Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Food

Brunch for 60 in Los Angeles

French toast with za’atar butter and seared tomatoes from “Modern Jewish Cooking.” Images by .

A few Sundays ago, I cooked brunch in front of 60 strangers — on stage.

I was at the Skirball Cultural Center, the gorgeous Jewish cultural mega-ship based in Los Angeles, doing an event in support of my new book, “Modern Jewish Cooking.” Preparing food in front of a live audience has become one of the unexpected perks of cookbook writing. I tend to shy away form the camera, but I love the energy of sharing a real-time cooking experience with an audience.

Image by Yakir Levy

The author on stage at the Skirball Cultural Center.

This particular event, called Brunch 2.0, was based on the same premise as my breakfast column for the Forward: that bagels are only the beginning of what a Jewishly inspired morning meal can offer.

Instead of falling back on the smoked fish platter standby, the menu was modeled after my own dream morning meal — a mix of sweet and savory, fresh and fried, eggs and carbs. Skirball’s executive chef, Sean Sheridan, and his team prepared several recipes from the cookbook: individual shakshukas baked in ramekins, French toast with za’atar butter and seared tomatoes, smoked salmon hash with an herbed vinaigrette, two different salads (one a mix of shredded carrots, dates and mint, and another with arugula and grilled pears), sour cream coffee cake with pecan streusel and chocolate dipped almond horns.

If it sounds like an ambitious number of dishes, it was. During our early phone conversations as we discussed which recipes from the cookbook to feature, I wondered aloud if seven dishes might be too much to do well. I needn’t have worried. While I was prepping ingredients for the demo, chef Sean rolled into the room on a standing electric scooter like some kind of chef’s whites-donning superhero cyborg. Turns out, he is as skilled at gliding on a segue as he is at turning out knockout meals. It can be intimidating to taste someone else’s interpretations of your recipes, but in this case it was a pleasure.

Image by Yakir Levy

Individual shakshukas baked in ramekins.

Soon guests started streaming in, including (thank goodness) a couple of old friends mixed into the crowd. They poured coffee, served themselves at the buffet and sat down. I, meanwhile, switched on my clip-on pocket mic and started chopping. About 45 minutes later, I had made the hash and vinaigrette, shared stories about my book and watched as 5 dozen people enjoyed their meal. The room was filled with California sunlight and the lingering scent of coffee.

Best brunch ever.

Leah Koenig is the author of “Modern Jewish Cooking: Recipes & Customs for Today’s Kitchen.” She is a contributing editor at the Forward.

Engage

  • Events

    Haart to Haart

    Virtual

    Dec 7, 2022

    7 pm ET · 

    A conversation with Julia Haart and her son Shlomo, stars of Netflix's 'My Unorthodox Life,' about the new season and much more.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.