Gefilte fish gets a retro-chic makeover

By Nathalie Rothschild, April 4, 2012
Where new and old mix: The Gefilteria

Where new and old mix: The Gefilteria

In Brooklyn, three Jewishfoodies are
reviving old-world dishes for a new, environmentally-aware generation.

Liz Alpern, Jackie Lilinshtein and Jeffrey Yoskowitz, founders of the Gefilteria, are offering up traditional Ashkenazi foods with a twist.

Their gefilte, kvass, black and white cookies and other delicacies are made with sustainably sourced ingredients, and their sales pitch is aimed at the young and eco-conscious.

"We all grew up eating borscht and gefilte in jars, and rarely tasted the potential of what these foods could be," says Mr Yoskowitz. "Simply by making them with fresh ingredients we are offering an update… Our generation is demanding food crafted in an artisanal way that accounts for health and sustainability."

The Gefilteria's gefilte is made from whitefish and pike sourced from the Great Lakes, and with wild salmon from Canada. For the pickled vegetables, the three friends are reviving the method of lacto-fermentation. "Most sauerkraut or kosher dill pickles are made with vinegar," explains Mr Yoskowitz. "Ours are made with salt or salt water brines." The kvass is infused with ginger and mixed with cocktails and the friends have created a kosher-for-Passover version of the black and white cookie, an iconic New York sweet.

Mr Yoskowitz is convinced that the Gefilteria will encourage a younger generation of Jews - as well as non-Jews - to rediscover the Ashkenazi culinary heritage.

"We've had many non-Jews at our tasting events and they have loved the food," he says.

But what about more staunch traditionalists, like Jewish grannies? Mr Yoskowitz made gefilte with his grandmother for Passover last year and he says she was "ecstatic" that her grandson was taking an interest in the foods of her past.

As part of their research, the three friends spent a day making borscht with Ms Lilinshtein's grandmother in her home in Brighton Beach, a Russian neighbourhood in Brooklyn.

Ms Lilinshtein's family was pleasantly surprised when they sampled the Gefilteria's kvass, and Ms Alpern's family is "all-round excited about the venture and is grateful to have such a balabusta in the family".

Last updated: 6:31pm, April 4 2012