Traditional Recipes with Modern Sensibility: Balducci’s Take on a High Holiday Feast

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Balducci’s New Culinary Team Shares Philosophy on Flavor Combinations, Innovative Dishes

Chefs David Poran and Effie Spiegler are no strangers to the traditional menu of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur- they’ve been celebrating the holidays with their families since they were young boys. As they take on their new respective roles as Balducci’s Culinary Director and Corporate Chef, their latest challenge goes far beyond preparing a holiday meal with relatives, and instead focuses on bringing their family-inspired recipes and culinary innovations to the entire family of Balducci’s specialty food markets.

As many prepare to embark on the holiest time in the Jewish calendar, which begins on September 22 at sundown with Rosh Hashanah and culminates with Yom Kippur 10 days later, Poran and Spiegler are preparing to launch Balducci’s High Holidays menu- complete with new, innovative dishes. "We can never forget our cultural traditions” noted Poran, “but we can reinterpret them for today's tastebuds by making familiar foods with great flavors."

And those familiar foods are at the center of Balducci’s prepared foods offerings, which will be available in all ten stores and through a catering menu beginning September 6, in conjunction with a series of upcoming in-store tastings.

“One of our main goals was to make this New Year celebration a food holiday full of tradition and taste,” added Poran. In doing so, the chefs chose to keep fruits and vegetables in the forefront.

One of the most universal customs of Jewish families is the eating of sweet foods, like apples and honey, to symbolize a sweet year ahead. In keeping with that tradition, Balducci’s offers Pomegranate Honey Apples, with a mix of tender apples with crisp glaze made from honey & pomegranates (Available as both a side dish and as an entrée with Roasted Chicken).

Poran and Spiegler also set out to create a ‘lighter’ version of traditional Kugel, with silky layers, distinct flavors and a bounty of dried fruits. “We wanted to celebrate the fall with the Noodle Kugel, so we added cranberries to the traditional apple mixture, noted Poran. “The Potato Kugel is equally delicious- redolent with sweet roasted garlic and thyme, it is a simple, hearty dish, and the perfect complement to our Traditional Beef Brisket.

An ‘Un-traditional’ Spin on Tradition:

Balducci’s take on Gefilte Fish may be the most “untraditional” item on this year’s menu, with a much milder taste and a light texture, due in part to the chefs’ use of tilapia. “The secret to our Gefilte fish is in the ratio of fish to matzo meal, and we use much more fish than matzo. Essentially, we wanted to broaden the appeal without getting too far from tradition—and it works-- people who claim to hate the stuff, actually enjoy it!

In addition to Balducci’s freshly prepared dishes, the stores will also be featuring:

•Unbelievably moist Apple Cakes made with fresh apples and just enough cinnamon, classic Honey Cakes, or Chocolate Dipped Macaroons

•Balducci’s Gaspé Nova, Norwegian and Scottish Smoked Salmon with Ben’s Cream Cheese; larger smoked fish platters also available.

•Kosher and Israeli wines and beer, including HE'BREW Genesis Ale. Customers will also find a selection of wines from the award winning Golan Heights Winery in Israel. (in MD, DC and VA stores only)

•Republic of Tea Pomegranate Tea: Flavored with sweet pomegranate, the fresh and crisp China green tea creates an ideal base for this ruby-hued blend loaded with Antioxidants.

PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: See Balducci’s chefs at work in the kitchen - preparing and speaking on this year’s holiday menu. Please contact Carrie Fox to arrange an interview or photo shoot, 301-754-3614.

David Poran, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, has worked throughout the culinary world and is the former Executive Chef of the National Football League headquarters. Prior to working with the NFL, Poran held positions at several restaurants and hotels in New York City, including Restaurant Daniel, where he was part of Daniel Boulud’s opening team. Outside of the kitchen, Poran co-created and produced the 2002 PBS documentary, “Heat”, which won him a James Beard award nomination, and recently published his first cookbook, “The Everything Cooking for Two Cookbook" (Adams Publishing, 2005).

Effie Speigler, also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, has traveled the world following his passion for all things culinary. Prior to taking on the position of Balducci’s Corporate Chef, Spiegler owned his own catering company in Brooklyn, NY. He has worked alongside some of the country’s great chefs, including Charlie Palmer in New York City and Charlie Trotter in Chicago, and has spent time at the elite Relais & Châteaux in Tuscany, Italy. Raised on the Gulf Coast in Florida, Spiegler holds a strong appreciation for nature and the bounty it has to offer the body and mind.

Balducci’s is one of the largest specialty food companies in the country, with 10 stores and 4 restaurants, and a heritage that dates back to 1916. Formerly operating under the names Hay Day Country Farm Market, Sutton Place Gourmet and Balducci’s, the company was purchased in November 2003 by an investment group led by Bear Stearns Merchant Bank. The Balducci’s flagship store on 8th Avenue in Manhattan opened in December 2005. For more information on Balducci’s, visit http://www.balduccis.com.

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