Joan Nathan.(Joan Nathan)
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Experts Agree: Jewish Cuisine Is Cool

James Beard-certified foodies confirm what we already knew

Stephanie Butnick
May 12, 2011
Joan Nathan.(Joan Nathan)

In case you needed further evidence that Jewish food is making a hip, foodie-approved comeback, just days after Jewish chefs cleaned up at the James Beard Awards, the foundation’s über-trendy pop-up restaurant at Chelsea Market featured a discussion with Tablet Magazine contributing editor Joan Nathan about Jewish cooking. She was joined by Janna Gur, author of The Book of New Israeli Food: A Culinary Journey. Gur and her husband, journalist Ilan Gur, have been publishing the food magazine Al Hashulchan in Israel since 1991. Mitchell David, James Beard Foundation vice president and author of The Mensch Chef, rounded out the trifecta of Jewish cooking authority and moderated the event.

Nathan, three-time James Beard-winner, spoke about writing her latest book, Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France, and noted both the historical trend of Jewish cooking incorporating regional elements and also influencing other cuisines (anyone else verklempt over this whole Jews inventing foie gras thing?). It’s about region and religion, Nathan told the audience. Gur cited the progress Jewish ethnic food has made, entering the realm of popular contemporary food culture, and referred to diaspora cooking as “cuisine in transition” (And for all those chopped liver haters, Gur says the key is onions—sometimes more onions than liver!). Nathan gave Tablet a shout out, directing the audience to her article about Siberian chremsel. She enjoyed how many people commented on the article offering their families’ variations, she said.

If you want to see the food experts take on pop-up fever, hurry: The James Beard pop-up bursts May 14.

Related: Trans-Siberian [Tablet Magazine]
Unkosher [Tablet Magazine]
Earlier: Traditional Jewish Food: A Defense

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.