Generation-to-generation meets sister-to-sister in second school cookbook


BP Photo by Eliana Kerendian, BP Graphic by Sam Elyaszadeh

FOOD: Senior Talya Kukurudz hopes to unite the Shalhevet community through a school cookbook with family recipes from students and faculty.

By Amalia Zucker, Staff Writer

In 2006, Deborah Kukurudz of Shalhevet’s class of that year organized a cookbook titled What’s Hot in Shalhevet’s Kitchen! with 136 recipes collected in it, all contributed by Shalhevet students and staff.

Now, 15 years later, Shalhevet senior Talya Kukurudz is following in her sister’s footsteps and running the same project.

“It’s a cookbook that my family still has today,” Talya, an active cook and baker, said in an interview. “I want other people to have that opportunity.”

The theme for the cookbook this time around is “generation to generation,” so contributors were specifically encouraged to submit family recipes. The plan is for the final project to be sold within the Shalhevet community and beyond, with the profits going to the class of 2022’s senior Poland-Israel trip. 

It took a while to get going – as of Nov. 16th, 2021, only 36 recipes had been collected of the 150 Talya had hoped for. Overall, her initial response was slower than she’d hoped. However, this isn’t all that different to the way Deborah’s pitch went when she put together her project.

“She spent two months making announcements at every town hall because people were not giving her recipes,” Talya said.

Talya stuck with it as well. In the Student Activities group on Schoology, she posted daily messages like,  “Guess who! It’s me again ?? Your families are preparing Shabbat dinner, what a great time to ask them for the family recipes! Yay! ???” 

Deborah also enlisted the help of several teachers to get her cookbook filled, including both Ms. Keene and Ms. Roen Salem z”l, asking them to encourage their students to send things in. 

“She had to really push people to submit recipes,” says Talya.Talya asked teachers to offer extra-credit points to students who submitted recipes, and several teachers did, including Mr. Reusch, Dr. Harris and Ms. Crincoli. 

“I thought the extra credit aspect would get more recipes to pour in,” she said. “It didn’t have the effect I thought it would.”

But despite the somewhat slow response, Talya had collected 96 recipes by Nov. 24th.  Now she has 114, and has started creating the final product.

“I am very grateful and excited to start making the cookbook,” Talya said.

Talya is creating the cookbook digitally and collaborating with Deborah, an interior designer, on the page design. Her grandfather Mr. Jacques Kukurudz, is printing it, as he did Deborah’s. Talya expects it to be completed and ready for sale by February or March.

Talya received recipes from all across the spectrum of Jewish cooking, from cholent to tahdig to Mandel bread. The generational theme was an important motivation for multiple people who submitted.

I view cooking and food as a way of bringing people together — a way of showing love for someone is making them a good meal.

— Talya Kukurudz, 12th grade

One was sophomore Temma Kirshbaum, who sent in her family’s banana cake recipe.

“My great-grandmother wrote it down before she died to give it to my grandma,” Temma shared. “It’s the only written-down hard copy. The one in the cookbook will be the second one.”

Temma was looking forward to seeing what others sent in.

“With Judaism, we all have our different cultures and our own different ways of how we make even the same things, and what we add into it to make it different — even a spice from home,” Temma said. “That’s really cool to have, and we can all share it. It adds to the community aspect of Shalhevet.” 

Another 10th-grader, Rafael Kahen, contributed two recipes, including a Moroccan fish recipe. 

“It was something that my mom makes around Shabbat,” said Rafi.

Freshman Leah Cohen submitted several recipes, including her mom’s recipe for blondies.

“I hope that other families get to share the same experiences that I’ve had with the recipes that I submitted,” said Leah. “There are so many recipes that make Jews specifically who we are. I feel like it’s important.”

Others sent favorites of their own. Shalhevet guidance counselor Ms. Gaby Marcus contributed as well, sending in one recipe of her “crab” – whitefish crab imitation, of course – lettuce cups and another of her chicken tacos. 

“I like to see what other recipes people make, because that’s exciting.” said Gaby. “They’re recipes from all different parts of the world.”

All of this was loved by Talya.

“I get so happy if someone makes a recipe that I told them about,” she said. “I view cooking and food as a way of bringing people together — a way of showing love for someone is making them a good meal.”

Cookbooks, Poland-Israel and cultural sharing aside, Talya also had another motivation.

“I want to be able to do everyone’s recipes myself, because I love cooking and I love baking!” she said.