Page 2 of Interview with Rise' Routenberg & Barbara Wasser
CHEF JAMES: Where/how do you organize your recipes in your kitchen at home? On a computer, recipe cards, scraps of paper, etc?
RR: Over the years like most of us, we have availed ourselves of the computer to organize our recipes. Not that we are ever up-to-date! Each of us has a huge backlog of entries waiting to be added to the computer.
BW: My bin is always overflowing. You pick up so many ideas and you make your own creative changes and discoveries along the way, and these invariably get scrawled on a bit of paper and into the recipe bin they go. It's a full time job of catch up, and you never really do.
CHEF JAMES: What are your favorite cooking gadgets?
RR & BW: Rasps! Nothing compares to grating essences into a recipe. And what a help proportioned scoops are for quick and rapid molding of everything, from cookie dough to meatballs.
CHEF JAMES: What do you think of the fact that Americans seem to be eating out more, yet cookbook sales are increasing?
RR & BW: Our experience with the market response to our cookbook tells us that Americans are not only great “gourmands” who love to eat out in restaurants. They have also developed a real literary and visual taste for cookbooks whose recipes are not only delicious and creative, but a cookbook that is informative, comprehensive and beautiful to look at. A coffee table item to read and admire. Our culinary expertise is enhanced in our cookbook with the engaging writing of our text author Annette Keen and the beautiful food shots of our photographer Harvey Mendelson. That is the formula to our success.
CHEF JAMES: Do you have an amusing kitchen incident to share with us?
RR & BW: Lots of funny things happened over the years, but we would like to share with you and your readers a very wonderful incident. A visiting Episcopalian priest once dropped into our synagogue's commercial kosher kitchen, while the catering volunteers were hard at work. As he watched and listened to the good-natured bantering going on, the priest said, "I've never seen such a busy, happy holiness."
CHEF JAMES: What do you think about the celebrity chef phenomenon?
RR & BW: We think it underscores how sophisticated Americans have become about food. They really appreciate food preparation as a creative, almost artistic accomplishment.
CHEF JAMES: Is there anything else you can tell us about yourself, your career, or the profession that would be interesting or helpful to others aspiring to enter and succeed in the culinary field?
RR & BW: Our careers in catering have always been more about community and less about personal success. We have all been unpaid volunteers, going back over three decades, including the over 150 congregant volunteers who produced our cookbook. All proceeds have always gone to the synagogue, and helped to finance special educational and cultural programs for the entire community. Inasmuch as we have had commercial success, what others can take away from our experience is that love, devotion and determination to do the best job you can is just as important, maybe more important, than personal ambition. On a practical note, the catering chapters in our cookbook are a terrific professional guide to cooking and entertaining larger gatherings.
For additional information:
Rise' Routenberg 518-382-5623,
Barbara Wasser, 518-346-1400,
Co-Authors, Divine Kosher Cuisine Cookbook
To place an order: 518-344-1190
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