Hot Off the Kosher Grill

by Brie Stimson April 3, 2017


jff-09-cantor-lori-frank-and-fran-goldsteinWith the sixth annual San Diego Jewish Food Festival, organizers have decided to give back. Temple Adat Shalom, which hosts the festival, has partnered with Interfaith Community Services to donate what they hope will be 15,000 pounds of food during the event.

“We will be doing a food drive in conjunction with the food festival,” event chairman Rich Stern tells the Jewish Journal. “People who are attending the festival will be encouraged to bring canned foods and toiletries.”

He says the food bank gets fewer donations in the spring and summer months.

“There’s always a lot of donations at Thanksgiving time and the Christmas holiday time, but during the middle of the year their donations drop down so our plan is to restock it.”

The proceeds from the festival benefit the synagogue.

Stern says now that Adat Shalom has done this festival a few times, they are hoping to hone in on what people like.

“We have five years of experience and we know what was popular during those five previous festivals,” he explains. “The items that weren’t so popular we took off the menu. We want to focus on the things that people really enjoy and we know if there’s a lot of it left over at the end of the festival that’s probably not a winner. So we diligently went through and changed the menu or eliminated the items that weren’t as popular and we kept and added to the menu items that people really like – the deli for example. We have lean corned beef that we get from the East Coast, we have pastrami and we have chopped liver and we provide combinations for those on fresh rye bread. The meat is sliced that day; it’s prepared and served right as it’s ordered.”

This year, Adat Shalom has a kosher grill, live music, Israeli dancing, a beer and wine garden and a shopping bazaar as well as foods like falafel, couscous, pomegranate chicken and pastrami made in the social hall. There will also be cooking demonstrations by Deborah Scott of the Cohn Restaurant group and Ron Oliver, Chef de Cuisine at The Marine Room.

The kosher grill has a completely self-contained kitchen.

“We prepare everything according to kashrut guidelines and rules, we buy kosher meat, beef from a kosher butcher in Los Angeles … People really liked the fact that they had a kosher meat option at the Jewish Food Festival. While we don’t serve anything that would be considered not kosher, per se, like shellfish and things like pork, this is a true kosher meat option that is separate from everything else.”

The festival, Stern says, runs the gamut from kosher to vegetarian to more traditional meals like chicken or kosher beef. They will be doing tastings of red and white Israeli wines, most notably Mount Herman wine from Galilee.

“We’ll have a lot of information about Israeli wine because it seems to be one of the up-and-coming wine areas throughout the world. They have an ideal climate … for it so we’re going to offer up additional information about Israeli wines.”

Preparation for the festival starts nearly a year in advance. A dedicated cooking committee is responsible for all the recipes and preparation of the food, and another committee does ticketing, which has seen a surge in online sales. 

Each year has a theme, and this year Adat Shalom wants to remind people that you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy the festival.

“You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy deli food,” Stern says. “Think of all the foods that are pretty ubiquitous now when their origins, when I was growing up … you only found them in a deli. Like bagels, lox and cream cheese, I mean that was a food that in the past in my dad’s generation you couldn’t find any place else. You couldn’t find that in the grocery store. Well now it’s ubiquitous and the same is true with … corned beef sandwiches or pastrami. And the food festival wants to make sure people understand that there’s a lot more to Jewish food than just corned beef pastrami and maybe a bagel, so we go to great lengths to try to accommodate different palettes.”

For more information and Food Festival tickets, visit

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