Turning a passion for food into something more
By Chandrea Serebro
Tastes just like pudding
Little ready-made puddings for her little pudding. This was what Shevi Lurie went in search of when her second-born daughter was ready to start eating solids, ready to use whatever kosher store-bought options she could to support her in the daunting task of raising an unfussy, healthy eater. “I remember so clearly when my older daughter was at the same stage. Never mind being a new mommy and all the challenges that it brought, starting solids, for me, was one of the most daunting milestones I had to face. How much do I feed? When is the best age to start? What do I start with? How do I incorporate her solid feeds with her milk feeds?” All these questions and no answers from any of the myriad books on the topic, Shevi somehow managed to raise a good eater “with the phenomenal help from my mother and mother-in-law, who fashioned ice cubes for me filled with butternut, apple, pumpkin, and the works. (‘This is how we did it in our day,’ they would tell me)”.
But three years later, when her second daughter came along, and all those overwhelming feelings came flooding right back, Shevi thought that times must have changed and kosher options must surely be available where they had not been before. “But low and behold, I was met with much disappointment. There was not a single kosher option available. All the different non-kosher exotic baby food jars that filled the shelves at the other food stores didn’t make me feel any better either. How could this be? How could it be possible that there was absolutely nothing available for my incredible Jewish community in Johannesburg?” Shevi knew she had to change this. She had always dreamed of having a career that involved helping people and bringing joy to their lives and, finally, she thought that she was on to something that would fulfil this ideal and help her feed her daughter at the same time.
“One of the first things I did was ask on social media the simple question: Was there a need for a kosher baby food range and would anyone buy it? I was met with positivity and encouragement and, for me, this was my sign. I had to at least try and go ahead with it.”
Shevi began researching all the different international baby food brands, their blends, textures, and paediatric information. She began with a rough list of flavours and began the experimentation. “My wonder woman of a helper, Aggie, came on board with me immediately, and my husband, Doron, my ultimate supporter and mentor. My baby became the real taste tester (all her rolls and dimples were a result of that, I would even say) and once we had overcome many trials and errors, we had managed to solidify over 30 flavours to our menu. It was an enormous achievement.”
Ensuring that Little Pudding covered every food group and incorporated fruit, vegetables, grains, meat, and even fish, Shevi’s kitchen was no longer her own and soon became the ultimate baby food factory. “Pots cooking left, right, and centre, cheap blenders breaking every few weeks, and mountains of fresh produce in every corner. It was a sight. And now, finally, under the Beth Din and available in Kosher World and Moishes, I feel I have achieved my ultimate goal which was to make sure no other mother would come out disappointed again.”
Shevi was supported in her success by “the warm and encouraging programme” that ORT-JET offers small start-ups, which gave her the knowledge she needed in such a small space of time. “And of course, I owe so much to all of the parents who have put their full trust in what I do and have shown me continuous support from the start. With Hashem’s help, I hope to continue to ease the pressures in the daily lives of all the relentless parents in our community and beyond.”
For more information about Little Pudding:
Contact Shevi on 0721708834
Facebook Little Pudding or www.littlepuddingbabyfood.com
It’s a family thing
Ever since Romi Rabinowitz can remember, food, meals, and family gatherings have played an important, integral part of her life. “Memories of lively, boisterous family Shabboses and Sunday Braais bring me such a sense of happiness, nostalgia, and warmth. I just love welcoming family and friends into my home.” And feeding them.
Romi learned the love of cooking and discovered her passion for food and the mitzvah of ‘hachnasat orchim’, welcoming guests, in the kitchens of her mother, Robyn Brozin, and her two grannies, Vera Brozin and Joy Finger. “Their homes were always filled with guests, love, and warmth. Some of my cosiest and happiest memories are sitting on the kitchen counter of my adored Aunty Zoe Rock, making Toffee Apples and Florentine Biscuits. My mother-in-law, Travice Rabinowitz, is a wonderful cook and foodie. I have learned so much from her as well.” It seems that Romi’s wellspring of secret family recipes is well-stocked, and it is a good thing too, as she is always being asked by friends and family (and even on Facebook) for her recipes and meal ideas.
