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TCC students prepare delights for Jewish Film Festival

It’s a menu that appears daunting: smoked salmon mousse en profiteroles, roasted eggplant crostini with feta and capers, Scandinavian almond bars and mini trifles served in martini glasses.

But for the chefs in Deanna Freridge’s catering class at Tidewater Community College, it’s an assignment with an added twist: The meal must be kosher. The HRI 256 students are responsible for all preparations and serving for Sunday’s closing reception of the Jewish Film Festival at the Roper Performing Arts Center. Two buffets of finger food will be served to an anticipated 200 guests.

Kosher cooking, Freridge says, is challenging. “I love it because we rely so much on the technique of cooking to bring out the flavor of the food,” she says.

Deanna Freridge
Chef Deanna Freridge

The chefs prepared the meal at B’Nai Israel Synagogue in Norfolk under strict guidelines. Though the students typically bring their own utensils, stipulations require that everything must be kosher – meat and dairy knives do not mix, for example. Given that, the students used the utensils in the synagogue kitchen only. In addition, the ingredients must be labeled kosher, including any drinks the students brought with them while cooking, and only the rabbi can turn on the convection oven.

As gelatin is not kosher, Freridge substituted cream cheese in the mousse along with pureed smoked salmon with heavy cream folded in.

“I’m a sponge; I’m eating all this up,” said student Neil Giles, back in school at age 50 after selling his mortgage business to pursue his dream of culinary arts.

Student Sharon Sanders also enjoyed the experience, noting, “Kosher preparation is a lot cleaner; even the vegetables are washed with soap and water.”

The meal posed an added challenge given it must be transported to the Roper and had to be prepared over several days. The menu, a mix of savory and sweet, was developed by Freridge and also includes a sugar free, chocolate flourless cake.