NEW YORK—Shaya Klechevsky is a food lover. He also keeps kosher. Sometimes those two may seem at odds; but instead of making do with lesser food, the 30-year-old native New Yorker went to study in the French Culinary Institute, where his training included butchering pigs and boiling lobsters. After perfecting his techniques he opened At Your Palate, a catering company that serves gourmet kosher meals for personal events. “Now people are coming to realize that there is such a thing as objectively tasty food, even though it is kosher,” says Klechevsky.
The Epoch Times:How did you find your love for cooking?
Mr. Shaya Klechevsky: I grew up in a family of eaters and cookers. Every Shabbat, every holiday there was always so much food. My grandmother and two aunts and my mother were always cooking. I developed a love of food and eating through them. I enjoy the process of cooking. It is a way to express your love for your guests. When I moved out of my parents’ house and I had my own kitchen I [further] developed my passion. I enrolled in the French Culinary Institute in July 2006, graduated in April 2007 and have been cooking professionally ever since.
Epoch Times: How was it to study in the French Culinary Institute?
Shaya Klechevsky: It was the best nine months of my adult life. I was able to immerse myself in something I really love to do. It was 15 hours a week of just cooking, and cooking amazing food and amazing dishes and learning new things in the food world.
Epoch Times: Did you have a clash between what was taught in the classes and your religion?
Shaya Klechevsky: I did not see it as a clash. They have a policy: you don't have to eat anything, but you have to prepare it. You are always working with at least one more person, so they can taste what you are preparing. I loved having the experience: this is how you cook shrimp and lobster and pork. I remember doing these recipes and going through them and saying: 'OK! How am I going to make this kosher? How am I going to convert this?'
There is something about having the knowledge that is useful. I now know; if I boil shrimp for more than is necessary, what happens to the protein. Even though you probably are never going to cook shrimp again, you have that as your knowledge. There is a certain value in having knowledge even though you are not going to use it. There is certain value to learning how to break down a rack of pork.