Romi was always happy to share, which prompted her cousin, Nicole Feder, to become what Romi calls ‘The instigator’ of Romi’s blog, Ever-So-Lovely(@eversolovelysa). “She lives so far away in Los Angeles and felt that she was missing out on all the family gatherings that she loved so much. She encouraged me to start a blog so that she was able to share and be a part of my home cooked meals. I woke up one morning with a message from Nicole saying ‘just go for it’. She had already created my logo, and my sister, Justine Seeff, had helped brand my Instagram Page, and so, with that start, I set up the social media pages there and then.”
“My beloved grandfather (Oupa), Max Brozin, z’l, used to call me his “Ever-so-lovely”. Family was everything to him and he created an incredible legacy for his children and grandchildren to follow. I could not think of a better name to honour him and share my passion with my followers. It is what I love doing the most. He would have loved what I am doing and would be my biggest fan. He was such a foodie himself!”
The positive response was overwhelming, and Romi found herself dispensing advice, recipes, ideas, and Jewish thoughts and memories of her life to an adoring and ever-increasing crowd. People began texting to say that they just loved her home-cooked meals and that she inspired them to cook for their families. “This makes me so happy.” Since then, she has done Zoom home-cooking demos and shared recipes with magazines and charitable social media pages. “Cooking is such a joy for me, so whenever I cook or bake for my family I post pictures and recipes on my blog. Of course, every recipe has a story to it which I love to include with my posts and it makes it personal, bringing back memories for me while I am making a dish. People love these stories and are interested and drawn to the beautiful presentation of the food. My recipes are tried and tested and I always include and acknowledge the inspiration for the recipe. My Instagram following has grown so much. I look forward to one day producing my own ‘ever-so-lovely’ coffee table recipe book.”
Romi “adores” making traditional Jewish Food the most – think bulkas, babkes, challah, soup, kneidlach, perogen, and cholent. “I feel it connects me to Jewish women of generations gone by, my heritage, as well as passing it on to my daughters, Ariella and Liya, which is so important to me. I pray every day that they will be a link in the chain.” And it is a chain of culinary expertise, which Romi will always share with the joy with which she received it.
“I believe that there is nothing that a delicious meal, surrounded by loved ones, cannot cure. It is what I treasure most in my life. I hope that my recipes will bring my followers as much love, warmth, laughter, and memories as they have brought me.”
Follow Romi on instagram @eversolovelysa or Facebook Romi Rabinowitz
Craig Shapiro is no stranger to the art of Mixology and mixing drinks with such artistry that crowds flock to the bar just to watch it being done, let alone the magic they make in your mouth. From Liquid Chefs fame which blazed across the South African scene with their famous concoctions and ‘barcrobatics’, Craig is on to very exciting horizons. He hopes to “shift norms in the local cocktail scene” with a “Cocktail Revolution” in a new joint venture with Bacardi, the largest privately-owned spirits company in the world that offers you all your favourite drinks, on tap, whatever your taste – whether it is a Bacardi Mojito, a Strawberry Daquiri, the Dewar’s Highball, or even a Bombay Sapphire and Tonic on tap
Having founded Kegtails four years ago with mixologist Peter Oosthuizen, Bacardi invested in their business a year ago which offers premixed cocktails by the keg, served from their custom manufactured draught machines.
“The cocktails are handcrafted by expert mixologists using fresh, premium ingredients including, of course, the best in cocktail spirits,” says Craig. The relatively young company is helping restaurants and hotels reduce the time and money it takes to make a cocktail without compromising on the quality to which patrons have become accustomed, and the reaction has been instantaneous, moving quickly into a national footprint and signing several large restaurant and hotel chains.
Due to Covid-19, the company’s 750ml handcrafted ready-to-serve cocktails were a natural pivot to cater for the growing home consumption market, and people can now enjoy a taste of their fully kosher mixed-magic in the comfort of their own homes.