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Five Boroughs Food Talk: Jewish Food
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This project is funded by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, through the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.




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+ About the Performance
This program was recorded 11/04/2014 at Symphony Space.

New York City is renowned for its Jewish cuisine, from diner matzoh ball soup to the limitless options for bagels, babka, and borscht. Jewish food has recently been elevated by inspired chefs, and simultaneously there is a nostalgic return to homespun staples. Host Gabriella Gershenson (food writer and editor at Every Day with Rachael Ray) dives into the topic with a panel of special guests all working to preserve and advance the art of Jewish food.

Guests include: 

Saul Zabar of Zabar's

Liz Alpern, co-founder of Gefilteria 

Naama Shefi, independent Culinary Curator & EatWith's Director of Communication

Jane Ziegelman, Curator of Culinary Programs at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and author of 97 Orchard

Mitchell Davis, Vice President of the James Beard Foundation and author of The Mensch Chef

+ About the Artists

Gabriella Gershenson is the food features editor at Every Day with Rachel Ray magazine. She was formerly senior editor at Saveur, and prior to that, edited the dining section at Time Out New York magazine. Her articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe and many other publications. She has been a regular guest on WOR’s Food Talk with Mike Colameco and NYC TV’s Eat Out New York with Kelly Choi, and appeared on the Food Network’s 24 Hour Restaurant Battle and The Best Thing I Ever Ate. She lives in New York City.

Liz Alpern is a co-founder of The Gefilteria, a boutique purveyor of Old World Jewish Foods. She is also co-author of The Gefilte Manifesto: New Recipes for Old World Jewish Foods (Flatiron Books, 2016). Liz developed a hands-on knowledge of the food industry working as a baker in a professional pastry kitchen, managing a Vietnamese food truck and writing articles and recipes for The Jewish Daily Forward. She spent two years working with Joan Nathan on recipes and research for Nathan’s most recent book, Quiches, Kugels and Couscous.

Liz also worked with national non-profit Fair Food Network, curating food events for the launch of the book: Fair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All, before teaming up to launch The Gefilteria. She is currently completing her MBA at CUNY Baruch College and was named to the Forbes ‘30 under 30’ list in Food & Wine for 2014.

Mitchell Davis is the EVP of the James Beard Foundation, a cookbook author, a journalist, and a scholar with a Ph.D. in Food Studies from NYU. With the Beard Foundation for more than 20 years, Davis has created and overseen many of the organization’s initiatives, including the the JBF Annual Food Conference, a national dialogue of thought leaders on sustainability and public health, and the JBF Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change. In 2013, Davis led the team that was selected by the U.S. Department of State to create the USA Pavilion at the World Expo Milano 2015. Davis holds a chair on the academy of the London- based World’s 50 Best Restaurants. He has written several cookbooks, including the ground-breaking electronic book My Provence (Alta Editions) with famed French chef Laurent Gras, which won the IACP’s “Judges Choice” award in 2013. He is a regular contributor to The Art of Eating. Davis’s TV appearances include History Channel’s 101 Fast Foods that Changed the World, Food Network’s Food(ography), Throwdown with Bobby Flay, and Best in Smoke. In 2013 The Forward selected Davis as one of the 50 most influential Jews under 50 in America.

Naama Shefi is a culinary curator who collaborates with chefs and cultural institutions to create on-trend events. Last year she joined EatWith - a rapidly growing “Airbnb for eating” that brings together amazing home chefs with people longing for unique and authentic food experiences. Together with the EatWith team, she is trying to change the way people eat.

Naama is a native Israeli who grew up on a kibbutz eating at a communal dining room. Up until 2012, she was the Director of Public Programs at the Israeli Consulate in NY. Early on she discovered the wide appeal Israeli food has as a window into its culture. She went on to recruit Israeli food personalities to be nonpolitical ambassadors for her native country. On March 2013, she created the “Kubbeh Project,” a pop-up restaurant in the East Village that served Jewish-Iraqi comfort food for 21 days.

Saul Zabar - Zabar’s opened 80 years ago when Saul was 6 years old and his family - Lillian, Louis, Saul, and his brother Stanley Zabar - moved from Brooklyn to the Upper West Side.

Saul attended grade school on the Upper West Side and then Stuyvesant and Horace Mann High School on a customer’s recommendation. Saul took over the Zabar’s family business of small neighborhood grocery stores when his father passed away in 1950. He did much of the buying, including the smoked fish, and began roasting Zabar’s own coffee blends. By 1968, the stores had consolidated into the current location of Zabar’s on Broadway and 80th Street, which Saul still runs with his brother Stanley and their sons Aaron and David.

Jane Ziegelman is the author of 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement. Jane is a curator of culinary programs at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. She is currently at work on a food history of the Great Depression.

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