You do not have to be Jewish to be able to name festivals like Hanukkah, Rosh Hashanah, and Passover—but how many are intimately familiar with Tu B’Shevat?
On January 16th, Chef Jamie Malone of Sea Change, Chef Mike DeCamp of La Belle Vie, Chef Phillip Dorwart formerly of Table of Contents and now Create Catering, and Chef Dawn Drouillard of Fabulous Catering, are all working together to put their spin on what a Tu B’Shevat Seder was meant to be.
Tu B’Shevat is the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat, and nearly 2,000 years ago the great sage Hillel taught that this day was the New Year for trees.
According to Rabbi Avi Olitzky at Beth El Synagogue in Saint Louis Park, Minnesota, “The Jewish Mystics in the Middle Ages intended for communities to come together and celebrate nature and the passing of the seasons on this day. This was not only for Jews—this was a way for people to truly appreciate the flavors and essence of all those around, giving thanks for the union of earthly and Divine.”
These local celebrity chefs were compelled by this notion, the deep appreciation for food and sustenance—and they were moved by the idea of the challenge of gourmet Kosher preparation. And so they answered the call.
“Granted, Tu B’Shevat is often referred to as Jewish Arbor Day,” Olitzky added. “Usually it is celebrated in religious schools with children planting parsley seeds to prepare for Passover or holding a Seder—a progressive dinner focusing on different fruits and species of the Land of Israel.”
This didn’t pay homage enough for Olitzky. “How many of us celebrate Arbor Day let alone Jewish Arbor Day?” he quipped. But Judaism has entered the mainstream marketplace of ideas.
Last May, Michael Pollan spoke at Beth El Synagogue as part of their Inspiring Minds Speaker Series, launching their programmatic theme of “Beth El Eats.” The goal of the year is to engage in dialogue about food in an intentional and spiritual way: cooking, eating, hunger, Jewish dietary laws, and more.
This theme was the perfect vehicle for Olitzky to innovate on Tu B’Shevat: an eight course wine dinner, featuring local celebrity chefs. Each pair of courses was to be reflective of the seasons of the year, and each chef assigned a respective season. Each course would be paired with a wine, moving from light to dark, matching the change in light of the year—“something the Mystics encouraged us to do 500 years ago,” Olitzky added. These delectable kosher wines – otherwise unavailable in the state of Minnesota – would be flown in special for this feast.
“By partaking in this dinner,” Olitzky concluded, “one will be able to appreciate with all five sense that which God blessed us. We will eat, drink, be merry—and be satisfied with our portion.”
Because of the Jewish Dietary Laws, this meal will have entrees that are meat, fish or vegetarian, but no dairy. Dairy and Meat cannot be comingled according to Kosher law. And this meal will indubitably be Kosher.
Whole Foods is partnering with Beth El for this special feast, as is a Kosher meat purveyor, KOL foods, which stands for Kosher, Organic and Local.
Seating is very limited for the Tu B’Shevat Dinner and reservations are $125 per person. More information and reservations are available online at www.besyn.org/tbs
Date/Time: Thursday, January 16, 2014 6:00 pm-10:00pm
Location: Beth El Synagogue 5225 Barry Street West St. Louis Park, MN 55416
Make Reservations Here