Rosh Hashanah's comin' and the livin' is easy

Submitted by Judy on Fri, 09/07/2012 - 7:03am.

Orange County, CA caterer, Blueberry Hill


I can tell Rosh Hashanah is approaching, because I’m already getting phone calls from my family and friends, my mother’s friends, even strangers!

“Can I make the brisket ahead and freeze it?” “Can I freeze the kugel?” “What should I do about my burnt honey cake?” (Yes and yes to the first two and “Um, do you have a dog?” to the third.)

Jewish cooks the world over are shopping and chopping, searing and sautéing – so many dishes, so little time.

In bygone days our foremothers, stay-at-home moms before that term ever became popular, had little distractions from the task at hand: putting a holiday feast on the table for their large extended families.

Today’s cooks squeeze the job in between work, carpools, meetings, etc. – all while trying to recreate those labor-intensive recipes their grandmothers slaved over. For what is a holiday if not the gathering of families connecting to their roots and traditions?

Now Orange County boasts its own kosher caterer, Blueberry Hill, that can provide a full dinner or even help out with a dish or two so you can enjoy your guests as you celebrate together.  

(“The perception always was that kosher food is awful,” said Beverly Scheftz, who with her son Trevor owns and operates Blueberry Hill, “but it doesn’t have to be that way, and it’s definitely not that way.”

I had the pleasure of working with Blueberry Hill recently when I did cooking demonstrations for the Israeli Fair at the Jewish Community Center in Irvine, where Blueberry Hill operates its kosher kitchen. Or I should say “kitchens,” because there is a strict division between the meat side and the dairy side, according to kosher law. (Click READ MORE below to continue. Recipe follows)

The Shefetz family, originally from South Africa, has had a long history in the food business. Living in Israel for 40 years, Beverly and her late husband operated gourmet hamburger establishments as well as catering and food service operations. They immigrated to Canada in 1995.

“Somebody from the Irvine Company was visiting Toronto – we had a gourmet hamburger food concession in a theme park in Ontario – and found us. He asked us to help open at the Spectrum,” she recalled.

“Trevor came with his wife and son to open the store and decided after three months that he wasn’t going back to Toronto. They liked California better!”

Blueberry Hill offers nonkosher as well as kosher services from its home office in Signal Hill. Call 562-981-8300 to order before September 24 for Rosh Hashanah and before October 3 for Yom Kippur. Go to to see their menus.

For the Jewish holidays you’ll find the standards you’d expect such as gefilte fish, tsimmes (carrot stew) and chicken matzo ball soup, but also new twists on old favorites, such as Mango Chutney Brisket.

“We used to make it in South Africa,” said Shefetz. “Mangoes are very popular there – all the tropical fruits are, like litchis, papaya. Chutney is very popular because you have all the different curries. You marinate the brisket for 24 hours and cook it for a long, long time. It’s so easy, and people go nuts for it. The cola tenderizes the meat, and together with the chutney and the soup mix it makes a lovely gravy.”

Blueberry Hill makes its own mango chutney, but if your grocer doesn’t carry it, try Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.


3 to 4 pounds beef brisket
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup mango chutney
1 envelope onion soup mix
12 ounces Coca-Cola
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Place brisket in a non-reactive pan. Combine onion, chutney, soup mix, and coke. Pour over brisket and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
2. The following day preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
3. Remove brisket from marinade mixture and set marinade aside. Heat oil in a large stove-proof roasting pan and brown brisket on both sides.
4. Place the brisket in a roasting pan and pour the reserved marinade over the meat.
5. Cover the pan with foil and cook until tender, 3 to 4 hours. Baste the meat with the pan juices every 45 minutes. Serves 6 to 8