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Q&A with Shoshi, Queen of Kosher Soul Cuisine

Meet Shoshi, a Sephardic/Mizrahi Jew, personal chef, talk show host, blogger, upcoming author, and self-described "luscious lifestyle diva." This woman does it all! She was able to spare some time, though, to tell us about her lifestyle company, services, and kosher soul food.

You call yourself a "Luscious Lifestyle Diva." Tell me a little bit about what that means. My work is all about helping people live luscious lives by design. I am the founder/CEO of a lifestyle company in New York City. I hope to follow along the lines of Oprah and Martha Stewart, but hipper, cooler, more personal, and kosher, baby!

How'd you get into this business, anyway? I ended up becoming a lifestyle entrepreneur because I decided not to go to rabbinical school. I used to be very active in the Jewish community on various committees at Makor, the JCC, UJA, Temple Emanu-el, but the work was not movng me anymore. When I realized that was not the right path for me, I looked for something that I could do that would help people. I ended up taking life coach training. Long story short, my life coaching became a bigger thing and has expanded into what I do now. Most of the work that I do now in the Jewish community is for unaffiliated people.

You specialize in kosher food, raw food, and soul food. What has influenced your cooking style? I would say that living in the South really influenced my cooking. I grew up in Houston, Texas, where it's all about fried chicken, cornbread, greens, and macaroni and cheese. My household wasn't kosher. My mom loved to throw down in the kitchen and make catfish.

I consider cooking an art, and a way for me to create civic dialogue and social change is through food. I am on a quest to make kosher food more fun, exciting, and downright delicious not just for Jews but for the masses.

So what kind of services do you provide through your company? My lifestyle company is called Center of Female Empowerment, LLC, which I keep expanding. My services include persoanl chef, performing life ceremonies, reiki, and personal styling.

My most popular cooking class is the kosher soul food brunch class. I mainly teach that in people's homes for private instruction. I also do kosher soul food cooking demos at private dinner parties, and I speak about the origin of the food.

There are times when I act as chef and celebrant at smaller weddings, most recently a Mewish wedding (Jewish and Muslim). More than half of the ceremonies I perform are interfaith and/or intercultural. I think that people feel comfortable using me for the "inter" ceremonies because it is the work that I prefer to do.

So what exactly is "kosher soul food"? When I first started doing kosher soul food, my intention was Southern and soul food with a Jewish twist. As I jumped more and more into the work, it has become about making Jewish food from different cultures and inter-cultural food. However, the cookbook I am writing is solely focused on traditional Southern/soul food that is kosher. Two of my favorite recipes are Sweet Cornbread and my Sweet Potato Latkes.

Tell me more about this cookbook. I am writing a cookbook titled "Kosher Soul Gourmet," which will have some of my favorite recipes from growing up and also recipes that I have developed by fusing African American food and Jewish food. The book will also have original artwork and will include a food ceremony that will be great to use for multicultural seders.

I have made the decision to self-publish the book so that I can have more control over the creation and vision of it. It's taking me longer than I thought to write! I want to make sure the recipes are tight. I hope to have it completed by March 2008.

Tell me about your talk show, "Schmoozin' with Shoshi." I actually just changed the name of the show to "Luscious Living with Shoshi." Sometimes I have a guest on the show and sometimes the show is just me giving advice, talking about community and events. In December I will be launching an online radio show called "Luscious Living." The show will have a bunch of fabulous guests, writers, sexperts, foodies, performers, and so on.

Are there any upcoming events you're hosting or speaking at? In December I will be performing a few selections from my solo show "Triple Minority" at the Bowery Poetry Club and for Groove Mama Ink's Women's Week at Center Stage. The show is about my joys and oys as a black Jewess and about my work. Eventually, when I have worked out some things technically, I will be cooking during the show.

Photo by Erica Kuciw

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