Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Israel News

Kirshtein Serves Up a New Kind of Kosher

It sounds like a Jewish “Top Chef” challenge: Prepare a five-course kosher tasting menu using cutting-edge cooking techniques, pair with kosher wines and serve to 135 diners ranging from 20-something New York hipsters to 60-year-old women wearing sheitels.

Eli Kirshtein Image by COURTESY SOLO RESTAURANT

That was former “Top Chef” contestant Eli Kirshtein’s task January 23 at New York’s Solo Restaurant — where he is currently a guest chef — in an event that was sponsored by the Kosher Wine Society.

Kirshtein, who nearly made it to the finals of the Last Vegas season of the hit show on Bravo, cooked up a tasting menu inspired by molecular gastronomy, which he described as “taking food down to its essential components and reconstructing it.”

Though this was likely the first kosher foray into the cuisine, which uses chemicals and powders to manipulate properties of foods, and precision cooking in scientifically controlled temperatures to affect the flavor and texture of foods like meat and eggs, Kirshtein wasn’t intimidated. “It’s incidental that [the food’s] kosher. But it’s my food,” he said.

To start off the evening, Kirshtein served up persimmon salad with cocoa bits and almonds, followed by black bass tartar and then slices of rich cow tongue with slow-cooked egg yolk, and finally a smoked Jerusalem artichoke soup. For dessert, a pistachio sponge cake atop a citrus zabaglione.

While the concept of modern or “molecular” cooking appeals to the mind, it can present challenges in appealing to the palate if not executed nearly perfectly. Kirshtein’s luscious soup and intriguing preparation of tongue were followed by a dessert that missed the mark. The cake (which was cooked in a microwave) was bland, its sauce overly citrusy.

While kosher may be going the way of gourmet food shows, it doesn’t seem ready to say goodbye to its past. As Kirshtein spoke at the event, a tray of spring rolls (a mainstay of kosher catering) came out of the kitchen and diners swarmed it.

Kirshtein commented, “It’s like watching piranhas over there.”

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

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.