By Estee Gershkovich
Kiss the Kosher Cook, a Facebook page with local mom Malkie Gordon Hirsch at the helm, began as an idea for busy cooks to get inspired and have their cooking questions answered in a jiffy. If a crafty chef created a savory appetizer or tantalizing dessert that she was proud of, she posted a picture of it. If a busy balabusta couldn’t figure out what to do with a brisket on Friday morning, she asked the group. If you wanted to impress the others with your yom tov menus, you shared them. Kiss the Kosher Cook, along with an outstanding team, turned the cyber world into reality by staging a fabulous fundraising event for Tomchei Shabbos in Cedarhurst on January 6 that attracted over 200 women.
Kiss the Kosher Cook was started by Malkie Gordon Hirsch in 2012 after a former coworker suggested the name and idea.
“I’m not a cook, and I was never allowed to cook when I was growing up,” says Malkie. But Malkie wanted to share her recipes and culinary creations, whether tried-and-true or experimental, and she wanted a glimpse into others’ kitchens as well. Malkie just enjoys being in the kitchen, preparing delicious dishes for her husband and four young sons or for chesed for new moms, shivah houses, or cholim. A self-proclaimed “foodie,” she has found a way to share her passion for food while being helpful and doing chesed at the same time. Her daily fare and Shabbos meals look so delicious that you can just feast your eyes even if you are lamenting that you could be nourishing your family and guests differently. Occasionally she will prepare a private party for a small group. With 724 members and counting, her Facebook page attracts all types: women, men, new cooks, busy parents, and even seasoned professionals like Naomi Stein Nachman (a.k.a the Aussie Gourmet), Levana Kirschenbaum, and Jamie Geller (Joy of Kosher). If you belong to the group, you have the benefit of lots of advice and opinions without the feeling of “too many cooks in the kitchen.” Kiss the Kosher Cook is a closed group; if you want to join, you have to private message Malkie and be accepted.
Malkie’s “hobby” became a community event when Breezy Schwartz Beckerman, owner of Breezy’s on Central Avenue, offered her home for a fun night where everyone could taste the tempting food that group members were salivating over in pictures. However, once the ticket sales exceeded 85, it was clear a larger home was needed. The “Winter Sampler” snowballed into an event presented by Kiss the Kosher Cook, Breezy’s, and Sharrone Glick, hosted at the beautiful home of Chava and Yoni Schwartz. With lots of help from an incredible team of women, the Winter Sampler raised approximately $15,000 to benefit Tomchei Shabbos. The event surely “took a village,” with 82 dishes ranging from duck wontons to meringues and everything in between, prepared by many cooks. Rivka Katznelson, an interior designer and event planner, arranged all the dÃ©cor and food impeccably and creatively. Gourmet Glatt Emporium donated all the meat and poultry, providing the high-quality cuts for which they are known far and wide. Volunteers donated everything from hotplates to coatracks. Thanks to the efforts of Sharrone Glick and Elisheva Baum, generous sponsors of provisions included Ossie’s Fish, Chateau de Vin, and many other local businesses and establishments. Rachel Renov contributed her professional photography services to capture the spectacularly memorable event.
“People just kept telling me, ‘I did not expect this!’” Malkie recalls of the Winter Sampler.
A cookbook was given at the event featuring all of the recipes presented at the sampler. Attendees received delicious take-home cake-in-a-jar treats courtesy of Daliah Myers of Le Cake Chic. If you weren’t able to make it, you can still score a cookbook for $25 at Breezy’s on Central Avenue. All proceeds go to Tomchei Shabbos, an organization that discreetly provides food for Shabbos to needy families.
For Malkie, one of the event highlights was when people who follow her page introduced themselves to her. She loves to cook and she loves her family, her friends, and her Facebook friends, too. She hopes that in the future there will be another fundraising sampler that features either dairy delights or barbecued food.
“Food is an expression of love, and people can tell when someone cooks with love,” says Malkie. She always likes to have a cake on the cake plate and a full cookie jar. Malkie prefers to prepare recipes with ingredients that she recognizes, and to nourish her family healthfully, which is not to say that she never hangs up her apron. Occasionally her boys do get takeout pizza for dinner. Ironically, even though she wasn’t allowed in the kitchen as a girl, her family members all stop by regularly to avail themselves of her delicious meals and treats, so she doesn’t ever have much left over.
After the last dish was cleared at the Winter Sampler and all the gratitude was expressed, the Kosher Cook was back in the kitchen with a smile and a Facebook post.