|Seth Warshaw of ETC Steakhouse in Teaneck offers samples to visitors. Photo by Josh Lipowsky|
You might think that Mordy Herzog, executive vice president of Royal Wine Corp. in Bayonne, has a favorite wine. He doesn’t, and he doesn’t think you should either.
“It’s not about what is the most exciting wine, it’s about what you like,” he said. “And the fun and challenge that I put out to my customers is find what you like, find what you enjoy. Don’t find what people say is the best. Find the wine that suits you.”
Herzog’s challenge was resolutely accepted on Monday night at Royal Wine Corp.’s Kosher Food and Wine Experience at New York’s Chelsea Piers. The event drew 2,000 kosher industry insiders, members of the press, and people looking for a night out on the town. For Bayonne-based Royal Wines, the annual event is more than just a showcase of 200 wines it distributes – it’s an opportunity to expand the public’s knowledge.
“The story of kosher wine has just begun and we think there is a great, great journey ahead of us,” Herzog said. “When you look around, what you see is happy people. That’s what this event is about, happy people enjoying themselves.”
Herzog Wine Cellars debuted a new 2010 single vineyard Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon, which retails for about $75. The excitement of the new wine, general manager of wine operations Joe Hurliman said, was heightened by the opportunity to talk about it with experienced and novice wine drinkers alike.
“You get the story from the winemaker,” he said. “They try a wine and look at you and smile. You get that positive response. What more could you ask for at an event like this?”
For Fran Greenman of Madison, Wisc., in town for just a few days, the event “proves that kosher food and wine actually tastes good.”
“It’s nice to dress up every once in a while and take the baker’s clothes off,” said Adam Steinberg, co-owner of Zadie’s Kosher Bakeshop in Fair Lawn, who was there with his wife, Jessica, and business partners Eric Mercado and Josh Steinberg.
For first-timer Henry Frank of New York, the draw was “the food and wine, but mainly the food,” he said, noting that “sausage seems to be a big thing here, and it’s excellent.”
Sausage was easy to find, but bacon substitutes seemed to be the hot trend this year. Teaneck’s Gotham Burger, a first-time attendee at the show, offered BFLT Bites, with applewood-smoked maple-glazed beef fry. Et Al, opened in December in Vauxhall by Seth Warshaw of Teaneck’s ETC Steakhouse, served a lamb bacon-wrapped poached pear, while Brooklyn-based meat company Jack’s Gourmet sampled FLT – Facon, Lettuce, Tomato – sandwiches.
The event, Warshaw said, “allows us to come to the New York scene and present what we have, and hopefully they like it.”
At the Silverleaf Caterers table, chefs set up a Brazilian churrascaria station, grilling seasoned steak and marinated chicken on rodizio swords in the style of the Brazilian barbecue, demonstrating a new feature for weddings and b’nai mitzvah. After hearing about the churrascaria style, Jack Wasserman, who runs Silverleaf, the catering arm of Teaneck’s Butterflake, sent his chefs to learn the techniques.
“A lot of people love our stuff and want to know how this can translate into an event for them,” he said. “That’s why we do this.”
The expo appeals to many audiences, according to Menachem Lubinsky, CEO of Lubicom, a kosher industry monitor and host of the annual Kosherfest industry expo in the Meadowlands. Lubinsky was on the lookout for new trends and innovations in kosher wine and food.
“It’s all part of the upscaling of kosher,” he said. “This event, more and more restaurants are appealing to this crowd. It’s part of an entire universe of developing kosher to the next level. It’s become a big social event because of people in the area who are interested in better wines and better food. This is a good place to see a good sample of it.”
“It’s a great event that celebrates the growth of the kosher industry and reiterates that market is being driven by Jewish kosher consumers,” said Elie Rosenfeld, CEO of Joseph Jacobs Advertising, which represents kosher giants Empire and Manischewitz.
The assorted carving stations slicing up fresh, hot brisket, pastrami, and corned beef were big draws for Rabbi Levi Stone, who came down from Westport, Conn., with his wife, Chanie, but the sweeter wines, like Teal Lake and Moscato d’Asti also grabbed his attention.
In addition to what he described as the never-ending delicacies, KFWE provides “just an unbelievable feeling of togetherness and unity and good kosher food,” he said. “What more could you ask for?”