(New York Jewish Week) At the first Kosherpalooza, a consumer-facing kosher food festival, savvy attendees knew how to strategize: First, sample everything on the convention center’s dairy side (milk, ice cream, cheese, pasta, fresh goat and sheep’s milk), e Then move on to the meat side, where steak tartare, charcuterie, charcuterie, chicken noodle soup and crispy steak tacos await you.

Those using this strategy did not have to wait between dairy and meat dishes, as dictated by Jewish law, thus maximizing enjoyment and efficiency during the all-day event, which was held Wednesday at the Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus, New Jersey.

Kosherpalooza was first announced in March, just weeks before the Kosher fair, Kosherfest, announced it would be ending its 33-year run. Kosherfest organizers said they closed the fair due to changes in the industry As kosher food goes mainstream, supermarket shoppers have become increasingly willing to purchase kosher products at general fairs, as well as a shift in attendance: as the ranks of professionals had shrunk to Kosherfest, there was increased interest from individuals and social media influencers.

Kosherpalooza, by contrast, held at the same venue as Kosherfest, welcomed these 3,800 people on the day, both influential and otherwise. Attendees, who paid $150 per ticket, were able to watch a day of kosher cooking demonstrations, wine tastings and food samples from 125 vendors.

An assortment of colorful pareve desserts includes flavors like berry, pistachio, mango, and chocolate. (Jackie Hajdenberg)

We wanted this site to be about people having a positive kosher experience, to come and have fun, walk around to sample foods, enjoy great entertainment around food and have a great time and we did, said Shlomo Klein, chief operating officer of Fleishigs Magazine, who co-organised the event. The atmosphere was electric all day and everyone had a great time: consumers, sellers and everyone in between.

Among the attendees were a mother and daughter duo, who declined to give their names, who said they learned about Kosherpalooza from an Instagram ad. I thought it would be fun! said her daughter, who looked to be in her 20s. I thought it would be a bit over the top and it is a bit over the top.

She loves food, his mother explained, as she answered a phone call.

On Wednesday morning, some patrons started the day with gluten-free kosher pastries from Twisty, while others snacked on fruit samplings from a vibrant display at Fruit by Pesha, where both pink and yellow watermelon were available. Tasters have reported that dried pink pineapple definitely tastes different.

A Kosherpalooza guest digs into the fruit display at Fruit by Pesha. (Jackie Hajdenberg)

Among the crowd of kosher food enthusiasts, a bevy of Jewish social media influencers circulated, including podcaster Nachi Gordon, TikToker Miriam Ezagui, and TikToker Sarah Haskell. Meanwhile, kosher food bloggers Melinda Strauss and Chanie Apfelbaum judged the cooking competitions.

Apfelbaum, who had attended Kosherfest before and had noticed its decline in recent years, said this event was much more influencer-friendly. It’s nice to meet people, he told JTA as he ran his stall, where he sold his cookbooks. You can’t go more than a few steps without meeting people you know.

The growing value of social media in the world of kosher food was a constant theme throughout the day. In a panel on the state of the kosher restaurant industry with Dani Klein of the YeahThatsKosher blog, Elan Kornblum of Great Kosher Restaurants magazine and its Facebook group, Chef Mike Gershkovich of Mikes Bistro and Steven Traub of Wall Street Grill, Klein attributed the the rise of social media among Jews observant of kosher food embellishment.

The visual dining experience just got more beautiful, she said. This is what these social media platforms allow us to do.

Rochie Pinson, a challah pastry expert, demonstrates challah braiding techniques. (Jackie Hajdenberg)

This was especially with regards to space meat, where more formal catered-style food was offered. There were pareve-colored entremets shaped like pink hearts that were almost too pretty to eat, Instagram-ready miniature steak tartare served in crispy tapioca shells, and expertly assembled kosher charcuterie boards.

Returning to the dairy industry, one unpretentious exhibit that took guests by surprise was Meant to Be Natural Food, offering a variety of cheeses, chocolate and strawberry ice cream, as well as fresh goat and sheep milk. These treats were served by the dairy farmers themselves, an Amish family known as the Millers. Unfortunately, they were too busy to talk to a reporter.

Amish children worked the stall at Meant to Be, serving chocolate and strawberry ice cream. (Jackie Hajdenberg)

The event also had several stalls with specialty products, such as gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free foods, as well as vitamins, supplements and health foods. One particular ingredient has been found in several food products: CBD, or cannabidiol, which is an active ingredient in cannabis but does not get consumers high.

There is a national need for the product, in general, said hemp farmer Yisroel Shenkman, whose plants are used to make Loosiez products, which sells a variety of cannabis-related edibles that are certified kosher by the Orthodox Union . We are a cannabis company that just went kosher.

Chaviva Nockenofsky of PcPops, a Lakewood-based peanut butter chews company, also makes special CBD Peanut Butter Cups, in addition to the regular peanut butter and chocolate products. She said she had never been to Kosherfest, but the organizers asked her to come to Kosherpalooza.

It was a day filled with delicious food, but one quibble was that there simply wasn’t enough water available to keep snacking hydrated. This sentiment was summed up perfectly by a woman who, finding a table with drinks, exclaimed: I’ve never been so happy to see seltzer in my life.

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Image Source : www.jta.org

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