Let's Eat

Kosher Melbourne: from latkes Benedict to lovely lamingtons

Eating well and keeping kosher is a breeze in the Australian city


Never mind the weather - as a religiously observant Jewish tourist, the one thing guaranteed to ruin a holiday for me would be to find myself subsisting on cans of tuna and raw produce for lack of kosher options.

Fortunately, eating well and keeping kosher during my recent week-long trip to Melbourne was a breeze, with approved products easily sourced on the supermarket shelves thanks to certification body Kosher Australia’s handy app, and an abundance of supervised restaurants, cafes and bakeries.

My absolute favourite was All Things Equal – so much so that I ended up visiting three times during my stay. Located in the heart of Melbourne’s Jewish community on Carlisle Street, the café opened at the beginning of 2021, in a brief lull between Covid lockdowns. Not the best time to launch, but as a not-for-profit social enterprise, All Things Equal has a mission that goes beyond its menu. Founder Jonathan Wenig came up with the idea for the café as his daughter Tali, now 23, approached the end of her schooling. Tali is autistic, and her dad knew that she would face more than the usual challenges when it came to finding a job.

Given her love of cooking, he was determined to help her build a suitable career. Jonathan teamed up with Bianca Stern, who has a background in education and disability support. Bianca was already working with a funder on a similar pilot project and together they launched All Things Equal as a charity underpinned by Jewish values, with the specific goal of bridging the gap between people with disabilities and the wider community.

“All Things Equal offers training and employment for people with disabilities, both Jewish and non-Jewish, in a range of hospitality settings,” explains Bianca, who is now its general manager. “Our trainees need to be seen as contributing members of society - they need to be front and centre.”

All Things Equal has a well-established employment pathway model, with trainees starting off in the cooking school, where they work one-to-one with mentors from the sector. During their time there, they are given the opportunity to gain work experience at a Jewish soccer club canteen, and, when ready, can apply to work at All Things Equal, before eventually transitioning out into open employment.

“We’ve seen incredible successes,” says Bianca. “One of our trainees, Adam, was told by a government advisor that he wasn’t fit to work. Adam became a trainee at our café where he was mentored by a professional chef and went on to secure himself a full-time job at a Jewish school canteen. Adam is thriving – and he’s a perfect example of the systemic issues we are trying to overcome.”

Of course, the proof of the pudding for a café has got to be in the eating. When I first visited All Things Equal on a Friday morning in what is Melbourne’s winter, the place was buzzing. I ordered one of its signature dishes, Latkes Benedict. Brinley, the friendly and warm Trainee who served me, told me it was one of his favourites and I could see why. The eggs were poached to perfection, the hollandaise sauce and the latkes were just the right combination of fluffy and crispy. On another occasion, I enjoyed a slice of toasted banana bread with a chai latte, and I really could have stayed there all day soaking up the atmosphere if I hadn’t had a lot of tourist-ing to do.

Next on my list of favourite Melbourne eateries is Zelda’s Bakery,  a sourdough micro-bakery in Ripponlea. Zelda’s is only open twice week – Wednesdays and Fridays. Doors open at 7am and there are usually queues forming round the block by 9am. Run by Maaryasha Werdiger and named for her great-aunt, Zelda’s started out life in her garage before moving to its current address in 2021. Maaryasha is committed to using local-grown produce and says she feels a huge sense of responsibility to provide the community with good food. I sampled a couple of melt-in-the-mouth flaky rugelach and an enormous Anzac cookie, a traditional Aussie oatmeal biscuit. While I was chatting to Maaryasha at the bakery, a passing customer told her that it’s not Shabbat in her house unless they serve Zelda’s sourdough bread, and having had the good fortune to sample some at my own lunch hosts that week, I can certainly see why.

While Melbourne abounds with Israeli-style shwarma joints and pizza places, when the community wants to celebrate in style it books a table at the Kimberley Gardens Restaurant and Function Centre. The intended ambiance is formal – I sent my husband a snap of my cashew chicken stir-fry, resting on a velvet tablecloth with flickering candles in the background and he commented that it looked like I was at a simcha. In reality the atmosphere was a bit chaotic, with several families loudly celebrating birthdays and at least one small child whizzing round the restaurant with a toy car. The food was delicious though!

My final honourable mention has to go to Haymishe Bakery, also on Carlisle Street. Having grown up on a steady diet of Aussie TV soaps, I was determined to find a kosher lamington to sample – the characters always seemed to be nibbling these traditional sponge cakes coated in chocolate sauce and rolled in coconut. Haymishe’s lamingtons did not disappoint – soft and chocolatey and extremely moreish. I packed several in my hand luggage as gifts for family and friends and really had to force myself to give them away.

For more information on kosher food in Australia, visit

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