Birmingham is about to have a kosher dining option, as Knesseth Israel is debuting its new food truck this month.
Holy Crepe will have a Chanukah event on Dec. 13 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Shell station on Overton Road, and will be at the Levite Jewish Community Center on Dec. 15, catering the monthly “Honor Our Parents” Shabbat get-together at 11 a.m.
Nathan Lichtenstein, who was born and raised in a Hasidic community in Williamsburg, N.Y., is the chef behind Holy Crepe. After the opening events, the plan is to have the cart at different area hospitals on a rotating basis, and there will also be availability for catering and other events.
Beth Smokey said that after the congregation moved out of its building, they wanted to do something to maintain a community presence, and provide “something innovative and different, something that would be well received by the Jewish and non-Jewish community.”
They did not want to compete with existing food trucks in the area, and theming to crepes would be unique and something that a kosher cart could do and remain competitive. “If we did meat, it would be more expensive,” she said.
Because the congregation is housed in the rabbi’s residence, there isn’t a commercial kitchen available, which is a requirement for food trucks. There aren’t many kosher kitchens in town to serve as the cart’s commissary, but Smokey said the Levite Jewish Community Center agreed to allow KI to use their kitchen to fill that role.
“Without the JCC, there would be no kosher food cart,” Smokey said.
The Chanukah menu includes sweet crepes, with Nutella; a Dulce de leche crepe with banana and strawberry; and a soft cheese crepe with strawberry and caramel dressing. Savory options include a veggie lovers, and a pizza crepe.
“There’s no charge for smiles,” Lichtenstein said.
The Chanukah menu will also include latkes and doughnuts. As with the congregation’s previous Chanukah events, there will be a raffle with six gemstones, and a menorah lighting will be at 6:30 p.m. Bonnie Balloon will be doing complimentary balloon animals.
Lichtenstein started the first glatt-kosher food truck in Brooklyn in 2007 after closing a sit-down restaurant in Monsey. He also headed the big kosher kitchen in Uman, in central Ukraine, 15 years ago. Every year around Rosh Hashanah, tens of thousands of Jews from Israel and around the world make a pilgrimage to the town, to visit the grave of Reb Nachman of Breslov, and there has to be kosher food available for all the visitors.
He said a friend had recently mentioned that KI was looking for a chef to run a food truck, so he examined the opportunity, and the rest is history.
“I really enjoy it” in Birmingham, he said. “The people are really very nice,” and services at KI “are beautiful.”
Lichtenstein prepares Shabbat luncheons for after services, and every month to six weeks there is a Shabbat dinner that attracts at least 30 people.
Aside from Bo’s Kosher Café, housed at the LJCC, the most recent attempt at a kosher restaurant in Birmingham was the short-lived Sababa, in 2012.