April 2017FEATURE

The San Diego Jewish Food Festival



By Deborah Vietor

Do you enjoy international Jewish food? Spectacular entertainment, celebrity chefs, children’s activities and a focus on charity? The 6th San Diego Jewish Food Festival & Community Food Drive (JFF), held at Temple Adat Shalom is the place for you!

Open to the public, the food festival offers lots of delicious food including kosher meat offerings, entertainment, chef demos, kids activities and much more from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, May 7.

In addition, food collected during the festival will be donated to Interfaith Community Services (ICS), feeding the hungry and housing the homeless for over 25 years in North County. ICS is a sponsor for the festival and partners with Adat Shalom throughout the year, providing meals and shelter for those in need.

A highlight of the festival is the Kosher Grill. Festival organizers set up a completely self-contained kosher kitchen to prepare all grill offerings. Kosher beef is purchased from a Kosher butcher in Los Angeles and prepared on a Kosher grill. This year the grill will feature kafta seasoned sliders made with lean ground chuck, tenderized flank steak sandwiches, and Hebrew National hot dogs. In addition to the grill, festival attendees will be able to dine on many traditionally Jewish foods. The New York Deli booth will feature corned beef on rye, pastrami on rye and chopped liver … on rye! Other food booths will offer traditional dishes such as knishes, falafel, kugel, strudel, rugelach, black and white cookies, rainbow cookies and many other items prepared using time-tested recipes.

Along with 6 volunteers, Diane Hillman will bake for 1,500 to 2,000 expected attendees. She is responsible for supervision and preparation of baked goods for the festival. The most popular items, according to Hillman are the apple strudel and rainbow cookies, in addition to the black and white cookies.

Allison Weisman is the bakery chair and in charge of the black and white cookies and the Jewish Rainbow Cookies, both made with her recipes.

“I started my business, Allison’s Custom Confections, about three years ago and I provide desserts for many occasions, although a good deal of my business is Bar/Bat Mitzvahs as well as many temple events,” she said. “Growing up on the east coast, I have fond memories of visiting the local Jewish bakeries in New York City with my family. My maternal great-grandmother was from Hungary and taught my mother to cook and bake. My mother passed many of her skills and recipes on to me. As an adult, I try to recreate many of the cakes/cookies I loved as a child.

Although there is a science to baking, many of the festival recipes have been altered from individual’s family recipes, becoming even more delicious! All baking is done at the temple in a certified commercial kitchen.

In addition to fabulous baked goods, chef demonstrations always draw a crowd at the festival, and will take place throughout the afternoon. According to Richard Stern, one of the festival co-chairman, Celebrity chefs scheduled to provide cooking demonstrations include Deborah Scott, Executive Chef for the Cohn Restaurant Group; and Ron Oliver, Chef de Cuisine at the Marine Room in La Jolla.

A food drive adds another element to the festivities, and Stern notes that “the spirit of volunteerism is contagious” among the festival-goers.

“Our dedicated group is working collaboratively within the community to provide an amazing festival experience and, at the same time provide food that will be used to feed those in need of assistance in the North County area,” he said.

Hundreds of volunteers contribute thousands of hours each year, working to ensuring cuisine, drinks and entertainment are at a top tier level. The festival expects between 1,500 and 2,000 people will gather to share in culinary delights from Israel, the Mediterranean, and Eastern Europe from delis throughout the United States.

Traditional and contemporary Jewish music will be enjoyed, including top vocalists, Israeli dancing and exciting Klezmer band performances. A large tented area provides attendees with a shaded area containing tables and chairs to relax and enjoy the food while being entertained. Adat Shalom religious school children will be performing Israeli dancing as well. A Kid’s Corner complete with children’s activities will be a perfect spot for families to gather.

A beer and wine garden will be located at the south parking lot. Kosher wines from both Israel and California will be poured by the glass. A special tasting flight of selected premium Kosher wines will also be offered. Parking includes a shuttle service for easy access. Superb shopping is also available, featuring jewelry, clothing, Judaica, glass art, baby items, crafts and an array of interesting vendors. Major festival sponsors include Unicorn Jewelry, Interfaith Community Services, Streeter Printing and Barons Market.


The Jewish Food Festival & Community Food Drive will be held at Temple Adat Shalom: 15905 Pomerado Road in Poway, on Sunday, May 7, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Festival tickets are $20. However, purchase prior to April 8, and receive a $5 discount. Children under the age of 12 are admitted for free while accompanied by an adult. Visit the website for more information and to volunteer, at sdjewishfoodfest.com.



Freda Heller’s Mandel Brot

Freda Heller is a remarkable woman. At 98 years young, she is still going strong and oversees some of the baking at Adat Shalom. We are fortunate that Heller has shared her famous recipe for Mandel Brot, a cookie which is much like biscotti. People at the synagogue rave about it!


You will need: A four-sided baking sheet.


1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour – (Not bread flour)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup, plus 2 tbs. sugar, (place in separate mixing bowl)

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 extra large eggs

1 cup of corn oil plus 2 tbs. added to amount

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract



Baking sheet must be buttered, (not PAM) before you begin.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Combine all dry ingredients, except for sugar and set aside.
  3. Place sugar in a separate bowl and set aside.
  4. With a whisk, beat oil, eggs and vanilla until frothy. Add this mixture to the bowl of sugar.
  5. Mix vigorously with a large wooden spoon until creamy.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the egg/oil/vanilla/sugar mixture and stir together until it forms a ball.
  7. Sprinkle flour around the edge of the bowl, and continue to form the batter into a ball. (This should take a few minutes.)
  8. Place the ball of dough onto a baking sheet and flatten to fit edge to edge. There should be enough batter to fill three sheets, about half an inch thick.
  9. Place in preheated oven and bake 28 to 30 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven. While cookies are still in the pan, cut across with a spatula to make 6 separate sections; remove 2 at a time.
  11. Slice wide, about 3/4-inch slices.
  12. On an empty baking sheet, place the cookies, cut side facing upward.
  13. Place in the oven to complete baking again for 9 to 10 minutes.
  14. Remove from oven, allow to cool completely before placing in a sealed container.


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1 Comment

  1. What a nice article! Should be a fun time on May 7th! So much happening at one place as well. Authentic Jewish Food, Celebrity Chef Demonstrations, vendors, expanded Kosher grill, Community Food Drive with ICS, Mediterranean dishers, Wine & Beer Garde, Live entertainment and children’s activities as well. Can’t wait!

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