 7-year old that presentation is as important as a good recipe. In the early ‘90’s, it was all about convenience meals and the discovery that the microwave oven could be a woman’s best friend. Today, while convenience has not totally disappeared, it has most definitely taken a back seat to great new recipes.


The new home cooking generation has prompted Mishpacha, a weekly magazine targeting Orthodox Jews, to launch its Kosher Inspire magazine and newcomer Ami, will soon launch a Joy of Kosher Cooking magazine. Kosher grocers have been put on notice that the kosher foodie revolution is upon us. Upscale independents make sure to carry some of the ingredients promoted by the kosher cookbook authors. The change is a reflection of the rapid growth of a younger age of kosher consumer, who covets the shopping experience, not the routine shopping. Some of the upscale independents know first-hand that while Sadie is still shopping the store, women like Shirley really keep them on their toes. Said one retailer: “I can walk you through the store and show you how the shelf has changed in every category in the last 5 years alone.” We stopped at the mustard and there it was, no less than 7 different flavors, some now part of dressings in major cookbooks. “When I was growing up,” he said, “mustard was mustard and it most often made its appearance with sauerkraut on a hotdog.”