July 23, 2024
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July 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The second annual JFood Show was held at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison on Tuesday, June 18. The event split the day into two halves, where the first half was similar to a trade show for those in the kosher food industry, while the later half was open to consumers, who were able to buy tickets to sample all of the products.

The event featured a food court with a buffet for guests, speeches by influencers in the kosher food industry, panels about different topics, and more. The show is evolving year by year and next year might bring even more attractions to the table.

But this article is more focused on what was there this year. If you couldn’t make it out to the show, here are the top five things that I enjoyed, along with a little information that might give you a metaphorical taste of what it was like to be at the show.

Hey, I can’t bring you an actual taste. Metaphorical is the best I can do.

 

  1. Sesame Chicken – Chef Mocha Catering (Staten Island, New York)
Sesame chicken by Chef Mocha Catering

A few years ago, Moshe Chaim Weiss had a regular job.

“I had been sitting in an office for too long and I’d always loved cooking,” said the now chef/owner of Chef Mocha Catering. “I saw a chance to start something and I took it.”

It’s been two years now since Weiss started his company and he’s starting to get going in the catering business. He’s been doing small smachot all over the tristate area and word is starting to spread that his food and service are really great.

The sesame chicken he brought to JFood Show was a big hit with everybody passing by. A little different than most sesame chicken dishes you might have previously had, this version featured slightly smaller pieces of chicken (and therefore a crispier product), and a sauce with probably more sesame seeds than you’ve ever seen.

Weiss said that his sesame chicken is his top dish and he brought it because he wanted to make a good impression on the crowd by sharing his best stuff.

While he’s only doing fleishig events so far, Weiss hopes to expand to milchig ones also in the future.

 

  1. Mozzarella Arancini and Marinara Sauce – Elite Gourmet (Brooklyn, New York)
Mozzarella arancini and marinara sauce by Elite Gourmet

Frozen foods have been slowly getting better and better over the last few years. In the kosher food business, one of the brands that has recently been at the forefront of that is Elite Gourmet.

Started by Yaacov Yusupov three years ago, Elite Gourmet offers about 20 different products that are all pretty much in the same vein. Yusupov had been working in the food industry before he started Elite Gourmet and he saw that there was an opening for a specific line of high quality frozen foods like ravioli and tortellini.

Elite Gourmet now carries dairy, meat and pareve versions of ravioli and their new line of arancini. That means everything from cheese, to vegetables, to meat and even combinations of those (well, not combinations of dairy and meat, obviously).

The Elite Gourmet station is always a busy one, but this time it was busier than ever. The new line of arancini drew tremendous attention and all of the samples were gone just a couple of hours after the show began.

“I guess they were more popular than we thought,” Yusupov said about their newest creation. “Maybe next time we need to bring a lot more product!”

The arancini had a good outer crust and the inside had a nice texture with the combination of rice, cheese and sauce. Other flavors included an identical version without the sauce and a pareve one with just mushrooms and rice.

Elite Gourmet is looking to get into whole frozen meals as their next step. With a great demand for high quality, ready to eat frozen food, Elite Gourmet can be found in kosher supermarkets all over the country.

 

  1. Prosciutto – Meal Mart (Maspeth, New York)
Prosciutto by Meal Mart

You probably don’t need a real introduction to Meal Mart. They’ve been around since 1947 and produce tons of products that are probably used by almost every kosher keeping family in America.

But while Meal Mart could stick to all of the products they already make, instead they are always trying to add more options. One of the ways that they try to accomplish that is by following the trends in the kosher community.

As you might have seen, charcuterie and meat boards are rising in popularity. After checking with the providers of the boards, Meal Mart decided to make three new products.

One of those is their new prosciutto. Right now, it comes only in bulk packaging for food service providers like deli counters or those making charcuterie and meat boards, but if it takes off they might make smaller packages for retail in the future.

The top reason that they chose prosciutto is that it’s fairly difficult to make. That means being able to purchase it will save those board providers a good deal of time and effort. If the sales go well, they will look into making other types of meat in the future.

“We brought the prosciutto to the show to raise awareness that it’s now something we offer,” said David Benscher, national sales manager for Meal Mart. “Our goal is to provide items that make it seem like you spent a ton of time making them.”

The prosciutto was that perfect balance of salty and fatty and had an amazing beefy flavor. It’s available along with the new pepperoni and dried salami to food service providers nationwide.

 

  1. Salted Caramel CD
    Cups – Pure Bakes by Danielle
    (West Orange, New Jersey)
Salted caramel CD cups by Pure Bakes by Danielle

One of the most common trends at JFood Show this year was the increasing number of gluten free products. But most of those were items that you could easily tell were gluten free.

Not the case when it came to the products at the table for Pure Bakes by Danielle.

Danielle Kimmel is the owner whose name you’ll find on the package. She had to go gluten free for health reasons seven years ago. At the time, she could cook, but she couldn’t bake. Her longing for the high end desserts of her past life led her to start trying to make her own gluten free versions.

Three years later, she had made a ton of progress and decided to start her business. She now has 40 products available online that can be shipped nationwide and her products are in supermarkets all over the tristate area.

“We want to expand all over the country so that everyone can enjoy high quality kosher desserts whether they are gluten free or not,” said Kimmel about her plans for the future.

All the products are gluten free and pareve, and that includes the salted caramel cookie dough cup. It’s a thin layer of chocolate on both top and bottom with caramel flavored cookie dough sandwiched in between. The caramel flavoring is there for two reasons. The first is that caramel flavor hides the almond taste that is used to keep everything pareve. The second is that the peanut butter cups were so popular that Kimmel decided to add another type of cup.

Given how great the taste was, she clearly knows what she’s doing.

 

  1. Sting’n Honey-Garlic Beef Jerky – Jack’s Beef Shack (Brooklyn, New York)
Sting’n honey-garlic beef jerky by Jack’s Beef Shack

Jack Setton’s uncle always made beef jerky as a hobby. Being exposed to it at a young age made it something that he was used to and it was a regular part of his life. So much so that when he went to Israel for the year he packed a dehydrator.

That’s when he first started doing it as a business. He set up the dehydrator on the porch and started making beef jerky himself. After all, it’s easier than packing your uncle.

After he came back to America, he thought about making his hobby into a real company. It was a big decision, but he had the background to make it happen.

“I figured if I put myself behind it 100% that I could make it into a real business,” Setton said about his decision.

But he’s not trying to make just another kosher beef jerky company. His goal is to grow into a more mainstream product that you might find in regular supermarkets.

He decided to bring his honey-garlic flavor to JFood Show because his metrics say that it’s the most popular and he wanted to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. The flavor is a great mix of sweet and spicy and the jerky has a texture that isn’t too dry or sticky.

Three years in, he has five flavors of dried salami, nine types of jerky, and four artisan cuts in his repertoire. His products should be available in kosher supermarkets all over the tristate area shortly, so get ready to look out for them on your next shopping trip.


Nati Burnside is a freelance writer living in Fair Lawn and is a man of many interests. He can be reached at [email protected].

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