July 25, 2024
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July 25, 2024
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The Kosher Palette Revolution

Highlighting: “The Kosher Palette: Revised Anniversary Edition” by Susie Fishbein and Sandra Blank. Mesorah Publications Ltd. 2022. Hardcover. 312 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1422631751.

(Courtesy of Artscroll) Twenty-two years ago, the Jewish world went through an extraordinary—and delicious—revolution with the publication of “The Kosher Palette,” coordinated by Susie Fishbein and Sandra Blank. “The Kosher Palette” sold over 80,000 copies, and Susie went on to become the bestselling author of the “Kosher By Design” series, changing the way we cook and the way we eat.

There’s only one thing better than eating a Susie Fishbein dish—and that’s talking to Susie about kosher gourmet food, her cookbooks, and this week’s release of the “Kosher Palette Revised Anniversary Edition.”

AS: Wow, it’s been more than 20 years since “The Kosher Palette” revolutionized the way we cook—and the way we eat. Let’s take a look back: How did this incredibly successful project come to be?

SF: The project was supposed to be a community cookbook, like so many before it. My co-editor, Sandra Blank, and I had a feeling that what was missing for us personally in the kosher cookbook market could also speak to the larger public. We wanted a modern, elegant, healthful and beautifully photographed book that represented the way we cooked and entertained. Martha Stewart and Ina Garten ran that table in the non-kosher world, and we wanted to see it happen for the kosher community. We believed in the project, raised the seed money to fund it from companies like Nabisco and M & M Mars that had recently become kosher. Once we had that initial investment, generous school supporters got on board and underwrote the rest, so that we had the ability to produce the groundbreaking edition that was the original “Kosher Palette.” Part chutzpah, part mazal, and being in the right place at the right time.

AS: Tell us more about “The Kosher Palette Revised Anniversary Edition”—and why every kosher kitchen needs a copy.

SF: Most people’s copies are so used and loved that they are food-splattered, tattered and falling out of their bindings. Seeing this gorgeous, larger size (read: bigger font for older eyes), wipeable, padded cover will mean many will want this modern-looking reboot. More importantly, people from the generation that grew up on this food will want it for their own adult tables. Parents will want to gift it to their children and in-law children so they can continue making the food that has become their beloved family staples.

AS: More than 200 cooks, from eight different communities, contributed recipes to the book. How did you decide which recipes to include?

SF: As we sifted out the ones that we knew had no possible potential, the recipes went through a rigorous testing process. This is where the fun began for the community. Dozens of volunteers came together to reproduce the recipes and offer them at tasting parties, where they were evaluated and selected based on the overall response. These parties were lots of work and lots of fun.

AS: Were you surprised by the overwhelming response to “The Kosher Palette”? I mean, selling more than 80,000 copies, in the days before food bloggers and with minimal promotion, was quite an achievement. Why do you think it was so incredibly well received?

SF: I think it was received by the tens of thousands who purchased it because just like Sandra and I were looking for this book, which answered the need for how we cooked and entertained, so were so many others. The recipes were tested to the point of being foolproof, so reliability helped people feel confident in the recipes. They were just a delicious collection that became the talk of every town. Once you tasted that Strawberry Mango Salad, you had to have the recipe!

AS: As the introduction to the Anniversary Edition mentions, this is more than “just a cookbook. It’s a celebration of kosher hospitality, an enduring hallmark of Jewish life.” There are anecdotes and tips about hosting, table settings, home entertaining, complementary wines and spectacular centerpieces and table settings. When “The Kosher Palette” was originally published, taking such care with presentation was almost unheard of. How did you get so many amazing ideas to share with others?

SF: It may have been unheard of in print, but Jewish people love to set a beautiful table, and we do so every week for Shabbat and holidays. Parties in those days were often made in your own home, be it kids’ birthdays or other life milestones, so home entertaining ideas spoke to people as well.

AS: How do you explain the fact that though it was published in 2001, “The Kosher Palette” is still so remarkably contemporary?

SF: The recipes are just that good. They have stood the test of time and have become beloved parts of people’s family history and lore.

AS: Your amazing culinary journey began with “The Kosher Palette” and took you to so many different venues, so many varied food and entertaining ideas. Please share a few stories about your culinary adventures.

SF: This book showed me that I loved the world of cookbooks. It gave me a fork in the road from the path I was on as a fourth-grade public school teacher, and launched me into my career. ArtScroll and I went on to produce the best-selling “Kosher by Design” series. Half a million copies later, and having given a road map to so many young, talented chefs who came after me, it is a source of personal, endless joy. It also allowed me to be a guest in hundreds of homes across the country, where I gave cooking demos and got to enjoy meeting fans and hearing their stories. I got to hear what they loved or were looking for in future books. My craving for more varied tastes took me across the world, where I now lead culinary tours a few times a year to Israel and Italy. I was an invited guest to the White House and appeared at Epcot at Disney, launched a cooking school for kids—really so many new and exciting opportunities. This career has been a living dream and I am so grateful for the opportunities it has presented to me.

AS: This is always a tough question for cookbook authors—what are your favorite recipes in “The Kosher Palette”?

SF: The Rosemary London Broil (great on the BBQ or stovetop, so it’s an all-year winner), Creme Brulé French Toast (the requested breakfast in bed for each of my kid’s birthdays), Dairy Noodle Ring (my mother-in-law’s), Bok Choy and Strawberry Mango Salad, always stars on any buffet. I could keep going but I bet we are out of space.

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