Happy New Year, Happy New Book

Wednesday, 28 September 2011 / Published in Cookbooks, Location Shooting, Studio Shooting

What an awesome way to start off the new year! I’m having the best time shooting an exciting cookbook that is so appropos for Rosh Hashanah: The New Jewish Table. It’s a collaboration with Chef Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray, the husband-wife team behind DC restaurants Equinox, Todd Gray’s Watershed and Todd Gray’s Muse at The Corcoran (and other projects under their Harvest Moon Hospitality Group). We’re really generating lots of creative energy together!

Ellen describes the book as, “an ‘ethnically diverse’ cookbook that mixes Jewish cooking with today’s modern cuisine trends from a professional chef’s point of view.” She explains, “Todd gained his knowledge by marrying me—a Jewish woman—and together we opened a restaurant 11 years ago. The New Jewish Table is about the foods that have evolved. Many traditionally ‘Jewish foods,’ like potato latkes [as seen above], have found a permant home on the menu.”

Rosh Hashanah is a time of recalling and enjoying our connections with tradition, family, loved ones and community, another reason why doing this book in this season is so resonant. Ellen says, “The recipes are updates of classic Jewish regional cuisine, many of which were passed along from my Great Aunt Lil and my Grandmother Rose.” The shot above is of fig and port wine blintzes.

This cookbook is delicious—in many ways. I’m thankful for projects which inspire me and give me this feeling of connection. With each shot I feel like jumping up and down because it is so good, so yummy; and we are having so much fun as a creative team! It’s cool that this is such a cozy, family-inspired concept and project. Shooting in their home kitchen, we’re totally nestled into their everyday life, and it feels just like my own house. Their big, lovable dogs are sniffing around, and their 12-year-old son, Harrison is hanging out doing this homework (and, he comes over to stick his fingers in the whipped cream on this Upside Down Pineapple Cake!).

This reminds me (even more) of how I miss my own son, Dov, who’ll be away at college for Rosh Hashanah for the first time… So, spurred by a little “empty nest” twinge, I already sent him this Mini Pastrami Rueben Sandwich shot—just to make him hungry!

Best wishes to all for a good year. L’shanah tovah!