Renowned Cookbook Author Adeena Sussman Brings ‘Shabbat’ Tour To Minneapolis

Adeena Sussman has co-authored 15 cookbooks, including three with model-turned-cookbook author Chrissy Teigen. Four years after her first solo effort, Sababa, hit the shelves Sussman had doubts as her newest effort Shabbat was released earlier this month.

“This second book is a little more stressful because Sababa was really well received. And now I’m sort of trying to avoid the sophomore slump,” she said recently from her home in Israel. “It’s always this question of, is it gonna resonate with people? Are people gonna want to read this and cook this food? It’s a Sally Field moment: Are they going to like me? Are they going to really like me?”

Sussman will be in Minneapolis next month for a pair of events, part of her 10-week U.S. tour to support the new book. On Oct. 1, Zehorit Heilicher will be moderating a conversation on culture, culinary evolution, and recipe writing, with Sussman & Andrew Zimmern. Oct. 2, Sussman will be hosting a cooking workshop which is sold out, but a waiting list has been started. Both events are at Adath Jeshurun Congregation.

Heilicher first met Sussman over breakfast in Tel Aviv this past spring during the Minneapolis Jewish Federation’s Experience Israel trip.

“I’d been following her for several years, and when we were in Tel Aviv, she was mentioning the book coming out and going on tour,” Heilicher said. “I asked if she was coming to Minneapolis and she said she didn’t have a contact in Minneapolis. I told her that now she does.”

Heilicher worked with Kara Rosenwald, the Experience Israel mission coordinator for MJF, and Adath’s Rabbi Aaron Weininger and Anna Simon, the director of congregational life, to bring the events together. Sussman then suggested that Zimmern also be a part of the event, and he was willing.

“I look at Adeena’s story as a mirror to mine: she’s an American who moved to Israel, and I’m an Israeli who moved to America,” Heilicher said. “But we’re both trying to highlight and expand people’s understanding of Israeli cuisine.”

Sussman has lived in Israel for eight years, and Sababa was written as a personal journey to getting acclimated to living in Israel and becoming connected to the people and Israeli food. For the new cookbook, she said she was looking for an organizing principle that allowed her to explore the Venn Diagram of her Israeli identity and her Jewish identity.

“I needed another kind of overarching theme that would be able to contain a lot of different ethnic traditions, my own traditions, [and it] became a lot about my family memories, the way I was raised, and the Shabbats of my youth,” she said.

The book is 383 pages and contains about 130 recipes, covering breads, brunch, kugels, soups, salads, main courses and more. She has put out a few recipes on Instagram that didn’t make the cut; picking the recipes that were included was challenging.

“Corn ribs are an example of something that actually we photographed like three years ago, but in that time, they became a TikTok trend,” she said. “That’s great and TikTok is awesome. But for me, a cookbook recipe needs to have more staying power. It needs to be classic. It needs to be something that earns its keep in those pages. And once something becomes a viral trend on social media, to me it has less value and weight in a cookbook. I’m looking for things that are forever recipes, that have a story behind them. Maybe a great history, or focus on a particular ingredient. Something that will give it like some heft.”

Sussman dedicated the book to the memory of her mother, and used recipes from her and her grandmother, but took some liberties to adapt and polish.

“We cook to connect with our ancestors, we cook to feel comforted in times where we’re feeling tired or stressed or sad or happy,” Sussman said. “I think Shabbat is not just for Jewish people; Shabbat is a Jewish concept, but there were always a lot of non-Jewish people at our Shabbat table and often at Shabbat table. It’s an idea about unplugging and finding time to commune with friends and family, and maybe detaching from technology a little bit. Unplugging, self-care and just gathering at the table. We need it more than ever.”