Kosherfest 2015: My Favorite Kosher Products
Earlier this week I attended Kosherfest, the world’s largest and most attended kosher-certified products trade show. I attended this show a few times over the years and was traveling to Brooklyn, so I decided to take a quick trip to New Jersey where the conference was being held. I was excited to see and taste the best of Kosher, especially because I usually can’t eat many of the products when I attend the National Restaurants Association show in Chicago each year. Although the Chicago show is the largest trade show in the business, most of the products being sampled are not Kosher, so I need too pass. This week I decided to take a break from my diet and look for some great products made by great entrepreneurs.
Kosher products have been growing in popularity rapidly over the last 10 years. In this article from 2010 in Bloomberg News titled “The Rapidly Expanding World Of Kosher Food” the Kosher Retail market is said to be in the 13 billion dollar range, a number big enough to make anyone turn his or her heads. Because of the growing trend many companies, large and small, make sure to certify their products as Kosher, if they meet the requirements needed. This means that Kosherfest attracts an array of business owners, from Orthodox Jewish Kosher Artisan bakers to Non-Jewish pork eating entrepreneurs from Texas who just happen to be selling Kosher food. As I walked around the Meadowlands conference room I was looking out for my favorite items to share with my readers. I wanted to find and try great products with great entrepreneurs behind them. I also needed an excuse for a diet cheat day.
Oh! Boo Chocolates
I was very impressed with the two sample beverages I tasted at Oh! Boo Chocolates booth. Because I am trying to cut out dairy, I am always looking for a great soy drink that will quench my chocolate milk cravings and this did just that. The Oh! Boo Chocolate brand is a new line from an Australian company started by a brother (Alexander Chan) and sister (Fanny Chan) team whose goal was to create a true and real product for people who love Chocolates. Fanny Chan is a trained chocolatier and won Sydney’s Best Chocolates in 2011. She has worked and trained in France and Belgium and currently supplies high ends stores in Sydney such as Maserati, Cartier, Jaguar, LandRover, Ferrari, and Gucci. The Soy Chocolate product epitomizes the spirit of what Oh! Boo does. Instead of using cocoa powder, they decided to use 100% cacao mass, the purest form of chocolate. Although Oh! Boo Chocolates are currently unavailable in the US, their goal is to sell in all major cities around the world, starting with Sydney and New York City. Oh! Book will be opening their flagship store in the up and coming trendy Sydney development called The Barangaroo Sydney, a multi-billion dollar development in the heart of Sydney in April 2016.
Pure Genius Provisions
The Chocolate Chunk Blondie by Pure Genius was my favorite item at the show. As someone who is addicted to doughnuts, cakes and brownies, finding a delicious gluten-free and vegan brownie was great. Then I found out the one third of the blondie was made from chickpeas, a fact I couldn’t believe. Pure Genius Provisions just launched its line of brownies and blondies at Expo East in Baltimore, MD in September and has gotten a great response over the last two months. Former health journalist and certified health coach, Nancy Kalish founded the startup because she knew that she should eat only healthy food. But she has a very unhealthy sweet tooth. Kalish got to work in her Brooklyn kitchen. The objective: to make the most incredible tasting healthy treats ever. One year and hundreds of dirty pans later, she succeeded and from the traffic at her booth it seems like the public agrees.
Squirrel brand is by no means a new company but they were new to me. The two products that stood out to me were the Crème Burlee Almonds and Salted Caramel Pecans. Its hard to find a great non-dairy kosher item like these and after tasting them I ran to my local grocery to find some. Since 1888 (127 years), The Squirrel Brand Co. has manufactured the ultimate nut. Squirrel Brand was born during the Industrial Revolution and has weathered two World Wars, the Great Depression, and countless revolutions in the business world. Through it all, the company has remained steadfast in its commitment to produce the finest quality products for its customers.
Despite industry consolidation, The Squirrel Brand Co. has remained an independent, family-owned business. The company was originally founded in 1888 in Roxbury, MA, but by 1899, Mr. Perley G. Gerrish acquired an interest in Squirrel Brand and moved the company to Cambridge, MA. He began to sell his mixed nut varieties from store to store throughout the Boston area by means of horse and wagon.Today, the company is based in McKinney, TX where it continues to produce the ultimate nut under the Squirrel Brand and Southern Style Nuts brand names.
I am no big beer drinker but the Malka beers I tasted really hit home with me. The story of the Malka Brewery began in 2006, born from the love of nature and a desire to further beer culture in Israel. Assaf Lavi, who was the owner of two pubs in Tel Aviv, left the Big City and moved to the ecological community of Klil and began brewing beer in small batches in Moshav ‘Amka. Assaf chose the name “Malka” (Queen, in Hebrew) because the word “beer” in Hebrew is feminine and he wanted the name to reflect both royal connotations as well as something for the masses. The first beers which Assaf brewed were tasted by culinary professionals. After the recipes were formulated, Assaf loaded his pickup and began distributing the beers in Tel Aviv.
Malka Beer was represented by Sublime Imports, the first and only US importer of Israeli craft beer. Sublime began operation in June 2012 as a Spanish craft beer importer with a single offering, having since grown to include Spanish natural cider, and of course Israeli craft beer, as part of their portfolio of some 15 products. Mike Hammond, owner and founder, has family and business ties to Spain, prior to getting into the beer business, Austin Clar, his business partner, is Jewish and used to live and study and Israel. Together they came to represent the two countries. Mr. Clar shared his excitement about joining Kosherfest for the first time: “As the only kosher Israeli craft brewery in the US, we see it as a wonderful opportunity to share our wares with such a particularly focused and important community. We wanted to be present in previous years, but were simply unable; now that we are, we are truly excited to join the fray!”
Malka Beer featured three offerings available in the United States: Malka Blonde Ale, a Blonde Ale brewed with a little bit of wheat malt, and oranges and coriander sourced in Israel.