July 13, 2024
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Kosher & Pretentious: A New Magazine Coming Soon to a Locked Case Near You

In the past few years, a swath of slick, glossy food magazines have fought for space with ubiquitous copies of the Yatid Neeman and The Jewish Link in kosher supermarket news racks. First there was Great Kosher Restaurants, then there was Fleishigs, and, of course, Whisk. Now, if Teaneck native Dovid Fressen has his way, next to the news rack there will be a locked Lucite case containing copies of his new quarterly publication, Kosher & Pretentious.

Fressen, 56, who spent 25 years as a commodities trader and investment banker, retired two years ago to go into a third career as a high-end-niche-Jewish-interest publisher.

“When working as a banker I used to get all of these glossy brochures and reports and would enjoy leafing through them, and then I’d come home and flip through these poorly made Jewish magazines, with clunky layouts, thin paper and mediocre photography, and thought ‘we can do better.’”

“Now instead of taking the daily train to Wall Street, I take an Uber to Queen Anne Road,” where the offices of Opulent Publishing, LLC, Fressen’s publishing house, are located. So far, Opulent’s track record has been far from encouraging: The first publication, the Jewish Jaunter, a bimonthly high-end travel magazine reached a peak of 137 subscribers before folding, while the fashion magazine, Fashionable Yet Tznius, had to be withdrawn due to rabbinic protests.

“It was not pritzus,” exclaims Fressen, “If it were pritzus, would I have had my wife and daughter modeling clothes in there? They just did not understand what I was trying to do.”

Not to be deterred, Fressen tried again, this time with a kosher food magazine, called Kosher High Life.

“This time I wanted to test the water before diving in,” recalls Fressen “so we only printed 100 copies which sold for $36 apiece exclusively at Seasons, in Passaic. It sold out within two weeks…but based on the feedback, we realized that we had to change the name because some of the people who bought it thought it was a magazine focusing on kosher cannabis edibles. My wife suggested calling it Dovid’s Pretentious Kosher Magazine. She was joking, but I like the idea of calling something what it is—and with a few tweaks Kosher & Pretentious was born.”

Clearly though, Fressen had more than a few tweaks in mind. Kosher & Pretentious is now a hardbound 97-page journal, with gilded pages and giclee-printed photographs.

“Think of this as the best quality coffee table book you’ve ever seen, with a new edition that comes out every three months,” says Fressen. It also costs more than Kosher High Life, 20 times more to be exact. “This is a magazine about conspicuous consumption,” says Fressen, “so it should follow that you should have to spend conspicuously to get it.”

Fressen also moved away from the subscription model.

“If this magazine is about conspicuous consumption then part of its appeal is to be conspicuous when you buy it…Imagine having a locked case, that the store manager has to unlock so that you can buy a copy. Everyone in the store will see you buying a $720 copy of ‘Kosher & Pretentious.’”

The first issue, which will go on sale in Teaneck at Glatt Express and Cedar Market next week, will have features on the best ways to utilize Périgord Truffles (currently priced at $1,200 per pound); a taste test comparing kosher pate de foie gras from France, Israel and New York; a feature on how to source the best kosher personal chefs; the Dear Rayzel advice column (this month’s question is “What to do if a guest is tacky enough to bring you a bottle of wine worth only $35”); and a critical review of Kosher Bordeaux for over $200 a bottle (Author’s note: I wrote this last article, and had a lot of fun writing it.)

“There are a lot of people like me,” explains Fressen, “who grew up in a middle class frum home but have made it big in life. We give lots to tzedaka, support Miami kosher restaurants during yeshiva week, and we still have enough left over to live the good life ourselves. We are looking for a magazine that will help us do that. I don’t want a magazine that will tell me what the best under-$50 kosher Bordeaux is. I want one that will tell me what the best $250+ kosher Bordeaux is…that is what I am creating with Kosher & Pretentious…some may derisively call people like me parvenus, but I embrace it. I call myself a parvefrum.”

It is unclear what kind of reception Kosher & Pretentious will receive in the Jewish world. Rabbi Allen Schwartz, of the Upper-West Side’s Ohab Zedek Congregation, upon seeing an advanced copy called the magazine “disgusting… the epicurean lifestyle this publication clearly advocates is the antithesis of Torah Judaism…just remember that the term ‘apikoros’ [disbeliever] was derived from the Greek word ‘epicurean.’”

But Fressen remains both confident and even defiant. “I will not be deterred by a few uncomprehending rabbis this time,” he says. “As long as I can afford to publish it, and find markets willing to sell it, Kosher & Pretentious will be as conspicuous and delicious as possible.”

By Gamliel Kronemer

 

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