Jewish Family Service LA (JFSLA) has published a collection of recipes and family stories from 40 chefs, influencers and restaurants in New York and Los Angeles. “Jewish Family Recipes: Stories & Recipes From Our Table to Yours,” is also a gift that gives back. Sales benefit JFSLA’s Food & Hunger Programs, serving people regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, or religion.
The idea for the cookbook, which has been selling like hotcakes since it became available online in December, originated when the pandemic took away in-person fundraising events for the social services agency. In turn, its volunteers came up with a new recipe for giving. With so many people homebound and the growing popular interest in hobbies like cooking, members of the Young Leaders Executive Committee, including two graduates of Beverly Hills High School, decided to create a special community cookbook to benefit Angelenos.
“As we grappled with the pandemic and its effect on our world in late 2020, we asked ourselves: How can we highlight the critical work of JFSLA and help the organization provide countless essential meals to our fellow Angelenos while keeping our neighbors, friends, and communities safe?” Deborah Herman, JFSLA Young Leaders Executive Committee Strategic Initiatives Chair and a 2006 Beverly Hills High graduate, told the Courier. “We came up with the idea for a community cookbook that would also lift up small businesses and had a fantastic response from chefs, restaurants, and the local community.”
Notable contributors include A.O.C.’s Suzanne Goin, Canter’s Deli, Birdie G’s, Jon & Vinny’s, and Lodge Bread in Los Angeles, as well as others from across the country like Adeena Sussman, Mike Solomonov, and Russ & Daughters in New York.
Contributing to the JFSLA benefit cookbook was a no-brainer, Jacqueline Canter, one of the co-owners of Canter’s Deli on Fairfax, told the Courier. “Our philosophy is to give back every day,” explained Canter, a third-generation co-owner of the deli with her brother, Marc, and their cousin, Terri Bloomgarden. The iconic deli has been giving to SOVA food pantry every day since it opened its doors in its original Los Angeles location in Boyle Heights in 1931, and also donates its excess bakery goods to a food pantry on a daily basis, Canter shared. Another philosophy of the family-run business: “We use the best possible ingredients we can buy and make everything fresh every day on the premises,” Canter said. “Our recipes have been handed down from generation to generation. We’ve been making the same potato salad, coleslaw, and beef brisket for 91 years. We take pride in that.”
Beyond recipes, the 147-page coffee-table style cookbook includes wine pairings suggested from Stanley’s Wet Goods in Culver City, as well as an introduction by JFSLA President and CEO Eli Veitzer and overview of the history of JFSLA, which was founded 165 years ago and was the first social service agency established in L.A.
“We expanded our Food & Hunger services during the pandemic and continue to provide more meals and groceries than ever before,” JFSLA’s Veitzer told the Courier. “Funds raised by the cookbook will help sustain these efforts, literally putting food on people’s tables.”
Specifically, proceeds from the sales of “Jewish Family Recipes” will support the agency’s SOVA Food pantries and Senior Meals program, Veitzer explained, noting that more than 16,000 Angelenos, including those facing food insecurity or health issues and people with disabilities, are served by these programs each year. “The JFSLA Young Leaders developed and executed this project from soup to nuts, if you will,” Veitzer said, praising the team’s efforts. “Recognizing the need, and building an opportunity, they have produced a spectacular cookbook, and are raising money to make a difference in the community.”
In addition to Deborah Herman, the JFSLA Young Leaders who spearheaded the cookbook benefit project include Maggie Wolf, JFSLA Young Leaders Executive Committee Vice Chair and 2009 Beverly Hills High graduate; Rochell Rotenberg, JFSLA Young Leaders Executive Committee Marketing & Partnerships Chair; and Zach Gingold, JFSLA Young Leaders Executive Committee Chair.
“We’re really excited to see the impact that the cookbook has already made,” Gingold told the Courier, sharing that $18,000 had been raised in sales since it became available in early December.
Herman concurred and shared her excitement about the cookbook’s initial success.
“At a time in our world where people are looking to do good and make an impact, the response we’ve received from chefs, contributors, and supporters just shows what a difference we can make when we all come together.”
“Jewish Family Recipes” may be purchased for $36 at jewishfamilyrecipes.com. Purchases are tax deductible and proceeds benefit JFSLA’s Food & Hunger services.