The Fresser

Move over Glasto. The festival to be at this weekend is Gefiltefest

Why schlepp to Somerset when it's all happening at JW3 this weekend

June 22, 2017 10:36

This Sunday (June 25) you’ll find me (and a predicted thousand other foodies) at the seventh annual Gefiltefest - the biggest Jewish food festival in the UK and Europe.

What started as a food demonstration by the lovely Lisa Roukin in the garden of founder, Michael Leventhal, has grown into the biggest Jewish food festival in Europe.

Leventhal — a socially minded sort of a chap and a HUGE foodie — managed to combine food and charity under one gazebo; selling tickets in aid of charities set up to feed the needy thus raising money whilst feeding friends. Genius.  

He pitched his tent in the grounds of the former LJCC and the show rolled on again to JW3 when the two merged. It has just kept on growing.

There are no rock bands but there are a range of presenters — from US food writers to top London chefs and experts on all things edible with a heimshe connection. Spend the day listening to people discussing food, or laughing at a panel doing a Jewish Food “Just a Minute” and learning loads about the vast range of nosh that lives under the Jewish food umbrella.

The mouth-watering programme is out now so you can plan your day. Here is a quick decoder so you can choose the events that are right for you:

For cooks of all levels (muck in and fress):

Pick the workshops where you can make (and eat) a range of foods: challah dough (that you turn into cinnamon rolls — yum); posh chocs; seasonal jam, chopped herring, hummus or vegan food. Not in one bowl, obviously… (bleurgh)

For lovers of food porn (have a lazy fress):

Hit the demos and watch someone else doing the work then steam in for the nosh at the end. Lots of cookery book writers doing these so a bit of celeb spotting too. Foods you can enjoy at demos include Sudanese Jewish food; salmon burgers; Tunisian rice dishes like maqluba and mujaddara; one-tray suppers (for an easier life) and borscht.

For the thinker (for a virtual fress):

Panels and talks are for you. Find out about the humble herring; our history of vodka drinking; what the Deep South Diaspora eat and what they’re up to down on the only Jewish farm in the UK – The Sadeh.

For plain old fressers:

If you’re just there for the nosh you won’t go hungry. Sure, there’s always someone who moans there wasn’t enough food, but the piazza has stalls selling kosher bites and touting kosher products — often with free samples. JW3’s fabulous restaurant, Zest, joins in, selling plenty of snacks. And that’s before you even hit those workshops.

My advice – arrive early so you can sign up for the workshops you want to do, and enjoy the venu in relative calm. Plan your day carefully — you can do that over coffee and breakfast at Zest.

Ps: Make sure you come and say hello! I’ll be chairing a panel at 2.30pm in the cinema, on Jewish food in the digital age with a host of exciting foodies — Instagram star, Felicity Spector; cookery book writer and former food blogger for the Daily Mail, Anne Shooter — I love her Jewish baking book; Laurina Todesaite — Lithuanian Jewish food blogger (yes there is one); the UK’s only kosher food blogger, Helen Goldrein and food writer and former JC food writer, Judi Rose. 

Update: Didn't make it to Gefiltefest? Here's a quick look at what you missed - 


June 22, 2017 10:36

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