Sebastian Joe's ice cream goes kosher
Sebastian Joe's thinks "kosher" could be the new "organic."
Starting this month, about 90 percent of Sebastian Joe's ice cream flavors will sport a "K" for kosher. There are separate kosher scoopers, bona fide kosher ingredients, and special kosher production days open to rabbi supervision.
So why is the ice cream shop making the change?
A rabbi helped analyze Sebastian Joe's entire production line.
"People that want to eat healthier are also buying kosher," says co-owner Mike Pellizzer.
He said shoppers increasingly notice kosher products because they tend to have higher production standards. He read a New York Times story last winter that said the market for kosher food is growing fast. Only about 15 percent of people who buy kosher food do so for religious reasons, according to the story.
Another catalyst for Sebastian Joe's kosher kick was a pitch from Avi Olitzky, a rabbi at Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park.
"I noticed there was a scarcity of kosher establishments in town," Olitzky says. "One of my goals for my life work is to increase kosher options, as well as increase the quality of kosher foodstuffs."
The transition was not quick or easy, but Olitzky says Sebastian Joe's had a leg up for several reasons. It already has high standards of hygiene and cleanliness. And it deals with many cold ingredients that aren't cooked or baked, making the kashering process a bit simpler.
"When we started going over ingredients, flavor after flavor, we realized this was something that was going to be doable," Olitzky says.
It helps that Sebastian Joe's uses only three to five ingredients per flavor. Oreos are kosher. So are strawberries.
"Just about everything we are buying is kosher already," Pellizzer says. "We have all-natural ingredients, nothing artificial."
The big trick was buying an ice cream base of butterfat and eggs from a kosher plant. Sebastian Joe's commissary now has separate kosher and non-kosher assembly days to ensure there is no room for error. All the staff have been trained on how to serve kosher food.
For the kosher-confused, a certificate on the wall explains that
hot fudge sundaes are not kosher, and neither are homemade cones. But the packaged sugar cones are kosher. So is Bailey's Chocolate Chip, Pavarotti, and a mammoth list of other flavors. Just look for the "K" symbol in the ice cream case.
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