Brooklyn, NY…Elan Kornblum, affectionately known as “The Restaurant Guy” is credited with raising the profile of kosher restaurants throughout the world. His Great Kosher Restaurants Magazine ( www.GreatKosherRestaurants.com) features some of the world’s leading kosher restaurants. His website and newsletter regularly track events and promotions at some of these leading restaurants. Now Elan has added a VIP Platinum VISA Rewards credit card to offer clients rewards while dining kosher. The card has no annual fee, offers low introductory annual percentage rate on purchases, and allows customers to earn bonus points for free airline tickets, merchandise, cash-back and more at participating merchants. Elan intends to offer many special promotions with the use of the card and promises to continue to make kosher dining “a rewarding experience.”
New York…by Tova Ross, Features Editor…For kosher travelers crisscrossing the globe, the number and variety of kosher offerings continues to expand. While in years past, these new launches were in well-known Jewish centers, today it is in places that are not necessarily on the radar of kosher travelers. In Leeds UK, the new Gelman’s Bakery will begin baking a line of kosher bread and cakes, certified by the Leeds’ Beth Din. Co-owner Moira Gelman plans to add dairy baked goods, such as cheesecakes, later this year. The bakery will supply other kosher outlets with their products as well. The Gelman family has a long history in food production and catering, and the Leeds Jewish Representative Council is hopeful that the community will support the new kosher venture. Incidentally, tennis fans who are kosher who will be at Wimbledon will not be denied as the Chabad of South London Campuses, is planning to repeat a kosher café it ran last year.
Ivano-Frankovsk, a southwestern city in the Ukraine, a new kosher hotel has opened. Called Under the Temple, and located next to the city’s primary shul, the hotel also houses a museum displaying exhibits on the area’s rich Jewish history (the city was home to several Chasidic rebbes before World War II). Tzimmes Lounge, a kosher catering facility, is also on-site, and is certified by Rabbi Moshe Leib Kolesnik, the city’s chief rabbi and Chabad representative in the region.
Back home, there were many new interesting additions. Shalom Pita, a pizza and falafel store opened on the Jersey Shore, in Ventnor. Both cholov yisroel and pas yisroel, Shalom Pita serves pizza, falafel, knishes, and more, and offers summer travelers to the beaches of New Jersey – which has limited kosher menu options – a slice of the pie. In North Carolina, home to Duke University but not home to many kosher establishments, Polka Dot Bake Shop, located in Charlotte, has received kosher certification from the Star-K for its most famous product: the sweet potato cracker, baked with real sweet potatoes. The crackers are available in original; rosemary and olive oil; cracked black pepper; and chipotle with smoked paprika flavors, and are pareve and egg and nut-free.
New York…by Tova Ross…Kosher restaurants open in Manhattan every other week, it seems, and to a lesser extent in Jewish communities like Brooklyn and Teaneck. Kosher products abound and kosher cooking and baking classes offer aspiring chefs or passionate cooks the opportunities to elevate their kosher culinary creations to gourmet. Recently, however, an international spate of kosher announcements traversed the globe. Last month The Golden Café opened in St. Petersburg, Russia, to serve local Jews and Jewish visitors both meat and pareve items. Golda Tolochinskaya, the café’s manager, said the wide variety on the menu reflects Ashkenazi, Israeli, and Georgian cuisine, under the strictest kashrus requirements. St. Petersburg’s Chief Rabbi Menachem Mendel Pewzner, who is also a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in the region certifies the kashrut of the eatery. And for the first time since before the Holocaust, kosher consumers in Germany will now be able to purchase dairy products that are certified chalav yisrael (higher standard kashrut for dairy). Koscheremilch, a dairy farm near Hamburg in the North of Germany launched by Ze’ev Lluz, is now producing a line of dairy products that are certified kosher and chalav yisrael. Previously those who ate chalav yisrael had to ship products in from France, or have Chabad emissary Rabbi Shlomo Bistritzky personally supervise the whole milking process.
