Last week I attended Kosherfest, the largest kosher food industry trade show. Every year, I find the whole experience fascinating. There are retailers, wholesalers, media, food bloggers, industry professionals and people just there to taste food. You also see every kind of Jew. Chassidim speaking Yiddish, women in outrageously expensive sheitels, secular people and people speaking many languages and many accents. Putting Jews in front of food is a hazardous exercise – it’s amazing how much shoving goes on for a piece of Jack’s Gourmet sausages.
Jews love their food – there are so many kosher food bloggers that there are two events dedicated to this audience around this trade show – Kosherfeast and The Kosher Food Bloggers Conference.
I frame this event with an overlay of humor over the chaos for food. I always wonder what the many non-Jewish staff thinks of this event. Last year my personal favorite moment was when a staff person was cooking at a booth and next suddenly something caught on fire. Panic ensued and I was urging people to move back as the fire spread. Suddenly this big guy came with a big cardboard box and heroically placed it over the flame. Apparently, no-one had told him that trying to put out a fire with combustible material is not a great idea. Yip he added fuel to the fire and then someone else try to put an even bigger box on top of that. Thank G-d there were 2 Mexican workers who raced to the kitchen, filled a huge garbage can with water and dumped it on the fire. They solved the problem before venue staff arrived with fire extinguishers. I guess you learn a lot in yeshiva but dealing with fires is clearly not a topic.
Kosher food has come a long way from the days of gefilta fish and cholent. While there was the Manishewitz booth it was marketed as healthy choice and I tasted healthy zucchini cookies, tofu tuna, salmon jerky and gourmet Schezuan microwave meals. One of my favorites was pizza served in delicious savory waffle cone – great tasting and a fun and practice way to serve pizza. I had never heard of kosher diapers but I guess there is a demand. The gluten free industry is targeting kosher food with a huge assortment of products. Somehow gluten free is says marketed as healthy regardless of sugar and fat content. The range of new and interesting products was mind blowing.
I see how big the kosher food industry has become with big brands and boutique brands all targeting the kosher consumers. It’s amazing and I wonder how big can the market be? As a Jew who loves my food and who entertains a lot I will enjoy the new products and marvel at how much choice in product we have. Stay tuned for my food adventures using new and interesting products.
Originally published: November 7, 2013
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