(C) Blake Ezra Photography – Gefiltefest at JW3.

There was food so, of course, there were Jews – and a record number of them, too, as more than 1,100 people descended on JW3 on Sunday for the annual Gefiltefest, writes Alex Galbinski

Now in its sixth year, the food festival featured demonstrations by top chefs, including its patron Claudia Roden as well as Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer, Honey & Co’s husband and wife team, the Daily Mail’s Anne Shooter, and MasterChef 2015 finalist Emma Spitzer.

Home made kosher chocolate (C) Blake Ezra Photography  Gefiltefest at JW3. www.blakeezraphotography.com

Home made kosher chocolate (C) Blake Ezra Photography
Gefiltefest at JW3.

There were masterclasses on challah making and food blogging, celebrations of soft cheese and discussions on why Chinese food has become ‘safe treif’’.

There was even a session on how to declutter the Jewish kitchen. There were moments which reminded you it was a Jewish event. While Packer was making some (rather delicious) chocolate and pistachio cookies, an audience member told her to watch out for the flame on her hob.

Her husband good-naturedly reminded us that “she’d done it before”, but not long after that, she grabbed the cream from him, saying she has trained the pastry chefs to stay away from him (desserts are apparently not his speciality).

The Jewish Vegetarian Society’s demonstration on raw desserts was so popular that people sat on the floor – and certainly got their hands dirty, making smoothies, truffles and sampling a raw chocolate tart (really good). There was a masterclass on personalising your humous by self-professed ‘humousista’ Sasha Frieze, a summer wine tasting session, one on fermenting flavour, an hour of bread, eggs and pickles by the team from the Good Egg Restaurant – and much, much more. 

People milled around the 20 stalls in the JW3 piazza, where Soyo plied its wares (its chef Or Golan, former head chef at Ottolenghi having already shared tips and banter on how to transform salads in an interactive way, bringing helpers up on stage), watched some expert smoked salmon cutting, and smelled many wonderful spices.

Nicki Tiefenbrun, Gefiltefest’s executive director, described the day as “fantastic”.

“This year, our focus was on programme development and a contemporary image to suit our new venue; making sure that each and every one of our 45 sessions spoke to all elements of the Jewish community – from secular to Orthodox,” she said. “Our stalls showcased the best and most innovative kosher food, and overall the atmosphere was vibrant with a real sense of celebration and community.”