JNF Women Get Cooking
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JNF Women Get Cooking

A cold Nov. 14 morning made way for warm quinoa soup prepared by the Queen of Kosher, celebrity guest chef Jamie Geller, at Congregation B’nai Torah.

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

Event co-chairs were Helaine Sugarman, Caryn Berzack and Cyndi Sterne
Event co-chairs were Helaine Sugarman, Caryn Berzack and Cyndi Sterne

A cold Nov. 14 morning made way for warm quinoa soup prepared by the Queen of Kosher, celebrity guest chef Jamie Geller, at Congregation B’nai Torah.

Caryn Berzack, co-chair of Jewish National Fund’s Women for Israel “Beyond the Blue Box” event said earlier, “It’s certainly timely having Jamie with us as Jewish National Fund is in the process of building the Institute of Culinary Arts in Kiryat Shmona in Israel’s Upper Eastern Galilee.

This state-of-the-art culinary center and food-tech hub will offer students farm-to-table agricultural farming methods, front and back-end restaurant training, chef programs, and much more. It will mark Israel as the culinary capital of the Middle East and provide economic growth for the Galilee. Jamie’s presentation today provides JNF’s Women for Israel an opportunity to showcase this groundbreaking and revolutionary initiative.”

Co-chair Helaine Sugarman announced that on Jan. 16, 2020, JNF will host the chief Israeli emissary and leader of the organization’s important water work. There will also be a beer tasting.

Lynn Oves recognized Marnie Nadolne for joining the Chai Society for JNF women who donate a minimum of $1,800. Oves said Nadolne has done a stellar job with Israel high school program admissions, doubling the number of Atlanta teens in the program this year to 24.

JNF Executive Director Beth Gluck spoke about the strategic development of the North and South of Israel and JNF’s role affecting that change.

JNF Executive Director Beth Gluck took the stage alongside a six-foot map of Israel. She explained the strategy to decentralize the population, making the North and South more viable communities, by stating, “Not everyone can afford to live in the middle like Manhattan. We need strength in the North and South on all levels for security and tourism. … JNF here is more than a project. We are effecting change in an integrated approach.” She elucidated that the South, near Gaza, has small towns of committed Jews like Sdorot, known for rocket attacks; the North near Lebanon in Kiryat Shmona has been left alone in a state of non-growth.

“They {the North} have rich soil and the future international culinary institute will be a major draw … for research and development showcasing Israel’s use of mineral water, seeds and superfoods. Also, a medical center. We know people cannot drive hours to have a baby.” By drawing attention to these areas, the Knesset will be in a position to grant more funds there, to get more services and change the perspective, Gluck said.

She noted that JNF is starting to better recognize Atlanta and wants a stronger presence here.

Geller has published six cookbooks and appeared on TV. She performed from a live stage with a huge screen behind showing details. A mother of six who met her husband through a traditional matchmaker, Geller got engaged in two weeks. “I was a bride who knew nothing and woke up with all these kids. My mother used to whisper in my ear, ‘You will grow up to be president.’ I was not training to be a balabusta.” Thus, she explained that it’s OK to use whatever shortcuts are available and not feel guilty.

Geller commended Sandra Bank of A Kosher Touch, whose staff prepared the recipes for lunch. “You all are so lucky to be in Atlanta. You have a wonderful sisterhood, and we have bonded over our love of Israel.”

Geller noted that she has a kosher online meal kit delivery system, Jchef, similar to Blue Apron.

The menu was: Carrot quinoa spinach soup, Moroccan salmon, cucumber fennel salad, za’atar carrots. Geller cited the recent popularity of Israeli herb, Za’atar, “If Martha Stewart and McCormick use it, it has arrived.”

Tips from Geller

  • Keep two quality things on hand: broth and tomato paste.
  • Sprinkle seasoning from high up so it’s more even. Always layer the salt and pepper. It’s ok to use frozen spice cubes.
  • Use quality olive oil. Get it to full heat.
  • In roasting veggies, don’t overcrowd the pan so the edges can brown.
  • Don’t waste. Use the green carrot tops as a trim. Learn to cook with scraps.
  • When shaking ingredients, do it with music and involve kids as fun.
  • Underdress the salad. You can always add more later.
  • Microwave lemons for 10 seconds to soften and reduce seeds.
  • Use a flat-edged wooden spoon for deglazing. To get genuine caramelization, see the brown bits.
  • Use small, tastier Persian cucumbers and leave the peel on.

The annual JNF Jack Hirsch Memorial Breakfast is at 8 a.m. Dec 3 at The St. Regis Atlanta. It is free. RSVP to jnf.org/atlbreakfast. The Jan. 16 event is at 7 p.m. at City Springs.

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