The Jewish Week released its annual list of 36 young Jewish leaders changing the face of the Jewish community, “36 Under 36,” and it included two of the leading voices in the renaissance of Jewish food.
Itta Werdiger-Roth is the founder of kosher supper club The Hester, which eventually gave birth to Mason & Mug, a restaurant in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn that offers the rare combination of Jewish certification and trendy food.
“Before Mason and Mug there were so few options of where you could go for a laid-back atmosphere,” she told the paper. “I don’t have to go to that trashy club or uncertified ‘vegetarian’ restaurant.”
Werdiger-Roth was profiled alongside her husband, Matthue Roth, a writer and host of a religious podcast.
With the 2009 opening of his modern Jewish deli Mile End, law school drop-out Noah Bernamoff is largely responsible for the current resurgence of the Jewish deli- or at least for capturing an idea whose time had come. Since the success of the tiny sandwich joint in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill, Mile End has expanded to dinner offerings, a Manhattan location, a commissary in Red Hook (which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy), and a cookbook; now, Bernamoff is one of the people behind Black Seed Bagels, which has taken New York by storm with its handmade, wood-fired, Montreal-ish bagels that have spawned long lines and devoted fans.
Missing on the list are prominent Jews in the food world revitalizing or redefining Jewish food, like Micah Wexler of Wexler’s Deli, opened this year in LA; or Top Chef winner Ilan Hall, also of LA, who spurred controversy this year with the bacon-wrapped matzah balls at his restaurant, The Gorbals.
Also surprising is the absence of figures from the Jewish Outdoor, Food, and Environmental Education world (JOFEE) at organizations like Hazon or Adamah, when a recent study suggested that this is an area actually bringing non-observant Jews back to observance.
Last year’s list featured only a few food figures as well: Naftali Ejdelman of the Yiddish Farm, and sustainable kosher food educator Anna Hanau.