The Gefilteria Reclaims Ashkenazi Jewish Dishes


Of all the foods to ride the current trend of upscale, artisanal Jewish dining, gefilte fish might be the most unlikely.

These days, most people have only had it out of a can or jar. Even at its best, it’s a loaf of minced whitefish topped with horseradish, a peasant dish made to stretch fish to feed as many people as possible–not exactly a description that cries “appetizing.”

But three young Jewish food lovers and entrepreneurs in Brooklyn are trying to reclaim gefilte as a fresh and high-quality dish, along with several other neglected staples.

Elizabeth Alpern and Jeffrey Yoskowitz founded the Gefilteria after realizing that the craft food movement sweeping Brooklyn didn’t include any of the Jewish delicacies they love. Both already had extensive experience in the food world: Alpern worked with cookbook author Joan Nathan (who literally wrote the book on Jewish food), and Yoskowitz grew up the son of a deli man before training as a pickler at Adamah foods.

Jackie Lilinshtein, a business woman with experience at Bloomberg and The Economist (and fond memories of her bubbe’s kitchen), was brought on to help with the finances.

The Gefilteria’s Gefilte Manifesto states that gefilte “is about reclaiming our time-honored foods and caring how they taste and how they’re sourced.” For the company, that means making their gefilte with the best (and most sustainable) whitefish, pike, salmon, and steelhead trout, with other fresh ingredients like onions, eggs, olive oil, and seasoning. The gefilte is blast frozen to keep it fresh for shipping.

The gefilte is certified kosher by OU. The founders initially avoided kosher certification, deeming it too costly, but ultimately wanted to share their food with as many people as possible.

The company also makes horseradish, the traditional accompaniment to the fish; and kvass, a fermented beet drink that they liken to Jewish kombucha.

The Gefilteria doesn’t have a storefront, but ships all over the country, and is available at retailers in New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Columbus, OH.


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