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Jamie Geller, the ‘Kosher Rachael Ray,’ Dresses Up Simple Family Meals

‘I still don’t like to cook. I love to eat. I love to watch my children eat,’ she says in her new cookbook, ‘Joy of Kosher.’

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Jamie Geller, with Ktzitkot and Easy Cranberry and Pine Nut Couscous. (All photos courtesy of HarperCollins)
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One of her favorite things about living in Israel, she says, is learning cooking techniques and recipes from Jews of all different cultures—something she explores on her show Joy of Israel, which airs on JLTV, JoyofKosher.com, and YouTube. The first episode finds Geller tagging along with Israeli cowboys and learning how to make a meat stew; the second features Kurdish cooks who cook flavorful dishes without the help of any spices. “There are over 100 Jewish cultures here—from Indian to Ethiopian. Each one thinks their home cooking is the Jewish food,” said Geller. “My eyes are opening all over the place.”

While Geller has occasionally been criticized by some foodies for her unabashed desire to get out of the kitchen quickly and her equally unabashed love of shortcuts (which sometimes lean toward processed ingredients), she has no qualms about her style. “I still don’t like to cook,” she confesses in her new book.“I love to eat. I love to watch my children eat.”

Ari White, owner of the Yonkers, N.Y.-based Gemstone Catering, says that it’s both Geller’s multitasking skills and her approachable style that make her a star in the kosher cooking world. “She doesn’t claim to be a chef, and she doesn’t have classical training,” he said. “She doesn’t wear a chef’s coat—it’s an apron. She’s entirely relatable.” And, White added, she’s become something of a celebrity because of that: “There’s a trend toward foodie-ness in the kosher world … and within that we’re definitely seeing an emergence of Jewish food celebrities. I think as far as international recognition, I’d put Jamie at the top of the list. Joy of Kosher has become the giant in the room when it comes to the food scene.”

White credits Susie Fishbein’s “Kosher by Design” line of cookbooks for paving the way for people like Geller. “I have a signed copy of Susie Fishbein’s first cookbook and I still use it,” he said. “That book changed shabbos meals, and even kosher cooking in general, across the country overnight. What Jamie is doing is sort of the next thing. She’s a person with a passion for food who wants to expand tastes and abilities of kosher crowd.”

Cassie Jones, vice president and executive editor at William Morrow, added: “I loved Jamie the moment I met her! Her devotion to food and family was really inspiring and I wanted to work with someone with such a big vision.”

What does Geller think of those common comparisons to Rachael Ray? “I love it,” she said. “I really think she should be credited with getting America back in the kitchen. You don’t have to feel like you must grow your own herb garden to cook. It’s really just about approachable food. And if I could have a fraction of her success, I would be thrilled.”

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Jamie Geller, the ‘Kosher Rachael Ray,’ Dresses Up Simple Family Meals

‘I still don’t like to cook. I love to eat. I love to watch my children eat,’ she says in her new cookbook, ‘Joy of Kosher.’

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