The Martha Stewart of kashrut is coming to Charm City.
Best-selling kosher cookbook author and media personality Susie Fishbein will speak at Stevenson’s Chizuk Amuno Congregation on Oct. 17 and share some cooking tips and samples of her tasty creations. The cooking presentation begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by a book signing.
A Livingston, N.J., resident and mother of four, Fishbein, 49, is the author of the nine-installment “Kosher by Design” book series. The series, which was published from 2003 to 2016, features elegant and easy-to-prepare recipes for the kosher-conscious cook.
Although the series has concluded, Fishbein still travels around the globe educating Jewish communities about kosher cooking with her demonstrations and culinary tours.
Jmore recently spoke with Fishbein, a native of Oceanside, N.Y., about her kashrut crusade.
Jmore: What inspired your “Kosher for Design” series?
Fishbein: At the time, there was both a lack of and a need in the world for a kosher cookbook. There was nothing that presented kosher cooking in a modern or elegant way, and I wanted to fill that demand.
Why did you end the series?
It felt like the right place at the right time, just like when I began the series. Half a million copies have been sold. The demand for the hardcover cookbook isn’t what it used to be. Consumers have free online sources that can offer them what they are looking for much faster.
What can folks expect from your Chizuk Amuno talk?
For the past 18 years, I have been on a nonstop cooking tour performing cooking demonstrations and book signings. Audience members will be able to learn tips about kosher cooking and taste a sample of my cooking.
I came to Baltimore last year as well when I was invited by another group. I come whenever I’m invited.
What are some of falsehoods or assumptions about kosher dining and food?
A falsehood would be that the food is somehow blessed. This is not true. Also, it’s a falsehood or assumption that eating kosher is healthier than eating non-kosher. Eating healthy is a choice. You can choose to eat healthy kosher food or unhealthy kosher food, just like a non-kosher diet.
How did it feel being named one of America’s 50 most influential Jews by The Forward in 2008?
Being listed was really a thrill. It’s an honor that I am still proud of today. Food is a really big part of everyone’s lives, and to know that what I’m doing in my kitchen is touching a lot of people is very rewarding.
Your favorite kosher dishes?
I have been enjoying cooking the Middle Eastern food palate. This includes roasted eggplant, skinned chicken and lots of spices. There is so much you can do with kosher. It wasn’t until more recently that people started mixing cuisines and crossing cultures. This has definitely changed and improved.
Why has kosher dining and shopping become more popular outside of the Jewish community?
This is because kosher suppliers are trusted, as opposed to companies who don’t take things like allergies as seriously. If you have a milk allergy, it would be safer to eat at a kosher establishment or [consume] kosher products, because dairy will be labeled.
Any cooking role models?
I think of [cookbook author and “Barefoot Contessa” host] Ina Garten as a role model — her whole business and brand.
What kind of reactions have you received on your culinary tours?
I’ve received very positive reactions. In the past, I have visited Israel, Italy and France. More important than the food is connecting with people. We try to bring people together and learn their stories.
What’s in store for your kosher cooking future?
For the month of November, I’ll be teaching at Le Cordon Bleu in Italy. Following that, it will be back to my regular cooking demonstrations.
Advice for kashrut-observant folks while traveling?
There is so much available in every country. Even in Europe, the information is readily available. There are kosher bloggers who specialize in traveling that make it even easier to find out what around you.
For information about Kosher by Design and Susie Fishbein, visit kosherbydesignblog.com. For information about Fishbein’s appearance at Chizuk Amuno, visit chizukamuno.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Natalie Jeffery is a Jmore editorial staff intern.