Cookbook Author, Cooking Instructor and Kosher
KosherEye "Foodie" Friend
"Dynamic" is the first word that comes to mind when describing Lévana Kirschenbaum. KosherEye had the opportunity to speak at length with Levana and she was energetic, enthusiastic, and conveyed a passion for cooking – healthy and nutritious cooking.
For several decades Lévana has been a prominent figure in the New York Kosher gourmet food scene; owning and operating a bakery, catering business, and restaurant. She was a co-founder of Levana Restaurant in Manhattan. "I started out with a bakery and featured baked goods that started trends, such as Zucchini Cake and Carrot Cake", said Lévana. New York Magazine selected her Carrot Cake as one of the best in 1979. That was certainly before the trend of using healthful ingredients, especially in baked goods.
Born and raised in Morocco, and having traveled extensively, she incorporates these diverse culinary influences into her kosher recipes. Lévana believes in using the best ingredients available; seasonal, no imitations, and not necessarily expensive. "I only use real, no "faux" anything. We have real ingredients; let us use them."
Today, Lévana's energies are directed to her weekly gourmet cooking demonstrations held at Lincoln Square Synagogue, in the Upper West Side, NY. Her classes feature menus that illustrate "how easy it is to prepare delicious nutritious meals within a reasonable budget." She even has gluten-free classes featuring Italian and Indian recipes. For KosherEye, it is particularly Lévana's Moroccan recipes that keep her at the head of the class.
Lévana "loves to teach the masses." She truly identifies with working women and housewives, "I go home and am a housewife just like everyone else." Keep in mind that during the early years of her amazing career, she was also raising a family. Lévana compares her cooking classes to "Dinner and a Show", and the fun is the show – the cooking demonstration. To Lévana, each person’s best tool is his or her own talent, "you will be amazed at what you can do."
KosherEye asked Lévana what is her favorite kitchen tool and she promptly answered, "The Cuisinart Food Processor." We have to agree! It is also one of our favorites and it does almost everything!
The author of two popular cookbooks, Levana's Table and Levana Cooks Dairy-Free!, she is currently working on another cookbook. She did not share the title with us but did reveal that the book will feature unprocessed food recipes and will be available September 2010. Lévana is sharing two of her recipes with KosherEye readers, Chick Pea Soup and, from her upcoming book, Chicken with Pomegranate Sauce.
We salute Lévana Kirschenbaum for embracing delicious, kosher, healthful living and teaching others to do the same.
For more information on Lévana and her Cooking Demonstrations, visit her website LevanaCooks.com.