How ‘De La Rosa 613’ grew into an international specialty food company.
This summer I had the opportunity to taste and cook with an impressive array of small-batch, artisanal products from De La Rosa 613, the Florida-based manufacturer and purveyor of high-quality organic and kosher oils and vinegars. They also import award-winning organic, kosher Austrian wines and grape juices from Hafner, a winery in Mönchhof, Austria, where I also had the opportunity to visit in August; the winery visit will be included as a feature in next spring’s Jewish Link Wine Guide.
Speaking with Yehudith Girshberg, now CEO and operator of De La Rosa 613, I learned about the goals of the company and her husband’s original vision for the import of healthy and kosher oils and natural foods. De La Rosa started as an oil company, importing organic and conventional olive and grapeseed oil from Italy, and Styrian pumpkin oil from Austria. Rabbi Asher Girshberg, z”l, was initially an importer and producer, beginning in the 1980s, of oils and other products long considered a healthy staple of the Mediterranean diet. He and Rebbetzin Yehudith married in 2010 and built up the business together before his illness, with Yehudith taking on more and more until and after his passing in 2016.
Rabbi Girshberg’s business was the first entity to import grapeseed oil from France to England. While visiting France, he noticed that people took grapeseed oil supplements bought in pharmacies, and learned that it contained Omega-6, which has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. He sought out research from experts, which also indicated that cooking with such oils did not decrease their efficacy. He then reached out to rabbanim to discuss whether grapeseed oil was considered yayin nesech (poured wine, subject to the laws of mevushal), and whether it would have complications gaining the required kosher certifications.
“It was a big deal at the time, in the 1980s, but ultimately the Chasam Sofer concluded that the oil is miskanah (changed through processing), and it bears no resemblance to the original product,” said Yehudith Girshberg. All of De La Rosa 613’s products carry multiple well-known kosher certifications, including those from local rabbanut organizations in Austria, Spain, Belgium, Mexico and elsewhere, as well as their internationally recognized counterparts. They also carry organic certifications when possible.
Girshberg added that during her husband’s life, they added avocado oil to the company’s offerings. “Avocado oil is an Omega-3 and 6, and presents a blend of different types of nutritional benefits, even more than grapeseed oil. It has a higher smoke point, oleic acid, and is high in lutein, which is good for the eyes,” she explained. A higher smoke point is important because any time an oil is heated to the point of burning it becomes a carcinogen.
Initially, she shared that they weren’t sure that avocado oil would be a profitable enterprise, “because it was twice the price of grapeseed even though it was healthier.” However as the product has increased in global popularity, De La Rosa 613’s avocado oil has sold well and has eclipsed sales in grapeseed. Currently, Girshberg’s De La Rosa cold-pressed avocado oil is imported from Spain.
De La Rosa 613 also began importing specially made formulations of fruit and balsamic vinegars and grape juice, including the “Wow” organic grape juice made by Julius Hafner in Austria, which was initially certified by Rabbi Yonah Schwartz, the mara d’asra (head of community) of Vienna. “We got a 48-bottle sample shipment for trade shows, and the first trade show where we brought it, so many people said, ‘Wow!’ when they tasted it, we changed its name,” Girshberg recalled.
The Wow organic red grape juice is by no means the standard concord grape drink common on so many Shabbat tables, but instead a more delicate, honeyed combination of pinot noir, zweigelt and merlot grapes. The toughest critics in my house, including my 11-year-old twin daughters, declared it truly delicious.
Girshberg shared that many customers buy the Wow grape juice by the case, monthly or every two months, through the company’s website. “The traditional stuff is concentrated grape juice with water added. Our grape juice is more expensive, but anyone who tries it ends up stocking it,” she said. In Austria, my children also tried the winery’s white grape juice, and described it inspiringly and poetically, with notes of peach and honey. This product is also available online at De la Rosa’s website or Amazon, and Girshberg said it’s not just my children who like it; the white grape juice recently won a gold trophy at the 2022 Specialty Food Association’s SOFI awards.
De La Rosa 613 imports black toasted and white unrefined sesame oils from Mexico, and nutty, rich tahini paste that is vegan, non-GMO, no salt added and shockingly flavorful; as well as white balsamic and dark balsamic glazes, products of Spain, which have no added sugar or any unnecessary additives or ingredients. Finally, the raw and unfiltered organic Spanish raspberry and pomegranate vinegars have no additives, no sugars and have truly superior taste, ideal for salad dressings of all types. In recent years De La Rosa 613 has infused flavors into its extra-virgin cold-pressed olive oils, including lemon and basil, hot chili and white and black truffle. The truffle products, which include truffle salt, are made in Italy to De La Rosa’s specifications. All these are useful cooking ingredients that I was able to use successfully in a variety of weeknight and Shabbat recipes. Here are just a few examples.
