Shabbat Dinner Faces the Future With Panache

Nine-Course Dinner Pushes the Boundaries of Jewish Food

Devra Ferst

By Devra Ferst

Published October 17, 2012, issue of October 26, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

A deli board of five different bite-sized dishes prepared by Wise Sons arrives, including a selection of nearly forgotten classics like p’tcha, a pickled calf’s hoof reinterpreted as a colorful tri-layered terrine; an incredibly rich and earthy helzel, which is chicken gizzard, heart and liver stuffed into fried chicken neck, and kishke, served as a schmaltz and matzo meal dumpling topped with a spicy green onion. The plate’s creative presentation thrusts the food into the center of conversation as everyone tries to match up hints of Old World flavors with modern ingredients and presentation.

Midmeal, I sneak down to the kitchen, where chefs from various restaurants are working together around a large metal table on one side of the kitchen, assembling bowls of deep mahogany beef broth with light but rich bone marrow infused matzo balls and fall greens.

Devra Ferst

The chefs who aren’t needed congregate on the opposite side of the kitchen, drinking whiskey from disposable Tupperware containers, chatting and snacking on gribenes, or fried chicken skin, that the team from Wise Sons carried in their backpacks on the plane ride from San Francisco for the helzel.

Upstairs in the dining room, diners float between tables, saying hello to friends and discussing the meal. As the poultry and meat courses approach, I yearn to be less full than I already am. Ken Gordon of Kenny & Zuke’s prepared a duck confit in Portland, which he shipped to New York and stuffed into cabbage rolls at Mile End’s commissary. The result, which is topped with duck cracklings and red pepper sauce, is like many of the evening’s dishes — simultaneously familiar and foreign.

Devra Ferst

The final savory course, by Kutsher’s Tribeca, is a superbly supple and flavorful lamb neck braised like brisket in a rice wine vinegar and served over a bed of kasha. The meat falls apart in my mouth, leaving a rich and slightly sweet finish, which is carried through to dessert. Bernamoff ends the meal with a deconstructed babka: pulled pieces of his stupendous challah on top of a lightly smoked streusel and topped with a citrus drizzle in a bowl whose sides are brushed with a thick chocolate mousse.

While not every dish throughout the evening sang — the p’tcha lacked flavor, the beautiful salad of bitter lettuces needed texture, a matzo ball packed too much salt and an amuse bouche of parsnip flan felt out of place — the chefs provided a resounding answer to Bernamoff’s question.

The next day, as I nibbled on a small bag of assorted traditional cookies handed out at the end of the night, I worried that the meal was an inimitable experience. Still, the conversations it had already started to provoke among chefs and Jewish food enthusiasts left me hopeful that they would carry on rippling out, taking the cuisine beyond the realm of nostalgia.

Devra Ferst is the food editor of the Forward. Contact her at ferst@forward.com and follow her on twitter @devraferst


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Despite the great pain and sadness surrounding a captured soldier, this should not shape the face of this particular conflict – not in making concessions and not in negotiations, not in sobering assessments of this operation’s achievements or the need to either retreat or move forward." Do you agree?
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.