(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass.) – Author Seth Rogovoy will interview world-renowned Jewish cookbook author Joan Nathan at the inaugural Jewish Festival of Books, at Hevreh of South Berkshire on Friday, July 21, at 11am. The book fair itself takes place from Thursday, July 20, through Sunday, July 23. The festival will feature free and fee-based lectures, teachings and readings by national, international, and local authors in diverse genres ranging from adult fiction to children’s literature to cookbooks.
Joan Nathan is the author of 11 cookbooks including her latest work, “King Solomon’s Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking From Around The World.” Driven by a passion for discovery, King Solomon is said to have sent ships to all corners of the ancient world, initiating a mass cross-pollination of culinary cultures that continues to bear fruit today. With King Solomon’s appetites and explorations in mind, in , “King Solomon’s Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking From Around The World” Nathan gathers more than 170 recipes that span the millennia: from classics like Yemenite Chicken Soup with Dill, Cilantro, and Parsley; Spinach and Feta Bourekas; Hummus with Preserved Lemon and Cumin; and Hamantaschen with Poppy Seed or Chocolate Filling to contemporary riffs on traditional dishes such as Smokey Shakshuka with Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplant; Homemade Herbed Labneh with Beets and Puy Lentils; Baghdadi Chicken with Rice, Coconut, and Cilantro; and Roman Ricotta Cheese Torte.
The book travels with Nathan from India to France, from Italy to Mexico, from El Salvador to Israel and, of course, all across North America, in a gorgeously illustrated culinary exploration that is filled with fascinating historical details, personal histories, and fantastic recipes that showcase the diversity of Jewish cuisine.
Nathan will be interviewed by Seth Rogovoy, a contributing editor to the Forward and author of “Bob Dylan: Prophet Mystic Poet” and “The Essential Klezmer: A Music Lover’s Guide to Jewish Roots and Soul Music.” Following the event, Nathan and Rogovoy will be on hand to sign copies of their books.
Nathan’s previous cookbook, “Quiches, Kugels and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France,” was named one of the 10 best cookbooks of 2010 by NPR, Food and Wine, and Bon Appétit magazines. She is a regular contributor to the New York Times and Tablet Magazine.
In 1994, Nathan’s “Jewish Cooking in America” won both the James Beard Award for the best American cookbook and the IACP/Julia Child Cookbook of the Year Award. In 2017, this book was named a “Culinary Classic” by the IACP. The same James Beard Award was later bestowed on her 2005 cookbook “The New American Cooking.” An earlier work, “An American Folklife Cookbook,” was given the R.T. French Tastemaker Award in 1985 for American cooking. Her other books include Foods of Israel Today, Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook, The Jewish Holiday Baker, The Children’s Jewish Holiday Kitchen, The Jewish Holiday Kitchen, and The Flavor of Jerusalem.
In 2004, Nathan was the Guest Curator of Food Culture USA, the 2005 Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington, DC, based on the research for her book, The New American Cooking.
Nathan’s PBS television series, “Jewish Cooking in America with Joan Nathan,” was nominated in 2000 for the James Beard Award for Best National Television Food Show. She was also senior producer of Passover: Traditions of Freedom, an award-winning documentary sponsored by Maryland Public Television. Nathan has appeared as a guest on numerous radio and television programs including the Today show, Good Morning, America, the Martha Stewart Show and National Public Radio.
An inductee to the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who in American Food and Beverage, Nathan also received the Silver Spoon Award from Food Arts magazine. In addition, Nathan received an honorary degree from the Spertus Institute of Jewish Culture in Chicago and the Golda Award from the American Jewish Congress. In May 2011, she was awarded a Special Recognition Award from the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research for her work to preserve Jewish foodways. In 2015, Les Dames d’Escoffier awarded Joan Nathan the prestigious Grande Dame, an award recognizing professional achievments in the food industry. Previous recipients include Julia Child, Marcella Hazan, and Alice Waters.
Nathan serves on the board of the D.C.-based organization, Martha’s Table, by whom she was recently honored for her work on Sunday Night Suppers, an annual fundraising event chaired by Nathan, Alice Waters, and Jose Andres. Through a collaboration of chefs, organizations and concerned citizens, the dinners are held one night a year in various homes across the D.C. Metropolitan Area.
Joan Nathan was born in Providence, R.I. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a master’s degree in French literature and earned a master’s in public administration from Harvard University. For three years she lived in Israel, where she worked for Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem. In 1974, working for Mayor Abraham Beame in New York, she co-founded the Ninth Avenue Food Festival. The mother of three grown children, Nathan lives in Washington, D.C. and Martha’s Vineyard with her husband, attorney Allan Gerson.
Other highlights of the festival include the opening night reception with Jennifer Armstrong on Thursday, July 20, at 5:30 p.m., followed by a multimedia presentation at 7 p.m. on her New York Times Bestseller, “Seinfeldia: How A Show About Nothing Changed Everything.”
Lloyd Handwerker will discuss his book, “Famous Nathan,” about his grandfather, Nathan Handwerker, the founder of Nathan’s Famous on Friday, July 21, following the 7:30 p.m. Shabbat evening service.
Rabbi Marc Katz shares a teaching based on his work “The Heart of Loneliness: How Jewish Wisdom Can Help You Cope and Find Comfort and Community” on Saturday, July 22, at noon, immediately following Shabbat morning services at 10 a.m.
Elizabeth Poliner will read from her novel, “As Close To Us as Breathing” on Sunday, July 23, at 10 a.m., and
Shabbat Family Storytime takes place on Saturday, July 22, at 4 p.m. with Roni Schotter, an award-winning local author of 30 books for children, reading from her “Go Little Green Truck” and “All About Grandmas.”
All of the other events – including Seinfeldia and Famous Nathan – will also offer thematically appropriate foods, while the Joan Nathan event will feature recipes from King Solomon’s Table.
To make reservations online visit Jewish Festival of Books. For more information, call 413-528-6378, or visit Hevreh. Hevreh will also have books available for advance purchase in the lobby, which the authors will be happy to sign at the festival.