Jasmine Einalhori: The next great kosher chef

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I can’t cook much beyond macaroni and cheese (I’m learning!), but I love a good cooking show. In fact, on nights that aren’t Wednesdays, it’s likely I’ll mention at least once that I wish “Top Chef” were on every evening; I love all iterations of it, including “Just Desserts,” “All-Stars,” and even the subpar “Masters.”

Of course, I’m not alone in my love for watching others cook. You need only flip through the channels to find a myriad shows along the same lines, including “Iron Chef,” “Chopped,” “Hell’s Kitchen,” and, well, the entire Food Network.” But what allure, if any, do such displays hold for Jews who keep kosher? Surely the bacon trend, evident in many of these shows, won’t resonate – in fact, it’s a safe bet that kosher-keeping Jews could not consume the majority of dishes featured on these shows without seriously modifying their ingredient lists and preparation.

Earlier this month, Brooklyn’s Center for Kosher Culinary Arts hosted The Next Great Kosher Chef, the first event of its kind. The competition, geared toward would-be professional chefs, garnered plenty of excitement from Jewish foodies who said they were glad to see kosher cuisine finally being equated with tasty cuisine. Hundreds of amateur chefs applied; 10 competed for the big prize, a 152-hour cooking program worth $5,000.

Celebrity chef judges included a magazine editor, a cookbook author and a restaurateur. Together, they crowned 22-year-old Los Angeleno Jasmine Einalhori the competition’s big winner; she beat out Batsheva Goldstein, a nurse and mother of two, and Josh Pashman, who sliced his hand open while cooking but refused to leave the competition to get stitches.

Einalhori, a college student at New York University, began experimenting with cooking at age 8 and said she hopes to someday own a restaurant that serves “delicious, innovative food to the kosher world.” Where most application videos demonstrated omelet-making techniques, Einalhori put a kosher spin on classic sandwich by demonstrating how to make a “kosher BLT” using fried salami, egg and guacamole. “My mission in being specifically a kosher chef is to bring a hip, new way of looking at kosher food,” she said.

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