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2018-03-09 digital edition

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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

March 9, 2018  RSS feed
Culture

Text: T T T

Food Festival again proves there’s big appetite for Jewish cuisine

By BOB FRYER Jewish Press


Huge tents were set up so folks could eat in the shade at the food festival. Huge tents were set up so folks could eat in the shade at the food festival. In 2017, organizers of the inaugural Tampa Bay Jewish Food Festival at Temple B’nai Israel in Clearwater were hoping for hundreds and about 2,000 showed up. The supply of food ran out long before the festival ended, so for this year’s event they planned for 4,000 and still ran out of food.

While organizer Barbara Bloom thinks the Largo Police estimate of 5,000 to 6,000 attendees might be a little on the high side, she knows for sure the crowd at the Feb. 25 event was a lot bigger than the one at the first festival held last year.

“The first thing we sold out of this year was chopped liver. Bob Levine made 60 pounds of it and they tell me it was a spiritual experience. It was all gone by 11:50 a.m.,” Bloom said.

Bloom, who is director of membership engagement at the temple, said she thinks word of how quickly they ran out of food for the first festival had folks coming early this year.


(L-R) Lisa Morett of Tarpon Springs, Don Litov of Palm Harbor, and Mary Lieberman of Clearwater enjoy falafel. 
Photos by Bob Fryer (L-R) Lisa Morett of Tarpon Springs, Don Litov of Palm Harbor, and Mary Lieberman of Clearwater enjoy falafel. Photos by Bob Fryer “The festival started at 10 a.m. and everyone seemed to come then, with coolers and backpacks, and loaded up. I guess they were determined this time they would get to eat,” Bloom said. “We added new items and tripled what we made last time and still were running out. I guess people just can’t find food that easily that reminds them of their culture.”

This was the first year for stuffed cabbage, made by Liz Greenfold and Melissa Brahm, and they sold out of 300 servings of it. Ali Curtiss made 1,500 latkes – also a new item on the menu – and those went quickly. Honey cakes and chocolate babka were among other new foods this year and were scooped up quickly, too.


Kids do the “Whip and Nay Nay” in the Kidz Zone. Kids do the “Whip and Nay Nay” in the Kidz Zone. The featured foods once again were the corned beef and pastrami sandwiches from Carnegie Deli in New York and both years they were crowd favorites. Other offerings included homemade matzoh ball soup, bagels with the works, kugel, falafel and sour pickles on a stick. A Nosh-to-go area was set up where take-out orders were sold for folks to take home and heat up. Craft brewed beer and a wide assortments of wines were offered.

This year volunteers boosted the quantity of hamantashen made to 1,500 yet those were still all gone by 12:15 p.m.

It took nearly 200 volunteers to pull off the event, with months of advanced planning. Along with Bloom, temple administrator Angela Wachter handled the internal building needs, and Sharon Finkelstein served as festival chair.

Finkelstein said one goal was not only to reach many members of the local Jewish community, but to “reach out to our non-Jewish neighbors to learn and be a part of this celebration of our culture.”


Delilah Brahm, 5, shows off her face paint and a Star of David she created. Delilah Brahm, 5, shows off her face paint and a Star of David she created. That seemed to be the case if random sampling of those in attendance is to be trusted. The event drew more from Hillsborough county and beyond this time, including one couple from Orlando who took in a shrimp and crab festival in Hudson the day before, then came to the Jewish Food Festival. They said they are thinking of moving to the Tampa Bay area. Others from Pasco County, Lakeland and Tampa mingled with the local Pinellas folks.

The festival grounds were hopping all day, with music inside and outdoors, many new areas, including a beverage area for soft drinks, beer and wine, under giant tents to keep the bright sun at bay.

The number of vendors also increased this year to 58, about triple the number from last year. Items for sale at the booths included clothing, jewelry, Judaica, health and beauty products, honey and other items. Eighteen of the vendor booths were for Jewish organizations from throughout the community and in between purchasing food, desserts and drinks and eating, folks roamed the grounds. They listened and sometimes danced to music by the Chai Notes band or a harmonica band.

For the younger set, the Kidz Zone was a hit, with bounce houses, face painting, craft making, balloon art or taking time to dance to other throbbing music provided by Bash Entertainment, featuring a sound system and DJs.

Last year parking became a problem.

This year the temple added buses provided by two senior living facilities and the Jolly Trolley to shuttle festivalgoers from remote parking lots, and again this year St. John’s Episcopal Church and Hope Presbyterian, both across the street from the temple, allowed folks to use their grounds for parking. That seemed to work out fine, Bloom said.

“We are already working on next year. We will meet soon to kick around new ideas as to how we can make it even better, and next year we hope to solve the problem of running out of food,” Bloom said.

All in all, not a bad problem to have for an event only two years old and already a major fundraiser for the temple.


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