In Dorset UK, the Bournemouth Hebrew Congregation (BHC) opened a market on its premises. Shop@theShul sells kosher meat, poultry, dairy products and baked goods, including challah. For the recent Shavuot holiday, the market offered soft cheese and dairy cakes. The market is open on Thursdays, Fridays, and Sunday mornings, and is run by a team of volunteers. BHC has been open for over 100 years and serves hundreds of Jewish families in the area. Since 1976, the shul has offered an on-site mikvah, and now, it provides kosher food as well. And at the Prosserman JCC in Toronto, kosher cooking classes based on French cuisine are now being offered, with a long-term goal of forming a certification program for kosher chefs. The program is coordinated by Nancy Weisbrod, a graduate of Le Cordon Blue in London, with the participation of Chef Eran Marom, an Israeli who trained in French cooking schools. Chef Marom told the Jewish Tribune that he finds his work to be fun and a big challenge.” He said that he has to constantly search for new items. “ We want to educate [future students] about other products that are out there, other stuff that is available,” he says. Also in Toronto are two new restaurants set to open this month. Delicacies is an upscale eatery serving meat dishes, and My Zaidy’s Pizza and Bakery will be the city’s most northern restaurant. Both restaurants are under the supervision of the COR – the Kashruth Council of Canada.
New York…by Staff Reporters…Should a kashrus agency certify a kosher restaurant that also has a non-kosher restaurant by the same name? For one would-be diner the answer is a clear no as he almost ate at the non-kosher eatery just because a kosher restaurant Web site took him to the site of the non-kosher eatery with only a minor mention buried in the copy that they also have a kosher restaurant. The mistake was ultimately corrected but many who were involved questioned whether the major kashrus organization certifying the restaurant should have given the certification in the first place. A New York area Vaad’s refusal to certify a Dunkin Donuts franchise was criticized by some but the Vaad maintains that there is much that is not kosher in the franchise names that share space with the Dunkin Donuts. The growing role of the Internet as a major source for kosher restaurants is a new reason for tightening up oversight to avoid confusion, say several rabbis reached by Kosher Today. Said one: “I guess agencies and rabbis will now have to check Web sites and links to make sure that there is no confusion.” In as far away places as Buenos Aires, the potential confusion has become an issue. A group of American tourists in Buenos Aires complained that the glatt kosher McDonald’s is in a mall that has several other McDonald’s restaurants despite the fact that the kosher McDonald’s has a large kosher sign in the middle of the logo. The Buenos Aires McDonald’s is the only glatt kosher eatery of the international food icon. The potential for confusion, say kashrus sources, could be an issue with any brand that produces both kosher and non-kosher and even if the same is produced with different kashrus standards. While many were forgiving about the restaurant error, they were also hoping that kashrus certifiers would also take precautions so that such confusions do not occur.
New York…Kosher Today staff reporters…A London businessman who travels frequently to the Big Apple has learned to check a number of key Web sites that cover the kosher restaurant scene prior to leaving the UK. While he has many options, a favorite is www.GreatKosherRestaurants.com, which offers him special discounts as well as the latest updates. In fact, the traveler has of late made reservations on the site. The kosher restaurant Web site is the brainchild of Elan Kornblum, known as “The Restaurant Guy,” who is the president and publisher of the Great Kosher Restaurants Magazine. Another site that also sends e-mails on the latest updates is Koshertopia. The e-mails report on new openings, closures, and even changes of kosher certification. Another world-wide data base of restaurants, popular with many travelers is Shamash.org. These are but a few of nearly a dozen websites and blogs that cover the kosher restaurant scene throughout the country. Kosher restaurant sources say that while the kosher restaurants appear to have weathered the “worst” during the current recession, “they are by no means out of the woods.” The sources say that while many kosher restaurants continue to close in such major cities as New York, Miami and Los Angeles, they seem to be offset by new openings. One kosher restaurateur pointed out that a kosher restaurant always operates “on thin ice” since they are not open on weekends, a traditional profit center for non-kosher restaurants. Some restaurants have banked on a theme that can appeal to a “crossover” audience. It is these constant changes that have made such sites as Great Kosher Restaurants so popular.