Norene Gilletz was ‘Kosher Julia Child of Canada’

Norene Gilletz
Norene Gilletz

Norene Gilletz has been called Canada’s queen of kosher cuisine. The author, columnist, and food blogger and consultant died Feb. 23 in Montreal after a long illness. She was 79.

Gilletz was the longtime food columnist for The Canadian Jewish News, and penned the weekly Shabbat Table column for for several years before retiring last year.

She wrote 12 cookbooks. Her latest, The Brain Boosting Diet: Feed Your Memory was just published in December. She worked on this book despite suffering from a debilitating lung disease and she never missed a deadline for weekly blog.

She wrote with humour, wisdom and humility, and despite her many accomplishments, many people will remember Gilletz as a kind-hearted and funny person. She drew people to her like a magnet,  and so it was no surprise, when Norene’s Kitchen, her Facebook group, grew to more than 10,000 members.

“We have 10,000 friends on Norene’s Kitchen and counting,” she would joke. “My kitchen is crowded, but there’s always room for more.’”

Her writing career began with Second Helpings Please! She was the editor of this best selling kosher cookbook, which was published in 1968 by B’nai Brith Women in Montreal. “It all started at a tea membership,” she recalled. “Our baking was so delicious someone suggested we write a cookbook.”

Twelve cookbooks, hundreds of food columns and countless food demonstrations later, Gilletz  was very much on the go, until about fall of 2018. In fact that year she even launched a podcast.

There were many accolades, but she was most proud of  was being the first recipient of the Gil Marks memorial award in 2015. She was honoured at KosherFeast, which took place in Secaucus, N.J.

“I was shocked when they announced my name,” Gilletz recounted at the time. “I was speechless. What an honour. The best part is being a Canadian and being recognized by the international culinary community.”

Gilletz said that for the award, leaders in the kosher cooking world were asked to nominate a respected culinary professional who is a mentor and a support for others in the field.

Gilletz certainly fit that bill. She was a mentor to so many people.

“When I started my career, Norene Gilletz was a role model for other like-minded women,” food author  and columnist Rose Reisman, said.  “She was always present, whether it be through her cookbooks, demonstrations, lectures, podcasts or interactive website.

“Norene was the Kosher Julia Child of Canada,” Reisman continued. “She had a drive and zest for life comparable to none. I will miss her Facebook posts always following the latest food trends”

Toronto’s “Kosher King” Shlomo Assayag, called Gilletz a pioneer in the kosher food world. “I was fortunate enough to have spent many occasions at events and meals with her,” he said. “She was always there to give her support to anyone in the industry. She always wanted everyone to succeed.”

Gilletz is survived by her children and grandchildren, Jodi,Paul, Lauren and Camille Sprackman, Steven, Cheryl and Max Gilletz and Doug, Ariane, Sam and Zak Gilletz and her beloved Noreners, an affectionate name Gilletz’s many Facebook followers called themselves.