By R.M. Grossblatt
Alex Idov grew up in a family that loves to cook. His father, Bernie Idov, was known as Bernie the Baker by people who lined up on Friday afternoon for his fresh-baked challah at his store in Toco Hills.
The bakery is now closed, but Bernie is still baking challah in his home. Now Alex is following in his father’s footsteps by pursuing a career in culinary management.
On Wednesday, Nov. 18, Alex is presenting Kosh Atlanta, a kosher pop-up restaurant at Chabad of Cobb, for his senior project at Kennesaw State University’s Michael A. Leven School of Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality.
Idov said the Leven School faculty is excited about the program’s first kosher event.
“We are exceptionally honored to partner with our community to provide Alex a forum to demonstrate his talents and passion for kosher cooking and provide a new learning opportunity for the other students,” said Christian Hardigree, the director of the Leven School.
While his classmates are presenting their dinners in a house on campus, Idov would need to kasher the kitchen and secure a new set of cookware and serving utensils to prepare a kosher meal there. He thought about presenting his dinner at a kosher home, then he decided it might be good for the community to do it on a larger scale.
So Idov asked chef Thorir Erlingsson, an Icelandic certified master chef, whether he would be interested in a kosher night at a larger venue. When the answer was yes, Idov consulted with Rabbi Zalman Charytan, the Chabad rabbi at Kennesaw State, who recommended Chabad of Cobb in East Cobb.
The synagogue on Lower Roswell Road gives Idov room to serve 60 people at his “once-in-a-lifetime restaurant.”
Wine will be served with the meat meal, but instead of a cocktail hour, the evening will begin with a “Coketail” hour. That’s because Idov is drawn to nostalgia, especially regarding Coca-Cola.
He admires the late Rabbi Tobias Geffen of Congregation Shearith Israel, where Bernie Idov became a bar mitzvah. Among other notable contributions to the Jewish community, Rabbi Geffen was given access to the secret recipe for Coca-Cola and granted the Atlanta soft drink kosher certification in 1935.
“For someone who doesn’t drink soda, I sure use Coke a lot,” Idov said. One of the dishes at the five-course dinner Nov. 18 is bourbon-and-Coke-glazed meatballs.
Saying he took a liquor class, Idov added, “I like cooking with liquor more than I like drinking it.”
On his website, www.thekosherologist.com, Idov shares an album of photos of his family cooking.
“Does every family have so many pictures cooking?” he posted.
“I grew up in the food business,” the budding chef said, “but I want to define myself.” To do so, the kosherologist hopes to break into the media side of the culinary profession, “exploring Jewish culture through the art of food.”
Several years ago, Idov studied at a yeshiva in Far Rockaway, N.Y., where he wrote a food column for the Five Towns newspaper and cooked and baked for small parties. But “I’ve never catered for such a large group before,” he said. “It’s going to be a fun night as long as I can pull it off, G-d willing.”
What: Kosh Atlanta, five-course kosher dinner with “Coketail” hour
Who: Kennesaw State senior Alex Idov and classmates
Where: Chabad of Cobb, 4450 Lower Roswell Road, East Cobb
When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18
Tickets: $50; uc.kennesaw.edu/levenschool/events.php