June 13, 2024
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KosherPalooza Best Bites 2024

KosherPalooza came back for seconds and didn’t disappoint. The largest kosher food event of the year took over the Meadowlands Exposition Center on May 30, as over 4,000 people made the trip to be a part of everything kosher.

Only open for seven hours to the public, KosherPalooza featured cooking and baking demos, panels about different topics around the “kosherverse,” cooking and cocktail competitions for those in the industry, the ability to meet famous cookbook authors, games for attendees, and (of course) food and drink booths featuring samples and giveaways.

KosherPalooza entrance.

With so much to do and so little time, many people had to choose which of the entertainment options to take advantage of and which things they just needed to pass on. Even so, some booths were popular enough that waiting in line might have been a tough call. Or the booth you were looking for might be out of something before you got there.

I trekked through the almost 100 booths trying to sample everything on the menu over the course of the day. There was pretty much something for everybody. Food and drink. Fish and meat. Desserts and appetizers. Bread and gluten free options. With restaurants, caterers and kosher food brands of all types, there were a lot of options on the floor.

With the dairy on one side and the meat on the other (pareve offerings were sprinkled throughout), navigating everything was a lot easier than some other events. Still, it was easy for even the most organized attendees to miss plenty with so much going on.

Then there’s everybody who could not take the day off work or lived far enough away that the commute just didn’t really make sense.

If you fall into any of those many categories … read on. Here are my top five best bites of KosherPalooza 2024:

 

  1. Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream, Matan’s Creamery (Bergenfield, New Jersey)
Cinnamon bun ice cream from Matan’s Creamery.

As I mentioned, thousands of people took off from work to attend KosherFest for fun. Some people working on advanced degrees may even have taken off school to attend for fun. But only one person took off school to work at KosherPalooza.

Meet Matan Moskowitz. He’s the 14-year-old owner of Matan’s Creamery, and he was there (with his parents in tow) to get his ice cream into the hands and mouths of the people at the show. With a booth right in front and a badge labeling him KosherPalooza’s Youngest Foodie, his ice cream drew quite the crowd.

The crowd at KosherPalooza.

Matan started making his own ice cream five years ago when his grandmother gifted his family an ice cream maker. He went from walking around the neighborhood with free samples to selling small containers in front of his house pretty quickly.

Soon though, he needed a hechsher in order to take the next step. That’s how he ended up partnering with Grand & Essex Market in Bergenfield, his local kosher supermarket. He now makes his ice cream on their premises and you can find it in the freezer section there. In addition, if you live in the Teaneck area, you can order it online and it will be delivered to your house.

He currently makes five flavors, my favorite of which was the cinnamon bun. It had a really good balance of cinnamon spice with the sweetness you would expect of ice cream.

“A lot of people like cinnamon buns so I decided it would be unique as a signature flavor,” said Matan of his unusual choice of flavor.

He hopes to grow his business in the coming years. He’s obviously got plenty of time.

 

  1. Smoked Brisket, Leil Shishi Diner and Catering (Monsey, New York)
Smoked brisket from Leil Shishi Diner and Catering.

Leil Shishi had one of the largest booths at KosherPalooza. But with many offerings, the star of the show was the smoked brisket at their carving station. The line for their food was often wrapped around the corner into the next aisle.

Leil Shishi was able to have enough product for the masses as they use a special smoker that can complete the process in only five hours. And they certainly needed it given the number of people who wanted to get just a single slice of the tender meat.

The diner itself is only open on Thursday and Friday in Monsey, but Leil Shishi has branched out into the catering world and has started taking jobs all over the country.

Owner Sruli Goldberg has taken everything up a notch in recent years, and what was a small Shabbat takeout counter is now ready for the big time.

“The goal is great fresh food every Thursday and Friday,” Goldberg said proudly. “But also, we are open wherever and whenever for all of your simchas, whatever you need.”

They offer all kinds of fleishig catering from a more heimish menu to more elegant modern selections.

It no longer has to be leil shishi for you to get yourself some Leil Shishi.

 

  1. Sausage Pizza, The Pizza Guy (Monsey, New York)
Sausage pizza from The Pizza Guy.

One thing that pretty much everybody tasted at KosherPalooza was the meat pizza from The Pizza Guy. But the lines were long and there were eight different types of pies to try.

Of all the choices, my favorite was the sausage pizza. With a standard tomato sauce base, the pizza was topped with sliced dried sausage, imitation cheddar cheese, beef bacon bits and a drizzle of garlic mayo.

Trust me, it tasted even better than it sounds. But … who is The Pizza Guy?

That would be Volvie Matyas. Like many recent owners at KosherPalooza, he found himself out of a job during COVID. He saw the explosion of the pizza catering business in parts of the Jewish community over Instagram and wanted to bring a similar business to Monsey.

“I had a passion for pizza, inspiration from Instagram, and some time on my hands,” said Matyas about starting his own business.

Two years in, The Pizza Guy is catering pizza (both meat and dairy) of all types all over the tri-state area.

 

  1. Sour Spheres, Astroeats (Newark, New Jersey)
Sour spheres from Astroeats.

Sometimes you walk into a kosher food show and you see a product that is new. Then there are times when a product appears to be from the future.

That was the case with Astroeats, the newest innovation in candy. Their freeze-dried candy samples not only drew a line, but also had people buying bags of candy to take home.

Owner Sarah Newhouse was sent home from Israel as her seminary basically disbanded during COVID a few years ago. She spent plenty of time at home scrolling through various social media apps until she finally came across something that struck her fancy … videos of people freeze-drying candy.

You didn’t need any experience making candy because the basic idea was to freeze-dry candy that already existed. But one thing you did need was a machine. And the machine she wanted cost about $5,000.

After much convincing, her parents gave her the money to buy the machine so she could start her business. She knew she was ahead of the curve; she just had to figure out the details.

So how did she figure out what to use for her projects?

“A lot of trial and error,” Newhouse said with a smile. “Depending on the specific ingredients, different candy either works or doesn’t. So I just started trying things.”

Astroeats is now a year old and has about 15 products. The “sour spheres” are freeze-dried versions of colored sour candies. But there’s everything from Laffy Taffy to cotton candy and from pareve ice cream sandwiches to Airheads.

You can find their products on their website, in select grocery stores, and on Amazon.

 

  1. Chicken Fingers and Sauces, Flavor on Board (Monsey, New York)
Chichen fingers and sauces from Flavor on Board.

Meat boards are one of the big trends in the kosher world these days. Plenty of places offer many different types. From deli to charcuterie and from chicken to beef jerky, there are many varieties to choose from.

But Flavor on Board aims to take it one step farther. They make every type of board you can think of. Meat? Obviously. But they also have fish boards, cheese boards, salad boards … they’ve got 100 types.

Owner and Chef Mo Gluck chose to bring four types of chicken fingers from one of their most popular boards to prove a point. With Flavor on Board shipping all over the country, some people think the chicken fingers won’t be crunchy upon arrival.

But all four types (Cap’n Crunch, Rice Krispy, Cornflake and Pretzel) were definitely still at the top of their game. Add in the sauces, and people with 100 options in the room were still forming a huge line all day to get their hands on them.

Flavor on Board prides itself on their customer service. “Every message gets answered,” said Gluck. “There’s a choice for everybody on our website and if anything goes wrong, we pay for it.”

You can’t ask for a better promise than that.


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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