On any given night, Jeff Gabel can be found drinking craft cocktails at Trade, dining at Boston’s hottest new restaurants, or at home creating Asian/Jewish fusion dishes such as tom yum matzo ball soup or bagels with gochujang cream cheese and lox. He may look young, but his name is rapidly rising in the culinary world of Boston, and beyond. As evidence, he was recently named one of Zagats 30 under 30 which honors “gastronomic game changers” who are “redefining the way we eat, drink and interact with food and beverages across the U.S. – all before their 30th birthdays”.
This award comes from the success of his recent pop-up series called Kitchen Kibitz. A former NYC resident with experience in the Jewish nonprofit sector, Jeff noticed a dearth of Jewish cuisine in the city of Boston and decided to do something about it…thus Kitchen Kibitz was born! Kitchen Kibitz aims to put modern and new twists on classic Jewish food in different kitchens/restaurants all over Boston to help reconnect Jewish and non-Jewish locals to Jewish cuisine and traditions. So far he has hosted several events such as ThanksGivukkah with Zagat 30 under 30 alum, Josh Lewin of Whisk, Southern Schmear with Hungry Mother’s Barry Maiden, and Land of Milk and Honey with Sofra’s Geoff Lukas.
This past Sunday was his 2nd Hannukah event where he teamed up with Stephanie Cmar (former Top Chef contestant, Zagat 30 under 30 2013, and owner of Stacked donuts pop-up) and Chef Steve “Nookie” Postal, of Commonwealth (formerly chef for the Boston Red Sox) who has his own plans to open up a Jewish inspired restaurant, Steinbones.
I had the privilege of being “hired” as the event photographer (will work for food!) and got to work “behind the scenes” as Chef Nookie and Stephanie Cmar prepared multiple variations of latkes and donuts.
The first latke was a purple carrot latke with carrot gel and persimmon. The sweetness of the persimmon worked perfectly against the salty, fried latke, almost like a play on apple sauce. And the colors were beautiful!
The second latke was sweet potato with smoked salmon and dill. Again, this latke played on the sweet and savory combination, this time featuring the sweet flavor in the latke. The smoked salmon was delicious with the perfect amount of smokey flavor.
Next came artichoke latkes with apple butter followed by my favorite latke of the night: potato latke with Nookie’s special Pastrami and whole grain mustard. It’s not easy to find good pastrami in Boston, but this was perfection! I can’t wait until Steinbones is open and I can eat this on a regular basis!
The last latke featured another specialty that will be a mainstay at Steinbones: brisket! This was a smokey, perfectly tender brisket completed by Dr. Brown’s black cherry bbq sauce and served atop a parsnip latke.
The meal was rounded out with ice cream sandwiches with hannukah gelt ice cream as well as Stephanie Cmar’s delicious donuts with Manischewitz jelly (yes Manischewitz can actually taste good!).
And of course the meal wouldn’t be complete without the specialty cocktail of the night dubbed “The Chosen One”.
Overall, it was a delicious event that redefined traditional Hannukah cuisine. Check out Kitchen Kibitz for upcoming events in the New Year and Happy Holidays to everyone!