Kosherfest 2012 Serves Up Fake Bacon and Real Innovation

November 18, 2012 2:37 am 3 comments

he exhibition hall at Kosherfest 2012 in Secaucus, NJ. Photo: Levy/The Eelpond Photo Group.

SECAUCUS, NJ—Nothing says Jewish food like a bowl of matzoh ball soup or a slab of pastrami on rye. But will Mediterranean gefilte fish or facon also be on that list one day?

Facon, you ask? As the name implies, it’s fake bacon, and it was just one of the many novelties unleashed on the Jewish culinary scene at Kosherfest, the nation’s largest annual kosher-food trade show, which took place Nov. 13-14. Thousands of rabbis, restaurateurs, chefs, foodies, and at least one hungry journalist crammed into the Meadowlands Expo Center in New Jersey to nosh on the food samples and get a hold of the latest trends in cuisine that adhere to Jewish dietary law.

As one might expect, bagels and lox, a broad selection of cold cuts and a variety of pickles—cucumbers, cabbage and mushrooms—were on display. But the old staples were clearly fighting for prominence with a smorgasbord of new offerings that either borrowed from international cuisines, like the Japanese or Italians, or offered observers of kashrut a small taste of what dietary law forbids, like facon, the faux bacon.

“There’s no law anywhere that a Jew should not be allowed the flavors of the world,” declared Alan Broner, co-owner of Jack’s Gourmet, which markets the product that won the 2012 Kosherfest award in the best meat category.

Broner said facon was the invention of his business partner Jack Silberstein, a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, and is made of beef plate—a fatty cut located behind the brisket—that is then seasoned, smoked and fried. The result, he said, is an accurately treif-tasting delicacy that is entirely kosher.

“The prohibition is not to have beef baked and smoked to taste like,” paused Broner, as he looked for the right word, “to taste like something else.”

Jeffrey Rappoport, a blogger who ate bacon before starting to eat kosher at age 13, almost had tears in his eyes when he took a bite.

“That’s amazing!” he said, planting a kiss of joy on Broner’s head.

“The buds don’t forget,” responded Broner, who had a taste for treif before he began observing kashrut at age 30.

Not everyone was as thrilled with facon, however.

“It’s kind of bland,” said storeowner Sandra Steiner, evaluating a slice of the cleverly dressed up meat. “I won’t buy it.”

She added, however, that she might not be the best judge as she has been kosher her whole life.

“Now,” she said, “I don’t feel so bad for never having never tasted real bacon.”

Facon was just one of the many novelties at this year’s Kosherfest, where innovation was clearly the name of the game.

JoburgKosher, a company originally from South Africa, partnered with New York businessmen to bring a taste of their homeland like biltong—a dried meat similar to beef jerky—and boerewors, translated as farmers (“boere”) sausage (“wors”), to the U.S. market.

“It tastes like a dried pastrami,” said Benny Goldis, a local partner of JoburgKosher, putting it in terms local Jews would understand. “People can take biltong on vacation or on business trips. It’s a new food I’m sure people will love.”

Even the oldest names in the Jewish food industry like Manischewitz are acutely aware that palates are becoming increasingly sophisticated and demanding as part of a global trend.

“People want different flavors and worlds whether they are kosher or not, Jewish or not Jewish,” said Alain Bankier, co-president and CEO of the fabled food company. “People want innovation and we are happy to provide it to them.”

That’s why Manischewitz, which is associated with foods like matzoh, farfel and kosher wine, launched a new line this year that includes Moroccan roasted vegetables and chicken couscous sauces, red velvet macaroons and Mediterranean gefilte fish, which are East European-inspired fish balls “with flavors of rosemary, oregano and olive oil.”

Those worried food fads are destroying authentic Jewish cooking need not worry. At the fair, there were still plenty of traditionalists ready to make sure old favorites would not die out.

Steve Leibovitz, the owner of United Pickles, the company behind Guss’ Pickles, reigned over a big barrel of sours, half-sours and green tomatoes, handing them out to passersby much the same way his grandfather, Max Leibovitz, did when he opened up on the Lower East Side 118 years ago.

“When he came to the U.S. from Russia in 1897 he sold pickles out of a pushcart on the street,” said Leibovitz, who dubs himself the company CPM (Chief Pickles Maven). “Now we’re in Walmart. We serve most delis around town and my sauerkraut is at every Nathan’s (the fast food chain largely known for its hot dogs) in the country.”

Though United Pickles has a nationwide reach, it remains a family affair. Steve’s son, Andrew Leibowitz, stood behind the counter watching his father greet customers and talk to the competition, who came by to say hello and talk shop.

“I’m ready to continue the tradition,” said the 30-year-old, who will represent the fourth generation of Leibovitz family members to sell pickles, observing his father at work. “I’m learning a lot from him.”

