The release of Kosher by Design Teens and 20-Somethings marks the seventh book for cookbook author Susie Fishbein. The wildly successful series has already sold over 400,000 copies worldwide and has led to hundreds of appearances by Susie from coast-to-coast and Canada. Profiled in the New York Times and on CNN, Susie has been named one of the 50 most influential Jews by the Forward. She has been a guest on dozens of network TV and radio shows. Susie was featured at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival at Disneyworld, and taught at the Degustibus cooking school in NY. Recently, Susie was an honored guest at the White House in recognition of National Jewish Heritage Month. Susie resides in Livingston, New Jersey with her husband and four children.
1 Your new book is written for the next generation of kosher cooks. How do today’s teens and 20-somethings approach food?
I believe there are two types of kosher teens out there. The first group is composed of those that have grown up with the luxury of incredible take-out choices. There was a kosher pizza store in the town I grew up in. If you wanted anything else it was an event. My whole family got in the car and drove to a restaurant or for a bigger deal we took the train into the city. The array of food within a short walk to many of the Jewish neighborhoods is huge. So, my hope is to reach out to those eaters and break them of the fast-food habit, let them experience the joy of cooking for themselves and the benefits of it. The 2nd group is the part of this generation that is health conscious and food savvy, and that often goes hand in hand. A large part of these kids are very in tune to what they are putting into their bodies, the effects of food, the health benefits and I wanted to give those readers plenty to work with. These readers grew up watching cooking shows, surrounded by cooking media, and hopefully have grown up on Kosher by Design food so they will have high expectations.
2 What kitchen survival skill should every teen and 20-something learn?
Learn to clean as you go. Dirty stuff only gets dirtier when left on the counter for hours. Your family, dorm mates, or suitemates will only invite you back to cook if you leave the kitchen clean.
3 Your Kosher by Design series has sold over 400,000 copies worldwide and you were named one of the 50 most influential Jews by the Forward. What do you think is the secret to your incredible success?
I am blessed to have loyal readers. I don't really know the secret. If I had to bet I would say I think my readers see themselves in these books, I am like them, I am looking for the same things as they are- gorgeous, fabulous food that doesn't require a culinary degree to produce.
4 What do you see as the next big trend in kosher cuisine?
This is not a new trend, it is a continuing trend. As new ethnic companies realize the value of kosher certification, new doors open to kosher cooks. As new ingredients hit the markets we have great options in what we can play with at home.
5 Describe your best cooking moment?
My favorite cooking moments happen in my own home, serving great meals to people I love. My best one however, was cooking at the Disney-Epcot International Food and Wine Festival alongside many famous chefs. I got to cook for audiences of foreigners who likely had never known what kosher was.
6 After a month of holiday meals and three day-yom tovs, I think everyone is ready for a little break. What are some of your favorite ideas to lighten up a meal?
Check out Kosher by Design Lightens Up!! This book is perfect for this post-holiday season.
7 What are some of your favorite foods?
My brother-in-law Clint Greenbaum grew up in Kansas City and is awesome on the grill. His "Grub" as he calls it is one of my favorites. That and pizza, old high school habits die hard.
8 What is your least favorite food?
I can't think of any. I am willing to taste almost anything.
9 You are not a classically trained chef and never went to cooking school. Who taught you to cook?
I am self taught but have had the benefit of working with great chefs. I learn something new every time I step into the kitchen. I love exploring foreign food markets and reading restaurant menus to see what is fresh and exciting. When I travel my eyes are always open to pick up a new spice or technique. I have 4 napkins-worth of handwritten notes that I took at a roadside falafel stand in Israel, while its proprietor shared his tips for the best falafel I had ever tasted. I made sure to pick up the authentic tool for forming the balls in the shuk before I left. My mind is always looking for the next recipe or concept.
10 What advice would you give the busy home chef?
Keep lists! I am a believer in writing things down. When you see a menu on paper, it becomes obvious if you are over-planning. Organized shopping lists made from the recipes keeps you from having to rely on memory and keeps you from multiple supermarket stops. I even write while I am cooking, I mark down when things go into the oven if my timers are already in use. When working on Shabbat or holiday meals of multiple foods, instead of making dishes from start to finish I will do the prep for as far as I can a day or two before. I keep a list of tasks that still need to be done on each item, allowing the food to be finished as close to serving time as possible so it is at its best and freshest.
11 When you are not wearing an apron and standing behind the stove, what do you like to eat?
Anything cooked by someone else.
12 After you finish your cookbook tour and take a well-deserved vacation, what do you have planned next?
It doesn't work like that for me. I began a cooking tour 8 years ago and thank god, have appeared almost every single week to a new or repeat audience. My calendar is filled for the foreseeable future. As for the books, I am already working on the next. Traditionally I finish a book, take a day off to celebrate and begin the next. And I wouldn't want it any other way!