CROWN HEIGHTS — Where does kosher food fit into the city's crowded foodie scene? Right into people's own kitchens, according to a local chef on a mission to serve adventurous Jewish food to anyone who wants it.
Chef Yuda Schlass, of Crown Heights, has long bridged the divide been Jewish and foodie cultures. His parents ran hip macrobiotic kosher eatery The Cauldron in the East Village in the '70s and later a kosher catering business in Jerusalem.
“I’ve always been looking for interesting ways to do Jewish cuisine,” he said.
Now, he a has a new outlet through Kitchensurfing, a site that pairs people with chefs who come to cook in clients' own homes. As of the beginning of July, kosher food is on the menu, thanks to a partnership between the site and Schlass, who has trained chefs in strictly kosher cooking that’s anything but traditional.
Different menus on the site include a "Persian-inspired" dinner, an Israeli brunch and a family-style barbeque with grilled lamb, chicken, goose and red tuna.
“I don’t want to load up and have 20 chefs that know how to cook brisket,” he said of the site’s offerings. “I want to have someone that can cook Thai food and someone that can cook Sicilian food.”
At a launch party for the new kosher section of Kitchensurfing, chef Eric Bolyard of Eleven Madison Park and chef Ygael Tresser of The Great Georgiana prepared a seven-course kosher meal at Schlass’ home in Crown Heights. The evening showed off the high end of what Kitchensurfing offers, which can set a client back hundreds of dollars per plate, Schlass said. But costs are negotiable and the Kitchensurfing site shows meals for as low as $40 per person.
Chefs given strict kosher training and a list of kosher-only markets like BenZ’s market in Crown Heights and Pomegranate supermarket in Midwood are available for hire in the New York area only, from the Upper West Side to the Five Towns region of Long Island. Schlass said he has already seen a lot of demand in Brooklyn, which he calls “the Silicon Valley of food” — and one of the city’s more vibrant foodie and kosher hotspots, with new restaurants like Park Slope eatery Pardes and the Crown Heights wine bar Basil.
With “the expanding palate of the kosher community,” he said, he expects the new partnership with Kitchensurfing to do well.
“Everyone wants to try and taste new things, but there is such limited choices in kosher food,” he said. “If you’re reading food blogs and you read about a chef in a non-kosher restaurant, you’ll never be able to taste their food. But through Kitchensurfing, you could actually get one of the chefs who work at one of these restaurants.”