Gurufest – Toronto’s kosher event of the year

Kosher Dudes tacos at GuruFest (Shlomo Assayag)

Shlomo Assayag, Toronto’s kosher guru, hosted Gurufest to benefit Chai Lifeline Canada on May 1. Attendees experienced a chopped cook-off right before their eyes, hosted by food media personality Naomi Nachman.

“Three hundred and seventy people came out and enjoyed a night full of delicious food from 23 of the top caterers and restaurants in the city,” Assayag said. “They all were asked to display new products that are not usually on their regular menus. There were beer, scotch, wine, and soda tables.”

A selection from GuruFest (Shlomo Assayag)

Joan Manfaredi, former chef at the Park Hyatt, has now partnered with two of her colleagues, forming an upscale catering company, TWO13 Kosher Food Design Inc. Their tasting menu featured a scrumptious sample plate composed of chicken tagine with seven-vegetable couscous, Moroccan carrot salad, tomato cucumber salad, and chickpea salad with toasted cumin vinaigrette and roasted pepper.

DANI Catering, part of the DANI Family, which creates opportunities for adults with physical and/or cognitive challenges, served up samples of their scrumptious hot apple blintzes with a crumble topping. Ellen Jane Desserts provided tastings of their addictive halvah brownies, lemon tarts, and lime tarts.

Cookbook author Daniella Silver, one of the celebrity judges of the Kosher Chopped competition loved the winning entry by Rivki Rabinowitz.  “The contestants were given a mystery basket of ingredients, which included chicken breasts and marshmallow fluff (Rivki used it in the salad dressing, providing a sweet note). She brushed the serving plate with chocolate pudding for eye-appeal, rather than using it as an actual ingredient.”

Another judge, cookbook author Amy Stopnicki was also one of the celebrity judges. “Rivki Rabinowitz, did a great job repurposing her ingredients—her food was tasty and well plated! All of the competitors did a great job. The other competitors were Jodi Weisleder and Netanel Munk.”

Erica Machtinger, one of those who attended,  shared a few of her favourite dishes: “My favourites included Bubby’s Bagels with their assortment of flavoured dips and crunchy, yummy crackers to dip into the different dips. Kosher Dudes served mini chicken tacos that were very yummy. Another thing that stood out was from Applause Catering, who served crispy poke mini bowls made from wonton wraps. Also, their chocolates were to-die-for! They were rich and very scrumptious,” she said.

“Another favourite was Shanghai noodles with beef from Ba-Li-Laffa, which was right up my alley. I loved the beef—it was so tender. Also, the thick noodles are my favourite type of Chinese noodle. I also loved TWO13 Kosher’s Moroccan dish, made with chicken, quinoa, and vegetables.”


Marla Young, another attendees was surprised by all the beautifully prepared and presented kosher gourmet food.  “Having had no idea what GuruFest was, I was more than pleasantly surprised by a wonderful evening. It was a perfect example of the community coming together to support Chai Lifeline, while eating, laughing, and learning…what could be better than that?”

It was exciting to see so many innovative kosher food options available to the Toronto community. The future of Toronto’s food scene is exploding!