By Bill Daley, Tribune Newspapers
March 24, 2010
Chef Eli Kirshtein cooks kosher even though he doesn't keep kosher.
"There's huge advantages to it, specifically for health purposes," said Kirshtein, a contestant on Bravo's "Top Chef" sixth season who is now cooking as a guest chef at Solo, a kosher restaurant in New York City.
"I also think there's a lot of better quality ingredients in kosher cuisine."
Kirshtein doesn't observe Jewish dietary laws because he wasn't raised in a kosher household. But he prefers kosher meat.
"People are now focusing on what animals are fed and how they are slaughtered," he said. "It's what kosher cuisine has done for millennia. So it's a pre-existing thing with a set of checks and balances in place. It is just impressive it took so long for everyone to get on the page with it."
Kirshtein is working to make the kosher cuisine at Solo more modern.
"People have a stigma about kosher cuisine. They think lox and bagels, when it is more diverse than that," he said. "We're probably the only kosher restaurant in the world using liquid nitrogen.
"We're turning the Orthodox Union, the certifying body, kind of on its head," Kirshtein added. The Orthodox Union, based in New York City, supervises hundreds of thousands of products for kosher certification.
"They've never had so many things asked of them."