Kosher Passover prep
By Deb Silverthorn
Dallas’ kosher kitchens, restaurants and kosher stores are flipping their spaces and readying for the Passover holiday with groceries, ready-to-go meals and scrumptious seder menus.
“It’s a big deal to ready a house for Pesach, it’s a huge deal and great responsibility to turn our establishments but we’re up to it,” said Rabbi David Shawel, Dallas Kosher’s director of supervision. The agency supervises the kashering of facilities throughout the community. “This city, and the commitment of kashrut for many, is a dream. To have so many wonderful places from which to choose — you can feel the enthusiasm and we all reap the reward.”
The Aaron Family Jewish Community Center’s kitchen expects to serve nearly 1,700 kosher meals for the seniors of the J and Jewish Family Service’s Kosher Home Delivered Meals program.
“I love the ritual of the annual overhaul to the nitty-gritty cleaning of every corner, between every plate and every spot on every shelf,” said JCC Chef Eli Cohn-Wein. He said that preparing traditional Seder meals and food for the week of Passover is an honor. Recipes are infused with childhood memories, and “it’s an opportunity to share our food with love.”
During the second Passover of the pandemic, Dallas’ kosher community is adapting. Kosher Palate, Milk and Honey and the two kosher Tom Thumb locations have reported that despite Texas’ relaxation of mask mandates, they will require mask-wearing by their employees and customers.
Some families who are used to traveling to family or to resorts during Passover are again staying local, some never having done the cooking for themselves. To alleviate the how-to/what-to-do, many Dallas kosher establishments are sharing Seder menus, some with curbside pickup and delivery options.
For Ruthie Henkin, owner of A Taste of the World Catering, creating dishes that pull from traditions around the world, while providing unique flavors, keeps her menus innovative. Her meat kitchen, based at the Schultz Rosenberg Campus, will be turned over for the holiday on March 21 with the help of Dallas Kosher.
“I’m happy we are hearing from some people who will be coming together with those they love,” said Henkin. “It’s not 40 people at a table, maybe again someday, but it’s a start and I’m so happy to be a part of my clients’ holiday.”
Chaim Goldfeder, owner of Kosher Palate, has made some changes to his operation. “The kitchen has switched; we have a new fryer, a new grill, doubled-in-size pareve prep and display areas and everything else has been taken apart and scrubbed to the core,” he said. His barbecue pit koshering took 100 pounds of charcoal burning at 900 degrees and two days to cool. The butchering and ready-to-go foods at Kosher Palate are now all kosher for Passover, and outdoor seating experiences are planned at the restaurant.
Reflecting on the ease of Passover travel of years gone by, Kosher Palate’s “Dallas Passover Villa” is offering all-inclusive three-meal-a-day packages, for some or all of the holiday, with store discounts and credit and waitstaff available.
“In-store, every day we’re opening boxes and it’s really exciting,” he said. “There’s so much new stuff from avocado oil and a great variety of wines to baby foods and ready-made desserts and an 8-foot section of kitniyot. What I want in my house to make the holiday easier and delicious is what I have found for the store,” said Miriam Goldfeder. “We had 27 pallets of product show up in the middle of the storm, in the middle of Purim, but we just keep going. It’s really easy to make this holiday much more than just meat and potatoes.”
Milk and Honey, whose aisles are filled year-round with food and household items, many from Israel, will be closed during Passover but already has its shelves stocked with unique specialties for the holiday.
“We are stocking the shelves in these next couple of weeks with dairy items, with cheeses and prepackaged salads, with treats and lots of items that take our customers back to their childhood,” said Amy Cohen, who owns the store with her husband Gadi. This includes “Papouchado wine cookies, a biggie for Israelis that is popular with anyone who tries them, and many others,” Amy added.
Simcha Catering & Event Design’s kitchen, housed at Congregation Shaare Tefilla, will begin turning over that kitchen on Sunday. Simcha is offering meals for Seders and throughout the week.
“Last year, for the first time ever, so many people were alone, and we were catering a Seder in a Box for one person,” said Simcha owner Lowell Michelson. This year, he’s planning meals for one, two or four people. “For so many people Pesach is the holiday, a time to keep kosher, a time to eat Jewish.”
The Tom Thumb locations at Coit/Campbell and Preston/Forest already have aisles of dry goods for the holiday on display. To clean their kitchens, prep and serving areas, both stores will close their kosher fresh meat and deli counters at 1 p.m. this Sunday, and open again at 6 a.m. on March 17, with everything that is available kosher for Passover.
“Pesach is a holiday that so many people participate in, one that brings back the smells, the tastes and everything reminiscent of the Seder tables and the holiday of our parents and grandparents,” said Shawel. “In Dallas, it’s so easy to make that happen and this year, more than ever, there is no reason to make do; make memories instead.”