By Sarah Zorn
Jews around the world will begin the new year on Wednesday night — which means, of course, that local chefs are plotzing.
Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur — the holiest days on the Jewish calendar — bring up themes of atonement, resolution and renewal, but at bottom are just a great time to take stock. Here’s how our favorite members of the tribe (foodies, silly!) are preparing:
Shelsky’s: Don’t tell Peter Shelsky’s mother-in-law, but he’s started smoking again since opening his eponymous Cobble Hill appetizing shop — Shelsky’s Smoked Fish — in June. “It’s definitely time to quit,” he admitted. “I’ll have sharper taste buds, and won’t be such a slave to cigarette breaks.” He also resolves to tighten up his “pickling schedule,” this year, assuring customers that his herring shelves will never go empty again. “There are some things it’s just unacceptable to run out of when you run an appetizing store — and pickled herring is one of them,” he said. Truer words aren’t even in the Haftorah!
Shelsky’s Smoked Fish [251 Smith St. between Douglass and Degraw streets in Cobble Hill, (718) 855-8817].
Petit Oven: Born on a farm in Poland, chef/owner Katarzyna Ploszaj knows from pierogies. “My mother’s were famous,” she said, “They were so delicate and airy, with a super-thin dough. This year, I vow to finally perfect her recipe.” Ploszaj also resolves to bake more at her diminutive, seasonally inspired restaurant, which, considering she runs a one-woman kitchen, is an admirably lofty goal.
Petit Oven [276 Bay Ridge Ave. at Third Avenue in Bay Ridge, (718) 833-3443].
Miriam: Hear, O, Israel — you’re going to learn some Hebrew at Miriam, the proudly Semitic Park Slope restaurant and wine bar run by Tel Aviv-born chef, Rafael Hasim. “This year, we resolve to teach our employees more Hebrew than the small number sets and ‘shalom’ they all know now,” said bartender David Cian. “We feel it would lend itself well to our atmosphere and make our little Israeli restaurant all the more Israeli — which is what we’re going for.”
Miriam [79 Fifth Ave. between Prospect Place and Warren Street in Park Slope, (718) 622-2250].
The Good Fork: Sohui Kim and Ben Schneider may draw consistent raves for their Red Hook eatery, The Good Fork, but it’s only made them double up on their resolve to not get complacent as the business gets older. “We’re currently improving our facility in order to do brunch,” Schneider said. “It’s easy to get stuck in a rut or focus on the negative the longer you’ve been in business, especially since food costs have risen, like, 30 percent in the last year. We want to keep things fresh, new, and changing, not just for ourselves, but for our food, our employees, and our customers.”
The Good Fork [391 Van Brunt St. between Coffey and Van Dyke streets in Red Hook, (718) 643-6636].
Traif: Chef/owner Jason Marcus defiled his grandma’s cherished sweet and sour meatballs recipe by adding pork cheek and duck fat, but he’s still a good Jewish boy at heart — and Yom Kippur is a time for him to reflect. “I can’t help but think about what went right, what went wrong, and what comes next during the holiday season,” said the chef of this popular Williamsburg newcomer. “I wouldn’t say my singular focus on the restaurant is a regret, but my grandfather died just before we opened a little over a year and a half ago, and I was never able to fully process his death. I also just lost a friend and partner over Labor Day weekend. So it may sound simple, but my resolution is really to better incorporate the people I love and who love me into my life this year.” Look, whatever, as long as he keeps making those bacon donuts.
Traif [229 S. Fourth St. between Driggs Avenue and Roebling Street in Williamsburg, (347) 844-9578].