Whole Foods Market, JCC offer just desserts

Passover Food & Planning

By Susie Davidson

Special to the Advocate

Kosher fare is available for purchase at local Whole Foods stores.


Making the Passover diet both satisfying and enjoyable is a task that calls for a bit of innovation, and sometimes, requires a little help as well.

But fortunately for local foodies who wish to adhere to halachah while indulging their palate, Whole Foods and the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston ( JCC) have stepped in with a slate of enticing events featuring special treats that would enhance any Seder, kiddush or oneg table. On March 23, they co-produced an event titled “Passover with a Twist: Cooking Outside the Matzah Box” at the Whole Foods store at Legacy Place in Dedham.

The four-course, hands-on cooking class featured vegetarian options, as well as wine pairings. The menu included spiced pear charoset, apricot and pistachio charoset, Greek-style Avgolemono matzah ball soup, spiced lamb shank braised in pomegranate, and spiced-roasted eggplant with herbed quinoa stuffing. The presentation quickly sold out, but fear not – there will be another opportunity at the site before Passover, as the JCC and Whole Foods will again co-sponsor “Beyond Macaroons and Meringues,” at in the Whole Foods Market Culinary Center at the Legacy Place store Wednesday, April 2, from 7-8:30 p.m. At the demonstration class, which is geared to adults, attendees will behold just how far the Passover dessert spectrum can extend, with sweet items that will include plenty of chocolate, coconut, fruit and roasted nuts – but no flour. And they won’t have to wait until April 14 to try them, as there will also be plenty of tastings.

The Whole Foods store at Legacy Place (above) in Dedham is co-sponsoring an April 2 event, “Beyond Macaroons and Meringues,” with the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston.

At Whole Foods Market Dedham, we love to partner with local community organizations and nonprofits whenever possible,” said Whole Foods Market Marketing Team Leader Kyle McKendall, who said Passover-specific cuisine is a previously unexplored area for the store’s Culinary Center. “Having the opportunity to work with the JCC of Greater Boston to develop recipes that hold true to old Passover traditions, yet incorporate a modern twist, is something that we’ve really enjoyed exploring,” he said.

And that’s only the beginning. “Beyond Macaroons and Meringues is one of over 10 Passover-themed events that the JCC of Greater Boston is hosting in and around Boston,” said Samantha Levine-Neudel, online marketing manager for the JCC. “We are excited and proud to offer many programs, from cooking demonstrations to family-friendly puppet shows to senior programs.” The JCC’ website and JewishBoston.com have information on other such offerings.

Levine-Neudel said the events can help the community learn more about food preparations for the often-befuddling holiday.

Cooking for Passover and being cognizant of what ingredients are ‘in’ and what is ‘out’ can be challenging for the veteran Seder maker, not to mention one who is doing it for the first time, or who did not grow up with these traditions,” she said. “This program is meant to address these challenges from both a culinary and educational perspective.”

Dessert, as we all know, is special. But during a week characterized by dry matzah and too many “can’ts,” it takes on an even larger role than usual, and Levine- Neudel further analogized it to Jewish history. “It is the end of the journey, the Passover story, culminating with freedom for the Jewish people,” she said. “Dessert should be enormously satisfying,yet it often falls short.” (And we all know of the dry sponge cakes, macaroons, packaged cake rolls, marshmallows and stewed fruit to which she refers.)

This cooking demonstration aims to expand people’s horizons as to what is possible in a Passover dessert, while educating them along the way about the history related to the food traditions in the context of the Passover story,” she said. Indeed, Whole Foods Culinary Center Demo Specialist Alex Tillotson will prepare four recipes: Spicy Chocolate, Nut & Cherry Bark, Guilt-Free Fruit Sorbets, Coconut Macaroon Cheesecake and Blueberries; and Lemon Curd & Meringue Cookie Trifle.

We’ve been working with the JCC of Greater Boston for the past several months to develop an interesting and delicious menu for the event,” said McKendall, who said the store has been promoting it on their Eventbrite and Facebook pages, on the store website, and on in-store printed calendars. “We’re really excited for a good turnout,” he said.

Whole Foods and the JCC place high importance on quality in every regard, which was the impetus for this partnership,” said Levine-Neudel. “Incorporating Jewish and culinary learning is our way to enrich participants’ knowledge about Passover in general, how it relates to the food they eat, and how to end the Passover journey with a dessert that provides a satisfying conclusion to the Seder.”

According to its website, The Whole Foods Market Dedham Culinary Center, which is located within the largest Whole Foods Market in the region, is the only one of its kind in New England. It seeks to promote kitchen knowledge and education to food lovers of all ages in an entertaining and appealing manner.

Whole Foods Market, which was founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, is the leading natural and organic food retailer and America’s first national certified organic grocer. With more than 80,000 Team Members and more than 370 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, Whole Foods Market has been ranked as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” in America by Fortune magazine for 17 consecutive years.

We are so excited to partner with the JCC on this event,” said McKendall. “We’re looking forward to teaching our guests new and exciting twists to classic Passover desserts!”

The cost to attend the event is $10 and registration is required. For more information, contact IFhappenings@jccgb.org, or (617) 558-6414. Tickets for the class can also be purchased on Whole Foods Market’s Eventbrite page.