Jennifer Felicia Abadi wrote, illustrated and successfully published her cookbook-memoir, A Fistful of Lentils: Syrian-Jewish Recipes From Grandma’s Fritzie’s Kitchen (Harvard Common Press, March 2002), a labor of love which led to a career change from graphic designer to culinary professional. Her teaching career was launched when she and her grandmother taught a Syrian cooking class for the tour “To Grandmother’s House We Go” (filmed and aired nationwide on NBC). “The stories that my grandmother told to the students were as much a part of the experience as the cooking itself,” Abadi recalls. She has initiated courses such as “The Syrian Hospitality Tray,” in which cultural traditions are given equal billing with the cuisine.
Several articles published in the New York press encouraged Abadi to pursue the publication of her family cookbook. “A Grand Way To Learn” in the Daily News featured the passing on of traditional dishes from grandmother to granddaughter. “Someone’s In The Kitchen With Fritzie,” written by Molly O’Neill for the New York Times Sunday Magazine, described holiday cooking traditions between three generations (Abadi, her mother and grandmother). With a foreword written by food writer Barbara Kafka, and endorsements by Steven Raichlen (How To Grill), Clifford A. Wright (James Beard Cookbook of The Year award-winning A Mediterranean Feast) and Jeffrey Nathan (PBS host for New Jewish Cuisine), A Fistful of Lentils went on to receive a red-starred review by Publishers Weekly magazine, including it in its Best Books of 2002 edition.
As a testament to the success of A Fistful of Lentils (now in its third printing in paperback!) several articles about her recipes and the preservation of her cooking tradition have appeared in the Daily News (teaching students how to prepare Syrian Passover desserts) as well as the Boston Globe, the LA Times, the Washington Times, Hadassah Magazine, Jewish Week, the Daily News, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Joan Nathan wrote about Abadi’s heritage cooking for Newsday. Appealing to an international market, Abadi has appeared in Canadian Jewish News, the Jerusalem Post, the Danish Mandag, and the German Tachles magazine.
Recently Abadi was featured in an article published by Parade magazine entitled, "When Recipes Tell A Story," which talks about the importance of preserving family recipes.
Radio appearances include:
“Food Talk With Arthur Schwartz” (WOR, New York City), "World According to Judith" (1450 WCTC, Central New Jersey), “Beyond the Pale” (WBAI, New York City), “The Armchair Traveler” (Burlington, VT, “What’s Kookin’ With The Baker” (WHYL, Hummelstown, PA), “Local Flavor” (KCSN, Los Angeles), Awake, Alive & Jewish (WMET1160), Radio Sefarad/English Corner, and “Good Food” (KCRW, Los Angeles).
TV appearances include:
Fox Five News, NBC News, ABC News, CNN-FN.
Abadi also appeared on “Mosaico TV,” a cable network in Brazil.
Speaking engagements, booksignings, and food demonstrations include:
Jewish book fairs throughout the United States; the Virginia Book! Festival (panel on food memoirs); Kitchen Aid’s annual “The Book And The Cook” (dinner of recipes from A Fistful of Lentils prepared by the upscale Steven Starr restaurant Tangerine); The Cook’s Library at the Los Angeles annual Food Fare; The Sephardic Women’s Division of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles annual membership luncheon; lectures on Middle Eastern cuisine sponsored by the Israeli Consulate (ongoing); food demonstrations at New York City food establishments and community centers: Whole Foods Market, Balducci’s, Broadway Panhandler, the Spanish-Portuguese synagogue, the Jewish Community Center on the Upper West Side, Zabar's, and the Museum of Jewish Heritage, just to name a few.
Cooking classes include:
Jennifer teaches a six-week course entitled, “From Culture to the Kitchen: Three Jewish Cuisines,” where she examines the geographical, social, historical and traditional influences that shaped Moroccan-, Syrian-, and Indian-Jewish cuisines, then gives students the opportunity to familiarize themselves with these foods by partaking in a full hands-on cooking class. She teaches in such professional cooking schools in New York City as The Jewish Community Center (JCC), and the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), as well as privately in individual homes. Her area of expertise covers a range of cuisines, such as Syrian, Indian, Moroccan, Iraqi, Egyptian, Yemenite, Persian, Greek, Armenian, Georgian, and Turkish, all of which she can customize to your needs.
As author of her very own cookbook-memoir, A Fistful of Lentils: Syrian-Jewish Recipes from Grandma’s Fritzie’s Kitchen, Jennifer currently assists others in writing and preserving their own family recipes. Four years ago she created “The Traveling Palate,” a monthly event where guests enjoy a series of food tastings while learning about less-common cuisines and cultures in the intimate setting of Kiva café, where she also bakes each week. Jennifer is an active member of The New York Women’s Culinary Alliance as well as a contributing chef to such online websites as: ChefsLine.com, Cookstr.com, and My Food My Health.com.