Shani Seidman: Manischewitz, Passover Memories and Matzo Brei

Taste Buds with Deb - Episode 52
April 18, 2024

The Manischewitz brand means a lot to many people, including and especially Shani Seidman, the Chief Marketing Officer for Kayco Kosher. Kayco’s brands include Gefen, Heaven & Earth and of course Manischewitz.

“I have these memories of Manischewitz being at my Passover seder or making Manischewitz chicken soup with my grandmother,” Seidman told the Journal.

Then there are all the flavors of macaroons.

“Growing up, you waited for the Passover section to go up to get your macaroons,” she said. “It was a treat year-round.”

For some reason Passover made macaroons extra special.

Seidman started working for Manischewitz as marketing director in 2000. The company, which has been around since 1888, has gone through a lot of changes over the years. When in 2019, Kayco bought Manischewitz, it went back into the hands of a family-owned company. After transitioning the business for six months, Seidman was given the larger role of managing the marketing for all their brands.

“They call me Mrs. Manischewitz here, because there was a marketing campaign in the 80s and 90s, where they put out recipes,” she said. “At first it was very surreal working on a brand that we had at our tables growing up.”

When asked, “where’s the Mrs. Manischewitz Hallmark movie?” Seidman agreed it feels like one. “It’s like the comeback kid,” she said.

Leading up to Passover, Manischewitz rebranded to appeal to even more people: younger generations, as well as those who are Jewish food-curious and want to give their food a try.

“It’s bold and new and kind of quirky and fun and people are really responding to it,” Seidman said. “Our table is endlessly long and endlessly wide.

“We have a lot of pride in our traditions, and … all we want is to share goodness and joy over food with anyone who wants to sit down with us.”

Manischewitz, who in the early days jarred gefilte fish, keeps coming out with iconic Jewish traditional dishes in new formats.

For instance, matzo ball mix was an innovation. All you had to do was add egg and oil. Now Manischewitz has matzo balls in the frozen section.

We’re going with the flow of how the consumers [are] behaving,” she said. “Maybe they want to make their fresh matzo balls and maybe they want to have Mattishevitz make it for them.”

A big Passover staple is matzo brei; it’s great year round, but extra special during Passover. Amy Becker Kritzer’s recipe for Asparagus Tomato Matzo Brei is below.

“Growing up, my dad’s one job was to make matzo brie and he took it very seriously,” Seidman said. “He was just so excited about making it.”

While matzo brei is very personal to Seidman, she says lately it’s been everywhere.

“I’ve been seeing it showing up in restaurant menus, and not just kosher restaurants in New York City,” she said. “‘Bon Appetit’ had a matzo brei recipe; I feel like coming back into vogue.”

Seidman likens matzo brei to an omelet.

“You can have a [basic] omelet or you can have a souped-up, overstuffed omelet,” she said. “It’s all in the way you prepare it.”

For the full conversation, listen to the podcast:

Asparagus Tomato Matzo Brei

By Amy Kritzer, founder of the award-winning blog WhatJewWannaEat.com, the author of “Sweet Noshings” and the owner of ModernTribe.com.

courtesy of Manischewitz

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or butter, divided

½ cup cherry tomatoes

½ cup asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

3 eggs

2 pieces Manischewitz Matzah, broken into 1-2 inch pieces

2 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled

Dill for garnish

Heat a medium nonstick pan over medium heat and add 1-tablespoon butter or oil.

Add tomatoes and a ¼ teaspoon of salt and sauté until the tomatoes just start to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add asparagus and sauté for 2-3 more minutes, until tomatoes are browned and starting to burst and asparagus is bright green and tender. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs together with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.

Soak matzah pieces in a small bowl of warm water or in a mesh colander under warm water for 10 seconds to soften slightly.

Drain matzah and add to egg mixture and combine.

Wipe off the nonstick pan and heat over medium heat and add the other tablespoon of butter or oil.

Add the egg mixture and sauté over medium heat while stirring until eggs are set, about 3 minutes.

Divide matzah brei evenly on two plates. Top with tomato and asparagus mixture, goat cheese and dill. Serve immediately.

Debra Eckerling is a writer for the Jewish Journal and the host of “Taste Buds with Deb.Subscribe on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform. Email Debra: tastebuds@jewishjournal.com.

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