3 Comments

  • Ahhh, so sorry you missed our booth too – best new Kosher for Passover product winner this year – Matzolah, pesadich breakfast cereal that is delicious and good for you.

  • KOSHERFEST

    While you were so busy tasting in the main area, you overlooked the new product pavilion where a 100% vegan, high protein, no cholesterol, all natural wheat based seitan sample was available for tasting.

    Whether vegan or not, the delight on people’s faces after tasting the TAFT FOODMASTERS GYRO sample was amazing. Many took seconds and even thirds.

    I’m a meat eater. I tasted the Taft Seitan Gyro. I discovered that I could buy a delicious product that was totally pareve and enjoy it.

    YOU MISSED SOMETHING SPECIAL.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    Did you know that in the entire Bible, only one birthday is mentioned and it is that of Pharaoh? And did you know that according to some scientists, by accepting Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, it is impossible to prove or disprove that the sun is the gravitational center of our solar system? In his new book, REBBE, best-selling author Joseph Telushkin reveals many surprising and sometimes shocking details as he chronicles the life and teachings of the charismatic Rabbi [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Mitzvos New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    JNS.org – Omelet sandwich: 5 shekels. Iced coffee: 5 shekels. Tuna sandwich: 5 shekels. Fresh-squeezed orange juice: 5 shekels. Cheese bureka: 5 shekels. There’s plenty more on the Cofizz menu, but you get the idea. Dani Mizrahi and Amir Amshalm, two Israeli men in their early 30s, asked themselves: Why not launch a take-out food joint in busy neighborhoods around Jerusalem where everything—and that means everything—goes for five shekels, or about $1.50. They’d seen the concept take off in Tel Aviv, where [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    The new FX Network drama Tyrant was shot entirely in Israel, just 10 miles north of Tel Aviv, Bloomberg News reported last Tuesday. Tyrant follows the life of an Arab dictator’s second son Barry, played by Adam Rayner, who reluctantly returns home to the Middle Eastern nation of his birth to join the family business away from his suburban life in America. The elaborate set production for the primetime drama included a crew of 300 and a reported cost of over $3 million [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Skokie, Il-born 25-year-old Erin Heatherton (Erin Heather Bubley) is rocking the modeling world. And in a new interview accompanying a cover spread for Miami’s Ocean Drive magazine, she says Jewish moms are “constantly trying to set her up with their sons.” Imagine that – who would have thought? “The moms, they’re doing what they do. It doesn’t matter what country they live in, what city – grandmothers, too,” she admitted. “But I’m probably going to do that too one day.” Heatherton was [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Israel First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    Some 15 Turkish university professors and lecturers will take part in a first of its kind seminar at Holocaust museum Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies starting next week. The trip is especially significant as Holocaust denial is rampant in the Arab world. A Palestinian professor was recently forced to resign after he led a trip to the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz. Participants in the week-long program at Yad Vashem will experience in-depth tours of the museum’s archives and [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music Guns N’ Roses Guitarist Rocks Solo Acoustic Version of Israeli National Anthem – Hatikva (VIDEO)

    Guns N’ Roses Guitarist Rocks Solo Acoustic Version of Israeli National Anthem – Hatikva (VIDEO)

    Ok, fans, question time. What do: Guns ‘n’ Roses shred-meister guitarist, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (aka Ronald Jay Blumenthal), “Hard Rock Hotel”, “Las Vegas” and Israel’s ”Hatikva” (The Hope) national anthem… all have in common? I know, you’re probably thinking, “Hmm, ‘One of these things is not like the other,’ would fit in here,” right? Um, no, turns out. Caught backstage by blogger Darren Garnick at the swanky Vegas gig in early June, Thal, acoustic guitar in hand, fretted out a sweetly melodic [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs David Letterman’s Sidekick on His ‘Dream Job,’ Jewish Upbringing

    David Letterman’s Sidekick on His ‘Dream Job,’ Jewish Upbringing

    JNS.org – A Jewish upbringing taught Paul Shaffer, David Letterman’s musical director and sidekick for 32 years, the value of giving back. After the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Shaffer served as musical director for “The Concert for New York City,” and in 2012 he accompanied Adam Sandler in “12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief,” a fundraiser for people affected by Hurricane Sandy. He was also the national spokesperson for Epilepsy Canada. “My mother taught by example,” Shaffer said in an [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Coach David Blatt’s NBA Hiring Hailed as ‘Incredible’ for Jewish Community

    Coach David Blatt’s NBA Hiring Hailed as ‘Incredible’ for Jewish Community

    JNS.org – The National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Cleveland Cavaliers looked near and far during a five-week stretch for a head coach, and they finally found their man—in Israel. David Blatt, who coached Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Euroleague and Israeli league basketball championships this year, struck a deal to become the 20th coach in the history of the Cavaliers. The selection was immediately celebrated by basketball players Tamir Goodman and Mark Sack, both from the Cleveland area, and one of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.