Modern Israeli food has been having a moment ever since Philadelphia restaurant Zahav and its eponymous cookbook graced the American dining scene. But the trend has yet to hit Houston in a substantial way. For one night next weekend, Justin Turner of Bernie's Burger Bus will change that. On Saturday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m., Turner will prepare a three-course dinner as part of FED, a fundraising event for the Young Adult Division of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston.
According to event co-chair Lindsey Fox, for the second annual YAD Legacy event, the goal was to bring in young Jewish professionals with a new element that represents Houston culture: exceptional food. This year, YAD is partnering with pop-up organizer Dinner Lab to put on a meal in a surprise setting. "People in our age range and demographic have taken a liking to the foodie scene," Fox explains. That age range is a liberal 22 to 45.
The event organizers approached CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to join the host committee, with duties including recruiting Kenny & Ziggy's New York Delicatessen owner Ziggy Gruber as emcee and getting Turner on board as chef. "We learned that some of the biggest names in Houston food happened to be Jewish," Fox recalls.
Turner is quick to deflect the title of "biggest names" from himself. According to him, James Beard Foundation award nominated Seth Siegel-Gardner of the Pass & Provisions, Matt Marcus of Eatsie Boys and of course, Gruber, are far more deserving of such a title. "I can't even sit in the same ballpark," he protests.
But FED diners might be surprised. Turner is planning a fish-focused menu that shows off the expertise he honed as the personal chef to Houston Rockets player—and apparent seafood lover—Shane Battier. The meal will begin with roasted tomato falafel over whipped feta. From there, fish will be the focus with smoked white fish with avocado, onions and rye, followed by Gulf fish poached in olive oil and served over tabbouleh laced with Texas pecans and pomegranates. Dessert will be interactive, with a topping bar to complement Bernie's beloved doughnut milk soft serve.
Though the target audience is young Jewish professionals, you don't have to be one of the chosen people to enjoy the meal. And there's only one night to dig in and get FED. For more information, click here.