Autumn Roasted Root Vegetable Medley
- 3 parsnips, peeled and sliced roughly
- 3 carrots, peeled and sliced roughly
- 3-4 pre-cooked and peeled beets, sliced roughly
- 2 teaspoons De La Rosa 613 truffle salt, plus extra for finishing
- 3 tablespoons De La Rosa 613 100% pure avocado oil
- 1-3 tablespoons fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary and sage
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1-2 tablespoons De La Rosa 613 White Balsamic Glaze, for finishing
➀ In a bowl, combine vegetables with oils, herbs, garlic and salt. Correct seasoning and add black pepper if necessary.
➁ Roast on a large, parchment-covered baking sheet at 400 F for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until nicely browned. Check halfway through and stir vegetables with a wooden spoon to ensure even cooking.
➂ Finish with truffle salt and a splash of white balsamic glaze.
Fall Salad With Butternut Squash and Cranberries
For the salad:
- 2 bags Bodek or checked fresh baby spinach, or a combination of mixed baby romaine, arugula or your favorite fresh salad blend
- 1 handful dried cranberries or fresh pomegranate seeds
- 1 handful roasted unsalted sunflower seeds pecans or toasted pine nuts (or substitute feta cheese)
- ½ butternut squash, diced and roasted with De La Rosa 613 extra-virgin olive oil infused with lemon and basil, with salt and pepper to taste
For the dressing:
- ½ cup De la Rosa 613 Extra Virgin Olive Oil With Lemon and Basil
- 2 tablespoons De La Rosa 613 Pomegranate Vinegar
- 1 tablespoon De La Rosa 613 Balsamic Vinegar Glaze
- ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
➀ Roast butternut squash and cool.
➁ Combine with fresh salad ingredients.
➂ In a separate bowl, mix and whisk dressing ingredients and let sit for 15 minutes to overnight.
➃ Whisk again and combine with salad ingredients right before serving.
One-Pan De La Rosa Chili and Truffle Salmon With Roasted Cauliflower and Kale
- 1-3 salmon filets
- 1-2 heads of cauliflower, cut and parboiled (boil in salted water for 10-15 minutes before roasting, or until easy to pierce with a fork)
- 1 bag Bodek or checked baby kale or spinach, for roasting
- 1 tablespoon De La Rosa 613 Extra Virgin Olive Oil Infused With Hot Chili (this is mild)
- 1 tablespoon De La Rosa 613 100% Avocado Oil
- De La Rosa 613 Truffle Salt, to taste
- 1 full tablespoon of onion powder, or more, to taste
- Hot Chili Flakes (to taste)
- ½ to 1 tablespoon De La Rosa 613 Black Truffle Oil, for finishing (and to taste, this is very strong!)
➀ Place drained, parboiled cauliflower on half of a parchment paper-covered baking sheet.
➁ On the other half, place the greens of your choice and the salmon on top.
➂ Sprinkle with oils and spices.
➃ Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes and then broil for 5 minutes to reach desired brownness.
➄ Top with a small splash of black truffle oil. Serve on the sheet pan or plated, hot, with all three elements.
Learn more about De La Rosa 613 at https://delarosa613.com/products/. Many De La Rosa 613 products are also available in kosher and gourmet stores nationwide.
Black Tahini Sesame Chicken Bake
- 4-6 whole chicken breast cutlets, boneless chicken strips, boneless thighs or thighs on the bone
- 1 cup De La Rosa 613 Black Tahini (when opening a new jar, mix until combined)
- Juice of one half lemon, or more, to taste
- ¼ cup De la Rosa 613 Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 full heads of garlic, with the tops cut off (ready to roast)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1-2 teaspoon sweet paprika, or more, to taste, and/or hot chili flakes (optional)
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, for a garnish
- Fresh chopped parsley, for a garnish
➀ Combine ingredients except for the chicken, and reserve a half cup of the marinade for a sauce.
➁ Place chicken in the remaining marinade and let sit for 30 minutes to overnight, in an oven ready, parchment paper-covered pan.
➂ Preheat the oven to 400 F and bake chicken, covered, in the marinade for 45 minutes or until bubbly.
➃ Let bake or broil uncovered for an additional 5-10 minutes to crisp up chicken skin, if necessary.
➄ Finish with a sprinkling of sesame seeds and chopped parsley. Serve the roasted garlic cloves on a platter with the chicken and garnish with reserved sauce.
By Elizabeth Kratz